Explore the history of Germany, new and old
Germany’s legendary capital, Berlin, was once the center of political tension…but now it is a vibrant, artistic city and all of its history remains intact. Famous for its beer and its Riesling wine from the magnificent Rhine valley, Germany has great culture, warm, English-speaking locals, and world-class transport and health care…not to mention affordable prices.
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Germany Fast Facts
Climate: Maritime and temperate, wet summers and winters
Location: Central Europe, bordering Netherlands, Poland and France
Country Code: 49
Time Zone: GMT+1
Read more articles about Germany below
John Sklute, a retired English professor from California, has lived just about everywhere—from sunny Spain to spacious Sweden. So when he says that Berlin has a special something, you know he’s done the legwork. John’s love for Berlin started when he spent a summer there in 1994 and fell in love with a local. The relationship didn’t work out, but John’s passion for Berlin never waned.
- A New Global Wealth Tax, Asian Currencies, Diamonds in Panama and Much More…
Posted on February 20, 2014 by International Living
In the U.S., there’s a simple reason why our medical bills are high: Going to the doctor costs more. Perceptive, I know. But it’s the truth. If we dump the unions, the politics, Medicare, government and any other hot button from our discussion, we’re left with the simple yet disturbing fact that Americans pay more for services than patients elsewhere around the world—even in similar “first world” economies. Lots more.
When Melissa Adams stepped out of the airport and into Amsterdam for the first time, it felt like coming home. “The minute my feet hit Damrak—the street leading from Central Station to Dam Square—I said ‘I’m moving here.’ Everything—from the city’s physical beauty to its tolerant vibe and rich history— entranced me.” But while Melissa’s experience of Amsterdam was love at first sight, she also wanted to be practical and make sure her passion had some staying power.
Twice a year, Lucy Fayette flies from her home in Switzerland to Hungary to visit family— for a round-trip fare of just €50 (about $65). That’s right, Lucy’s airfare, which takes her across 800 miles in less than two hours, costs the same amount as a nice dinner or a fancy bottle of wine…and all because of Europe’s budget airlines.
Can a person make money out of bits of old paper, or are they simply too “ephemeral?” The word ephemera means “something of no lasting significance.” In collecting, however, ephemera is the buzzword for all things interesting made of paper. And for collectors, ephemera have lasting significance, indeed.
As a travel writer, I am constantly seeking to discover hidden gems, places the majority of travelers don’t know about and unique adventures. My recent trip to eastern Germany was no exception. Everyone knows about German beer, but did you know Germany’s State of Saxony has an 850-year-old wine-making history?
“Follies are the only things that one never regrets,” said Oscar Wilde. Agreed. But travel writers needn’t look far to find excuses for their follies. After all, writers have a reputation for eccentricity. Whatever bizarre situation you find yourself in—and if any awkward questions arise—you can always blame it on the job. Why were you buying contraband from gypsies in the Czech woods? (“It’s my job.”) How come you spent half the night in a Berlin anarchist squat? (“It’s my job.”)
We’ve all seen the phrase “new and improved” countless times. It’s on everything from cereal boxes to cosmetics. No doubt someone in a lab somewhere tweaked the latest wrinkle cream and declared it new and improved. I think I should have a “new and improved” tag on my life—it has certainly had some tweaking in the last few years!
This has been quite a year. It started in January with a weekend in West Virginia riding all-terrain vehicles on the Hatfield & McCoy Trails…hand-feeding black bears…and dancing to bluegrass music. In February I drove a reindeer sleigh through a winter wonderland in Roros, Norway. I kept myself warm by sampling aquavit along the newly developed Aquavit Trail around Trondheim.
Each October, the German town of Munich celebrates its beer festival. The Germans dress up in traditional costume and there is fun on the streets every evening. When we arrived it was like a giant party with large beer tents lining the streets. A huge Ferris wheel dominated the middle of the town and the people were out to party. Munich is a place of old brick architecture and paved stone streets. The older buildings have intricate stone and brick work which is perfect for photography. And that is what I had come to Germany for—to take pictures.
If you’re looking for a laidback lifestyle in a tropical paradise then Roatan, the largest of the Honduran Bay Islands, fits the bill. Just a two-hour direct flight from Houston or Miami it’s the kind of place where dressing up means wearing flip flops.
Years ago I decided that before I ever settled down I wanted to live in five new cities around the world. But when I originally imagined this “jet-setter” lifestyle I believed I would need to sell a company or save hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it a reality.
Of all the ultra-cool things about the German capital, Berlin, here’s what I think is coolest: You don’t actually have to be cool to partake of the hip scene. Sure, like anywhere, failing to have neon-blue hair or a withering stare may bar you from certain places. But generally, to experience some of the trendiest restaurants, bars, and clubs, you need only know how to find them…literally.
On April 1 only a fool would miss the feast on offer at Le Pince d’Or Crab Festival in Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean. In the capital of Fort-de-France, riverfront restaurants each set up a stall to sell matoutou (a spicy crab stew), as chefs compete to make the best bowl.
- Dirndls, Sausages, Superstition: Germany’s Black Forest
Posted on March 25, 2013 by Steenie Harvey
Cheery waitresses in dirndl frocks. Wooden chairs with carved-out hearts. Walls of glassy-eyed hunting trophies, a stuffed bear included. If seeking a traditional Black-Forest restaurant, seek no farther. But now I almost regret finding the Jägerstüble, a wood-panelled inn under the Marktplatz arcades in Freudenstadt—home to Germany’s largest market square and a werewolf legend.
As the day begins and the sun turns the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to gold, my husband Dave and I take a leisurely stroll. With our little dog Magic, we walk along the lake front to our favorite café, where for $4 we enjoy steaming cappuccinos and fresh buttery croissants. Our dog is welcome everywhere here, in cafés and restaurants, on buses, ferries, and trains.
Take to the streets in Santiago, Chile, from January 3 to 20 for the Santiago a Mil international theater festival. You’ll find large-scale spectacles like “the noise of colors” extravaganza, a forest of paper giraffes, and outdoor performances of Romeo and Juliet.
Begin your holiday season in earnest in Mexico City with a huge Christmas Market running throughout December. In amongst the stalls, piñatas and ice rinks you’ll find the world’s tallest Christmas tree. In Europe, Christmas markets large and small brim with handicrafts, mulled wine and seasonal fare, but Germany is king of them all.
Experience the Day of the Dead in Mexico on November 1 when people gather to honor their departed love ones with big parties across the country. If you’re in India the ﬁrst two weeks of November, then head to the capital, Delhi, where you’ll ﬁnd music, theater, dance, ﬁlm, and poetry in 50 venues across the city for the Delhi International Arts Festival.
Venice is one of the world’s most romantic cities, a place where graceful vessels glide along 700-year-old canals in the shade of historic mansions. Lots of people come to visit, but not many get to stay. You could, however, by taking advantage of one of the many opportunities that exist for funding a life overseas. In fact, there are more of these opportunities than ever these days, opportunities that often don’t reveal themselves until you are on the ground.
The renowned Malaysia International Gourmet Festival in Kuala Lumpur runs the whole month of October. Expect a “Theatre of Cuisines” and a “Gourmet Village.” The wonderfully-named Madajazzcar, Madagascar’s leading jazz festival, takes place from October 3 to 15 with performances around the island.
Parades, dancing, and the election of a Sara Ñusta (Queen of Maize) mark the Fiesta del Yamor in Imbabura, Ecuador, the ﬁrst week of September. Join in and offer thanks to the sun god for a bountiful harvest. Street traders take over the French city of Lille for the Grande Braderie on September 1 and 2.
The Spanish Soccer team aside, the doom and gloom in Europe runs deep. But there is a story not being told…one of opportunity borne of this crisis. A story of places where you could own your own piece of the Old World…for less than half the price of a budget family sedan.
- Low-Stress, Low-Cost, Action-Packed Life in Berlin
Posted on July 26, 2012 by Norman Wolfer
Boredom is the only thing you won’t ﬁnd in Berlin. Despite being small for a capital city—only three million people—it’s Europe’s happening hub. Packed into its districts—each its own urban adventure—you’ll ﬁnd more than 200 museums, large tracts of parkland, countless restaurants, bars and clubs to suit every taste, elegant old buildings, and ultra-modern architecture. You can boat on the canals, cycle, stroll, or just sit in a deck chair at an outdoor café and watch the world go by.
Europe’s buzzing boho center, Berlin, bursts into life this month with the Carnival of Cultures. Thousands of performers will take to the streets and stages of the German capital to entertain over a million revelers. The party starts May 25.
Earlier in the month, Cinco de Mayo (May 5) takes place all over Mexico, especially the U.S. border towns. The day commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Puebla, a city and state in the south, has the best parades in the country.
Getting paid to drink beer in Berlin, Germany—it’s so much fun being a travel writer! The first beer of the night, a sparkling wheat beer called Kristall Weizen, cost a very reasonable €2.10 ($2.79). Around 30 minutes later, I ordered a second. This time, it cost $2.52. Snigger if you must, but it was thrilling to get the timing right and save 27 cents.
What Life Overseas Really Looks Like…
Skeptics inquire: Are the opportunities overseas really as great as we at IL portray them to be? The short answer is “yes.” But don’t take my word for it… Listen, instead, to the many ﬁrsthand stories we’ve collected in this month’s issue—on-the-ground reports from folks who decided to answer the question for themselves…at the beach…in the hills…in cities…or on islands…
When Elizabeth Milovidov stood on the cobbles before the thousand-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral and wandered Paris’s narrow stone streets, soaking up the history and elegant architecture, she knew that her heart was lost.
- This month: Steenie Harvey, IL Europe Correspondent
Posted on February 21, 2012 by Steenie Harvey
From feedback, I know many IL subscribers envy my life—even if they don’t wish to emulate some adventures. But I rarely write about mainstream sights, expensive restaurants, or contrived experiences. I’d rather talk to bag-ladies in a bus shelter than go to another pseudo- medieval banquet or a hanky-ﬂapping cultural show.
Compared to other major European capitals, Berlin property is remarkably inexpensive. For example, 89,900 euro ($117,000) buys a well-maintained, 45-square-meter apartment with stucco details in a Prenzlauer Berg Altbau dating from 1902. Prices like that don’t exist anywhere in London or Paris, let alone in their fashionable districts.
I don’t enjoy spending my own money. Not if I can spend someone else’s. After all, travel writers give publicity to a destination which then helps ‘sell’ it to a wider audience. And studies have shown that readers pay far more attention to a travel story than an advertisement.
Whether you’re shopping for traditional wooden toys, nutcrackers, tree decorations or unusual gifts, nowhere does Christmas markets quite like Germany. And Berlin, the capital, has over 50 Weihnachtsmärkte to investigate in the four week Advent run-up to Christmas.
When you think of economic miracles, you tend to think of China…or Brazil…or India. These are the basket cases turned good – the wayward teenagers who ended up studying hard…going to a good college…and coming top of their class.
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