TRAVEL & HOLIDAY TIPS IN GERMANY
The scenery and landscape of Germany is enormously varied, ranging from sandy beaches to towering mountains, forests, lakes, medieval villages and some of Europe’s greatest cities. Every area has its distinct regional foods and it offers a huge choice of local wines and beers.
The Rhineland region includes the industrial sprawl of the Ruhr, the varied landscapes of Westphalia, the wine-producing region of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The state of Hesse with its ‘fairytale road’, also includes the major financial centre of Frankfurt-am-Main. The Black Forest is in the southwest, and forms part of the state of Baden-Württemberg. Other areas of interest in this state include the Neckar Valley, Swabia and Lake Constance.
Munich is the capital of Bavaria, whose main tourist regions are the Bavarian Forest to the east, Franconia to the north, Upper Bavaria and the Alps to the south and the Allgäu region of the southwest. Bavaria is the most popular tourist destination for both Germans and overseas visitors alike.
The states of Brandenburg (which surrounds Berlin), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (on the Baltic coast), Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and, of course, eastern Berlin itself, constituted the former East Germany (GDR) prior to re-unification in 1990. The Baltic coast with its resorts is the major holiday region in the former east, followed in importance by the Thuringian Forest, the northern lakes, the Saxon Hills, the Harz Mountains and the Zittauer Gebirge.
Berlin is the largest city in Germany. It is also the country’s capital and seat of Government. The recently renovated German Parliament (Reichstag), designed by British architect Norman Foster, testifies to the construction boom currently taking place in the German capital. Since November 1989 when the Wall came down, nearly 100 streets have been reconnected, disused ‘ghost’ railway stations have sprung back to life and the watchtowers, dogs and barbed wire that divided the city, the country and indeed the continent for 28 years have virtually disappeared. Nevertheless, there is often stark contrast between the two parts of the city, partly due to economic contrasts between East and West, but also because they have never been of a uniform character.
The east contains the densely populated working-class quarters of Mitte, Pankow, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, which inspired the theatre of Erwin Piscator and Bertolt Brecht. West Berlin also had its poorer areas like Wedding, Neuköln and Kreuzberg (the latter known for its pubs and the high proportion of Turkish-owned shops in its streets).
In comparison, the green and leafy areas of Charlottenburg and Zehlendorf have a more affluent atmosphere. After the city was occupied by the four post-war victorious powers, the two halves diverged even more as West Berliners broke away from their past and embraced the idea of a new, intensely western, Americanised city. At the same time, eastern counterparts chose to retain what remained of the old Berlin instead. This is why the eastern half of the city probably gives a more accurate image of what Berlin was like in the 1920s and 30s. To find areas retaining the pre-war atmosphere, visitors must move away from the city centre. Alexanderplatz was one of the main centres of 1920s Berlin as well as of post-war East Berlin. It is now re-emerging as an
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