Vienna: Herren or Damen?

Here’s a light story to start off the week and welcome March!  February is just saying farewell after a mere 28 days.  Don’t you love it?  For those who look forward to getting their salary, this is a great month 🙂 It comes early 🙂  The story I want to tell today is a true story that you should all take note when you visit Vienna or any other German speaking country.  It’s about two very simple yet very important words:  Herren, Damen.

I remember this like it was yesterday.  I was sitting at Central cafe with a group of friends I had just taken for a walk around the Stephansdom and the Hofburg.  We were tired and what better place to rest than at Central cafe.  We ordered hot chocolate, coffee, and apple strudel. While waiting one of my friends had to go for natured called.  I waved her towards the bathroom and didn’t think much about it.  It was just behind the painting and easy to find.  The rest of us sat and talked with not a worry in the world.  We were on vacation and Vienna was a safe place to be.

Then suddenly our friend returns flushed in the face and sounds like she had just been on an adventure.  She tells us her story.  She walks towards the bathrooms and sees two words:  Herren, Damen.  One on each door.  Now if you’ve never been to a German speaking country and have no clue about their language, these two words can look like Greek or Chinese.  It makes no sense.   

The big question was, “Which one is the women’s bathroom, which one is the men’s?”  She had no clue and there was no one walking in and out.  No help.  So being the logical person she is she reasoned that since in English, “her” was used when referring to females, “Herren” which has a “her” must undoubtedly be the women’s bathroom.   That makes sense right?  English and German are both Germanic languages.

She walks in. 

Now what do you think happened?  Did she get the right door?

For those who answered “No”, kudos to you.   For those who answered “Yes” please remember this!  In German, “Herren” means “Men” and Damen means “Women”!!!  So if you’re a female, go into the room marked with Damen!   If this helps,  in old english women were sometimes referred to as “dames” though now it is considered slightly derogatory.

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