It seems a bit silly for me to cram an entire country that I am so close to onto one page, but it will have to do for the time being. I lived in Germany from August 2006-October 2007 as an au pair for an amazing family outside of Stuttgart. I made the decision somewhat one a whim after working for a year after college and it remains to be one of the best things I have ever done. I traveled so much, made great friends, got to know German culture more intimately than I could have any other way, and had the experience of a lifetime.
Not only did I travel in Europe, but I really did try to see as much of Germany as possible. A few of my favorite experiences include:
- Berlin – especially the old parts that used to be East Germany
- The Rhein Valley & taking a boat tour up it
- Hamburg – specifically a boat tour of the harbor
- Bodensee (Lake Constance) – a huge serene lake at the bottom of Germany, it’s bordered on the bottom by Austria
- Munich is very cool, details in the post linked above
There are so many more great places to visit, but those are the greatest ones that spring to mind. There are also a lot of culinary things that I came to love with a grand affection while living there. Some are more regional to Southern Germany and specifically Swabia where I lived, but nonetheless, here are some of the things you must try:
- Pretzels – they are kind of what bagels are to Americans, except you eat them ALL the time as breakfast, as a snack, with butter or meat. I think I averaged more than one a day on my most recent trip back!
- Beer – no explanation needed. It’s just SO good there.
- Spätzle – German sort of pasta, served with butter or cheese, yum!
- Maultaschen – filled pastas akin to ravioli, but with meat and herbs inside. Much more about the filling than the pasta.
- Bread, in general – it’s dense and loaded with whole grains and seeds, very distinctive and great
- Döner Kebap – also in the Munich link above, but in Southern Germany there is a huge Turkish population and you can find these fast food type shops all over. The Doener Kebap is shaved meat from the vertical rotissary loaded onto warmed bread with lettuce, kraut, tomato, onion and a yogurt based sauce. A popular late night snack, but I could eat them just about whenever
- Kaffee & Kuchen – around 3pm cafes fill up with everyone having a snack of coffee and cake.
Here are just a few photos to make it all come to life:
Castles are everywhere, Schloss Favorite in Ludwigsburg
The Rhein Valley
Restored parts of old East Berlin
Cool art museum in Berlin, housed in a former hangar
my host family lived near agricultural fields, during sunflower season it was stunning
perhaps one of my favorite German customs, Kaffee und Kuchen, the afternoon coffee and cake hour