because everyone loves a good top 10 list…

And now, the top 10 differences between Germany and the United States.

10. Cold beer is everywhere. Here in Indiana, you can’t even buy cold beer at the grocery store. In theory, this forces alcoholics to wait approximately 20 minutes while their beer chills before they start drinking again, thus preventing countless accidents and deaths. (I mean, we all know alcoholics are too high-brow to drink warm beer, amirite?)

In Germany, you can buy cold beer at a gift shop and you can drink it outside of a police station (but you probably don’t want to hang around too long).

I know you think I’m about to segue into a discussion about how Europe’s a utopian society free of alcoholism, but I’m not. They have just as many sloppy drunks as America, they just don’t have any false notions about preventing it with stupid laws.

9. You can take your dog anywhere.

At first, I thought there were just a buttload of blind people in Germany until I realized they were all staring back.

We saw dogs in offices, dogs in restaurants, and even dogs at Saturn Electronics (Europe’s answer to Best Buy). I think in America there’s some kind of health code against that, but in Europe they’re fine with it. And so am I.

8. Everybody smokes. BUT it’s getting better — you can no longer smoke inside most restaurants (just bars), and the airports now have designated areas; Camel Zones, they call them in Munich (last time, you could just light up in the terminal).


But still, everybody smokes. Any time you walk into a building, you get to wade through a wall of smoke. And when you’re hungover at 7 a.m. and trying not to do voms all over the train station, that’s a pretty big deal.

7. They have castles.

Like, a lot of them.


5. Funky bathrooms. They might be smaller, but they’re so vogue. The toilet flushers are these big plastic buttons and the water whisks your turds away with only the finest in German engineering.

Check out Sven’s bathroom (click to enlarge):

He had a urinal installed. How many of you can say that?! Almost makes me wish I was a dude.

In Munich however, that bathrooms were not so much vogue as just plain weird…

This is something we like to call the Munich Ledge:

Nearly every toilet in Munich has this awkward ledge where your doody sits before you flush it away. The only thing we can figure is that the ledge is somehow a water-saving feature.

4. Beds. Each person in the bed gets their own comforter. Amazing.

Even our buddies Lars and Sonja (and also Sven “I have my own urinal” Wernicke), maintain a strict one-comforter-per-person policy, which works out rather well if your spouse is a “night thrasher.” I think this is why the divorce rate is lower in Europe*

3. They’re seriously lacking in the ice and water department. After eight hours on a plane, all you want is a nice, tall refreshing glass of water. You get? Mineral. No ice. Even in restaurants, if you order water you have to pay for it. Some really nice places will bring you a little water with your actual drink. But it’s like, a shot of water. A tease.

We’re told the reason for this is that when you got to a restaurant you should treat yourself to a real beverage and save the water-drinking for your home.

I can probably get on board with this as long as I’m still allowed to keep my bottle of tap water with me at all times.

2. NUTELLA EVERYTHING. Nutella ice cream. Nutella yogurt. The possibilities are endless. Come on, U.S.A., get your act together and start utilizing Nutella. I mean it.

1. Meat group! (20,000 points if you get that reference.)

I still haven’t been able to figure out why nobody is fat there, with all this tasty food and beer. Magic? Oh wait, it’s probably all the cigarettes and intravenous drugs…

Bonus item: Reeperbahn!

Where the Beatles got their start, prostitution is legal and the beer flows like…well, beer.

Tomorrow: GrΓΆninger!

*I made up that divorce part but the rest is true.

132 thoughts on “because everyone loves a good top 10 list…

  1. Wow, that was some terrific analysis! I like the beer references the most. However, #6 Free Needle Exchange, was a close second, mainly because you didn’t feel the need for any explanation.

    Looks like you guys had a great time.

  2. That sounds wonderful! Ugh I totally know what you mean about the smoking though. When I walked out of my hotel Saturday morning, someone was smoking and I literally almost threw up all over them.

    • my mother is stationed in germany, and she has “reaped the benefits” of socialized health care – you might want to look into it. castles are pretty but their hospitals are something they should be ashamed of. unless, of course, you have money and/or are an american.

      • Sounds like she had a tough time. Our friend went though some very serious medical problems in Germany and had nothing but praise for their healthcare system. They lived on a single income for several years while he was recovering and now he’s back at work. I appreciate your input, thanks for reading.

  3. ROFLMFAO!!!

    The bathroom part was the best!

    And the picture with the “tiny water” and “tease” had me rolling!

    England has the most alcoholics I believe and there’s a pub on every corner I think. They have lots of castles too. Funny how the two countries have so much in common but hate eachother immensely!

    This was hysterically funny! I have to tweet this!

  4. Awesome list! I’ve concluded:

    1. Germans are very water-concious (drinking and bathroom-wise)
    2. Nutella gets the attention it deserves.
    3. Dogs get the attention they deserve
    4. Germans are very smart to implement a to-each-his-own comforter policy. I’ve slept with a blanket-hog, and it’s no fun.

  5. This is such a fun list! I think it’s humourous that everyone gets their own comforter…but I can see how it might help. You may have made up the divorce stat, but I can’t see it being very far from the truth…hehe…

  6. Cool post! I like the pictures and the humor. And I think that doodie ledge in the toilet is a pro-gravity feature so that only one, slick hydroplane will whisk away even the most solid of deposits. Surely, there’s an interesting physics forumulation in there somewhere.

  7. OK, so America needs more castles and to discover the awesomeness of Nutella besides the big jar in my cabinet that is almost empty. When you get back, you need to cross the stateline to Illinois. We have cold beer in coolers and sell it on Sundays.

  8. Here in Seattle, people take their pets everywhere, too. It doesn’t seem to be AS extreme as you make it sound in Germany, and we have the same “service animals only” laws as the rest/most of the US, but that brings up the discussion of the validity of the “comfort animal,” where a person argues that they need their cat or ferret in the grocery store because their “comfort” is at stake. And of course you’re heartless if you try to call that out as BS, because, really, you don’t know anything about their condition . . .

    Great list!

  9. What a great post! I love reading about different places other than my little bubble here in the US.

    The toilet thing? Weird. But I guess not as weird as Asia where they have little water squirters to clean your junk after you use the bathroom.

    I’m fine with just toilet paper, thanks.

  10. Haha! I really enjoyed your list! My favorites…bringing your dog everywhere and nutella probably because the are two of my most favorite things in the world.

  11. Love this and you made me miss Germany so much!! Nutella is catching on some in the United States. That stuff if unbelievably delicious. I could put Nutella on anything. Try it in between to thin pancakes in the morning … a little piece of heaven. Another thing to add to your list? Brochen. This German bread is ridiculously good and widely available in Germany. It’s hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Load it up with some Nutella for breakfast or some meat and make a sandwich at lunch. Have it with some butter at dinner. Why doesn’t the US have a bread to call our own? And if you tell me ours is Wonder Bread, I may move back to Germany right now…

    I didn’t remember the comforter issue, but that’s a good point too! I HATE sharing blankets!

  12. Awesome post! Keep at it! Any cool chicks in Germany we should perhaps profile for IWMag? Better yet, any uber cool eco-friendly shops, products you might have come across?

  13. Wow didn’t know that about Germany, that’s pretty cool. Did you know that Germany was also the first to decorate an evergreen tree during the Christmas holiday? Any they were the first to create an artificial Christmas tree with the use of goose feathers that were died green!

    Anyway definitely got a good laugh out of your post!

  14. Love this whole post.

    I’m going out Bed, Bath & Beyond today to buy a second comforter for the bed – I share it with a dude who often makes himself into a burrito over the course of the night. Separate comforters? That is just pure brilliance. Thanks, Germany.

  15. I lived in Germany for 8 years – 8yo to 16 – and I LOVE your top 10! Ahhh, I miss Germany – drinking at 14 and the Export beer!

  16. This should just be part of Germany’s ad campaign for tourism.

    “Cold Beer is EVERYWHERE”
    “You can take your dog ANYWHERE”

    Once I learned that there was cold beer and dogs all over the place, I thought about booking a flight immediately. Wonderland.

  17. Nice writing, it’s always fun to read what Americans think of Europe. Even more when they know that Europe is not a country… πŸ˜›

  18. “At first, I thought there were just a buttload of blind people in Germany until I realized they were all staring back.” So, funny! That one made me laugh out loud.

    I’m gonna take a guess on that “Munich ledge” and say it’s to cut down on the “backspash” factor… Sorry, but, hey, you all know what I’m talking about. Don’t try to act like that is something you’ve never experienced!

  19. Well, you could come to France for the castles, nutella and dogs anywhere and everywhere. I was always amazed when I moved here from the U.K. that at all outdoor events where they sell food, there is always a catering sized tub of nutella ready to smear on your crepes. Also amazed to see dogs in butcher shops, restaurants, etc. sometimes unaccompanied. However, wine is more free flowing than beer and, since the smoking ban, you are forced to become part of the pavement cafe culture if you want a gauloise. Plus, I don’t believe I’ve seen a ledge in the loo or separate comforters – still you can’t have everything.

  20. Congratulations, great post! I’m from Mexico City and now I live there after a couple of years living in Eastern Europe; your top ten list along with your pictures made me want to go back!


  21. Great top 10 very creative and funny. I loved the pictures of the castles. I am not a beer drinker but I hear they have great wine thats my favorite german wine LOL. Maybe some day I will make it over there.

  22. It is really refreshing that someone goes to Germany and really appreciates the flavor of the country. I enjoyed lite flavors, darker hops brews and just about anything else you can imagine. I used to down a couple of pints and run 10 miles. Now I just down the pints and the only running is to the lieu. Great blog – keep up the good work!

  23. If there’s anything I like more than drinking in public, it’s castles. I wonder if drinking in public includes actually drinking IN the castles. I’d be all over that.

    Love the post. Your witty writing style is complimented by your practicality when it comes to comforters. I can dig that.

  24. hello from germany!
    great post, really. i love it.
    well, the german have one bad thing: moaning! about everything and everybody. but at the end i have to give that germany is a good country there to live. i ‘m happy to live here with a healthsystem, good education and many others.
    sincerely rolf from wesel near dusseldorf

  25. i read this since it was featured as freshly pressed, and very much so enjoyed it. my family is from germany/austria/yugoslavia and this just made me want to visit even more (since ive never been)! the nutella mention made me drool…(try it on smores instead of regular chocolate!)
    ps. ENCINO MAN!!!

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  27. Nice post!!

    I am so lucky!!

    I am Dutch, living in France … here we have castles, beer and wine all over the place. And here in France you may eat your croissant on the terrace, which you have bought earlier in the bakery πŸ˜‰

  28. Straight from the horse’s mouth: Had idiotic conversation with some English guy about the merits of WARM beer. My son (50/50 German English) wears T-shirt: “Freibier fuer alle sonst gibt es Krawalle.” But then he is into the group TANKARD too (how timely for the Oktoberfest). Am most gratified that motherland’s values have rubbed off on Apple of my Eye.

    As to the toilet ledge: A couple of your other commentators are spot on – as it were. What do you expect from a nation anxious about their blood pressure (125/70) and, during your average coffee and cake afternoon, discussing their “Kreislauf”. English people don’t have a Kreislauf; they just hope that the motor keeps working at pulsating all that blood round your body lest you die.

    Back to motions: Since your current health is reflected in your bowel movement you might as well be given a chance to inspect it for whatever you are looking for. The English – always in denial as to bodily functions – don’t like intro/extraspection. If I were so inclined – and if years of living in England had not corrupted me – I’d now launch into the statistics of bowel cancer per square mile capita in England vs Germany – or France come to think of it.

    As to Germans’ obsession with cleanliness: There is no getting away from prejudice. Which is one of the reasons I always keep one of the rooms in the house in complete disarray. Works wonders to dispel misconceptions.

    And what of the joys of the German Autobahn? Talk about horsepower and letting go of the leash. Love it.

    Hamburg is great. Have you been to Berlin?


  29. hi, i am from germany, enjoyed your list a lot. and, i think it is very well chosen πŸ™‚ … i would add “we are allowed to and do drive our cars on the autobahn as fast as the cars can run” to round off the picture …

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  31. Really funny stuff. Personally, I would like the ledge. A better platform for evaluation and admiration. Okay, that probably could have gone unsaid.

    Skimming down the comments I saw beer vending machines?! Imagine how frustrating that would be when it kept spitting your bills back out because they were too wrinkled.

    Look forward to reading more. I’m signing up.

    Chase McFadden
    “Some Species Eat Their Young”

    • Hey, thanks! And one of my grosser friends also called it a viewing platform so you’re not alone.

      LOVE the name of your blog – I’m checking you out right now!

    • >Skimming down the comments I saw beer vending machines?! Imagine how frustrating that would be when it kept spitting your bills back out because they were too wrinkled.

      That was my comment above. Those machines are in Japan.
      And Japanese vending machines actually work properly…no worries about bills being “spit back out”. (Anyways, Japanese money doesn’t get wrinkled like U.S. bills do). πŸ˜‰

      • Wow. Just when you think the world as we know it can’t get any better. Is there was a peanut vending machine attached, I’d probably move right now.

      • LOL – how do we expect to achieve health care reform when we can’t even produce a decently non-wrinkled dollar bill. DAP! Thanks for the laughs you two –

  32. We called the “Munich Ledge” the poop shelf. A friend of mine who married a German and now lives there told me that it is for studying your poop and thus analizing your general health. We lived in Germany for four years and everything you wrote is pretty accurate. Gave me a good chuckle. πŸ™‚

  33. Yup- all excellent points – love your list- and am so jealous! I have to wait one more year til we return. After our first trip over, we implemented the 2 comforter rule at home. It could be a marriage saver if there was some way to take care of the snoring…

    BTW, my Top 10 Fun Facts about Europe is my most popular post and you already have 125 comments on this one! Be prepared for it to be hit on for a long time!

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  35. Everyone DOES love top 10 lists. I just posted a top 20 entry myself! My friends and I are on a mission to travel to as many places and have as many new experiences as possible before we graduate college, and my boyfriend and his friend are taking a trip to Gemany this winter. Definitely sending this to him!

    The own comforter thing… inspired! Curse the Germans for coming up with it first!

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