Thursday, June 26, 2014

10 Reasons Why YOU Should Add Germany to Your European Travel Itinerary

Uncle Max is coming to Germany, you guys. FOR REAL.

We have been trying to get him (and everyone, really) to Germany for quite some time now, and now it's finally happening. He's getting on a plane and heading over to see his favorite sister.

Although, if his favorite, most excellent, amazing sister didn't have a baby Zoe and a huge Great Dane, it is questionable whether or not this trip would be happening. We don't dwell on such things.

We are excited. We LOVE visitors. Seriously you guys. We do.

And so, in the spirit of anticipation for Max's arrival, I think it's important to highlight why YOU should consider adding add Germany to your European Travel Itinerary.

Look. I get it, ok. When I studied abroad in college, Germany was not high on my list of mustgoseenomatterwhat. I don't know a ton of people who are all "we're headed to Munich! We can't wait!" Paris? Yes. Rome? Absolutely. London? Probably. Germany doesn't call out to people like France or Italy or the United Kingdom. But I think it's just because Germany doesn't have great PR, you know? I am here to argue that Germany is a diamond in the rough. Sure, you can visit the big cities (Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, etc.) and those would be cool, maybe even super interesting. We've loved our trips to the cities, especially Berlin. But the REAL Germany, the Germany you NEED to experience is found in the smaller cities...Wurzberg, Bamberg, Luneberg, Baden-Baden, Garmisch, etc. It's found in the Black Forest region, in the German wine country, along the Romantic Road in Bavaria. Germany has so much to offer.

And listen, you may think "Oh you're just biased because you live there". No ma'am. I do not have to like (or fall in love) with the places I live. I could live here for 3 years and at the end of it think "I'd be ok with not coming back". But au contraire mon frère! Or, more accurately, Im Gegenteil mein Bruder! (Well that just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?)

Given the opportunity to come to back Europe someday, I think both Z and I would put Germany at the top of our list. So I'm making it my goal to convince you to put Germany on your list, too. Maybe not at the top; I can understand that. But put it on there, friends. Otherwise you're missing out on a big chunk of what Europe has to offer.

10 Reasons Why YOU Should Add Germany to Your European Travel Itinerary (in no particular order)

1. Scenery. Germany is gorgeous. I can't speak for all of it, but I can speak for a lot of it. You've got wine country. You've got hops country. You've got the Black Forest. You've got the Bavarian Alps (definitely hit those). You've got the rolling countryside dotted with giant, lazily spinning wind turbines. You've got the Danube. You've got the aforementioned Romantic Road. You've got the Saxony region. You've got Lake Constance. You've got the Nekar Valley, the Mosel Valley, etc. etc. etc. Just Google any of those places. The pictures speak for themselves. Or just look around at my blog, at the pictures from some of our tips. Or if you're really feeling ambitions, check out this blog, specifically her Germany travels. Whoa. Are you ready to book your flight?

2. Beer. Even people who don't like beer can usually find a German beer they like. And this isn't about just grabbing a beer like you'd grab a Bud Light. Beer is an art form in Germany. Avoid the big names, try the local beer (it's probably the only thing on the drink menu anyways). There's sure to be a brewery in a 10 mile radius. (Bonus: tour the breweries!) Chances are, the restaurant you're eating at has a brewery affiliated with it. German beer is a serious thing. It's an event, this beer drinking. You sit, you enjoy, you savor. It's worth the trip to Germany, just to sit in beirgartens in the summer when the sun doesn't set until 9:30pm and no wait staff would dream of rushing you out to free up a table. You're expected to sit for hours and drink ice-cold beer from sturdy steins, maybe have some dinner, play some cards...or just sit and talk and enjoy the slow, lazy evening. Ah, it's one of my favorite things in the world. And let's not leave out German wine. Germany has some of the best white wine in the world, but it gets overlooked because the "famous vineyards" are all French and Italian, you know? But I have had my eyes opened. German wine. Yes please.

3. German food. As long as we're talking about beer, we might as well address the food situation. Ok. You guys, German food is GOOD. Yes, it has the reputation of being sturdy, meat-and-potatoes food...and it is. But it's really good. And fresh. SO fresh. Zach and I are already lamenting that "German restaurants" don't really exist in the states. We're going to miss the food so much. So many seasonal delights. So many unique dishes. Gosh, it's good. Spargel. Spatzle. Schnitzel. Also pretzels. ALSO amazing bakery selections. Oh jeez. And so much more. It should be noted that Germany does not just boast good German food. It has AMAZING Italian food, which makes sense based on proximity to Italy. The Italian restaurant in our village is owned by a man who speaks no English...only German and Italian. He and his family are authentic Italians, and much to the dismay of our family, they shut the restaurant down for a few months every year to make a trip back to Italy. They are the real deal. And that seems to hold true for almost all of the Italian restaurants we've eaten at in Germany. DIVINE. In fact (WARNING: super snobby comment coming; I know, I hear it), the last time Z and I were in Italy, we discussed how part of the excitement of going to Italy was lost for us because we regularly have amazing Italian food and gelato in Germany. Don't get me wrong, friends. We still love Italy. We still have 2 more trips to Italy planned before we leave Germany. We still know how blessed we are and how incredible it is that we have the opportunity to just pop over to Italy for a few days. I'm just saying...come to Germany and get the bonus of amazing, authentic Italian food and gelato.

4. Castles. Ok. I'm not huge on history and really learning all about different sites and their significance. I just don't spend a lot of time and energy on that sort of thing. BUT I do love castles. Regardless of their history, they are just super cool. And so old. And so interesting. And Germany has a wealth of them. You basically can't visit a German city without also visiting the castle associated with that city. And good news, friends. The most famous castle in Germany? The one Walt Disney used as inspiration for the Cinderella Castle? It's a day's-trip away from us.

5. History. So if you ARE into history, Germany is the place to come. Especially if you have a grandparent or relative who served overseas during WWII. Or just any interest in WWII. Amazing history here. Hallowed ground. I'm not going to say I enjoy visiting WWII memorials or concentration camps, but I certainly think it's important to visit them and learn about them and honor those lives that were lost.

6. Christmas markets. This may actually be the best reason to visit Germany. Yes, this means you'll be here when it's cold and dark and dreary and probably with 18 feet of snow on the ground, but OH the Christmas markets. Glorious. They make winter in Germany worth it. Gluhwein. Festival food (drooling just thinking about it). The smells! The rows and rows of booths with food and drinks and holiday wares. The parades. The lights. The music. It is absolutely magical. There's nothing like it and you have to experience it to truly understand how incredible it is. 

7. Which leads us to just Festivals, in general. You guys, no matter when you visit Germany, there's sure to be some kind of festival going on. Beer Fests. Wine Fests. Pumpkin fests. Easter markets. Christmas markets. Burgerfests. Volksfests. Oktoberfest. Carnival. Kinderfests. There's even a Bach Fest. There's always something to celebrate and it's always fun.

8. Culture. I think this applies to ANYWHERE you visit, but German culture is especially interesting, in my humble opinion. Germans are polite and efficient and rule-followers. Everything is clean and well-organized. They work hard, yet the play hard. See numbers 2 and 7. They REALLY honor tradition and value family, and I like that.

9. Ease of access to other places of interest. Germany is pretty central when it comes to Europe. Rent a car (autobahn driving, hello. A bucket-list item for many), hop a train, grab a cheap RyanAir flight and you're just a few hours away from Italy, Austria, Czech, Poland, Croatia, France, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Switzerland, The Netherlands...the possibilities are endless. You could visit multiple countries in just a few short days. It's so easy to get around once you're in Europe...just get here!

10. (But maybe this should be #1, if we were going in order) A FREE place to stay. Breakfast included. Lovely guest room. Full bathroom with a gloriously large bathtub AND a shower (not gloriously large, but let's not get picky, ok?). Cute baby. Fun hosts. Located in a charming, authentic Bavarian village. Convenient access to grocery, bakery, German and Italian restaurants, Eis (gelato) café, and train station. The true German experience. Offer expires 6/2015, contact management to book today!

So come on!

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