All you need to know before going to GERMANY

Whether it’s the legal and formal stuff or the fun and quirky things – everyone should read this compilation before setting foot in Germany.German FlagI’m listing relevant figures and important rules and regulations as well as sometimes unpredicted peculiarities and fun facts to know before you go so that no unexpected surprise will impair your experience.

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LÜBECK – a countdown to one of Germany’s most ravishing cities

Somehow the city of Lübeck has always reminded me of Venice: An innocently cute and relatively small city that used to possess such a political influence and economic power – reaching all over Europe and beyond.

Holstentor at Lübeck
There are quite a few lions in Lübeck – honoring Henry the Lion, the Bavarian King who after Munich founded also Lübeck in 1159. In the Backdrop the iconic Holstentor and right next to it the ancient salt warehouses.

Although Lübeck has incredibly beautiful buildings and alleys, seven church towers, three Nobel prize winners and world-famous marzipan, it does not suffer from destructive over-tourism. I don’t want to change that, however, I’d like to show you around one of Germany’s most ravishing cities.

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ISLAND HOPPING in GERMANY

While international tourism to Germany is increasing, visitors rather stick to the clichés like beer and Lederhosen at Munich and a cruise on the river Mosel; or they hang out at the hip capital Berlin.

I guess that might be the reason why many people believe Germany is landlocked and don’t think about long coasts, two seas, and about 80 islands.

Beach on the island of Borkum

I think this is not the first image that comes to mind when talking ’bout travelling Germany.

However, that’s exactly what Germany’s north has to offer – and many fascinating phenomenons like the tideland that comes with it. As a matter of fact, Germany’s shoreline is longer than the Portuguese one.

So what are you waiting for? Join me on my island hopping…in Germany!

 

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BERLIN guide: get the most for less on bus number 100

(Updated January 2020)

Who needs an expensive hop on hop off-bus when you get to see Berlin’s most important sights and sites right from the city bus number 100. Buy a cheap Welcome Card that allows you to explore Germany’s capital on your own and get the most for less.

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Pariser Platz on the Eastern side of the Brandenburger Tor – where the gate used to divide East and West Germany. Today it’s the busiest tourist spot in all Berlin.

Talking ’bout getting the most: If you actually get off at every attraction that I am introducing, you won’t be able to do the tour, that in one go actually doesn’t take much longer than half an hour, in one day – the Museum of German History alone is worth a visit of a couple of hours. But take it as a golden thread and follow the route in legs depending on how many days you have and what’s most interesting for you.

By the way – you’ll get important general info on visiting Berlin at the end of this post, so just scroll down.

But now: Come on, hop on! We are starting at the stop Alexanderplatz towards Zoologischer Garten.

 

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BERLIN – a complete guide to the Wild Wild East

(Updated December 2019)

A couple of weeks ago, I took you on a smooth ride across Berlin, Germany’s exciting capital, by bus #100. We started at the Alexanderplatz in the east and went westwards all the way to the former main train station Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Berlin Wild East
At the East Side Gallery, on this picture by street artist and wall painter Birgit Kinder you can see a Trabant – aka Trabi – one of two types of cars that were manufactured in the former GDR and everyone in the west made fun of. The Trabi is crashing through a wall – guess which one – and its license plate reads Nov 9, 89 – the date the gates to the west were open and the wall – and finally the GDR – came down.

In today’s post, let’s discover what you get to see and experience when you turn east at the Alexanderplatz – and walk right into the heart of the ex-capital of the former GDR – the German Democratic Republic.

You’ll see: It’s the Wild Wild East!

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A VAN-TASTIC TRIP to the ISLAND of FEHMARN

Spending a weekend or vacation on the island of Fehmarn in a camper van gives you a totally different perspective of the island’s cool activities and beautiful sceneries.

Surfer and kiters at the Fehmarnsundbrücke

While the strong wind is the cyclist’s enemy, it’s definitely the surfer’s and kiter’s best friend. One of the hotspots is at Fehmarn’s southern strait next to the legendary Fehmarnsundbrücke, the Fehmarnsoundbridge

After I had spent a weekend on this Baltic island in May – when it still was a bit nippy – I thought, in Summer, this place must be paradise.

 

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HAMBURG – gateway to the world

(Updated January 2020)

Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, prides itself to be the “most beautiful city in the world”. While this, of course, is just a highly exaggerated catchphrase, it actually is alluring with views that make you yearn for undiscovered shores – Germans call it ‘Fernweh’ (loosely ‘aching for distance’) – lots of maritime charm and its historic openness to the world.

Sailors at the Port of Hamburg

For ages, sailors from all over the world anchored at the Port of Hamburg.

Hence the other slogan – “gateway to the world” – takes it already much closer to its real assets.
Whereby the city owes this description rather to the fact that Hamburg is Europe’s third-largest industrial port and has connected it with the rest of the world over centuries.

 

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The Island of BORKUM – West of East Frisia

The tour of German islands is coming to an end: I’ve taken you with me from the former easternmost isle in the Baltic across the north sea to the Dutch border – where we’ll spend a couple of carefree summer days on Borkum.

Island of Borkum Beach with Beach Chairs
Doesn’t this beach with the colorful chairs and cabanas just look like the perfect summer destination?!

The island of Borkum is one of the seven East Frisian Islands off the coast of Eastern Friesland. It is not only the largest, but also the westernmost and therefore geographically actually closer to the Netherlands than to the German mainland.

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Coming to America: From Northern Germany to the “New World”

In the 19th and 20th century, millions of people left Europe via the North German ports of Hamburg and Bremen respectively Bremerhaven in search of a better life in the “New World”, mostly the USA.

sculpture called Die Auswanderer, emigrants, is standing on the shore of the river Weser and remembers the seven million passing through the port of Bremerhaven.

This sculpture called Die Auswanderer, emigrants, is standing on the shore of the river Weser and remembers the seven million passing through the port of Bremerhaven. Actually, this statue by Frank Varga was donated by the German-American Memorial Association.

As a counterpart to the arrival halls in Ellis Island, several museums in German cities remember the adventurous journeys of the emigrants in transit.

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24 hours in…DUSSELDORF

It was not really surprising that on my way to Japan, I had a stopover in Düsseldorf. After all, it’s Germany’s third-largest airport – after Frankfurt and Munich. Also, Düsseldorf has the largest Japanese community in all of Germany.

The Greek god Triton at the northern end of the city moat in Düsseldorf.

The Greek god Triton at the northern end of the city moat. The sculpture was made in 1902 by Friedrich Coubillier.

The international airport is located only about 9 kilometers respectively 6 miles from the city center, so that it can be easily reached by public transport.