Tag Archives: Germany

Can Germans Be Funny?

Sitcoms are not flattering in their portrayals of Teutonic humor. Last year Family Guy and South Park both took swipes at Germanic stoicism. And the entire country of England has been making fun of an alleged German dearth of humor since the Anglo-Saxons migrated from there in the first place to help “administer” local Celtic read more »

Spreewald Tropical Islands

Imagine that instead of World War II the Germans had dedicated their resources and abundance of rocket scientists towards building extravagant moon bases. Got it? Now picture that moon base about an hour south of Berlin in the middle of a big field. That’s Spreewald’s Tropical Islands. The building is one of the most voluminous read more »


Extracting travel advice from Germans about their homeland is exceedingly difficult. They’re afraid that if they exhibit the slightest modicum of patriotism or civic pride, we will infer they’re gearing up for WWIII. So they’re very dismissive of otherwise impressive cities and accomplishments. The German flag exists mostly as a label for produce, and you read more »

Why they Put Potatoes on Frederick the Great’s Grave

You might wonder, “Why have all these people been putting potatoes on top of Frederick the Great’s grave?” That’s an excellent question. Before we get to the whole potato-grave thing (presumably why you came to Potsdam), we ought to talk a bit about Prussia first. Pop quiz: What is the only state in the history read more »

Statue Reviews: Lübeck

I’ve seen many a statue in my travels but Germans make the most stirring ones. Most sculptors the world over bequeath to their subjects an expression of ponderously gazing into the future, as if contemplating the ramifications of the heroic deed they are about to perform. German statues all possess the same resolute expression: “I read more »

Supposedly I Have Cousins Here

German cities generally fall into two categories. “Not-Bombed” and “Rebuilt.” The not-bombed ones are summarily gorgeous. The rebuilt ones are usually pleasant but not terribly interesting– Hanover is a sound example. Der Spiegel has at times posed the question, “Is Hanover Germany’s Most Boring City?” If you lived nearby you would drive there for a nice restaurant read more »

Janine Didn’t Kill Me

Some months ago I received a friendly facebook message from a young woman: “Hi Andrew– it looks like you’re having fun in Europe. I’m still in Sweden but will be in Hamburg in June. It would be nice to meet up! – Janine” As I was already planning a trip to Germany this was a read more »

Hamburg is Where Hamburgers are From?!

Perhaps the most shocking lesson I learned in Hamburg is that it is the birthplace of the hamburger. “Hamburgers” are a popular American delicacy, and also a convenient way to constrict dangerously large arteries. But it turns out they’re a German innovation, and not the brainchild of Texas, as is believed by the entire state read more »

Don’t Fear the Reeperbahn

Hamburgers are allegedly reserved and stiff, but I have a difficult time conceding this stereotype after visiting the city’s Reeperbahn. Spanning the neighborhood of St. Pauli, the Reeperbahn is Hamburg’s Red Light District and nightlife hub. In German it’s called “die sündige Meile,” or “the sinful mile.” It has the outward appearance of a squat read more »

Great Grandpa Charlemagne

You wouldn’t guess by looking at it now, but Aachen used to effectively be the capital of Europe. Charlemagne, King of the Franks, was crowned Emperor of the Romans in 800 AD, rebirthing the Western Roman Empire (sort of). Aachen, a spa resort near his home town, became the de facto capital, and the site read more »

I May Never be an International Spy

It pains me to say so, but I don’t think I’m ever going to be an international spy. Of course I’ve been saying that for years. “I’d make a terrible spy,” I’d confess, “I dress like a professor from a Broadway musical and speak with an accent I apparently invented. I’m too conspicuous.” Which was a clever read more »


My favorite thing about Dusseldorf is the respectable modern architecture. “Respectable modern architecture” is a feat in and of itself. The 1970’s hit Britain and America pretty hard, and you can still see edifices with all the grace and pizazz of a gray shoebox dotting the skylines of our cities. Somehow, across the whole of read more »


The Museum Ludwig houses a vast collection of modern and post modern art. I don’t quite understand why “modern art” is forever art in the beginning of the twentieth century, while “contemporary art” marches on. Did it not occur to people in 1900, when they started saying that their paintings were “modern,” that there might read more »

When I am Kaiser

The other day I made a list of countries I’m willing to be emperor of and Germany was on the short list. To explain the greatness of Deutschland I’ve made a list of the Top Ten Reasons Why Germany is the Superior European Country: 1. Punctuality 2. You can walk around outside with a beer read more »

Bavaria: The Texas of Germany

Munich is the capital of Bavaria, “the Texas of Germany,” as a friend puts it. All of the stereotypes of lederhosen, bratwurst, Oktoberfest, and beer gardens originate specifically from Bavaria. In fact, if you ask about these things in Berlin, people will get annoyed with you and advise you to eat doner kebabs. Yesterday I read more »

Ich Ben Ein Berliner

Berlin is my favorite city on the continent so far. It began its existence as a Slavic fishing village squatting atop a swamp centuries ago. In fact “Berl” means “swamp” in the dialect of its founders. Hence, “Berlin” literally means “Swamp Town.” When you walk by manholes you can still catch a whiff of the read more »