• Germany's news in English

Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame

Jörg Luyken · 26 Aug 2015, 15:59

Published: 26 Aug 2015 11:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Aug 2015 15:59 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Summer holidays are that time when you get to go home, hold your nose up at everything and say 'huh, well this wouldn't happen in Germany/France/the Amazon jungle' ...or whatever part of the world you've graced with your delightful expat presence.

We've just been back to the UK and have returned full of condescension for how those quaint little island people live.

This list could have been much longer, but we've tried to reduce it to the most important things Germans do better.

1. They have something called summer

Summer in London. Photo: Colin Smith

A cheap shot admittedly, but no less worthy of a good old moan for it. Why is the weather so terrible in Britain?

Everyone was complaining this was the worst summer they'd had in forty years. But really? Is it ever any different? As we heard one wit say 'I love the English summer, it's my favourite day of the year.'

In Berlin this July it was so hot doors and windows were bending out of shape – sort it out Britain!

2. A pint of beer and a pack of cigarettes doesn't eat up half a month's wages

In Germany this definitely won't cost you over a tenner. Photo: DPA

Britain is crazily expensive. This is particularly true if you're paid in Euros - on nights out back in Blighty we resorted to sticking four straws into a pint of beer and pretending it was a cocktail party.

The price of cigarettes - this reporter's most unpleasant vice - is over double what you pay in Germany - even a hostel bed in some godforsaken corner of Scotland costs more than you'd pay in Berlin.

Germans have figured out that you don't earn a salary to pay for the place you live so that you can keep on working - but so that you can have a good time when you're not. Britain might want to take note.

3. Music isn't terrible

Usher is still a staple of UK nightclub playlists. Photo: Lauren Wohl

Despite the cost, Brits still manage to knock back booze like fish when they go out. Which is probably explained by the fact that playlists in bars and clubs haven't changed since 2003 – fine if you are looking to relive wasted freshers' week experiences with 2-for-one drinks, less so if you have reached an age where you actually want to enjoy the music you listen to.

Even in cool bars Shakira and Usher seem to be go-to choices (no doubt ironically, although the joke wore thin years ago). The only thing to outdo the poverty of the music taste is the drabness of decor.

In Germany it is not particularly hard to find a bar that puts at least some thought into originality both in terms of how it looks and also what it plays. In fact, walking into a independent bar is the norm here, which sadly can't been said for poor old Blighty.

4. British night spots stink

This bloke would rather be anywhere else but serving horrible, smelly Londoners beer. Photo: DPA

Then there is the smell in British clubs and bars. Perhaps it is the excessive drinking, perhaps the overly enthusiastic ironic dance moves ("Look! We still find it funny to dance to the Black Eyed Peas ten years later!") – but Brits seem to have lost control of certain vital functions.

Walk into a British bar or club and your nostrils will be assaulted by the stench of farts, vomit or if you're lucky stale sweat.

Because in many German cities you can still smoke in bars and clubs (as long as they don't serve food) if you happen to be in a club full of Brits on a 'large weekend,' their unseemly smell is often covered up.

While no one's saying this solution is perfect, in the humble opinion of this journalist it's by far the lesser of two evils.

5. Germans are trusted to drink responsibly...

In Britain, what Germans call 'Komasaufen' is just called 'drinking'. Photo: DPA

This not only means that 'sin taxes' aren't higher than the cost of the beer itself, it means that you can drink where you want, when you want.

You can buy a cheap beer from an off-licence and enjoy it outside in the sun, or as you head off on a night out.

You also don't need to worry about opening times - even if seven in the morning is when you like to start partying, you'll find somewhere that's open.

In Britain you have to pay a hefty fine if the cops catch you enjoying a cool beer on the street - yet it's not uncommon there to see someone vomiting his guts outside a Weatherspoons in the early afternoon.

Something tells us banning outdoor drinking isn't the answer.

6. ...And generally not to be criminals

Much more seriously, there is still a basic pact between the German state and citizenry of being innocent until proven guilty. Invasions of privacy are abundant in Britain, as is obvious to any visitor who has dealt with the horribly officious airport security.

Most galling, though, is the state's love of perving on us with CCTV cameras. You can't move a millimetre in London without being watched, and even in Edinburgh, where crime went out of fashion with the Victorians, cameras poke their beady eyes down every little Newtown street.

In Germany, governments face serious hurdles to putting CCTV in public spaces, airport security is treated as more of a tiresome obligation than something they seriously expect to stop crime, and there aren't even barriers to stop you riding the U-Bahn without a ticket.

7. Germans recycle properly

Most German supermarkets have machines that pay you to recycle bottles and cans. Photo: DPA

While Britain is slowly dragging itself into a world where one's first instinct isn't to throw an empty packet of crisps over one's shoulder, there still seems to be much work to do.

Story continues below…

In Germany you get money back when you return empty cans and bottles. This makes a particular difference at festivals, encouraging people not to just drop their rubbish on the street.

Because no such concept exists in Britain, plastic and paper cups are strewn everywhere.

8. Getting around is easy-peasy (and affordable)

Even in the British cities that have underground lines, you'll spend about half a day navigating various forms of public transport just to visit a friend who lives at the end of your street.

Because the wonders of overground rail and trams are commonplace in most major German cities, you can cross places like Berlin without having to pack three days' rations first. And on weekends inner-city public transport runs 24 hours.

Just compare that with London's endless battle to do the same.

Furthermore, while taking the train from Stanstead to London means you've already spent over double your holiday budget by the time you get to London, German airports are connected to regular city transport, making them cheap and close to the place the claim to actually serve.

9. German politics isn't (entirely) made up as it goes along

Germany has a modern constitution which fairly and rationally distributes power, while Britain's government only works by the good graces of battalions of people in silly hats with titles like the Lord Keeper of the King's Privy Cheese Board.

All federal states have the same power in relation to the central government and no one state is so big as to exclude the voice of the others. As quirky as Bavaria is, there is not much chance it is going to demand independence any time soon.

So while Germany gets on with real politics, Britain is squabbling over borders that haven't existed in practice for hundreds of years.

10. But then at least Brits know how to cook a good Sunday roast...

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jörg Luyken (joerg.luyken@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd