Tips for World Cup Tourists

So you’re thinking of coming to Germany for the World Cup? Fabulous! I’ll probably be leaving for Rome. If you’d like advice on how to behave, here’s an archive of tips written by foreign residents of Germany for you, courtesy of the Spiegel magazine.

But why rely on foreigners? Instead, I’d advise looking at page 36 of this month’s Titanic, which contains valuable hints written by actual German Mark-Stefan Tietze. What follows is my slightly abridged, and very very loose, translation, of this important contribution to cultural understanding:

Don’t even think about it!

As a World Cup tourist from some underdeveloped region of the world, you should know: not all Germans are Nazis, some of them just want to make a nice profit from you. Nonetheless: there are also tourist traps in Germany, and plenty of behaviors you’re better off avoiding:

Blathering on pointlessly

In Germany, communication is always goal-oriented ("Out of my way!" "Show me your papers!" "Give me the money!").  Things that might count as charming banter in your culture ("May I help you cross the street?" "What glorious rainy weather!" "By the way, I come from Burundi") will be regarded in Germany as superficial blather and a waste of time.

Turning down invitations

If a German actually manages to invite you to his home to show you his own personal recycling system, you must never turn down the invitation. Otherwise, you’ll make another enemy, and what it means to make enemies of Germans you can learn from any history book.

Speaking during meals

It is considered improper to speak during meals in Germany. According to old German custom, you should poke around the plate gloomily for a while, then suddenly choke it all down in one fell swoop. As soon as you see the German national dish, "Sludge with Goo and Meat," before you, you’ll know why.

Conceal your fears

In Germany, culture, economy and cuisine are traditionally based on fear. Germans are accordingly proud of their fears and delight in spreading them. Currently, Germans are afraid about their pensions, dying-out as a nation, and being eliminated in the first round. Don’t be afraid to talk about your own fears (floods, nuclear war, sauerkraut) — but always admit that your hosts’ fears are more important.

Inappropriate Appearance

An inappropriate appearance can injure religious feelings in Germany. Of course, nobody will complain if Catholic Brazilian girls visit churches in their traditional costume of sequined bikinis. However if you happen to be in East Germany, you should avoid provoking the natives by having an unusual skin color. The ancient Germanic gods that are worshiped in these areas strictly forbid it.

Remaining sober during the evening

During the day, Germans like to appear lifeless and stony. During the evening, however, they drink several liters of beer and then suddenly go out of their minds and begin screaming like banshees. You should absolutely join in! Anyone who doesn’t will quickly get smacked in the chops. Of course if you join in, you’ll also get smacked in the chops, but you won’t notice it as much.

Forgetting to mention the war

Never forget to mention the war to Germans! Germans love to prove, in hours-long conversations, that they know a lot about the rather unfortunate parts of their history, and that they’ve learned important things from it. As a follow-up, they’ll be happy to explain to you all the things that suck about your country, and which genocides you should feel responsible for.

I hope this helps apprehensive tourists.  Welcome to Germany, and don’t forget to root for Togo if Germany gets eliminated!

16 thoughts on “Tips for World Cup Tourists

  1. Visiting Germany.

    Reading this the explanation for many things now seem obvious. for example German (or rather Swabian) cuisine. The staple of Swabian cuisine seemed to be the breaded and deep-fried Sweinenschnitzel. This made no sense to me until I considered it in architectural terms.

    The Sweinenschnitzel is a cut of meat so dense as to be basically inedible. But take a walk around any neighborhood in Stuttgart and you will see the most impressively solid buildings of any city anywhere. The connection is obvious – the Swabians use the inedible slabs of pork to build all those wonderful buildings! This kind of ingenuity shows why the Germans can proudly claim to be the Greenest country on the planet. Swabians often had a green tinge to them but I’m not certain whether this was political or a side effect of the Swabian diet. Perhaps there was another reason.

    Another Swabian culinary triumph is Maultaschen. If Italian ravioli is what pasta made to taste good, maultaschen is created with another purpose. It is the emetic, used to clear the palate after overindulgence in sweinenschnitzel and/or beer.

    The Swabian personality was an interesting one. Young Swabians are a polite and relatively seemly group of people. Older Swabians seemed to think a great deal about Thailand and their next holiday in Thailand. Sometimes to the point of obsession. This in complete contrast to Bavaria where the young were a group of utter boors almost as bad as your average English football fan on match day. But older Bavarians seemed to be cultured people.

    Beer is necessary to German life. With anough beer one can eat a Sweinenschnitzel or even 2 or 3. A little more beer and one can eat a brick, a similar experience. You can live on beer when the pork gets to be too much and you can’t afford eating at an Italian restaurant. Beer makes it all possible. And in Germany the beer is damned good.

    So the rule to visiting Germany is that when it all gets to be a little too much – have another litre of beer. It will look better them. Better to have another 3 or 4 litres, because it will start to look good. Start swaying and singing when the rest of the beer hall does so. No German? No problem! Just kind of sing along as best you can can. A good effort is profoundly appreciated after 8 litres or so.


  2. Clothing.

    It should be noted (for the benefit of English-speakers) that clothing bearing certain national symbols is considered offensive in Germany. Leave your T-shirts with the US flag (or worse, the UK flag) at home. T-shirts with the Canadian flag are considered innocuous.


  3. That’s why I will be sitting in my ‘Toni Polster’ 1. FC Koeln shirt at 4am in New Zealand bleary eyed and watch my homecountry get beaten by Costa Rica.

    If they’d only nationalized Toni Polster!


  4. i hope you all got the irony in the text…

    i’m from germany (but i don’t like it), and if you sing along in a beerhall, you should notice that no one sings in german, it’s rather “bwaaaaaaaabwaaablaaaaaaaadadadaaaaaaa ooooooooooohhhhhhhooooooooaaaaaa”


  5. Irony, Jan? Seems to me there was at least a kernel of truth in most of what Andrew wrote. Not that there are many German Nazis, I suspect the number of admitted National Socialists is less than 1000, if that many.

    I have noticed that certain Germans are more than willing to opine that Nazis exist in other countries – or even run those countries. I will leave which country that might be said of to your imagination, save that it’s not in Asia.


  6. Very good! Disproves once and for all the British myth that y’Germans don’t have a sense of irony


  7. Hello. Nice review. I think that best sport wear for every body is adidas. why? Because Adidas is a German sports apparel manufacturer, part of the Adidas Group. Since the 1970 FIFA World Cup with the football Telstar, Adidas has been the FIFA official match ball supplier for every FIFA World Cup and designs the official match ball for every edition of the event.

    All my sport boots allways been Adidas. Many teenagers wearing Adidas because this part fashion in some countries, and its part of club culture…


  8. Haha. I was laughing a lot. I was looking for German behaviour in the net, cuz it’s my homework for tomorrows class….

    Yes, I guess the most written here is just right.
    The only thing I was a little bit wondering about is the last point.
    German always learn (from the first time they hear the word Nazi oder Hitler), that it IS their and ONLY their fault. If it’s about this part of history German will (near) never tell any good point about it.

    Why they tell you then about the genocides of YOUR country?
    They feel always responisble to excuse their country, so they also want you to. If you don’t, they will start talking about this. And if you still don’t apologize, they’ll start up with all their history knowledge. That’s kind of poor, but I think that’s it.



  9. How weird, being German, I have never noticed that we don’t speak during meals, I believe that most of us are quite sophistiated.I personally never eat German food, know very few people who are “stony” looking, nobody has ever asked me for my papers, so I can only assume that the author of this article is an American. Considering themselves the navel of the world, they just love put other countries down, having only very superficial knowledge of the reality. Being very familiar with Amercians, their attitude and behaviour, I really should take the time and write an article. I wonder if it would be printed. marie


  10. Sweinenschnitzel? Sometimes it is necessary to consult a dictionary. The correct word is ‘Schweineschnitzel”, which I eat no more than perhaps once a year, and I doubt that it is the favourite cuisine of the Schwaebisch folks. I am sure that they are, like the rest of Germany, into Italian, Greek, and God know what else food. Or do all Americans eat chicken fried steak? (I have not figured that one yet). From Germany, many greetings.


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