Drinking in Germany: Soused on the Sidewalk
Drinking in public is tolerated in Germany -- which doesn't mean it's always legal. But if you want to enjoy a beer on the streets, it's unlikely anyone will stop you.
In most parts of Germany, including Munich, you can enjoy your tipple al fresco.
Groups of wasted teenagers swilling beer from bottles and leaving empties under the seat, must presumably be outlaws in Germany. As everyone knows, Germans are orderly, efficient, and clean -- a disciplined northern European population that would never put up with public drunkenness. In many cities it is the norm to impose fines for cracking open a beer in the park. And after all, Berlin isn't a Third World watering hole like Juarez or Tijuana. Or loose and French, like Paris or New Orleans. Right?
Laws vary from state to state in Germany, but as a rule no one will fine you for drinking in public. Drinking on Berlin streets and on public transportation has technically been illegal since 1999, while drinking and barbecuing in parks is still protected by law; but all the prohibitions go unenforced, so that not every German even knows they exist.
The paper didn't miss its chance to whack American ideals of freedom: "So is Berlin turning into New York?" the paper wrote snidely. "Will everyone who opens a beer now have to hide it in a 'brown bag'?"
Happily, of course, Berlin hasn't fallen so far. The tide of small-time local alcohol fascists receded as fast as it rose, and the German capital is still freer -- when it comes to swilling booze -- than most of Europe, most of Asia, and (yes) most of the United States.
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