Sister City Do's and Don't's


PhillySkylineWUNDERBAR! IT’S OFFICIAL! With the ceremonial signing of a partnership agreement in Frankfurt’s city hall, Frankfurt and Philadelphia have become Sister Cities.

This got me thinking about the politicians and dignitaries who’ll be jetting between Pennsylvania and Hessen, and, naturally, I have some advice for them! Here’s a quick list of Dos and Don’ts for Philadelphians traveling to the Metropolis on the Main:

DO give a thought to table manners! DON’T begin eating until everyone has been served and the host has wished you a guten Appetit. If you’re served alcohol, DON’T take the first sip until your host raises his/her glass for a toast. When toasting and before taking that first sip, DO be sure to look each of your companions in the eye.

DTaxistandON’T try to hail a cab. Many Frankfurters like to compare their city to New York, but any similarity ends at the curb. Look for a designated taxi stand (German: Taxistand).

DO go to an authentic, traditional Ebbelwoi-Kneipe. I’m the first to admit that Ebbelwoi (apple wine – essentially, hard cider) is an acquired taste, but the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere in the old Ebbelwoi taverns is immediately appealing and 100% Frankfurt.

DON’T assume everyone who speaks English well is somehow “Americanized” and shares your culture. And please, DON’T pepper your speech with sports analogies. Expressions like “knock it out of the park”, “full court press” and “hail Mary pass” don’t travel well. If you want to excel at small talk with Germans, DO learn a little about soccer and cars.

DO take the time to learn about some of the cool things that Frankfurt and Philly have in common. Politically, both cities play second-fiddle to their countries’ respective capitals. However, just as Americans regard Philadelphia as the Cradle of Liberty or Birthplace of the Nation, Germans associate Frankfurt with the first freely-elected German parliament, which met here in 1848 to hammer out a modern constitution for a unified German state. Unlike the American Revolution, the German Revolution of 1848 ultimately failed, resulting in a wave of emigration to – you guessed it! – America.

While we’re on the subject of common features, DON’T bother mentioning Philly soft pretzels. Trust me, they’re a very poor imitation of the real thing.

Instead, DO talk up our local beer culture (German: Bierkultur). Small producers in the Philadelphia region are brewing up beers that will knock the socks off even the most jaded German connoisseur!Victory summer love


10 thoughts on “Sister City Do's and Don't's”

  1. This is great – informative and it was fun to read! Just enough info for visitors to Frankfurt. It’s interesting, some of the Don’ts are different than even other German cities (for example, in Duesseldorf, one does not wait for all to be served before eating). That shouldn’t be surprising – just like we can find differences between Philly and, say, Houston.

    I’m looking forward to Part 2 – the quick list I can give my German friends! Do you think most of our sister city visitors should be warned about “How you doin’?”?

  2. It´s great to read the thoughts from my friend over the ocean….and very amusing.

    Thank you so much for sharing your very moving speech in the Erlöserkirche.

    Looking forward to your next post and even more to seeing you soon. Ina

  3. Now that Frankfurt and Philadelphia are Sister Cities, your blog offers insights that are ‘must-knows’ for Philadelphians to understand their new ‘family.’

    I look forward to reading more of what you’ll be sharing, and also to helping you get re-acclimated to life in the U.S. The country and Americans really aren’t as bad as the media portray us. : > )

  4. I hope poor Mr. Nutter (poor guy) did not get confused by your advice and tried to order a beer in the Kanone and expound on the virtues of Philie microbreweries.

    So when’s Feldmann going to reciprocate and what should he be looking out for?

  5. According to beer you really hit the point (do you say that in English or is it translated German language?) Anyway: I know bit of “Bierkultur” in Germany and I did sort of Beer Tastery in Media (I hope this was the name). I have to confess, that I left “some socks” there 🙂
    Great blog and touching insights, thank you , Heather!

Leave a Reply