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German Word of the Week: The Trinkhalle / Büdchen Divide

Trinkhalle Färberstrasse

A few weeks ago, I rode my bike from Düsseldorf to Solingen-Ohligs, about 22 km. After a long, hot ride, I wanted a nice fresh ice-cold beer. Actually, 5.  So I asked a random passer-by where the next Trinkhalle was. Literally, 'Drink-Hall'. This is the somewhat odd word we use in Düsseldorf for a small shop where you can buy a cold, refreshing beverage. Specifically, a beer. There are rumors of people buying water or cola in Trinkhalle, but I've never seen it.

The above photos is of a Trinkhalle near where I live. It's right next to a technical training school, so of course it's been tagged. Now technically, since this is a tiny detached building, you could call this one, even in Düsseldorf, a Büdchen, a small shop. It makes a big difference whether the building is detached (which means it could be a Büdchen) or one of the shops on the street. Classically, a regular shop next to others is a real Trinkhalle. Like this one:

Tinrkhalle Behrensstrasse Exterior

So I ask a stout, tanned, sixtysomething resident of Ohligs where the next Trinkhalle is. He looks at me with a smile, saying 'Trinkhalle'? over and over. Obviously savoring the absurdity of calling a beer store a 'drink-hall'. My friend steps in and corrects me, saying: 'He wants to find a Büdchen'. Old Mr. Ohligs then pretends that he has just understood me, and tells us where to find one. 

Screw GPS. The way you know you've put in a good workout in Germany is if you reach an area where the slang is different.

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