There are plenty of countries carrying the ‘must-go-to’ lable. And Germany is certainly one of them. But if you were not planning to check it off your bucket list just yet, let me persuade you to do the opposite. Here are the best 8 reasons why you should visit Germany at least once in your life.
1. Learn how to pronounce difficult German words.
Streichholzschächtelchen. Schlittschuhlaufen. Eichhörnchenschwanz. Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzungsüberschreitung. Looks intimidating, doesn’t it? Even scary. I remember that feeling: every muscle on your face gets tense, your brain is ready to explode, your eyes are popping out… you open your mouth, preparing to utter that first German sound, you’re ready, you’re about to nail it, and, and, AND… you can’t pronounce a thing! Your tongue just doesn’t roll, so instead of looking fancy you’re ending up with a stupid facial expression. And everybody around you is hissing, fizzing, whooshing, shishing, shnashing, shnoshing, and producing all kinds of ‘sh’-based sounds. It’s almost insulting. But when you say your first Ich möchte bitte einen Milchkaffee or Willst du mit mir Pfannkuchen essen? it feels like a real life achievement. Hell, even getting your university degree wasn’t that difficult! So if you learn how to speak some German, you’re prepared for anything, my friend.
2. Eat a real German bratwurst.
The power of wurst is seriously underestimated. You get addicted to wurst. You don’t decide when you eat wurst – wurst decides it for you. Because when you see wurst, you just can’t help yourself but eat it right away. It has this weird power over your whole system: your sense of smell gets more acute, you start salivating, your mind can’t focus on anything else, and you lose all your newly-acquired German linguistic skills. Bratwurst is IT. And the real bratwurst can be found only in Germany. The best one, in my opinion, is in Leipzig, in the Universitätstrasse, next to Lehmann’s book shop, and costs €1,70, and is worth every cent!!.
3. Drink beer at Oktoberfest.
Even if you’re not a beer drinker, participating in Oktoberfest, which actually starts in September, is just one of those things you have to try in life. Oktoberfest is the world’s biggest annual funfair with more than 6 million people coming from every corner of the world to celebrate it in Munich, Bavaria. People dress up in traditional clothes, sing, drink (you will probably witness some rowdy behaviour), and have fun.
Berlin is one of Europe’s most modern and cosmopolitan capitals, and yet, just some two hours on a train, and you find yourself in the middle of a medieval town, where nearly every building is 600 years old, where there’s no McDonalds, no advertising, and where the stones on the main road are older than your great-grandmother. Plunge yourself into a medieval adventure – explore castles, learn about some history, and feel like a knight (or a lady) from the Middle Ages!
5. Feel the difference.
You travel to the West – it’s one world. You travel to the East – it’s something completely different! People speak with different accents and have different attitudes, different behaviour, and different manners. Architecture is different (East Germany is still very Soviet). Life standards are different (Wessies are better off than Ossies). People have different values and standpoints… the list can go on and on. Germany is really like two countries in one – isn’t that an amazing deal? Visiting Deutschland is a unique opportunity to experience the true meaning of cosmopolitanism and the true adherence to centuries-old traditions and historical values.
6. Find out what real bread should taste like.
German bread is the best in the world. End of discussion.
7. Drink Glühwein and Bananenweizen
Glühwein at winter, Bananenweizen throughout the whole year – that’s how you drink it. And while Glühwein is also popular in Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, Bananenweizen is an exclusively German invention made from wheat beer and banana juice. Absolute yumminess!
8. Visit the castles of Mad King Ludwig.
Once upon a time there was a young German king, who had a real passion for beauty. Or a real passion for spending money – that’s what his ministers thought. Because who in their right mind would be okay with ruining the country’s economy in order to build fairytale castles in completely unreachable locations in the middle of nowhere? A madman – that’s what King Ludwig was, and that’s how we remember him to this day. He was officially declared insane and then drowned under mysterious circumstances shortly thereafter. But his magnificent projects live on, having ironically become the main tourist attractions in Germany. The most famous castle of his is, of course, Neuschwanstein, but the Herrenchiemsee Palace and the Linderhof Palace are no less magnificent.