Very excited to bring you a guest blog post from Jessica of Room for Gelato. She is a fellow Marquette Alum, living the expat life in Germany with her husband and adorable, pooch. We’ve teamed up to offer our readers 5 Must Do’s when visiting our new found homes, read on to see what you won’t want to miss during your next German adventure!
Hi, Tea for Dinosaur readers! First of all, thanks to Victoria for letting me guest post today. I’m Jessica and I am another expat (and another Marquette University graduate!) living in Germany and blogging over at Room for Gelato. I love following along with Victoria and her family’s adventures in Japan.
I thought I would give everyone here a taste of what it means to be German. Germany really is a great country with so much history, delicious beer, great music and amazing castles. If you ever visit Germany, here are 5 things you must-do!
- Go to a beer garden.
I mean, this is obvious, but a pint of beer is the first thing you should do if you are of legal drinking age, which is 16 in Germany. It’s 18 for hard alcohol, though. There are beer halls and beer gardens everywhere, so you will be able to find one close by without any problem. If you’re visiting Munich, a trip to the world famous Haufbrauhaus is a must. And Pratner in Berlin was recently voted the top ranked beer garden.
The most popular beers (or bier in German) are hefeweizen, which is your standard, wheat German beer, Radler, the German version of a Summer Shandy, pale beers and dark beers. Pale and dark beers come in steins, like the stereotypical beers you think of when you think of Oktoberfest, and wheat beers come in long, skinny glasses. Fun fact about the wheat beer glasses, Germans cheers with the bottom of the glass and not the top.
And when you do say cheers, you must look everyone in the eyes and say, “Prost!”
2. Visit a castle.
Did you know there are about 20,000 castles in Germany? They are all over the country, so no matter where you visit, you can see at least one. The most popular castle is without a doubt the Neuschwanstein Castle. It is about an hour drive from Munich and worth a trip. The castle actually served as the inspiration of the Sleeping Beauty castle, fun fact. It was built in the 1800s as a retreat for King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the best views come from foot bridge towards the back of the castle.
Another great castle is in the city of Heidelberg, which is outside of Frankfurt. The castle has a very interesting story because it has been reconstructed many times since it was built in the 13th century, so it has many different architecture types. You can take the oldest tram in Germany to the top of the mountain, too, and get some fantastic views of the city. If you’re a wine drinker, you can also check out the world’s largest wine barrel that happens to be in the Heidelberg Castle.
A complete list of castles can be found here.
3. Enjoy some German food.
Now German food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Germany, but many dishes are quite delicious. Plus, the food is the best part of visiting any country and getting a real taste of the culture.
Germans love schnitzel, pretzels, bratwursts, Flaumkuchen, spätzle and Maultaschen. Schnitzel with fries is a standard beer hall food and you’ll be hard pressed to eat a bad one. It’s just breaded and fried pork and then you cover in lemon juice. A classic. Pretzels and brats are obvious and delicious, and, yes, they taste better in Germany than in the States. Flaumkuchen is the German version of pizza that comes different ways but the traditional way is with fresh cheese, onions and bacon. The bread is very thin and makes for a nice lunch option. Spätzle is a German egg noodle and doesn’t have too much taste. Käse spätzle is a personal favorite because it comes with cheese and tastes a lot like fettuccini alfredo. Lastly, maultaschen is more of a southern German food and comes with meat or just with spinach and other veggies. Legend has it that monks would still eat the meat version during Lent because the meat was hidden from God because of the ravioli shape. The nickname for the dish even means, “tiny, God-cheaters.”
4. Soak up the history.
Like everywhere in Europe, Germany is full of history. There are museums in every part of the country, from the German History Museum in Berlin to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. No matter where you look you will find areas that are old and new. Where I live in Stuttgart, for example, is a relatively new city building wise because it was rebuilt in the 1960’s after it was bombed in World War II.
Depending on what you want to do during your visit, you can find some way to learn something new about German and world history. TripAdvisor has a great list of all the museums in Germany.
5. Get outside.
Germany has so many things to do outdoors, from amusement parks to the Alps to the Black Forest for hiking to enjoying the water in Hamburg. Germans love to spend time outside and if it is a nice day, you will find everyone in a park, drinking a liter of beer al fresco or taking a long walk along the many paths available.
The weather in the winter is so drab that when the weather is nice, no one wants to be inside. So get out! Walk around, enjoy the sights and take in all that Germany has to offer!
I hope this helps give some insight into what it’s like to visit Germany and that it’s not just beer. But, that is a big part of life here! To follow along with day-to-day life as an expat living in Germany, subscribe for updates over at www.roomforgelato.com.