Germany isn’t the first place on the typical tourist’s European bucket list. It isn’t conceivably the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th. But Jen was intrigued by the German’s devotion to her favorite holiday, Christmas. A Travel & Leisure article noted Germany was home to four of Europe’s top 10 Christmas markets. They are renowned for their handcrafted nutcrackers, ornaments and wood work nativity sets. I worked in Germany for a couple months, but rather than take the opportunity to sight see any of the many great cities, I would hop on a train bound for Paris or a quick flight to Sweden. I’d been to Germany, but never really seen it. So, I was game. What’s better than singing happy birthday to Jesus? Singing it in German.
The plan was to head to Munich and see the Southern Bavaria sights, then drive to Dresden for two nights, Berlin for two nights, fly to Copenhagen to try the #1 restaurant in the world, wine taste in the Moselle Valley and end in Cologne.
We visited the following Christmas Markets:
Bernkastel in Moselle Valley (not planned and very small)
Cities visited: Munich, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Ehrwald (Austria), Oberammergau, Füssen, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Dresden, Seiffen, Berlin, Copenhagen (Denmark), Bernkastel (Moselle Valley), Cologne
So what do we know about Germany:
- #63 largest country in the world at 138,000 sq. mi, right behind Japan
- #16 largest population with 81,000,000. Largest in the European Union
- Borders nine countries – Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgium
- After the United States, Germany is the second most popular migration destination in the world.
- German people are the second biggest consumers of beer in the world (after the Czechs), with an average of 107 litres per person per year in 2010 (or 0.30 litres per day).
- About a quarter of all American citizens claim at least partial German ancestry.
- Classical music has been widely dominated by German-speaking composers. A few famous ones born on the present territory of Germany include Bach, Händel, Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner and R. Strauss.
- The Germans can be credited for the discovery of insulin, the invention of the clarinet, the pocket watch, the automated calculator, the light bulb, television (partly), paraffin, petrol/gasoline & Diesel engines, the automobile (as well as the engine, differential gear and other important devices), the motorcycle, the jet engine, the LCD screen and the Walkman.
- Germany was the first country in the world to adopt Daylight saving time (DST, a.k.a. summer time) in 1916, in the midst of WWI.
- Germany is one of the last Western European countries not to have banned smoking in workplaces, and restaurants (see map). One of the political reason for this is that the Nazi officially frowned on smoking, and post-war German legislators have been afraid of imitating Nazi regulations.
- Germany the world’s second producer of cars (after Japan) and motor vehicle in general (after the USA).
Largest company in Germany is Volkswagen AG.
- There are over 300 kinds of bread in Germany.
- German is the official language of 5 countries: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein
- 65% of the Autobahn has no speed limit.
- Hugo Boss designed the official uniforms for the Nazi Party and Hitler Youth
- Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany.
- There are over 150 castles in Germany.
- There are over 1,000 kinds of sausages in Germany.
- Most taxis in Germany are Mercedes.
- Adidas was founded by the Bavarian, Adolf “Adi”Dassler. His other brother, Rudolf Dassler founded Puma.
Length: 12 days
Biggest surprise: Bavarian food was fairly bad, Mustafa’s
Toughest reservation: Noma
Total attractions: 40
Cost per attraction: $8
Favorite experience(s): learning to bike in Copenhagen, Nutcracker shopping in Seiffen, Nuremberg XMAS market
Most overrated experience(s): Kado, Checkpoint Charlie, Bableplatz, Munich brauhauses
Top attraction(s): Neuschwanstein Castle, Berlin Wall Memorial, Nazi Rally Grounds, Nürnberg Trials Memorial & Courthouse
Favorite store(s): KaDeWe, Kathe Wolfartz, Kasserman (Munich), Copehagen stores
City rankings: 1. Copenhagen, 2. Berlin, 3. Seiffen, 4. Nuremberg, 5. Munich, 6. Dresden, 7. Cologne, 8. Rothenburg, 9. Mosel, 10. Bamberg, 11. Oberamergau
What we missed due to running out of time, wrong time of year, logistic difficulties, etc.: