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When you ask people from different countries what they connect with "typical German stereotypes" or with "Germany", you mostly hear the same things over and over again. People of the world stereotype Germany with sausage, beer, Oktoberfest, the Cinderella Castle, the Kuckucksuhr, Lederhosn and Dirndl.
Germany is a widely diverse country where you can find everything to make your vacation experience an unforgettable one. From the North -and Baltic Seas to the Alps , this country located in the heart of Europe, offers nature parks, castles from the medieval age and historical Roman treasures. Of course there is not only nature or historic things to see. Germany also offers some of the most exciting metropolises in the world where you can enjoy shopping, partying, and the beautiful restaurants and cafeterias in the heart of each city. Germany as a travel destination is becoming more and more popular, especially since the World Cup in 2006.
Berlin. Berlin is not only the capital of Germany again; it is also one of the German cities which underwent the most strokes of fate by history and transformations. However, since the German reunification in 1990, old glamour has returned to Berlin. A lot of rebuilding had to be done but now Berlin belongs to one of the ten hot spot metropolises in the world. "Berlin is always in the process of becoming" (Scheffler, 2010) "and this is one of the traits that make it one of Europe's most vibrant, exciting and colorful capitals" (Berlin, 2010).
The Brandenburger Tor is a symbol of the German reunification and is a must see when you are in Germany's capital. Before the reunification, the Brandenburger Tor was the border between East and West Germany as it was in the middle of the prohibited zone.
"The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Kurfürstendamm is a memorial to peace and reconciliation and a symbol of Berlin's determination to rebuild during the post - war era" (Places of Interest, 2010).
As Berlin has become the capital of Germany again, the German parliament has been moved back from Bonn to Berlin. The German Reichstag is also an amazing attraction with its glass cupola where you can walk up to the top and have an amazing view over the whole city of Berlin.
The "Kurfürtsendamm" is a well - known shopping street with Europe's largest mall, the "Kaufhaus des Westens", also known as KaDeWe. Here you can experience not only fashion but also delicacies from all over the world. Besides the KaDeWe, you find all kinds of stores along the street which "runs from the Memorial Church to Lake Halensee" (Shopping, 2010).
With its 700 restaurants and 300 nightclubs, Berlin also offers you a wide range of food and nightlife. You can have dinner in the largest tower "the Alex" with an amazing view over Berlin or go to the Hackesche Hoefe where you can find international cuisine.
Hamburg. Hamburg is located in the North of Germany on the North Sea and is Germany's second largest city. It is well-known for the Musicals of the World like Lion King or Tarzan, fascinating shopping streets and of course St.Pauli, the one of the world's known red light districts.
When you are in Hamburg you have to see the Hamburg Port. "It is the gateway to the markets in north, central and eastern Europe, the bridge between continental Europe and the rest of world " (Places of Interest,2010). When you get up early enough, you can experience the vivid market life where people trade the freshly caught fish, or sell you flowers, cheese, spices and other fancy foods.
Shopping can be experienced in a relaxed atmosphere as you will find traffic free shopping areas. Next to a dozen malls, you also can find famous shopping streets with stores everybody can afford.
If you want to have a day at the beach or a beach party, you can go to Sylt which is Germany's biggest island and with 40 kilometers the largest sandy beach. At Sylt everything comes together. Wellness, high-society, recreation, parties, concerts, families with children or well - known German cuisine with Germany's best chefs.
Cologne. "The city's very name bears witness to its Roman past as the town of Colonia" (Cologne, 2010). The influence of the Romans can be experienced all over the city.
A famous attraction is the world reknown cathedral with its two 157 meter tall towers. The cathedral belongs to the biggest churches of Christianity worldwide where millions of pilgrims go every year. It is also a UNESCO world heritage sites.
The historic city center with bars, restaurants and small shops is the center of city life. In former days it was the center of the merchant vessels, but today the little alleyways are the venues for people of Cologne as well as for tourists. Not only are there numerous bars, but you can also have dinner on Germany's longest river, the Rhine.
The best season to go to Cologne is the Carnival Season which lasts five days in February or March. During that time, the "Jecken" take over the city and you will experience exceptional circumstances. Its highlight is the "Rosenmontagsumzug", one of the largest processions where you find parade floats with different themes throwing candy to the crowd.
"Open, friendly, and uncomplicated that is Cologne" (Cologne, 2010).
Frankfurt/Main. The city is famous for the annual automotive trade show, the International Book Fair and also as the financial center of Germany and the European Union. The European Central Bank is located in Frankfurt. As the city lies on the Main River and is often compared with Wall Street, its nickname is "Mainhattan".
The city is not only known because of money or the international trade fares, but also as a cosmopolitan city whose inhabitants come from 180 different nations.
Munich. Munich is a city of contrasts where you find old Bavarian traditions as well as a "vibrant modern life" (Munich, 2010).
Of course one of the most famous attractions is the annual "Oktoberfest" which is a drawing point for over six million visitors from all over the world each year. In case you are not able to come during Oktoberfest season, you can experience the atmosphere either in the Hofbräuhaus or during the summertime in Bavaria's famous beer gardens.
Castle Neuschwanstein is the must see attraction of Bavaria, located on a hill with the Alps in the background. Every year millions of tourist travel to Germany's most beautiful castle.
German people and food
The image of Germany has changed considerably, especially since the World Cup in 2006. Since then Germany has become known as "Cosmopolitan and Hospitable" (Pattberg, 2006). 54.8 million tourists, predominantly from China and the United States, thought in 2009 that Germany was worth to visit. Germans are open- minded, folksy, warm hearted and do not need a reason to celebrate. A study by Edgar Piel "shows that the ostensibly ice-cold Germans are actually highly emotional, in good times as well as in bad. Yet they are unable to adequately express their feelings. In that regard, observers believe that the World Cup, with its sea of jubilating Germans in a patriotic, flag-waving, yet amicable spirit may truly signaled a breakthrough" (Kreutzer, 2006). This is maybe also why "Germany is the most favorably viewed nation" ( Mountford, Martin & Kull, 2010). "Nowadays a laissez-faire attitude and a liberal sense of curiosity are evident almost everywhere" (Kleis, 2010).
Typical German products are beer and sausage. But the eating mentality has changed a lot. Of course, the traditionally heavy kitchen of "roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut" can still be found today. But Germans nowadays tend to enjoy healthy, light dishes when they go to restaurants. "According to a survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute more than fifty percent of all Germans chose foreign cuisine when eating out, primarily Italian, Chinese or Greek" (Kleis, 2010). Another advantage of eating in Germany is that it has the most three star restaurants after France.
German beer is famous all over the world, but Germany has an excellent Riesling wine. "Riesling has earned the enthusiasm of wine experts for the German wine miracle thanks to the lightness and sparkling character." (Kleis, 2010)
The country offers you a variety of places to stay depending how much you want to spend and what kind of luxury you want. Hotels like the Hotel Adlon in Berlin or the "Bayerische Höfe" in Munich are known for their luxury, high prices and excellent service all over the world. The average cost of a hotel room in Germany is 80â‚¬ which is very cheap in comparison to other European countries. In famous cities like Geneva or Paris you have to spend between 167â‚¬ and 218â‚¬.
However, if you are traveling with a family these hotels might not be the right place to stay. As Germany is known as a "child friendly country", the country also offers inexpensive family apartments, bed and breakfasts and guesthouses.
For young people and backpackers every city has a variety of youth hostels where you can stay in four, six or ten bed dormitory. If you want more privacy in a room with two beds and a bathroom, youth hostels offer this as well. Prices range here between $30 and $55 a night, including a breakfast buffet, TV, and bed linen.
Germany is a safe country, but as in other countries, you cannot assume crime does not exist. However, most of the crimes are pick pocketing, not violating persons. Of course, be sure that you avoid certain districts in town. "The police are very efficient and courteous and have very good language skills" (Travel Germany, 2008).
Germany has the best public transportation in the world and you do not need to rent a car when you want to get around the country. The railway, called the Deutsche Bahn, is "rank among the most advanced in the world" (Travel Germany,2008). Almost every city and even the small villages have a train station so that you can easily get around.
The bus connections are also very good and you can get by bus to every place.
Although "Germany is the most favorably viewed nation," ( Mountford, Martin & Kull, 2010) most people in the world still blame the German population for the past. The British press described the German "image of the Nazi beast lurking just beneath the surface" (Kreutzer ,2008). Even though Germany is known as a country of excellent inventions, infrastructure and brands "Made in Germany", an imbalance exists concerning the image which arises from the perception of the German population towards other nations. "These are traditionally considered as serious, disciplined, efficient, effective, organized, methodical and reliable but not necessarily fun, spontaneous and likeable. "They are perceived as hard working, punctual, businesslike and competitive but not really having a sense of humor" (Florek, Breitbarth & Conjeo, 2008).
Euro - Dollare Exchange Rate
Another slight disadvantage for American visitors might be the current exchange rate of the dollar. As the currency of the United States is not doing well since the financial crisis, travelling to Europe has become expensive for Americans. They have to spend more money on hotels, souvenirs, entrance fees and restaurants than they would have to spend when they take a vacation in their own country, Mexico or even Canada.
Flights to Europe are quite expensive and range from $1,170 (British Airways) to $ 1,500 (Air Canada). Furthermore, the flight is nine hours, a long time, especially when you are travelling with children. Another aspect you have to consider is the time difference. You have to remember that Germany is six hours ahead. So you might feel a bit jetlagged when you arrive in Germany.
When you travel to Germany, you will experience a unique adventure. It does not matter which part or federal state you visit, each will have its own impact on you. Germany has so much to offer, from cities to national parks, from hiking to kayaking, from beaches for swimming in the summer to the Alps for skiing in the winter, from entertainment to culinary adventures in German cuisine. No matter what you are looking for you will find it in Germany. A visit to Germany will be an experience you will never forget.