Travel Experience

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Just some German tourists being…absolutely awful. With a bit of bad luck, it could have cost me my eyesight.

We arrived with our little French bulldog in the evening on a sea-side Italian camping. Dogs were allowed there, of course, or we wouldn’t have chosen this site. It was off-season, fairly quiet, and we had only Belgian neighbours on one side. We struck up a conversation.

“Our dog gets in a panic when we leave him at the camper. Does this restaurant allow dogs in?”

“Well..The restaurant owner doesn’t mind, but the Germans won’t have it.”

“How do you mean?”

“Hm, I have to be quiet, you can’t say some things out loud, here, or you get in trouble with the Germans.”

We were puzzled. We decided not to eat at the camping’s restaurant.

In the latish morning I take my old little dog on a tour of the campsite, on his leash of course, and walking on the path. I pass a German camper. My dog strays about a meter from the path, to sniff the grass. We are not close to the camper at all, probably not even on its lot (no official boundaries at this campsite.) Suddenly, a fuming German of about 40 comes running out. He is a tall, strong looking man and his face is contorted with rage.

To my dismay, he positions himself right opposite me, his body a foot from mine at most, his face even closer. Don’t know if you’ve ever had somebody do that, but it is intolerable. He shouts in my face: “Get your filthy dog away from here!”

I was stunned. And I was unwise: I felt I had to defend my rights. I trembled all over straight away because of how upset I was, because the situation was immensely threatening and somehow violent, even though he hadn’t touched me yet.

“I am allowed to walk on this path,” I said. “I’m doing nothing wrong.”

You wouldn’t think it was possible to increase his rage from what seemed like the maximum point already, but he worked himself up into what looked like near-madness. It was only much later that I heard from other tourists that many Germans on vacation around the area started to drink beer at 10 a.m. (I know, weird) and in hindsight it’s perfectly possible that he was drunk. But he didn’t wobble, so maybe not.

He kept shouting for me to take my filthy disgusting dog away, but I held firm. It was hard, with this guy so close to my body and shouting in my face, but though I’m a woman and not very strong at all I really don’t like to bow to intimidation. “No way,” I said, raising my voice, too. My dog wasn’t even peeing, “I have every right to walk him on this path.”

Things got worse. It was all so violent and weird that my memory is jumbled. He threatened me, said that if he wanted it and because he knew the other Germans on the site, I “would not get out of the camping alive.” I didn’t take that seriously for a moment by the way, because most of the Germans were elderly, and it was ridiculous. But still. His wife came out, and she was just as bad as he, also shouting obscenities, her face contorted into contempt, and imitating my way of speaking, mocking me, etc., the whole treatment.

This went on for a while, then, the man pulled his muscular arm back and pushed me hard against my chest. In a reflex, I pushed him back. Not wise, of course…At the same time as he was pushing/hitting me several more times (I did nothing anymore), I noticed his wife getting very quickly into their camper. She came out with a bottle in her hand. She came toward me and with a vindictively pleased expression on her face [I can still see it] she sprayed my face and neck.

I don’t know what it was. Some type of ink. The (new) t-shirt I was wearing was of course ruined, and even after several days of aggressive washing, my neck and face were still dark from that stuff. It’s weird walking around like that, I can tell you. People look at you strange. But I could still see…The stuff had hit me right under the eyes. If it had gone into my eyes, I have little doubt but that I would have lost both my eyes. The thought horrifies me. All for…a small, inoffensive dog that walks past your camper? (Note: my dog never tried to defend me. He’s not that sort of a dog.)

How did it end?

I went running for my boyfriend. He came back with me, but the couple had wisely retreated to their camper. Now, a bunch of other Germans had seen the scene…My boyfriend asked a fat man if he had seen it. The guy looked at him angrily and said: “Nein!” He was lying.

Worse was an elderly woman with a haughty face. (God, where did all these unpleasant people come from?) The Italian camping owner had by now been alerted. The haughty woman said: “She started it. She hit him first.”

I couldn’t believe it. I asked her in German (which I do speak some) why she was lying. She just looked back at me without the slightest feeling. I’m really surprised when someone flat out lies. But she did.

The camping owner, disappointingly, was on the Germans’ side…I said I would go to the police if he didn’t expel the couple. In the end he relented, which was lucky for me, because with that woman testifying I had started it, I could have ended in yet bigger trouble.

There was a young German woman who worked directly for the owner. She was nice. She tried her best to placate things, and she was upset for me.

But we just wanted to go straight home. The holiday feeling was certainly over, and I will never forget the grim hostility toward me on the faces of the German bystanders. Horrible people.

I have heard that this is not uncommon: German tourists come to certain campsites every year, for many decades, and start to behave as if they own the place, being bossy and bullying toward people outside their group. I guess for young people that’s something you might encounter now and then – for people in their 60s it seems very strange. I have also encountered lovely Germans on my travels. In groups…not so much.

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