There are a few things that come to mind when thinking about the country of Germany. Bratwurst and beer. East and West Germany. A place where the people are as cold as the Bavarian Alps.
All of these things are true. For the most part.
Germany is a land of bratwurst and beer, they are the second largest beer drinking country in the world (how could they not, they've got Löwenbrau). And yes, it used to be divided into two countries after its loss in World War II. However, Germany's 82 million people aren't as cold as the world portrays them to be.
Germans don't believe in small talk, which gives them the appearace of being standoffish. They're also a formal people, where addressing someone you don't know by their first name is a social no-no.
That being said, Germany is one of the most stunning countries in Europe--where you'll find ski resorts in the southern reaches of Bavaria, and little medieval towns with fairytale framework houses all over the place.
One of the best ones is Bernkastel-Kues, in the heart of the Rhineland-Palatinate (one of Germany's 16 states). Old churches, castle ruins, and some of the finest German wines await you here.
Berlin, Germany's captial city, is now together once again--and is bustling with festivals, museums, UNESCO sites, cafes, nightclubs, and everything else you can dream of. Its Checkpoint Charlie, however, isn't the real one that divided an East and West Berlin for some 30 years, this one's just for show.
If you've only got the time to see one part of Germany, try to visit the infamous Black Forest (Schwarzwald) that's full of legends, folklore, medieval monasteries, and cuckoo clocks.
Germany's a big country, some 357,000 square miles, but its extensive network of trains (including its S-Bahn and U-Bahn) is excellent--and in true German fashion, punctual. So getting around really is efficient.
This is also one of the best ways to see Germany's countryside, and how to quickly get from the Alps to the coasts of either the North or Baltic Seas in the north.
Then again, zipping along the Autobahn might almost be as fast. This fast-paced road isn't for the leisurely Sunday-driver. Speed is the name of the game--but not too fast, the Polizei (Police) are watching.
Rushing isn't an option along the River Rhine, where a leisurely cruise follows past a bunch of castles and castle ruins. A leisurely bike ride is just the thing up in Lower Saxony, a flat land filled with ancient burial mounds.
Germany's got its fair share of medieval and Baroque churches, none more famous than Cologne's Cathedral whose spires were the tallest in the world at one point. The Baroque Pilgrimage Church in Wieskirchen is one of the most ornately decorated churces anywhere in the world.
Eating in Germany is just as diverse as the country itself. Sure there's bratwurst, and doner kababs (the only food in Germany that should be eaten with your hands), but there's Bavarian Cream, Black Forest Cake and ham.
Try some local dishes served at one of the local beer gardens, or pick a restaurant serving regional specialties. Beer isn't all there is to drink in Germany, the Kirchwasser is a Black Forest specialty made with cherries, and all sorts of differnt flavored schnapps await.
After an afternoon spent in a beer (or wine) garden, take in one of Germany's theater, Opera, or Ballet performances. And just about everywhere there's a cabaret or jazz event going on.
There are a few more words that should come to mind when thinking about Germany--how about: wonderful, fantastic, and terrific?
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