This picture (again part of...
This picture (again part of the graffiti of Paul Sörter) shows the Ruhrpott's industrial background that is now lying on its deathbed - coal mining and steel manufacturing. I guess it did *somehow* influence our culture, only I'm not sure how. Definitely not 'good' _or_ 'bad', just somehow different ;o). People tend to be a bit reserved here, but be assured that doesn't mean that they don't like you *hehe*, I guess we're just not very used to people who come here for entertainment and not for work... and on the same time people here seem to have to get used to being entertained themselves without feeling awkward. The age of coal mining meant hard work, black dust *every*where, ruining your body for the work (back, lungs, eyes) and getting a low education (who needs this university stuff anyway? You certainly don't need it underground, son...). But things have begun to change decades ago, and externally everything's different now - *no* black dust *any*where ;o), a whole row of universities, one in almost every bigger city of the region (Essen, Bochum, Duisburg, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Hagen, Wuppertal)... the industry's dying, service is the growing business. But many people living here were raised by coalminers or at least their parents were, and those people hardly ever had the chance to travel! So the tourism sector is very young, on the way out a bit less than on the way in, but I'm afraid I notice a certain lack of the 'backpacker spirit' among the people here *sigh*. It's all 'book a hotel and off to the warm South'... probably a result of always having worked so hard - so now other's shall do the work, while you're lying in the sun, doing nothing ;o).
What a long speech! *hehe*
What remains to be said in the end is, that people here are actually really nice and love having guests. They're just a bit careful, cause it's all so new to them, and many new things don't work (experience...). Once you got into contact with the locals and managed to convince them you're really a tourist and not someone who wants to pull their leg *lol*, you shouldn't find it difficult to chat with 'em. ;o)
Give us a chance! *hehehe*