German Travel Trivia
Alles Wurst? (All Sausage?)
German cuisine is all about meat and sausages? Nope, according to Wikipedia Germany’s meat consumption per person is a mere 82kg per annum, still roughly 30 times more than in Bhutan or Bangladesh, but nothing much compared with the 125kg gobbled down in the U.S. or the 146kg eaten by the citizens of world-leading Denmark. “Alles Wurst” means whatever in German.
Fun facts: traditionally (and in actual fact), white sausage must never be eaten after 12 noon. This is because white sausages would go off easily during the days when most people wouldn’t have refridgerators. They must never be eaten with anything but white sausage (sweet) mustard.
Over 800 million currywurst are eaten in Germany each year – currywurst is a sausage served with a spicy sauce and curry powder, and is a street food that has become a cult classic in Germany. There’s even a museum in Berlin dedicated to the popular snack.
Germans are always on time? Try half three.
If you ask a German the time and are told “halb drei” (literally “half three”) the time is in fact half past two (half two in English). Germans count the minutes to the next hour rather than after.
They love their penalty shootouts.
Germany has (once) lost a penalty shootout in a major football competition. It was in 1976 when the then West Germany lost a shootout 5-3 in in the European Championships against Czechoslovakia. On the other occasions the Germans have been involved in one, they won.
The land of poets and thinkers did what?!
The “TV station Paul Nipkov” was a station in Berlin that began the first television broadcast on 22.3.1935. Although only 250 televisions existed around Berlin, this was the first regular television service in the world.
Beer classifies as basic grocery, not alcohol?
It is common in Bavaria to use the above terminology. Journalists do, politicians do, everyone does. However, so-called beer tax (clearly not applied to other basic groceries) is being charged on beer (on top of other taxes like VAT). It is extremely low and much lower per unit of alcohol than the regular alcohol tax on wine or liquor.
All over Germany, if you shop around and don’t care about the brand, you can get a half litre bottle of beer in a supermarket from around €0.45 (if you buy a whole crate of 20 bottles). A few years ago, some markets were still selling below €0.20, which is the price level I remember from uni. If you’re more the social type, then you might be more interested in the fact that the average half litre of beer in a German pub costs only just over €2.30. Berlin is one of the cities where this is what you’ll pay. Mind you, though, in Munich or Frankfurt it is €4.75, more or less London prices.
Germans are the fourth largest beer consumers in the world, after the Czechs, the Seychellois, and the Austrians.
There are more than 5,000 brands of beer in Germany (and over 1,200 types of sausage). To put this in perspective: France is thought to have 400 distinct types of cheese.
Karl Marx, the author of the Communist Manifesto, was born in the Rhineland city of Trier and was a keen member of the Trier Tavern Club drinking society (Landsmannschaft der Treveraner).
Same procedure as every year, James
Watching a TV recording of a 1963 theatre performance of English-language, British comedy sketch “Dinner for One”, starring Freddie Frinton and May Warden, is an essential part of the German New Year’s Eve celebration. It is in fact the most-repeated TV programme ever according to the Guinnes Book of Records. Each of the various dialogues between the two main characters ends with 90yo Miss Sophie, the lady of the house, saying to her butler: “Same procedure as every year, James.” More info here.
Germans love Monty Python and there are many of them who can quote every other line from films like ‘The Life of Brian’. ‘Spitting Image’ was also a great success in the 80ies. It was (highly unusual for Germany where everything is usually dubbed) televised with sub-titles and became one of the most popular TV comedy shows. In short, Germans are massive anglophiles. If you have at least something like a third cousin from england and you’re a native english speaker, you will make friends quickly.
Out in the wild
Despite its relatively high population density, one third of Germany’s land surface is covered by forests and woodlands. The highest mountain is just under 3,000m high (in comparison, Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK is 1,345m tall) and there are plenty of mountain ranges all over the place, some too high for forest. Out there you find wolves, wisents, lynx, and wild boars. Brown bears have been sighted on several occasions, and most observers expect the first brown bears to settle permanently within months. (By comparison: the largest land animal in the UK is a stag/deer; apex predators include foxes, otters, and owls.)
Not quite scuba-diving
The word snorkel comes from the German word Schnorchel, which was a tube used by German submarine crews in WWII. Talking watersports: Did you know that people go surfing in the so-called Eisbach river in the centre of Munich, which throws a few static waves due to uneven ground surface and fast current.
Germans don’t bang on about it, but…
Germany is the most populous European country (apart from Russia), with a population of 82 million.
German is the official language of 5 countries: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. It is also spoken in Northern Italy (South Tyrol) and the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. German remains the language with the most native speakers in Europe.
German is the third most commonly taught language worldwide.
The first printed book was in German.
There are more than 100 German Nobel laureates.
Classical music has been widely dominated by German-speaking composers. A few famous ones born on the present territory of Germany include Bach, Händel, Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner and R. Strauss.
The following cities have all at one time or another been capitals of Germany: Aachen, Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Nuremberg, Berlin, Weimar, Bonn (and East Berlin), and, since 1990, Berlin again.
Munich in the very south of Germany is further North than any major U.S. city.
Berlin, now weighing in at about 3.5m residents (less than 3m in the late 90s), used to boast 4.5m residents during the Third Reich.
When JFK visited Berlin, he infamously said “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which also translates to “I am a donut.”
The world’s narrowest street is in Reutlingen. It is called Spreuerhofstrasse and is 31 cm (one foot) wide at its narrowest point.
Haute couture and other fashion matters
“Adidas” is made from the beginning six letters of the designer’s name, Adi Dassler. It is based in Herzogenaurach, which also happens to be the home of Puma.
Hugo Boss designed the official uniforms for the Nazi Party and Hitler Youth.
There are plenty of other famous German fashion designers, including Wolfgang Joop and Karl Lagerfeld.
Perhaps similar to the English, Germans love animals. Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten is the largest zoo in the world. Germany also boasts more than 400 further registered zoos. Including zoological gardens, wildlife parks, aquariums, bird parks, animal reserves, or safari parks, Germany has nearly 700 facilities.
Thanks for having stopped by. Enjoyed reading this? Check out Trevor’s other Travel Trivia on Albania, Papua New Guinea, the world’s most dangerous food, travel, and Australia’s most dangerous animals.