March 16, 2010
Author: Ana Alibegova
A lot of stories and a lot of stereotypes are connected with the German people. Still, if you want to experience their culture and discover the country, there are at least 10 things you should definitely do.
1. Travel with Deusche Bahn
The German Railway is one of the national features of Germany. For many years Germans have invested in the railway, and nowadays they have one of the most developed railway networks. Travelling with Deutsche Bahn (DB) is easy, though not so cheap. The ticket prices vary from 6 to more than 100 Euros per route, depending on the type of train you are using and how far you are travelling. However, if you want to spare some money, but you have no other option but to use the railway, the best option would be to buy a monthly ticket. If you are working or studying and the only free days you have are the weekends, then you are one of lucky, because Deutsche Bahn has special weekend offers. ‘Happy weekend ticket’ is definitely one of them, when up to five people can travel one day during the weekend, using the regional trains for only 39 Euros! Cheap fast train tickets can be also found, but have to be booked in advance.
2. Experience Mitfahren
We have already written a lot about this special service in Germany, also very popular in Europe as well. ‘Mitfahren’ is probably the best way to travel around the country; it is quite cheap, fast and available through the Mitfahrgelegenheit website. One concern though: how secure is it? No doubt, that coming in someone’s car and travelling with strangers is not the best way to do it, but you can look at it as an adventure, a way of having fun, a challenge…
3. Visit a brewery
‘Beer and sausages’ is usually the first association of Germany as a country. Not far from the truth, Germans are proud of their beer and sometimes of their drinking habits. The Germans can drink for hours, in a train, on the street, everywhere. If you ask young people, they would tell you that they don’t even count beer as an alcoholic beverage. The brewery itself is part of the national culture, so you need to be very careful about the kind of beer you order. If you are in Cologne, try to choose “Koelsch”, but in Bremen, raise your hand for a “Beck’s”.
4. Go to a football match
If beer and the sausages were the first association, then football is definitely the second association of Germany. The Germans are proud of their football and are among the most loyal fans. Watching a football match ‘live’ in Germany can be an experience of a lifetime! It is not only about the match itself, it is about the good atmosphere whole day long, starting from singing fan songs in the trains from the early morning to partying during the night.
5. Go to a beach party
Beach parties are quite popular in Germany. Usually during the summer huge amounts of sand are placed along the rivers, palm trees are planted around, and an improvised beach is made. The Germans have a habit of lying on the grass by the river, and to lie in the sun, regardless of whether it is warm or not. So, if you are feeling depressed about the fact that you are ‘stuck’ in Germany during the summer, try to cheer up, some kind of beaches can be found in the ‘cold and rainy’ country as well.
6. Visit Berlin
Not because Berlin is the capital of Germany, but because it has its own story. Berlin is multicultural, crazy, interesting; ‘die Berliner’ are unique, sometimes irritated, and not always polite as the Germans in the west are. In Berlin, there is no big city centre, no centralisation, and no places of interest only around the main square. It is a city with history, a city that connects the eastern and the western culture. ‘Poor, but sexy’ is how people describe the German capital.
7. Eat Doenner Kebab
Maybe it’s not traditional food, but you can find it all around Germany. With the cost of around 2.5 Euros, Doenner Kebab is the cheapest meal that can be found in the city centres in Germany. International students love it, not only because it is cheap, but also because rather different than traditional food. Except for Doenner Kebab, in the Turkish restaurants you can try great boerek, baklava, etc.
8. Visit a Chinese quart or a Turkish neighbourhood
Since I already mentioned Doenner Kebab, visiting a Turkish neighbourhood is a must. There you can find delicious food, but also cheap things in the numerous shops. In the Turkish-Arab neighbourhoods you will probably find the best ice-cream in town. If you want to buy some souvenirs, you are at the right place too, just don’t expect too much quality-wise.
9. Try boat-ride sightseeing
Sightseeing by boat is definitely the best option to see as much as you can from the town in just one day. The sightseeing cruises are not so expensive, but sure are an unforgettable experience. Boat rides along the river Rheine in Bonn or Spree in Berlin, lying in the sun, drinking cold Nes-café and enjoying the breeze…there is no better way to spend a Sunday morning.
10. Go shopping!
If you are that lucky enough to be in Germany during sales season, you can do incredible shopping, without paying a lot. The best time for shopping is definitely the end of August, where you can find things from the summer collection almost for free. Almost each town in Germany has a famous shopping street. Not to forget that when the sales season takes place, the shops are open during the weekend as well.
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