If you work, or have worked with tourists, you might agree with me that part of the job, wether or not unconsciously, is people-watching.
Some behavioral observations are probably in interface with all professions that involve serving people. However, I can safely claim that tourists still are a species all of their own. The most apparent reason is that they are in vacation-mode. This is a special state of mind in which happiness levels are higher and the office-armor falls of. The latter usually results in lower levels of common sense and sometimes intelligence.
I couldn’t explain it better than to refer to the genius Icelandic cartoons of ‘The Tour Bunny’.
This summer however, is a special one. That means that general tourist observations have become an in-depth study of the nordic traveller. Norwegians, Fins, Danes and Icelanders alike, are happily roaming in their own or each others country, without much interference from other nationalities.
It has all been very cozy, like a long family holiday. Everyone knows what to expect and how things work. We all behave more or less in the same way, which made us unconsciously relate to each other and we can relax even further in this vacation-mode. The whole North feels like a family party, cozy among each other.
As a whole, everyone is nice and orderly, not too loud and more or less structured. Rules are nicely followed, everyone is a bit shy and privacy is easily respected. Good and nice people, but a bit difficult to talk too when they don’t know you. Most show a enthusiasm for the outdoors that you wouldn’t expect from people living in countries that cold. Children follow along to mountain tops in pouring rain and sleep in tents like they never knew anything else.
Being a semi-outsider, I do notice some differences among all these family members. Weirdly, I enjoy socializing with Finnish people. There awkward friendliness is just endearing. The Norwegians on the other hand, can have difficulties to cover their summer-outdoor-enthusiasm under a blanket of shyness.
The Icelander portrays this ‘OMG it’s summer!’-enthusiasm even more. They combine this with a bluntness that could steal away the title off the Dutch, only they are less loud than the latter. Although all nordic people are well trained in their poker-face, no-one can combine it that good with sarcasm as the Icelandic. Leaving you a bit in the dark sometimes wether or not they are joking.
Seeing this big family vacation taking place in little villages brings me a tranquil sense of joy. I can especially feel it in this small fishing village where I'm currently working. The atmosphere is quietly opening up. Creating a shy warmness in the midst of the slow salty rhythm of the sea that is a permanent resident here. As if the village is slowly opening up again to the people of the land. Learning to trust again those who abandoned the coastal countryside.
The curious joy in which the people are rediscovering their own country is refreshing to see. It used to bother me that there was so much blindness for the beauty of the North by its own inhabitants. It looks like this summer is slowly turning the wheel again.
I can only hope that some of them start to question why they left for the big cities in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, some of them will decide to stay and live in their natural rhythm of sea once again.
Text: Ellen Wild