Wade and I are pleased to announce our very first guest post! We couldn’t be more excited to feature Anna Tillmann, bombshell of Anemina.com, one of the web’s newest and brightest travel bloggers. Traveling is not just a get-away for Anna, but something she consistently studies and evaluates based on social and cultural behaviors. Completing her first book at age 9, Anna now writes about travel for freelancers and various German newspapers. She hates chocolate (Don’t worry Anna, I’ll eat it all for you!), hopes to one day be fluent in Russian, has visited 5 continents (still waiting on ole South America and Antarctica), and has a masters degree in American Studies, despite being a native German.
After evaluating our timeline and the weight of our moneybags, Wade and I decided eliminating Germany and a few other countries would better our experiences. Anna, being the natural German guru that she is, has written a piece on the “wunderbar” cities Germany offers. A piece that has me itching to add Germany back to the destination list!
When my parents were still children, my grandparents spent their holidays in their own country. As a child, I often accompanied them on their journeys within Germany, spending a part of my holidays in Amrum, a small island in the North Sea, covering an area of only 20.5 square kilometers. It was easy to circumnavigate the place with a bike in about three or four hours even when I was a kid. The dunes of that East Frisian Island are among the most beautiful in the world. The sand is as white as you can imagine, and at low tide you have to walk for kilometers to reach the sea, or else, you can easily walk to the neighboring island Föhr through the Wadden Sea which I once did with my granddad. These memorable days of my childhood are long gone. I have since then often wished to return to Amrum. But then again, there is a lot of other stuff on my bucket list.
It is strange how the interest for my own country has faded over the years. I have grown up and my interests have shifted. My parents never took me along for a holiday in Germany. Instead, we traveled Europe. When I was old enough to travel on my own, I started to dream of and visit other continents and far-off destinations. Germany is not a big country. It is quenched in between nine neighboring states. You are never far away from a country border and you’ll get abroad in no time. So apart from short and weekend trips to visit friends and family, I have not visited my own country for an actual holiday for some time.
Speaking like that, it may sound odd for anyone to take advice from me. Yet, when in Europe, visiting Germany is a must. Believe me, I so know my country. Come over for a party weekend in Berlin, dance ‘til you drop in Berghain, its world famous club and relax at one of the city lakes or stroll across one of the many flea markets the day after. Visit the impressively beautiful cities of Dresden or Leipzig in eastern Germany and delve into the beautiful nature of National Parks in which wolves still find a home. Go hiking, rafting or snowboarding in the German Alps, enjoy the Bavarian spirit and hospitality in Munich (which actually isn’t only all about beer) or catch the salt-breeze in the north on one of the beautiful islands around Amrum. The Ruhr area is famous for its industrial culture; following the course of the river Rhine on water or land is the best way to explore some of the nicest castles of the country. All these places are well worth a visit.
If you only have a couple of days in Germany, I would however advice you to spend them in Mainz. Josh Cahill, blogger at gotravelyourway.com just recently awarded the city with an unexpected but well-deserved title: According to him, the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the top ten European cities you should visit before everybody else does – a city off the main track but as beautiful and worth a visit. Do you love food? Do you love wine? You will find both in Mainz, as well as an enormous cultural richness. Also, you’ll be thrilled by the options for day tours to the surrounding vineyards, lakes, castles, and historic towns – that is, if you ever want to leave the city at all.
You can spend hours in tiny cafés, colorful and playful as “Dicke Lilli”, joyful and homely as “Annabatterie” or cool and modern as “N’Eis” where you’ll even get vegan ice cream – and lots of curious flavors: basil, rice pudding, or mint for example. Wander the narrow streets of the old city with its cute timber-framed houses and visit the famous Chagall windows in St. Stephan Church. Have a look at the enormous cathedral, dated back to 975, or have a look at the great architecture of the New Synagogue in Mainz, opened in 2010. Sip a glass of cool wine in one of the wineries that sport their rusty charm throughout the city and serve local wines and great food for a reasonable price. Speaking of wine: In Mainz, it is never too early for a so-called “Weinschorle” (also known as Schoppen or, in English, spritzer). After that, head to one of the beach bars (I’d always prefer the one across the river: it offers a great view on Mainz from the other side of the Rhine) and relax – or else, get out in the evening to spend your time at one of the many music or wine festivals that spread over the summer season or have a barbeque at the Rhine as the locals do.
Mainz belongs to the Great Wine Capitals – and ranks with regions like Bordeaux and Napa Valley. In case you prefer beer: Don’t worry, you’ll get that as well. You are in Germany after all. Try one of the local breweries, like the Eisgrub where you’ll find yourself seated among hordes of larking guests (students make up a great part of them) drawing the bar’s own brew from towers on their tables… Before going home, take a breath test at the automat near the bathrooms. You will have to buy a drinking straw for a euro and then breathalyze. This also is a fun thing to do at carnival time when the whole city is celebrating for days. But that is another reason why you should visit Mainz…
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