Things the USA Does Better Than Germany: Part 2 | EP 73
Image copyright: Getty Images
As most of you have already seen in last week's news, Germany was hit hard by a devastating flood, which has thus far claimed the lives of over 160 people. Our thoughts are with those that have endured this horrific event and we hope you are all safe and doing well. As we mentioned during this week's episode, we have provided links below of organizations you can send donations that will help the victims and infrastructure that have been affected by the floods:
The DRK provides huge support in emergencies, such as medical services, care, accommodation and food.
The DLRG is involved in water rescue.
They have created a donation account for victims, which will help provide emergency aid and helps those who have lost their homes due to the flooding.
Berlin vs. Bavaria | EP 71
The epic showdown between the North and South is finally here! However, considering only one of us has lived in Munich and for only a few months at that, we needed an expert who could help fill in all the blanks. We'd like to wish another special thanks to Aspen of "Aspen Abroad" for joining us and making the episode fun for all of you! Hopefully in the future she can join us again at some point, because we simply could not fit all of the comparisons between Berlin and Munich into one episode.
If you enjoyed the episode, then you should check out all the other content Aspen has to offer:
Traveling Around Europe on a Budget | EP 68
This week we gave tips on how to travel around Europe cheaply. If you want to backpack through Europe for several months or simply want to enjoy a one week tour of Italy, this information will be very helpful for you.
When we say pack light, we mean PACK LIGHT. As we mentioned in the episode, lay out in front of you everything you think you absolutely need for your trip. Then, remove half of the items. Bring only what is left and you'll thank yourself later.
If you truly think brining just one backpack for a week's travel is impossible, look below. This is the only bag I carried for a nearly 2 month backpacking trip around Europe!
These are cheap, simplified versions of hotels. They offer very few frills or services beyond a basic place to sleep and keep your belongings. Hostels are known for their "dorms", in which a single room can have on average between 6 - 12 bunk style beds (sometimes much, much more). Some dorms are co-ed and some are gender specific. However, most hostels tend to also offer a few private rooms as well, if you'd rather not share a room with strangers.
Below are some examples of cheap hostel rooms we have stayed in over the years. Most offer lockers for you to keep your belongings safe from the others you'll be staying with. Keep in mind, they usually rely on you to bring your own padlocks for use with the provided lockers.
During the trips in our early twenties, we specifically stayed in very low cost hostels because we were backpacking on a nearly non-existent budget. Fancier hostels do exist, however you will obviously pay more for the higher quality furnishings, etc.
Story Time: Travel Beauty & Chaos | EP 66
This week's episode had a whole new format and we hope you guys enjoyed listening to it as much as we did recording it! Let us know if you enjoyed and if so, we'll do more "story time" style episodes in the future.
Below are pictures related to the four stories we told. Enjoy!
STORY 1: "A Long Night in Sofia, Bulgaria" - 2016
Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the bar from the story :(
STORY 2: "First Time in Germany...with Mono?" - 2005
The first image I ever took on my European backpacking odyssey. From the airport I arrived with my taxi at Munich's main train station.
My first experience with a classic German radio/TV tower.
I took this photo of my friend Jameson only moments before blacking out and falling to the ground. However, after 2 days in the hospital I was back on my feet and on my way to Berlin for the first time.
The first image I ever took on my European backpacking odyssey. From the airport I arrived with my taxi at Munich's main train station.
STORY 3: "The Alps, the Beautiful Alps..." - 2018
STORY 4: "A Really Long Night in Bayeux" - 2005
This photo was taken well into one of the longest nights of my life. Here you can see how tired and cold we are (this is why they have their arms in their shirts).
One of the D-Day invasion beaches in the background. Unfortunately, I can not remember which one we visited.
One of the fortifications has been turned into storage for someone's home.
This photo was taken well into one of the longest nights of my life. Here you can see how tired and cold we are (this is why they have their arms in their shirts).
A German Perspective From Our Girlfriends | EP 65
Thanks again to the lovely women in our lives for joining us on this week's episode of the podcast. We had lots of fun and are so thankful to be sharing our life with them.
As Alex promised during the show, we have posted below some examples of Alex's old fashion sense back when he first moved to Germany. In fact, one image shows the actual "Blue Moon" beer shirt that he was wearing during their first encounter! To hear her describe the day they met in detail, give the episode a listen :)
The German Shuffle (5) | EP 64
This week's episode was another good ol' fashioned "shuffle". One of the subjects we covered was how a person living in Germany could possible carry large items to their home, without a car,. Of course, a person could always bring a large item on the subway, tram, etc. However, the walk from the store to the subway, and the subway to your final destination would still involve you carrying the awkward and heavy items yourself.
An alternative is a bicycle, which is capable of carrying lager items than you would think. Geoff, for example, often uses his bike to haul construction materials (including wooden boards) to his house for the various projects he works on.
NOTE: Carrying large items on your bicycle is done so at your own risk! When cycling on public roads, only do so in a safe manner!
In both cases, bungee cords were used to maintain tension and keep the items firmly attached the bicycle. Also, the weight was distributed in such a way as to not affect my balance or the bicycle's center of gravity. This ensured cycling did not feel more difficult than usual. However, for safety reasons, I cycled very slowly.
German Sports & Games | EP 62
During this week's episode we covered football (soccer) extensively and reminisced about the moment when Germany won the World Cup in 2014. However, Geoff forgot to mention he was fortunate enough to actually attend the 2018 World Cup hosted by Russia and went to a group stage match between Sweden and Germany. Luckily, Germany won, but as many of you may know, it was one of these few times they were victorious during the 2018 World Cup games...
Above are some images Geoff took while traveling in Russia and attending the World Cup match between Sweden and Germany. Enjoy.
Raising Children in Germany | EP 58
Shaun, again? It's almost like we can't keep him away from the podcast! Special thanks to Shaun Behrens, the host of the Germany Experience Podcast for joining us for a 2nd time to help discuss this week's topic. We always have fun chatting with him on the show and he was the perfect expert for this episode due to his experience of raising his own three children in Germany. To check out his show, please click the image above!
Apparently our podcast was featured in an article back in December and we didn't even know it! The website HousingAnywhere.com featured us on their list of "3 Podcasts You Shouldn't Miss as an Expat in Berlin". And, look who else is there, Shaun once again! Thank you to their writer Marle for including us.
Useful "Just Landed" German Words & Phrases | EP 57
This week we did something a little different and turned our podcast into a hybrid German language course. However, don't worry we still had plenty of funny stories and descriptions on where you'd use such words and phrases and why they are important. We focused on the phrases that for some reason German language classes do not teach you in the beginning, even though you'll be using them in your daily life from the moment you touch down in Germany. That's why we felt we'd take it upon ourselves to spread the knowledge and help you learn these phrases sooner, rather than later.
The only mistake we made in the episode (according to my Dad) is that we did not spell the words and phrases. As he points out, and rightly so, this makes it hard for any of you to write down these phrases and practice them. Below you'll find the German mentioned in the episode and please refer to the episode itself for the pronunciation.
German Words & Phrases Mentioned in the Episode:
Entschuldigung - "Excuse me" (when accidently bumping into someone, etc.)
Ich hätte gern - "I would like" (more widely used version of "Ich möchte")
Zum mitnehmen - "to take away" (phrase you would use at a fast food restaurant, for example)
Danke - "Thanks"
Danke dir - "Thank you"
Danke sehr - "Thanks a lot"
Vielen dank - "Many Thanks"
Dankeschön - "Thank you very much" (literal translation is "thanks beautifully", hence why we consider this the most extreme version of "thank you")
Gerne - "With Pleasure" (this is a versatile word that can be used as a very polite "you're welcome" or a very polite "yes, I would like that")
Wo ist die... - "Where is the..."
Wie bitte - "Excuse me?", "What did you say?" (more polite version of "what?")
Americano - A normal black coffee
Genau - "Exactly"
Alles Komplett - "With Everything" (when ordering food, etc.)
Tschüss/ciao - "Bye"
Gross/klein - "Large" & Small (for sizes of a beer, for example)
Bar oder Karte - "Cash or card" (a cashier might ask you this)
Mit Karte bitte - "With card please" (you tell this to a cashier indicating you'd prefer to pay with your credit/debit card)
Kann ich bitte bezahlen - "Can I pay, please?"
Können wir bitte bezahlen - "Can we pay, please?"
Kassenbon/kassenzettel/ Beleg - A receipt
Ich heisse... - "My name is..."
Nachbarn - A Neighbour
Haben sie ein paket fur mich? - "Do you have a package for me?"
Ich kann kein deutsch - "I do not speak German"
Notruf - "Emergency"
112 - The emergency phone number for the fire or ambulance
110 - The emergency number for the police ("polizei" in German)
Cultural Differences: Part 2 | EP 56
We'd like to thank you all for patiently waiting an entire year for us to finally produce a second instalment of our "cultural differences" episode.
During the beginning of the episode we both mentioned we had done some "urbexing" (urban exploration / visiting abandoned buildings) the previous weekend. Alex revealed that he felt one of the photos from this particular trip was his best he ever took. Above are some samples from the abandoned Flugplatz we visited, including the infamous photo. Is it amazing? You be the judge. Yes, that's right, we want judgement.
Cultural Identity | EP 54
Last week Alex and I were guests on an episode of Shaun Behren's podcast, the Germany Experience. We both had a wonderful time chatting with Shaun and being on his show. The episode had an extremely interesting topic and we couldn't figure out why we had never talked about it on our own show before (what's wrong with us?).
The German Shuffle (3) | EP 53
Last week marked the one year anniversary of the AGDW podcast. Who knew we'd still be around after all this time...certainly not us. Regardless, we're thrilled to still be making weekly episodes and we truly enjoy interacting with all of you. Above is an updated version of the first photo we ever took that was related to the podcast. Below is the original photo from the recording of the very first episode.
February 2020, where it all began
While discussing the Berlin filming locations of the Netflix series the Queen's Gambit, we mentioned that Geoff had a very brief "cameo" during the show's 3rd episode as a Life Magazine photographer.
Questions & Answers | EP 52
Thank you to everyone that submitted questions for our first Q & A episode! During the episode I mentioned I had made a businessman (tie included) out of snow a few days prior. Alex said it didn't look good, but I disagree. You be the judge.
Germany During the Pandemic | EP 51
Thanks again to our listener Joe that donated the bottle of Heaven's Door whiskey for this week's episode. You went above and beyond the call of duty!
Dating & Relationships in Germany | EP 50
Unfortunately, this week we have no extra content to post. Please, enjoy the episode and the great picture of this week's whisky bottle!
Shared Apartments & Roommates in Germany | EP 49
While we were testing this week's whiskey, Writer's Tears, we mentioned how much we liked the box the bottle came in. Here it is.
Above is a rather insane image I took while walking around Berlin a few years ago. I had never seen so many apartment buzzers in all my life! For those of you who would like to know, there are 280 apartments in this building. Most likely, it's housing specifically for students, so each apartment would be a very small studio. Regardless, I can't imagine living with so many people in one place!
And the answer to your question is: no, this is not normal in Berlin. On average, you'll see about 10-15 names listed on an apartment building (most buildings in Berlin do not exceed 5 stories tall). Berlin is not a city of skyscrapers such as New York or London.
Useful links for apartment searches in Germany:
We recommend not using Craigslist.org to find an apartment. There tend to be many scams on the site (most Germans aren't even aware of Craigslist)
Each city has its own facebook groups for posting available rooms/apartments. This is also a great place to find accommodation.
These Things Actually Exist: Germany's Surprises | EP 48
During this week's episode we went through a list of things we never knew existed until we moved to Germany. Could some of them exist elsewhere, including the USA? Sure, however from our experience none of them are widespread in the USA and if they exist there, we never saw them ourselves.
A few of the items on our list were a bit difficult to describe, which is why below we've placed photos of a few of them in order to be clear what we were talking about. Enjoy.
Mett is minced raw pork that is often spread on bread during breakfast or brunch. A popular dish made out of mett is a Mettigel, which is mett and onions in the shape of a porcupine.
"Smoking Men" are wooden carvings used as incense smokers. They are traditionally placed in German homes during the winter.
Cyclist Traffic Lights:
Small traffic lights specifically for cyclists that are separate from those for normal street vehicles.
Public Ping Pong Tables:
Ping pong tables exist in the USA, however these are usually in your friend's garage. Until moving to Germany we had never seen public ping pong tables provided for anyone to use and definitely not on the scale that you see in Berlin and the rest of Germany. Hundreds of these tables exist in various Berlin parks and other outdoor spaces.
They're exactly what you think they are. These are sinks with the dedicated purpose to receive vomit from drunk people. The basins are wide and two handles are usually placed on the wall above as something to hold on to while you "brace for impact." These sinks are not a common sight in Germany and are featured in only a small percentage of pubs/bars.
Sausage Vending Machines:
A vending machine for sausages. Mainly seen in southern Germany.
Machines for recycling glass and plastic bottles. These machines are a common sight in all German supermarkets. Bottles are placed in the large opening and the barcode is scanned. The digital screen then tells you how much money the bottle is worth. After depositing all your bottles, click "print" and take your receipt to the cashier when you are paying for your other items. The amount on the receipt will be deducted from your total.
"Poop Shelf" Toilets:
A large percentage of German toilets have "poop shelves". When using the toilet, feces are left sitting on the ceramic "shelf". When you flush the toilet water rushes in and pushes the feces into the small opening at the front of the toilet and out through the pipes. American toilets tend to have feces drop straight into a large basin that is full of water.
Blinds are a common window treatment for privacy in the USA, however they are almost always featured on the inside of the window. While living in Germany we've come across many instances where large blinds are hanging outside the window on the exterior of the building, exposed to the rain and other elements.
The German Shuffle (2) | EP 47
We hope you all had some lovely holidays filled with good health and good times. It's clear everyone is ready to move ahead in 2021 towards what will eventually be a semblance of normalcy. Alex and I are excited to be back recording the podcast and look forward to putting out some great episodes in the coming months!
Above is an example of the unbelievably well trained dogs in Germany. This little guy just sat there, not tied to anything, and never moved or attempted to go anywhere. He just dutifully waited for his owner and didn't seem to care about anything else. The crazy thing is this is not a rare occurrence, but the standard.
One of the other topics in this week's "shuffle" was the differences between beer packaging in Germany and the USA, more specifically six packs. Above are some pictures to better explain what we described in the episode.
We discussed the phenomenon that is "Dinner for One." It's a 18 minute film (during the episode we incorrectly said it was about an hour long) that most Germans watch every New Years Eve. The odd thing is that it is an English language film from the UK and is mostly shown without subtitles or voice over. While it is immensely popular in Germany, it is fairly unheard of in its country of origin.
Click here to watch a short youtube video that gives some background information about "Dinner for One" and interviews Germans about their love for this cult classic.
Back to the...Past: Advice & Regrets | EP 46
This week's episode involved Alex and I looking back and learning from our experiences, which is rather fitting since December is the month most of us tend to start reflecting on a year gone by. While this is our last episode of 2020, do not worry, the AGDW podcast will be back in the new year on January 6th! We're only taking a little break for the holidays to recharge our batteries.
We wish you all a lovely holiday season and most importantly, good health in the coming weeks. We'll be back soon!
Most Frustrating Things About Living in Germany | EP 45
Originally, the episode was to be called "Our Top Pet Peeves About Living in Germany." This is why we mention the term "pet peeve" many times throughout. However, we soon realized that not many non-native English speakers had heard that phrase before or knew what it meant. We decided to change the episode title to prevent any confusion. Did we succeed?
The very first annoying thing about living in Germany we mentioned was how in certain types of stores it is very difficult to leave if you don't buy anything. Above are two examples of the kinds of security gates or "arms" you pass through when, for example, entering a German supermarket. These gates have sensors and open up automatically to let you in. However, they will not allow anyone to exit the store, only enter. There are designated exits you must use. The problem is, to get to these exists requires walking through a cashier line/check-out line. These are extremely narrow and if people are standing in line, it's almost impossible to walk past without each person turning their body sideways and you physically rubbing up against them.
You might be thinking, well why couldn't you just walk through an unused or empty check-out line to make your way towards the exist? The above photo shows what prevents this. Any cashier station not being used has its own metal security arm that blocks the path and prevents anyone from walking to the exit.
In the end, you either have to buy something or ask everone in line to move out of the way to allow you to get out of the store. It's something that at times can be quite annoying and claustrophobic in a sense, because you simply want to leave the store and get on with your day, but you have to jump through hoops to do so.
In our opinion, there are far too many Euro coin variants. Why would you need a 2 cent coin when you can simply use two 1 cent coins? Plus, as we mentioned, the 1 cent coins are far to small and are easily lost or dropped out of the bottom of your wallet. For our listeners from the USA, the 5 cent coin you see above is roughly the size of an American penny (1 cent coin). By comparison, you can probably imagine how small the Euro 1 cent coin is.
We think both the 1 cent and 2 cent coins need to be retired. What do you think?
Christmas in Germany | EP 44
December is here and that means Christmas is just a few weeks away! We thought this was the perfect time to dive into the German roots of the holiday and the many ways a German Christmas is different from that you've experienced in the USA or elsewhere.
One of the German traditions that is not seen in the USA is the Advent calendar. In the Christian religion, the Advent season is the four weeks before Christmas, which is seen as the time leading up to the nativity of Christ. Of course, you do not need to be religious at all to purchase an Advent calendar. It provides a fun little treat each day in the lead up to Christmas. There are many different types of pre-made Advent calendars you can buy that have various themes. Above is an example of the general look of an Advent calendar. This one in particular has a make up theme, which means each little door has lipstick, mascara, eye liner, etc.
Most Advent calendars offered at local grocery stores feature mainly candies and chocolates. Depending on the quality of the calendar and the treats inside, the cost of an Advent calendar can range from 5 Euro to 50 Euro. However, on average they are around 10 Euro.
You can also create your own form of an Advent calendar, which is what my girlfriend and I do every year (see above). We buy each other small little gifts, wrap them, and hang them on our stairs. They are numbered so it is obvious which gift to open on which day. We alternate, meaning we each receive a gift every other day. This way, we only need to buy each other 12 small gifts, instead of 24. Keep in mind, these are small, low cost items. If you bought a proper gift for each Advent day, you would most likely have no money left for an actual Christmas gift!
We also mentioned the German "Adventskranz", which also celebrates the anticipation of the nativity of Christ in the Christian religion. For some, however, it is just a festive decoration to show the passing of the weeks in December as the Christmas holiday gets closer. The candles are lit one after the other during the Advent season. One candle is lit on the first Sunday in Advent, the second one from the second and so on. Most Adventskranz that you buy at the store are a green wreath with four candles attached to it. Some people make their own, which is what we did here with four candles surrounded by some greenery and other decorations.
The Expat Files: From India to Berlin | EP 43
Thanks again to our friend Prayag for sharing his story! We hope it gives confidence to all those who wish to move abroad and assume there will be many set backs put in their way.
Above is a small collection of images I took while working in India on the film "Umrika" several years ago. During the few months I lived in India I had some amazing experiences and met some truly kind people. Most of my time was spent in Mumbai, however for a few weeks we were in Satara, which is a small village in the mountains about 250 km to the south. I was also lucky enough to briefly visit Goa, which is a tropical paradise on the western coast of India.
The German Shuffle (1) | EP 42
Let us know if you all liked our experiment (also known as the German Shuffle). If so, maybe every few episodes we'll do another "shuffle" where we talk about several small topics, instead of one overall topic for the entire episode.
During the "how've you been" segment of this episode Alex mentioned he had gone on a photo walk around Berlin. Above are some of the images he took while exploring some areas of the city he has never been before.
Traditions & Holidays | EP 41
Thank you again to our guest Mari Tischner of the YouTube channel "Adventures of La Mari." We had lots of fun having Mari on the show and we hope to collaborate with her again in the future, especially considering we only covered half of what we planned to talk about for the episode!
Please check out Mari's YouTube channel, which is also designed for expats.
Above is the pumpkin Geoff carved with this girlfriend this year. It was their first time attempting the "pumpkin eating a smaller pumpkin" style. They just happened to have the smaller pumpkin, which they had gotten from his girlfriend's farm a few weeks earlier, so they figured, "why not?"
As mentioned in the episode, November 11 in Germany is "Singles Day." Nope, it has nothing to do with dating. Basically, it's a day similar to "Black Friday" in which many online retailers have crazy deals on certain products. If you live in Germany and you're reading this today (Nov. 11) and you're bored, we suggest you check it out. Who knows, you might find a good deal.
No, we were not paid to mention "Singles Day." We just had very little content for this episode's "extras" page and needed some filler.
Mythbusters: Part 3 | EP 40
This week's episode was our 40th episode! For us, this is a huge milestone. The only reason we made it this far is because of all of you wonderful people that have continued to listen to us each week and send us such kind messages. We’ll keep going as long as we can bring you fun and interesting episodes. Plus, you’re the excuse we use to own a ridiculous amount of whiskey. Above is a little fun photo shoot we did with all of the whiskies we've collected thus far (actually, it's not every single bottle because of course a few have been finished and recycled). We both know this podcast won't last forever, but for the time being we're going to stick around!
We mentioned the infamous performance by David Hasselhoff at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin when the wall came down in 1989. Click here to watch the Hoff in all his glory. Pay special close attention around the 3:18 mark when you'll see a firework miss his head by about 2 cm.
Our Personal Language Learning Journeys | EP 39
As mentioned in this week'sepisode, we're no on YouTube! Our channel will have some of our full episodes and we'll have some bloopers and possibly other extras down the road. We're still just a podcast, so don't expect too much from us on the YouTube front. We can't guarantee a regular upload schedule, however, we'll do our best to add a little content when we can. We suggest subscribing to the channel because then you can ensure you'll see new videos when they go online. The best part is instead of just listening to us, you can now also see our beautiful faces. Enjoy!
Forever Young: Growing Up in Germany vs. USA | EP 38
Thanks again to Felicia from the "German Girl in America" YouTube channel for stopping by and telling us a bit about her childhood in Germany. It was fun for Alex and I to hear things about growing up in Germany that even we weren't aware of!
Berlin's new campaign against people who
do not wear masks while in public spaces.
During this episode's intro, we mentioned that a new public service campaign had just started in Berlin with the sole purpose of shaming people who do not wear masks in public spaces, such as trains, buses, shops, etc. In typical Berlin style, the campaign is very direct and does not "sugar coat" the issue. The German text states, "the raised middle finger to those who do not wear a mask. We follow the Corona regulations."
Berlin and Germany as a whole handled the pandemic quite well. During the summer months the number of daily Covid-19 cases had plummeted to very manageable numbers (most days saw less than 500 new cases in the entire country), however the past 4-6 weeks the number of cases have risen rapidly. We both completely support this new ad campaign because, quite frankly, there is no reason to not wear a mask in public. It saves lives.
Berlin, Berlin: Part 2 | EP 37
As you probably know, last week we had a prize giveaway. The prize was a copy of the funny book, "How To Be German in 50 Easy Steps."
Congratulations to our lucky winner Josh in Pennsylvania! Thank you to everyone for participating and we hope to have another giveaway in the future.
The inscription means, "For the German People."
During WWII, Berlin had 3 pairs of above ground bunkers that had the sole purpose of air defence. They were equipped with the largest anti-aircraft canons of the day.
The palace is located on Museum Island and was destroyed by the Soviets shortly after the end of the war. They started constructing a copy of the palace a few years ago and it should be open to the public at the end of the year.
The inscription means, "For the German People."
Above is a gallery of Berlin related images - click to enlarge
In the spirit of our series on Berlin, we have decided to post some more photos of our favorite city. However, instead of glamour shots, the focus will be more about random small details within the city. You might notice the majority are some how related to WWII. What can I say...I like history. Enjoy!
Oktoberfest | EP 36
It's very sad that Oktoberfest had to be canceled this year due to Covid-19, but of course safety becomes before beer drinking (has anyone ever sad that?). On a serious note, we recommend you all stay away from any large celebrations this October.
Below we're going to post some extra tips about visiting Oktoberfest (assuming it comes back at some point) and a link to a nice documentary to give you a better scale of the madness.
However, first we must provide urgent information about free stuff...
We hope you're already aware, we will be giving away a prize today to one of you lucky listeners. The prize will be a copy of the funny book, "How To Be German in 50 Easy Steps." The book has everything in German and in English, so it's great for everyone.
How to Enter:
During today's episode (released on Wednesday, Oct. 7) we said a secret code at some point during the episode. This means you’ll need to pay attention! When you hear the secret code write it down. Then create a post on your favorite social media platform (Instagram or Facebook) and tag the Americans in Germany Drinking Whiskey Podcast in the post. Be sure to include the secret code somewhere in the post as well. The winner will be chosen at random from those that tag us and include the secret code.
We'll announce the winner here and on our social media pages later tonight!
Click here to watch a nice documentary online that will give you a good idea of the scale of the Oktoberfest event and all of the craziness that goes along with it.
Tips, Anecdote and General Comments
• BEING DRUNK IS NOT REQUIRED: Oktoberfest isn't just about getting drunk beyond comprehension. As we mentioned, it's also for people that just want to go and drink 1 or 2 beers, enjoy the music and meet some new people. Your Oktoberfest experience all depends on what you're looking for.
• LEDERHOSEN: As most of you know, the traditional outfit to wear while attending Oktoberfest is Lederhosen (men) and Dirndl (women). Anyone who is hesitating wearing one of these traditional Bavarian outfits because they are not German and fear offending people, fear not! In our experience, Germans are not at all offended by non-Germans wearing the traditional outfits while attending Oktoberfest. As long as you're not mocking them/making fun of them, then you'll be fine. In fact, it's the people who are dressed in normal clothing that stand out of the pack.
However, keep in mind Lederhosen and Dirndl can be quite expensive. The Lederhosen that actual Bavarians wear, for example, usually cost them between 500-1,000 Euro (some people even spend more). This is because they will be using theirs for many, many years and usually have their family crest stitched on them. However, there are cheaper options for someone who will just be visiting Oktoberfest only once. For example, several German department stores sell decent quality Lederhosen for around 100 euro (C&A for example). You can go cheaper with non-leather Lederhosen (some at tourist shops are made of paper), however don't go too cheap because you'll regret it.
• TENTS: Keep in mind, getting into the tents, especially the very popular ones, can mean a long wait in line. If you want to avoid this and be sure to secure a place at a table, it's recommended to show up no later than 1:00pm (better yet, even earlier). If you arrive at one of the tents in the evening, there is a chance you'll have to wait 1-2 hours or might not get in at all. This is the main reason that we suggest finding a tent earlier and staying there as long as you can. Once you get into a tent you will need to walk around for probably 10-20 minutes to find some space at a table. Be aware that many will be reserved and you will not be able to sit at such tables (just look for any "reserved" signs).
• WEATHER: This time of year (late September/early October) in Germany has very unpredictable weather. I've attended some Oktoberfests that had beautiful warm weather with sunshine and others where it rained the majority of the time. Be prepared for both. It can be super annoying to buy a nice set of Lederhosen only to have to cover your outfit with a big winter jacket or rain jacket. I'd suggest getting some sort of cheap sweater that matches your outfit or at minimum bring a small collapsable umbrella with you, just in case. One year, I was waiting to enter a tent and suddenly rain started to pour down. After standing 40 minutes in the rain with no umbrella or jacket, we had to give up because we became so wet and cold.
• SHOES: Ok, let's talk about shoes. When you have a room filled with thousands of people drinking beer and dancing around, you're guaranteed to have a lot of that beer end up on the floor. This means you'll be standing on a sticky beer covered floor for a few hours at least. Do not - I say again - do not wear nice shoes when you attend Oktoberfest. Your nice shoes will end up getting covered in beer and it will be a pain to clean them. I suggest you find "throw away" shoes to bring with you. Before I attended, I went to a nearby thrift store and I bought a pair of used brown shoes for about 5 Euro. The shoes ended up matching my outfit and more importantly, I didn't care if they got ruined.
• BRING LESS: We'd suggest bringing as little with you to the Oktoberfest grounds as possible. First of all, no large bags/backpacks are allowed inside due to security concerns. On top of that, it's just safer to bring as little with you as possible because it's very easy to lose sight of your things. Once inside a tent most people end up putting their purse, jacket, etc. on the ground at their feet or on their table. However, what ends up happening is everyone is drinking and dancing on the tables and things get moved, fall onto the ground, or simply forgotten. Plus, as menionted above, beer is being spilled and it might end up all over your purse that's sitting on the table. I personally never brought a bag with me and always had all my items (phone, wallet, etc) in the pockets of my Lederhosen. The less you bring with you, the less you have to worry about.
FINALLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING...BE SMART!
Pace yourself, please pace yourself. It's so easy to over-do-it at Oktoberfest. You have to remind yourself that each glass of beer contains 1 liter of alcohol (the equivalent of 3 standard bottles of beer in the USA). Drink slowly and be sure to order yourself some food every now and then. Also, don't forgot to drink some water from time to time - there's no shame in ordering a water instead of a beer! We've witnessed plenty of young people who were trying to out do their friends and drink the most Maß (the liter glasses of beer) they could, only to end up seriously regretting it by the end of the night. Remember, the security guards inside the tents will remove and ban anyone who is seen being overtly drunk and causing problems. You don't want to be kicked out only 2 hours after arriving!