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Germany: Ten good reasons to go

January 31st, 2013 10:00 pm

When I mentioned to a friend that I was going to write a short article listing 10 reasons to visit Germany, I was met with an instant put-down: “But there aren’t 10, are there?”

I used to think the same myself – in my teens and twenties the idea of going on holiday to Germany never entered my head. But then I went to live there.

Admittedly, the Berlin Wall had just come down and the city was just about the most exciting place on the planet. There was a real buzz and a sense of liberation and new beginning. I discovered that, in addition to being rather earnest, Germans did know how to have a good time. Over the next five years, I grew to appreciate the country I’d previously ignored. There are many reasons to visit Germany. Here are just 10.

Breakfast in Berlin

Long, leisurely breakfasts are not something we generally associate with Germans (far too unproductive), but in Berlin they are a way of life – at weekends at least. Several of the cafes along the canal in Kreuzberg, where I lived, specialised in all-day breakfasts. Large breakfasts – great platefuls of cheeses and meats; basketloads of deliciously varied breads and rolls; fabulous fruit concoctions. Just the thing to set you up for the evening . . .

River dance

Why visit a city that has one river running through it when you can go to one that has three? Passau is the spot where the Danube meets the Inn and the Ilz, a fairytale location for a fairytale city with winding medieval lanes, atmospheric tunnels and archways and beautiful baroque buildings.

Music, maestro

Where to start? In Bonn, birthplace of Beethoven? Bayreuth, setting for the annual Wagner festival? Halle, where Handel was the cathedral organist? Or Leipzig, where J S Bach saw out his days as choirmaster of St Thomas Church? In the latter, I once caught a rehearsal of some of the master’s choral works: a sublime marriage of music and place.

Hit the road, Johannes

Germans do love their cars – especially when they’re let loose on those Autobahns. Watch them being made at the glitzy “transparent factory” for the Volkswagen Phaeton in Dresden, or head to VW city (Wolfsburg). Alternatively, many cities in the east now offer guided tours by Trabant: a great opportunity to test-drive East Germany’s unique contribution to the automobile industry and get an instant understanding of why so many of the country’s former inhabitants fled to the West.

Switzerland comes to Saxony

When it comes to mountains, Germany is blessed with the Alps in the south and the Harz towards the north. Tucked away in what used to be the far, far east, is the beautiful region known as the “Saxon Switzerland”, a wild, craggy area along the gorge cut into the lesser known Elbsandstein mountains by the River Elbe. Stunning scenery: a real highlight on the train or river journey between Berlin and Prague.

Off with those trunks

For a people with an understandable hang-up about history, Germans are remarkably relaxed about getting their kit off. No self- respecting beach or spa complex is without its area for Freik√∂rperkultur (free body culture – or nudism). And don’t think you can play the bashful Brit. I once entered a sauna with my trunks on only to be told in no uncertain terms by a naked fiftysomething woman to take them off.

Overhead Zeppelin

Bordering Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Lake Constance is one of the places where Germans themselves most like to holiday. It’s also where the Zeppelin was invented. In summer visitors can take tours of the lake by Zeppelin while all year round they can visit the museum in Friedrichshafen detailing the history of the airship.

Designer chic in Snip City

As with long breakfasts, designer flair is not some-thing we associate with Germany – but that’s to forget that this is the home of Hugo Boss. After years in Milan, he’s relocated his empire to Metzingen (near Stuttgart), which now boasts a street of designer clothes outlets.

A beautiful coalmine

Is this what passes for a joke in Germany? Well no, actually, when some of the Ruhr valley industrial plants began to pass their sell-by date it was decided that rather than being demolished they should be transformed into works of art. One of the most dramatic is the Bauhaus-style Zeche Zollverein XII, a former coalmine close to Essen with a boiler house restyled by Sir Norman Foster.

Ein Prosit!

With 1,200 breweries and a Purity Law dating from 1516 ensuring quality control, Germany is beer lovers’ heaven. That is most obvious during the Munich Oktoberfest, but Germans enjoy their beer all year round in cellars, drinking taverns and, in summer, beer gardens. All right, this one’s a bit of a clich√©, but after a litre (or three), who cares?


Directory Euro for August 2012

August 1st, 2012 1:44 am

Europe Directory
Directory Euro for August 2012 relates to Europe Business Directory. Directory Euro contains all information that relate to Europe business such as computer, entertainment, real estate, finance, health, law, news, sport, culture, travel, insurance, investment & education.