Rediscover enchanting Germany

Rediscover enchanting Germany

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

This time of year in Germany is almost magical. There’s a chill to the air, the days grow shorter and festival season is usually in full swing. However, this year is a little different. While the leaves transform into brilliant shades of red and orange, most of the social landscape has changed. With the cancelation of festivals—including the world-famous Oktoberfest—it can feel a bit deflating. Don’t let it get you down! Now is a fantastic time to rediscover how amazing our host nation truly is. From breathtaking scenery and bustling cities to time-honored traditions and a bit of deep-fried goodness, there are plenty of reasons to fall in love with Germany.

Full of wondrous sights

There is no shortage of spectacular places to see. Castles dating back hundreds of years can be found everywhere. Even just driving on the autobahn, you’re likely to spot them from afar. Nestled in valleys or perched atop a hill overlooking towns and rivers, some such as the timeless Schloss Heidelberg stand as testaments to their former glory. Others like Neuschwanstein and Burg Eltz boast unparalleled vistas and harken back to fairy tales from childhood.

In the north, the isolated wind-swept island of Sylt offers miles of sand dunes and pristine coastline. In the west, vineyards line the vast rolling hills along the Mosel and Rhine rivers. Fall is my favorite time to visit, as the changing leaves set the hillsides ablaze with crimson and gold. The Black Forest is a favorite for many. With hiking trails and charming villages, the region is also known for intricately carved handmade cuckoo clocks. Bordering Switzerland and Austria are the majestic mountains. Filled with jagged peaks, crystal clear lakes, deep ravines and gorges, the Alps are simply breathtaking.

Vibrant metropolises

Even if you’re not fond of busy urban centers, Germany’s cities are wonderfully eclectic and unique. Housing the European Central Bank and the German stock market, Frankfurt is a bourgeoning financial powerhouse. Along with its skyscrapers and blossoming businesses, Frankfurt is home to plenty of traditions. Each year it hosts the Buchmesse—the world’s largest book fair. It also has its share of culinary favorites with “Apfelwein,” apple wine and “Grüne Soße,” green sauce which originate in the region.

The capital city of Berlin has a rich and complex history. Once split into two, East and West Berlin, signs of the dichotomy are still visible today. Visitors can trace the delineating line of the Berlin Wall by walking along the bricks which are cemented into the ground. Remnants of the wall remain and are now a living art gallery. Reaching further back are museums dedicated to coming to terms with the atrocities committed in World War II. A visible reminder of the war still stands at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The bombed shell of the building pierces the sky, with gaping holes in the tower. While the church was rebuilt in a more modern style, the original remains as testament to the cost of war.

Eat and drink all the things

There is an amazing amount of good German eats to discover. Sure, we all miss our legit Mexican cuisine; however, I promise you there are plenty of delicious dishes which might help make up for it. “Käsebretzels,” cheese pretzels bigger than your face, crispy golden Wienerschnitzel, and melt-in-your-mouth apfelstrüdel topped with vanilla sauce are just a few tasty morsels to try. Although each region has its own specialties (Lebkuchen in Nuremberg, Flammkuchen in Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz), one of the most popular dishes around the country is currywurst. Thought to have originated in Berlin, this savory dish consists of a cooked bratwurst slathered in a curry-based ketchup sauce and is often accompanied by piping hot frites.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a meal without having something to wash it down with. Grab a liter or “Maß” of one of Germany’s legendary beers. Once brewed to perfection according to Reinheitsgebot, or purity laws, beer was created with water, barley and hops. The brews created and sold at Oktoberfest each year must follow the tradition of Reinheitsgebot. More a wine drinker? Taste your way along the Deutsche Weinstraße, or German Wine Road. Spanning the rolling hills along the Mosel and Rhine Rivers, discover award-winning wines which makes this region so special.

When you’re first assigned to Germany, it’s easy to start planning your trips to other countries and cities. However, don’t forget to look right in your backyard. From spectacular landscapes, culinary hikes and seasonal markets, there is so much to explore and rediscover in this fantastic host nation we’re lucky enough to call home. Although this year may look a bit different from most, the traditions and culture of Germany still shines through.  

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