Germany - Anywhere, Anytime.
Animated cities, chocolate box villages, galleries, and gourmet restaurants. Fairy-Tale castles, modish clubs, museums, ports; canals, and lazy days on river banks. Full of quaint corners, rich in history and culture, Germany is an increasingly tempting destination for UK travellers.
Berlin, once literally and ideologically divided, has developed a new identity, that of a rebellious beatnik. The new art houses, eateries, luxury hotels and clubs, are all infused with the passions of a community taking advantage of a recently captured freedom. East Side Gallery, the world’s largest outdoor art collection, is home to Dmitri Vrubel’s endlessly controversial graffiti painting, ‘The Kiss’, and is a must see piece of artistic political commentary. Berlin is a city of contrasts, awash with museums parks and concert houses, it’s also Europe’s clubbing capital. Club culture in Berlin is a ritualised way of life, and Techno music, Berlins defiant new religion. Sisyphos, is an underground club that runs from Friday to Monday without a break. Throwing the most demented and delirious weekend parties techno heads could ask for, it's the only place to dance a weekend away amongst abandoned vehicles and rusting debris. From the demented, to the high end, Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), is 60,000 square metres of consumeristic heaven, and the second largest department store in Europe. From Designer labels, plush soft furnishings, to extravagant beauty salons, KaDeWe will quench the most fevered shopaholics thirst. Raver, art lover, or consumer, Berlin has you covered.
Frankfurt, is a city where in summer, the great, good, and bearded hipsters, drink Snapp’s while lounging around the banks of the river Main. Heaving with satirical artist and writers, Frankfurt has a cultured cosmopolitan air about it. The Museumsufer, or (Museum Riverbank), has earned Frankfurt its reputation as a city of the arts. The Städel Museum offers visitors an almost unabbreviated study of over 7 centuries of European art history. Paintings by Holbein, Botticelli, and Vermeer, are found in the ‘Old Masters’ exhibit. The centrum of ‘The 80’s’ exhibit, is figurative painting produced in West Germany during the 1980s, the pieces are expressive, raw and aggressive. The renown Jewish Museum, German Architecture Museum, and German Film Museum can all be found along the banks of the Main. Frankfurt is also famous for its Apfelwein (apple cider). The quintessential tipple of the region, it’s potent, tart, and a taste acquired all too quickly. Apfelwein Solzer, family run since 1893, is a tavern that produces Apfelwein on site, and offers hearty traditional German food to go with it. Try the Himmel und Erde, a dish of buttery mash potato, thick black pudding, onions; and homemade apple sauce, traditional peasant food at its best.
Hamburg is a city of canals, cobbled streets, and Neo-Gothic red brick warehouses; that once stored tea, cocoa, and silk. If you’re a foodie Hamburg is calling, the Baltic and North Seas are close at hand, as is the river Elbe, making fish the order of the day. Hamburg is home to a 300-year-old open-air Fiscmarkt (Fish Market), a little deceptive, as fish certainly isn't the only thing this market trades in. There you can buy live ducks, exotic fruits, spices, and fine porcelain, if it’s not bolted down they sell it. Hamburg, like any harbour city, has a sinful side. The Reeperbahn, is the city’s most famous, or infamous street. Sex museums, alongside upmarket restaurants, erotic theatres, alongside urbanite bars, the Reeperbahn is a fascinating mile long strip; where sleaze meets gentrification. From the devilish to the divine, the church of St. Michaels is one of Hamburg’s 5 Lutheran churches. Thought to be one of the finest Hanseatic Protestant baroque churches to have been built, a spiralling climb to the top of St. Michaels tower offers a perfect panoramic view of the port, city, and beyond. Germany may not be your first thought for a break away, but with such choice and variety on offer, it really does have something to suit all tastes.
Bavaria, is home to King Ludwig II palaces and castles. Towering turrets in striking settings, Ludwig’s castles, palaces, and their grounds; are theatres to drift through, and recapture romance. Neuschwanstein, the Neo-Romanesque castle, overlooks the comely village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen, its design both boastful and whimsical. Its showpiece is the lavish Sängersaal (Minstrel’s Hall), an ode to Germanic mythology and Medieval knights, a room dressed in frescos inspired by Wagnerian operas.
Slightly to the South of the Disney inspiring Neuschwanstein castle, lies Schloss Hohenschwangau. Though not as grand as Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau stands proud on a hill between lakes Alpsee and Schwansee, with the Austrian mountains as its backdrop. The centrepiece here is the Hall of Heroes & Knights, its elaborately painted ceilings depicting the legend of the Gothic King ‘Dietrich von Berne’, and his exploits taming giants and dragons.
The smallest of Ludwig’s palatial endeavours, is Linderhof Palace. Enveloped by Rococo themed gardens, ornamental buildings, fountains, and miniature waterfalls; this flight of fancy was the only one of Ludwig’s architectural pursuits he lived to see completed. Standing in Linderhof’s Moorish Kiosk, is the flamboyant 'Peacock Throne'. The throne, a rose-coloured silk divan, guarded by three proud peacocks, feathers made up of blue green tinctured glass, Persian in design and undeniably beautiful.
Words by George Carter