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Germany, Land of Diversity

December 17, 2014

Berlin-night

The Federal Republic of Germany is the biggest country in Central Europe, measuring 357,022 km² and having a population of 82 million people.

But Germany is not about numbers, not by a long shot. I like to see Germany as one of the most influential cultures in Europe, and also a well known country around the world for its highly developed industry, being Europe’s leading economy and one of the largest in the world.

Germany can be regarded as country of contradictions, a land of poets and thinkers but also a global economic power, as it exports all sorts of mechanical equipment, cars, chemicals and what not.

As a travel destination, Germany is a melting pot of tradition and innovation, with dynamic and modern cities, bursting with (night) life and a rural scenery with a huge personality.

germany countryside

There are lots of cities deserving your full attention, starting with the capital Berlin, the largest one but not the only highlight  for the urban traveler. There are also numerous points of interest (cities, I mean) like Cologne, Hamburg, Munich and lots of small, medieval cities like Rothenburg ob der Tauber (oldest walled medieval city in Europe), Tuebingen or Esslingen, archaic dwellings with massive appeal for aficionados.

Another huge selling point for Germany is its awesomely beautiful countryside. Let me mention just a few places to visit: the marvelous peaks of the Bavarian Alps, the beautiful castles of the Rhine, the Jasmund National Park or the Mecklenburg Lake District. If you’re the outdoors type, you’ll enjoy visiting these places, being perfectly suited for hiking, boating, cycling or skiing.

 What are the top reasons for visiting Germany?

neuschwanstein_castle_germany_winter

Let me start with its majestic castles, like Neuschwanstein, a place that looks like something one may only dream about.

Another reason  : Germany has a few fun cities, where you can party all night long (read Berlin) or you can imbibe in culture (Munich).

Germany is the place that spawned symphonic music, just think about Wagner or Beethoven; basically this is the birthplace of the “Sacred Monsters” when it comes to music (and also philosophy but let’s not be pretentious).

Revellers salute with beer after the opening of the 179th Oktoberfest in Munich

Germany is the home of Oktoberfest, and that means THE place to be for beer and wine lovers.

Also, there’s no speed limit on German autobahns (highways that is) and no road tax. You can enjoy a scenic road trip through the Alps, visiting old villages (you can also visit some beautiful local markets, especially during Christmas season) and vineyards in the process.

What to see and what to do in Germany :

Well, where to begin from? Let’s start with the Cologne Christmas market, because holidays are coming and why not spend them in Germany? During Xmas, the cities and towns all around Germany come alive and they are filled with the traditional street markets, especially in Cologne (or Koln). You can buy handmade toys, gingerbread and sip some mulled wine to warm your bones.

Germany -CologneSave money on texting and calling to Germany – download Tap4Call app.

Visit the Neuschwanstein castle, one of those archetypal palaces from the movies, laying in the Alpine foothills of Bavaria, with a design inspired from Wagner’s operas.

Oktoberfest is Munich’s 16 days festival that celebrates the Bavarian way of life (culture, they say). It’s a hobbit like festival, where beer and food are the name of the game. The first Oktoberfest took place back in 1810.

If you like photogenic beauty and majestic peaks, just visit the Black Forest, one of Germany’s legendary countryside.

You can visit beautiful cities like Dresden (resurrected from the dead, it was leveled in WW2), Frankfurt (Germany’s financial centre) ,  Heidelberg (filled with history and annual events), Essen (the multicultural capital of Germany) or Hamburg (a northern port city).

Take a cruise on the Rhine, one of the longest rivers in Europe, and see old villages, fairytale castles and the magnificent Lorelei Rock, the mythical home of a siren that lured sailors to their peril.

Germany is a hiker’s paradise, hence you can walk the Rennsteig, a historical ridge 170km long that passes through highlands and forests in the middle of the country.

Oh, I almost forgot : while in Germany, watch a football game in Munich, at the Allianz Arena or in Hertha Berlin, Hamburg or Bremen.

Visit Weimar, a 1000 years old city, home to many great figures such as Luther, Bach, Schiller or Wagner, a must for culture aficionados.

Berlin, the capital 

The largest city in Germany, Berlin was also the capital of the German Empire, Prussia, the Weimar republic and the 3’d Reich. You should visit the parliament building, the TV Tower, the Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terror  exhibit hall, where you’ll find lots of factoids about the Nazi regime.

 Food and Drink in Germany

The traditional German snack is the wurst (a type of sausage) with a bread roll,  sauerkraut, pretzels and schnitzel, along with lamb dishes, seafood in the North, pork with mashed potatoes, grilled sausage, pancakes.  Regional drinks include apple wine, schnapps, cherry spirit and Rhineland wines.

Visa and Passport Requirements

Germany  is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID card. For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).

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