A Completly Partial View On Germany By A German

“I know what Germans are. They are funny people. They are always choosing someone to lead them in a direction they don’t want to go to.”

[Gertrude Stein]

Don’t worry.

This is not a post directed at quenching all of your German stereotypes. Most of them are quite flattering, so I for one would really like to keep it that way. As for the rest, the unflattering ones, ah well, you can’t have the cake and eat it, right?!

I’m not entirely sure what direction this post is going to take (and since I rarely edit, which you may have noticed, I won’t know until I finish it), so bear with me.

Even though, I’m designing this post to have the least overall educational value possible, I really can’t get by without one of those boring pull-down maps. If you are afraid a quick look at this map might reduce your remaining brain capacity or even worse drudge up long repressed memories about boring yourself to sleep in 9th grade world geography, you have my permission to shut your eyes firmly and scroll down very quickly.

Notice how small the state of “Bayern” is compared to the rest of Germany? That’s “Bavaria” our own German “Texas” (for all you American readers). This is where all the Bier, Bratwurst and Lederhosen fun is to be had. The rest of the country is basically just a useless appendage (similar to Paris and France).

[For all of you interested in tidbits of personal information about myself, I hail from the overpopulated state of “Nordrhein-Westfalen”, which is probably most famous for it’s “Karneval”-celebration, but we’ll get to that later]

The ultimate thing anybody visiting any state of this country has to be aware of, is that soccer to the average German is not a sport or a pass-time or something as idle as a passion. It’s a religion.

[sidenote: If you think you recognize a certain raised arm gesture from the black and white TV era of 1939 – 9145, let me assure you, it’s not the same thing. We tried our luck with an odd little man from Austria once and we all agree that it might not have been our slickest move, historically speaking]

If this reminds you of a friendly game of Quidditch (c’me on Harry Potter fans, I know you know what I’m talking about!), well, let’s just say don’t be fooled by appearances. There might not be a lot of forbidden spells going around, but things can get quite heated up at times. Don’t believe me? Well, you asked for it:

Granted, this isn’t a German stadium. I think it’s Croatian. Also I believe the visiting team might be English. So I’ve taken some creative liberties. Don’t we all?

[sidenote: Bengalo fires are forbidden in German Soccer Stadiums, which doesn’t mean they are not used, it just means that the YouTube material on them is pretty slim]

Where was I? Yes, soccer. Apart from the obvious stadium frenzy, which in itself might have a cult like appearance, a lot more goes into this religious devotion to the God that is soccer around these parts.

Depending on where you live the design of your home might not be up to you.

Blue and white isn’t your colour of choice? Well tough luck. Move to the next town over and try to deal with yellow and black if you prefer that.

But it doesn’t stop there. I don’t think I have to mention that you can get married in stadiums or buried on their own personal graveyards and that many a believer in soccer has named his or her first child after one of the famed players.

No, no, no. All of this is just embellishment. Forget the unspoken law of not wearing the wrong colour combination in the wrong town or not (under any circumstances) divulging high risk information (such as that you live two towns over). Never mind all of that.

via wikimedia.org

Soccer reaches out into the most sacred of sacred to us Germans and touches the most holy of holy: Our cars!

I bet you thought it was Mercedes and Beemer cruising all the way on our famed German “Autobahn” (largely without speed limits! American teens always love this part!). Right?

[Out of consideration for your eardrums, I would advise you to move your audio settings to low before watching this clip on “how to pass a truck – German style”.

Well, not if you are a devoted servant to the great God of soccer it isn’t!

Although I’m realize that the majority of you isn’t fluid in German, I think you might enjoy this educational clip on dangers of sporting the wrong colours in the wrong town at the wrong time (please jump to 0.24 to avoid unnecessary and completely useless German banking information).

So now that we’ve all agree that soccer is indeed God around these parts, let me finish up this part of my completely partial view of Germany with some impressions from our greatest religious holiday: The 2006 soccer world cup in Germany!

And it wasn’t just the Germans partaking in this religious ritual either. We had pilgrims from all over the world join in on our festivities.

Now before you get the idea that Germans are extremely religious and don’t know how to let loose and have some fun, let me introduce you to the insanity that is “Karneval”.

Karneval has it all:

The music that has you swinging on the dance floor:

Parades (including floats, candy, costumes and drunks):

Young girls in short skirts tumbling around on stages (I think the American readers would refer to them as cheerleaders):

And parties in the street (resembling Woodstock, obviously with a better soundtrack and less skin)

Oh and did I mention this craziness lasts a total of four days? That’s right. You heard me. Four. Days. Now who’s overworked, a stickler to rules and doesn’t know how to have a good time?

But we don’t stop there. Oh no! About two weeks after Halloween’s passed and you are still recovering from the ongoing sugar high in the states, Germans decide to celebrate with a night of lanterns, parades, bonfires, singing and yes: Candy.

And yet, Germany is much more than beer, lederhosen, bratwurst, karneval, soccer and St. Martin.

But that, dear fellow travellers, is another journey.

For now, let us welcome Sideshow Bob and his views on Germans to take us out:

24 thoughts on “A Completly Partial View On Germany By A German

  1. I loved this! ❤ Although I've not travelled as much in Germany as I'd like, what I've seen was fantastic (you know…scary narrow back passageways in airports, x-ray machines etc) I only got to spend 4 days there a few years ago, but I'm hoping to be back in March/April. I have a friend in Berlin so I want to go there for a weekend and just do some basic travelling. I love the German stereotypes…mostly, because as you say…most of them are quite flattering. Also, Germans are super-efficient at getting things done. This pleases me immensely! 🙂 More please! 🙂 xo.

    • Well, I mean you can’t getter a better tourist experience than an original German x-ray. – I hope I rightly pressume that they plucked a fresh brewed draft and a bretzel into your hands for being so good during the examination, right 😉

      Berlin’s crazy. I love it! It’s so multi-cultural, historical, modern, artsy, stylish – it’s alive. Yes, you should plan on spending more time there and maybe travelling a bit. Germany can be such a fun place to be. I mean obviously there’s no accounting for the weather, but than same goes for England and our food’s better 😉

      So glad this got a smile out of you 🙂 I’m seriously considering adding more posts to this series 😉

      • Please please do! And include the Nürburgring and nude swimming in the lakes 🙂 This was the thing that shocked my best friend the most when he moved to Berlin – how frequently the Germans strip off at the lakes in summer! Hehe. Also, please include the word Ausfahrt. Just because…it’s funny 😉 xo.

        • Ha ha – I will – so, so funny how everybodies always shocked by our nonchalance with nudity

          A friend of mine from the States was shocked that we would show nude boobs on adds in our lingerée stores – honestly, I must have walked by that add in question 1000 times, without even noticing it 😉

          • My friends from the states are generally horrified with our advertising too…but I don’t know why my friend was so shocked by the nudity. A) because it’s Europe and B) because if you go down to Bondi Beach, you’ll see half naked bodies everywhere, and if you go to the beach around the corner, they’re all nude. Whatever 🙂 It’s still funny! xo.

    • Ha ha 😀 Not sure if they’d go for it. German tourist boards are usually less for fun and games and more for “This is the place Beethoven lived” 😉 But maybe when it’s complete I’d consider publishing it myself (read: have it printed on cheap little leaf lets) and distribute it amongst my US family and friends 😉

  2. We were in Europe during the last two World Cups. We were in Italy when they won in 2006 which was the craziest thing I ever saw, and shortly after that in Berlin to see the remnants of the World Cup aftermath. I think Berlin is one of my all time favorite cities. In 2010 we were in Italy again, but it wasn’t quite as exciting – I wouldn’t say the Italians lost interest, but there was no comparison to 2006.
    I like the way Europe watches their games outside in parks and piazzas; it’s so much more fun than being in a sports bar in the USA (I’ve never actually watched a game in a sports bar, but it doesn’t look nearly as fun as a warm summer night on an ancient square).
    We’re planning to travel to Europe again in fall – Tony ordered black socks this morning because he thinks men in Europe don’t wear white socks (I was a little annoyed as it was $28.00 out of the Paris fund) – is that true, about the socks?
    In case you can’t tell, I love to travel, so anytime you post something on travel, I’ll be soaking it in!

    • Wow – so you basically experienced some of the frenzy first hand. That’s awesome. I think one the reasons the Italians might have been a bit low on enthusiam in 2010 might have been, that they left the party rather early. Not sure exactly, but I seem to remember they were kicked out at a pretty early stage of the tournament.

      I agree. Watching sports outside in parks, biergardens and piazzas does have a nice feel to it. You have your kids running around dropping their ice-cream cones. Us ladies get to chat with each other if we get bored and the guys can all kind of hang together. I think it’s more of a family-picknick-feel than what you’d experience at a sportsbar (the only time I’ve ever been to a sportsbar was to have a ladies-night-out w/o guys hitting on you 😉 )

      Ahhh, the socks… . Actually he’s right and he isn’t. White socks are only worn with sneakers (and mostly if you actually want to play tennis, soccer or work out, but you might get by if you are wearing sporty sneakers and a very casual attire). With Jeans, Slacks or suit pants you can go black, grey, brown, dark blue (in all different dark shades) depending on the colour of the rest of your attire. Those are also the thin socks, the dressier one.

      White tennis socks without the sneakers to give them a purpose are usually only worn by young, rebellious skater dudes, men in nursing homes and those that dropped out of High School at 15 and now at 19 have three children by three different mothers (not paying child support for any of them) and living off of welfare as a conscious life style decision. So I’d say Tony’s decision in going with black socks is probably advisable. Especially if you consider that I’m only talking Germany here. The Italians, Spanish and French are a lot more fashion concious than us (not sure what your penalty might be for wearing white socks – maybe they overcook your pasta or something)!

      As for Berlin. Berlin is vibrant. It’s such a mixed and mashed setting of everything and basically a very interesting clash between history and modern. It’s very much alive. I love it (although I feel it would be really exhausting to actually live there).

      Travels are awesome! If you ever feel like doing something a bit adventurous (and a bit physically challenging) you should consider walking / hiking the pilgrim’s pass (called the “Westweg”) from southern Germany to Switzerland (“Basel”). It’s about a 10 day hike depending of your pace through the black forrest and you have your larger luggage sent ahead by train or coach. So basically all you are carrying is a little backback. You stay at little bed and breakfasts along the way, which is supposed to be very scenic too. I’ve never actually done this myself yet (mainly because as a German I really prefer travelling outside of Germany), but everybody who’s done it has said what a lovely experience it was.

      Also I highly recommend visiting Hamburg, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Dresden, Karlsruhe when next in Germany. Beautiful cities each in their own right (although I might be a bit biased regarding Bonn, since I’ve lived here for about 9 years now and it’s become home).

      So glad you’ve enjoyed this mock travel guide – I’m seriously considering writing a sequel to this 😉

      • Thanks for the funny pointers about the socks (I’m feeling a little less annoyed about the $28.00 now). The hike sounds really cool – I’m going to look into that. We have traveled all over Germany, but we’ve only been to one of the cities you mentioned (Dresden). One of my goals for the near future is to live in nine European cities for one month each. Just need to figure out how to make it affordable.
        Looking forward to the sequal(s).

        • Ha! Since I absolutely adore you writing you might want to opt for something my grandparents (paternal) did for about ten years after my grandfather’s retirement.

          They (well actually my grandfather) served as a tourguide for all travels organized by the local newspaper (mostly cruises around the world) and wrote an article about each one of them for the newspaper upon their return (obviously highlighting the greatness of partaking in these travells).

          He travelled for free and my grandmother at 50% of the usual rate.

          Not sure, if something like this (still) exists in the US, but I’m pretty sure travelling agencies (online or local) or maybe travel magazines (online or print) would pay for travel guides from you.

          That might not buy you a month in every city in Europe, but it should cut down on the travel costs immensly.

          Also most community colleges in european cities are always looking for native speakers for their language classes (day and night classes) and I heard that’s a fun way to make some money and get to know some locals at the same time 🙂

  3. What a fun post. I have traveled very little in Europe. But I have been to Germany! Munich to be exact. It was there I learned how safety conscious Americans are. We drank a lot of beer, in places called “beer gardens” but there were no trees. We rode bikes through the streets without helmets, right next to cars! We rode in cars that traveled near 100 mph and felt oddly safe. Of course, everyone smoked too and we didn’t eat any fresh vegetables and I wound up throwing up somewhere, perhaps in the street, but the trip was the best. I loved it. Oh yeah, we also passed naked sun bathers in a park. That was nice too. People in the states would be arrested for showing their private parts like that.

    I am happy to know a friend in Germany! Americans are getting pretty obsessed with soccer too, but we have football and baseball and they’ll be hard to push out of the way. It’s our children we push into the game of soccer. When the youngsters can’t play because they’ve gotten too many concussions their mothers bring them to therapy, and it is the mothers who hold back their tears (you’ve heard of the American Soccer moms).

    • You just gave me so much material for a follow up post – crazy – thank you! 😀

      I was sitting at our kitchen table last night trying to drudge up stereotypical German things and I never even thought of “Biergardens”, “Nude sunbathing”, “maneuvering a bike through narrow roads next to cars” (I think the fresh vegetable part has been largely ammended although it still doesn’t compare to the selection my aunt has at one of those farmer markets she shops at – it’s a lot more seasonal – you won’t really find strawberries between september and june – well you might at delicatessen, but not at your regular supermarket)

      Yeah, I realized the soccer thing was catching on. When I was in TX my senior year I played on our Varsity Soccer Team. But it was more of a girls sport. Whereas soccer in Germany is originally a total male sport and has only been opening up to female participation the lest 15 years or so. – Funny, isn’t it?! (Didn’t your daughter join a soccer team at one point? I thought I read a post to that extent).

      Football on the other hand was huge in Texas. Seriously. Huge. The pressure thos High School Varsity Football Guys are under was unbelievable. And Baseball. Yeah I know all about that. My baby cousin is somewhat of a freak wunderkind when it comes to baseball. He’s currently on a full-boat scholarship at Vanderbilt (after he turned down a NY Yankees Draft).

      So glad you enjoyed this post. I’m seriously considering a follow-up to this 😉

  4. You have stoked the fires! I have for many a year longed to visit my ancestral home. Originally from Karlshrue, my grandfather emigrated from Germany in the 30’s when he sensed a not so cool change. I am now a fan of your lovely state and of course I have to visit Munich.
    This Karneval thing sounds like quite a bit of fun! Great post!

    • Thanks – yes, it is highly recommendable (obviously it’s not Carnival in Rio and you should prepare for some frosty temperatures, but it’s all worth it! 😉 )

      I can’t believe you have ancestors from Karlsruhe (not just because I mentioned it as one of the must-see cities in Germany for it’s beauty, but also b/c my grandparents live right around the corner from it and I basically spent half my life there)! That’s so cool – world’s a village and all of that! 😀

      Oh and if you want to visit Munich during the Oktoberfest (the ultimate beer, bratwurst and lederhosen party!), make sure not to fall into the usual tourist-trap: Just because they call it Oktoberfest, doesn’t mean it takes place during octobre – it’s actually in septembre 😉

      Since everybody (so far) is completely digging this – I really think I’ll have to add some more posts to this series 😉

    • Hi David

      first things first: I had to un-spam you which I found completely hilarious, considering you a) actually commented in regards to the post b)You have a working syntax going on and not the usual spammer gibberish 😉 (my guess is it happened because you have linked your sight to a lot of your other blogs btw)

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and comment.

      I love your description Germany “ordered and tidy” – Funnily enough we perceive ourselves to be somewhat chaotic and messy (but then again the rest of Europe thinks we’re a bit OCD 😉 )

      If you ever visit again, you should try to get to know the people – as a rule of thumb I’d say that the further south you go the more welcoming and open people are. I admit that we aren’t the easiest friends to make in the world. We don’t do small talk very well, we don’t smile often (especially up north) and a lot of times we simply don’t get sarcasm – but bearing all of that in mind (and being a little patient with our lacking charme and sense of humor), you might make the most loyal, honest and trustworthy friends you’ll ever have.

      Takes a while to warm up to us and vice versa, but under all that grumpyness (and the keep of the grass signs) we are a pretty likeable bunch 😉

      And the beer – ah well what can I say: It isn’t called “liquid bread” here for nothing 😉

  5. There is so much to take in here, but it kind of makes you want to jump on a plane and go see it. I have never been to any place in the world outside the North American continent and am aching to see the world I should have see in my 20’s.

    This snippet has given me a taste of your country, I wish I could do the same but I fear the world already has a clear enough view of our asinine ways that I’m not sure what I contribute that would be representative of it that you don’t already know.

    I wonder if I could put up a post about my regional nuances. hmm… I might be a little too lazy and busy for that, but I think it would be fun all the same. I’ll have to sprinkle bits and pieces out over time. Our biggest event though (regionally) is something called “pumpkinfest”. In which the local town tries to light as many jack o’ lanterns as possible at one time. It’s a fall festival and mostly ‘out of towners’ attend it these days while all the locals hide indoors and just people watch the crowds go by. http://www.pumpkinfestival2011.org/

    Thanks for a tiny glimpse into the culture there. This was fun, if only for making me want to learn another language still (I read the previous link and laughed a lot!) 🙂

    • It’s never to late to travel. My grandparents spent about 10 (maybe even 15 years) travelling the entire globe after my grandfather retired. They have been to more places at 85-90 than most people (including myself) have seen in their 30s or maybe even 40s. And they had the time of their life travelling too. Obviously, it’s not back-packing through Goya anymore, but does that really matter?

      I’d love to see a post about your regional cultural specialties! I really enjoyed watching this clip on the pumpkin fest – it’s beautiful! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kacqyR4aI0o

      Glad you enjoyed the sneak peek post – I’m working on a sequal but it might take a bit, since work’s and studies are taking their toll at the moment 😉

      (Isn’t Mr. Twain hilarious – I loved the article!)

      • I have no idea how you fit all this in, blogging, work, studies, life! But I appreciate that you do.

        I hope that if I make it to retirement and can travel, that I’ll also still be of “hiking” composition, after all, I’d rather travel that ways anyway. But at 85 years old, I expect I’ll appreciate what ever the modern conveniences are for travel… heck I expect I’d appreciate everything at that point. Is this the same grandmother you’ve mentioned earlier? The one who wanted to steal you away to the states?

        • Nope those are my maternal grandparents and believe me that lady rarely appreciates anything 😉

          The globetrotters were my paternal (German) grandparents 😉

          Considering that 40 is the new 25 – 85 should be the new 70 at least and by the time we turn 85 probably more like the new 65 – so I’m guessing hiking should be possible. 😉

          Yeah, sometimes I need more hours to a day, but I think the secret behind all of this is being used to being sleep deprived (4hours is pretty normal for me), being somewhat efficient and most importantly procrastinating and pushing everything to deadlines

          Also obviously, after days / weeks of living like that I basically just drop and sleep for hours on end

          Today was one of those 10hours sleep days 😉

          Oh and caffeine works – in large quantities 😉

    • Thank you – not sure how much your spanish audience will appreciate this (and if you are not spam after all, no offense), but – yeah thanks – I guess 🙂

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