GERMANY

The most populous country in the European Union, Germany couples medieval history with modern innovation. You can get lost in forests and castles straight out of a fairy tale; wander cobblestone streets in search of pretzels and a fresh stein of beer; and follow the trail of some of the most important events in human history. The vast diversity of this country – coastline, valleys, rivers, mountains – and the mix of major cities and cozy villages will keep you coming back.
BASICS /// Flag: 🇩🇪 // Capital: Berlin // Currency: euro // Languages: German

ITINERARIES

Capital of Bavaria, famed for Oktoberfest but offering much more than beer. 
SEE
Lenbachhaus: An art museum housed in a fantastic yellow metal building, featuring works by Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group of expressionist artists founded in Munich which included, among others, Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.
The Pinakotheken: A complex of five museums (Alte Pinakothek (Middle Ages/Renaissance); Neue Pinakothek (17th-19th centuries); Pinakothek der Moderne (20th-21st centuries); Museum Brandhorst (contemporary); and Sammlung Schack (German romantics)) each with extensive and engaging collections.
Haus der Kunst: Originally built during the Nazi era as a monument to Third Reich art, this building has since been repurposed into an exhibition space for contemporary art.
DO
Walk around Marienplatz, see the Glockenspiel chime: Take in Munich's main square, and spend some time admiring the Gothic and majestic town hall. Make sure to stake out your spot early to watch the Glockenspiel chiming.
Take a stroll through the English Garden: Munich's version of Central Park is perfect for a stroll. Don't miss watching the improbable surfers catching waves on the river.
Viktualienmarkt: A food lover's dream - part farmers' market, part gourmet treats.
Climb to the top of St. Peter's church: Known by locals as "Alter Peter" ("Old Peter"), this church offers sweeping views of the city if you can manage the nearly 300 steps to the top.
Beer halls: Even if Oktoberfest is not going on, it's hard to come to Munich and not step inside a beer hall. Each one is steeped in centuries of history. Hofbrauhaus is perhaps the most famous, but for less crowds try Augustiner.
EAT
Spezlwirtschaft: New and delicious spins on German comfort food classics like schnitzl or knödel.
Brezelina: A chain offering pretzel sandwiches (how is this not a thing everywhere?) for a perfect on the go snack.
Bratwurstherzl: A traditional restaurant offering plates of sausages and mustard that tickles your nose, all in an old wooden house setting.


CULTURE FILE

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Published when Goethe was just 25 (and supposedly finished in just six weeks of writing), this book catapulted Goethe to celebrity. The book is composed of letters and is a loosely autobiographical tale of a sensitive artist.
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
An influential work which explores the nature of man and society through the figure of a man who has an extended stay at a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps. (See the Reading In / Mann in Munich post for more).

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
Part of the Danzig trilogy (which also includes Cat and Mouse and Dog Years) which focuses on the free city of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) during the interwar and pre-WWII years. This installment centers on an unreliable narrator who refuses to grow up.
Herman Hesse
A Nobel Prize winner (1946) whose works - including Siddhartha and Steppenwolf - explore spiritual themes and the human quest for self-knowledge and authenticity.
Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht
A drama by one of Germany’s foremost playwrights which critiques capitalist society through the lens of socialism.
Metropolis (film)
A silent science fiction film made in the interwar period and set in a future urban dystopia.
Das Boot (film)
An epic film focusing on a U-boat crew during WWII.
The Lives of Others (film)
A quiet and moving film about a Stasi (East Germany’s secret police) officer tasked with monitoring a playwright and his actress lover.
Good Bye Lenin! (film)
A dramedy about a young activist whose mother wakes up from a coma during which time the Berlin Wall has fallen; in order not to shock her or worsen her already precarious health, her son endeavors to maintain the illusion that East Germany still exists.
Run Lola Run (film)
A fast-paced, pulse-racing movie in which a woman has twenty minutes to save her boyfriend’s life by scraping together 100,000 German marks.
The Baader Meinhof Complex (film)
An interesting look into a far-left militant group - the Red Army Faction - which was active in West Germany during the late sixties and seventies.
Albrecht Dürer
A German Renaissance painter and printmaker famed for his engravings and woodcut prints.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
An expressionist painter whose nudes and landscapes in electric colors were deemed “degenerate” by the Nazi regime after which hundreds were destroyed.
Max Ernst
Painter, sculptor and poet who was a key member of the Dada and Surrealist movements.
Joseph Beuys
A sculptor and performance artist interested in making works which also provided social and philosophical commentary.
Gerhard Richter
A contemporary visual and abstract artist whose paintings have set record auction prices for paintings by living artists.
Anselm Kiefer
Contemporary painter who combines natural materials (straw, ash, clay) into large canvases which focus on memory and dark times in the historical past.
Rammstein
Perhaps one of Germany’s most well-known contemporary musical acts, this six-man metal/hard rock band has been together for over twenty years.
Nena, “99 Luftballons” (song)
Contrary to what you may think, Nena is a band (not just one person), and this upbeat song is actually an anti-war protest anthem.
Wurst
Sausages. You can find, by some counts, over 1500 different types in Germany, including the ubiquitous bratwurst (fried sausage). Regional varieties include Berlin’s currywurst (sausage topped with curried ketchup) and Bavaria’s weisswurst (white sausage served with sweet mustard).
Sauerkraut
Fermented, shredded cabbage often served as a side dish.
Spätzle
Soft egg noodles often topped with cheese or roasted onions and served to accompany gravy-heavy meat dishes.
Sauerbraten
“Sour” or “pickled” roast made from meats marinated for a while ahead of time in wine, vinegar, and spices.
Pretzel
Crispy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside, with just the right amount of salt scattered on top.
Black Forest cake
Named for the region of Germany it comes from, this cake includes several layers of chocolate sponge cake and whipped cream and cherries.