It’s a Tuesday afternoon and I am sitting in an old, historical castle on the top of a mountain in Germany (I know!). My view is exquisite. Straight ahead of me I can see the other side of the valley, the only thing that is separating us is the Rhine. The sun is shining, which lets face it makes everything look better, but even on it’s dullest of days Berg Schoenberg, and even Oberwesel, can make you smile just by its simplistic character and natural beauty.
It got me thinking, which is always a dangerous thing, what do most people think of when I say I’m going back to work in Germany. I highly doubt they can imagine the beauty I am currently experiencing from the office, perhaps the Berlin wall or Checkpoint Charlie? Maybe the minds of the football fanatics will go straight to Bayern Munich or even the Hofbrauhaus. It would be fair to say though that the war would still be a primary thought even though I would hazard a guess at saying not one person reading this post experienced either the war or the immediate after-effects.
It’s a huge shame that this culturally and historically rich country is still associated with the actions of one regime. This is why I feel it is time to share my wisdom (well the little bit of knowledge that I think I have) and give my top three places to visit in Germany that have nothing to do with the Third Reich, the Berlin Wall or Hitler.
Sylt is a beautiful island in North Germany (nearly Denmark) and I spent many an afternoon on my year abroad wandering up and down the beaches, sampling the ice cream cafes and playing crazy golf – yet I still don’t feel like I know it very well. The best part for me? Well, the train to Sylt goes ‘through’ water. That’s right, whilst on the train to Sylt there is a point where there is water on either side of you and I still, to this day, do not know how it is possible. Sylt is one of those islands where the rich holiday and has a well-kept high street with some exclusive boutiques, however it still caters for everyone’s need (it has a McDonalds and New Yorker). Whether the sun is shining or you’re knee deep in snow, Sylt is always a place to be.
It has become increasingly more popular to take ferry tours down the Rhine river where you can explore towns such as Mainz, Oberwesel, Bingham and then go on to the bigger cities such as Cologne. Each of these places has something to offer, whether that be a castle on a mountain, an exquisite port or a internationally famous cathedral, tourists have now caught on to the treasures that can be found down the Rhine. Koblenz, however, is my personal favourite. It has a character and atmosphere that I can’t feel in the others and on a warm summers day provides the perfect picture to relax and explore. Oh, and there are some nice pubs…
3. My final place is not so hidden, in fact it is very famous, probably my favourite place in all of Germany and undoubtedly the only city that has truly taken my breath away – Heidelberg. The home to fairytales and old buildings, mysterious castles and astonishing views – Heidelberg has it all. Maybe not the place to go crazy on a night out but I’m a romantic at heart and the castle gardens are open in the evening in order for you to see the Altstadt all lit up. I would put money on it making people with the hardest of hearts melt…
For a long time Germany will have the idea of the war attached to them, and perhaps more importantly that England beat them 5-1 in football, but should that discourage people from visiting and exploring the country? Definitely not. Am I then saying that places such as the Berlin Wall or Sachsenhausen should not be visited? Again, definitely not, they are a huge part of this countries history, a part that should not be forgotten. However, they do not represent Germany as a whole, they represent a part. The other parts are just as interesting and exciting, if not more so.
So there’s no need to mention the war, when there is so much more to talk about….