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Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame

As most true Brits realized long ago, there are a lot of reasons why Britain is pretty rubbish. Jörg Luyken argues that his fellow Brits should pack their bags and move to Deutschland.

Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Big Brother keeping an eye on Big Ben. Photo: DPA

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 Berlin and other 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 out 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.

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…

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TRAVEL

What does the UK’s new ‘traffic light’ system mean for travel to Germany?

The UK government is bringing in a 'traffic light' system set of rules for travel to different countries. Here's what it could mean for travel between Germany and the UK.

What does the UK's new 'traffic light' system mean for travel to Germany?
A near empty Heathrow Airport in London in January 2021. picture alliance/dpa/ZUMA Wire | May James

Whether it’s about visiting family or taking a holiday, Brits in Germany, as well as people in the UK, are desperate to know how they can travel to and from Britain.

At present the UK rules prohibit travel out of the country for non-essential purposes, meaning holidays to Germany (and everywhere else) are not possible. Travel is only allowed for an essential reason.

However, this is set to be lifted from May 17th, and at that stage England’s ‘traffic light’ system will kick in.

This involves giving each country a designation – red, amber or green – based on data including case numbers and vaccination rates in the country.

On Friday Germany was listed as an ‘amber’ country. Although coronavirus infections are falling and vaccinations are picking up pace, numbers at the moment are still quite high.

EXPLAINED: The European countries on England’s ‘amber’ travel list and what it means

For comparison, Our World in Data shows that Germany has 210.97 daily confirmed cases per million people, while the UK has 29.9.

READ ALSO:

However, if the trend continues and numbers continue to drop in Germany in the coming weeks – it could be placed on the green list some time soon.

Not being on the green list doesn’t mean that travel isn’t allowed – it just means that people will have to quarantine and test on arrival in the UK.

Red list – arrivals have to quarantine in specially-designated quarantine hotels for 10 days. The traveller is liable for the cost of these, which is up to £1,700 (around €1,967), plus the cost of testing after arrival. A Covid test is required to enter the country. This is expected to be reserved for the highest-risk countries including India, Brazil and South Africa.

Note that it could be the case (as is currently) that anyone who’s not a British/Irish national or resident will be refused entry if they are coming from a red country.

Amber list – arrivals have to quarantine for 10 days but can do so in a location of their choice including the home of a friend or family member. Arrivals also have to pay for travel-testing kits which cost around £200 (around €232) per person. A Covid test is required to enter the country. Essentially this the regime currently in place for most arrivals.

Green list – no quarantine is necessary, but a Covid test is required to enter the country, plus another test on or before day two of their stay. 

Note that the current travel rules for entering the UK say that an antigen test meeting a certain quality standard is allowed for entry into Britain rather than only PCR tests. We don’t know if this will be allowed under the new travel rules so make sure to check the UK Government’s site before travel.

The list as published applies to England only.

The devolved nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not announced when they will lift travel restrictions but have not so far indicated that they intend to impose different rules to England’s.

The German travel rules

Currently Germany discourages all but essential travel within the country and abroad.

However, German states are putting together plans for reopening hotels and other overnight accommodation which signals that things are beginning to open up. 

READ ALSO:

At the moment, Germany has travel bans in place for areas deemed high risk due to mutations of coronavirus. That currently includes Brazil and India. Some people, such as German citizens are residents are exempt from the bans but have to comply with strict quarantine and testing rules.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the latest rules on travel to and from Germany

Everyone arriving in the country by plane, regardless of the risk status of the place they are travelling from, has to present a negative coronavirus test certificate no older than 48 hours before boarding.

The test must have been taken no more than 48 hours before entry (time of swabbing). Proof of the test result must be on paper or in an electronic document in English, French or German. The test result must be kept for at least 10 days after entry.

For information on test requirements have a look at this information sheet.

All entries to Germany must also register online prior to arrival by filling in your information on this site: www.einreiseanmeldung.de.

There are also strict quarantine rules for arrivals from most countries, which are set by the German state. The quarantine period typically lasts 10 or 14 days, and in some cases can be ended after a negative Covid test taken at the earliest five days into self-isolation.

You can find your local government here by entering the postcode.

We’ll let you know if and when travel rules change in Germany.

What about vaccine passports?

Neither Germany nor the UK as yet have vaccine passport systems up and running.

That means that, for the moment, even fully vaccinated people will have to abide by the testing and quarantine rules.

READ ALSO: How will the EU’s ‘Covid passport’ work for tourists in Europe?

Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.

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