Archive for the ‘Places To Live’ Category

← Newer Entries
Older Entries →

German States In A Nutshell, Part 2

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Here it is, the much anticipated part two of my “German Federal States In A Nutshell.” There’s a lot of history, culture, and economics in each of Germany’s states. Isn’t it much easier to break it all down?

OK, OK, maybe I didn’t add every little nuance into all of them, they are snippets after all. ;-)

As a reminder, here’s Part 1 of German States.

Where did I leave off? Oh yeah…

Lower Saxony

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times — Lower Saxony is best enjoyed by bicycle. All the better to see all this agricultural landscape. Whatever mode of transportation you’re using to see this state that includes Hanover, Göttingen, and Wolfsburg, will work all the same.

You’ll certainly eat good, there’s everything from potatoes to sugar beets, and wheat that are grown around here.

Take that, Schleswig-Holstein, MeckPomm, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Hesse, and North Rhine-Westphalia. Wow, would you believe that all those places border Lower Saxony? Yeah, me either.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Eighteen million people live within this most populated state, if you’d believe it. Not so hard to understand when you’ve got cities like Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Aachen, and Cologne — as well as lots of medieval architecture, half-timbered houses, and UNESCO World Heritage sites scattered throughout its many villages and towns.

Cologne is a big favorite. It’s got an annual film festival, a huge Carnival season (November to February), and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. If you want a picture — stand far back, its towers are 157 meters high (oh, and it took over 600 years to complete!).

Rhineland-Palatinate

This is a predominantly Catholic state that borders Baden-Württemberg, Saarland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. No wonder they appreciate the great wines that come straight from this region.

Viticulture might be big business here, but visiting charming cities like Trier, Speyer, Mainz, and Worms are also a must-see.

Saarland

The Saarland is Germany’s smallest state, which also borders France (as well as Luxembourg and the Rhineland-Palatinate). French is widely spoken here; and you’ll find cities like Saarlouis, Neunkirchen, Saarbrücken, and Sankt Wendel.

Saxony

No, this isn’t the land of the Saxons of the Germanic Tribes, but where you’ll be when you’re visiting Leipzig, Dresden, Zwickau, and Chemnitz. It’s also a wine region, has mountains, and castles. Sadly it isn’t known for being a top spot for tourists to Germany, though you’d miss out big time not to spend some time here too!

Besides, did you know that recent excavations have found 29 million year old fossils?

Hmm, maybe more people will come to visit from now on? :-)

Saxony-Anhalt

Saxony-Anhalt is proud of its rustic Harz Mountains, Martin Luther, and the Romanesque Route that winds its way through this state.

Consequently, you’ll want to pay a visit to Magdeburg, Wittenberg, and Halle.

Schleswig-Holstein

Bordering the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, this state is home to one of the most famous nude beaches in the country — on the Island of Sylt, if you’re wondering.

It’s also where you’ll find the annual Cabbage Festival (September), hear Low German, North Frisian, and Danish all spoken in the same place. Try a delightful dish known as Rote Grütze made with custard and berries (take your pick — strawberries, raspberries, currants, whatever, it’s yummy).

Thuringia

This is the last of Germany’s federal states — but certainly not the least. Known as Thüringen in German, Thuringia was once home to Martin Luther, since he went to school in Erfurt. Erfurt’s also where you find the country’s oldest synagogue (11th century), the Rennsteig (a gorgeous hiking trail), and great cities like Eisenach and Weimar.

Wouldn’t be the ultimate dream trip to visit all of Germany’s states? Don’t you wish you had that kind of time? Maybe I should get out from behind the computer — and travel more, huh? ;-)

German States In A Nutshell, Part 1

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The fact that Germany has sixteen federal states it might be hard to keep track of what’s what, and where’s where. Sure it would be nice to visit the Bavarian Alps then shoot over to chill out on the North Sea coast, but considering they’re nowhere near each other — you’ve got a lot of ground to cover between them.

Ya get what I’m talking about? Good thing I’m here to help you understand each of Germany’s states, and their unique culture.

Oh wait, this is only Part 1 — so here are the first eight.

Baden-Württemberg

Some of Germany’s most famous cities are located within this state; Stuttgart, Heidelberg, and Freiburg to name a few. This is also a famous wine producing region, as well as where you’ll find the Black Forest and the Bertha Benz Memorial Route, Lake Constance, and a huge Oktoberfest that’s second only to Munich’s.

Bavaria

Yeah, speaking of Munich, Bavaria is where you’ll find this beer partying town that attracts millions of visitors for this September festival. But, beer isn’t its only attraction (shocked, considering this is where the German Purity Laws for beer started).

The Bavarian Alps dramatic landscape is extraordinary. No wonder some 12 million people live in this state that borders not only Lake Constance, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Thuringia, and Saxony — but also the Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland.

Geography aside, Bavaria’s home to the Franconian Wine Region, has delicious Weisswurst to eat, and your chance to see folks dressed in lederhosen and the traditional dirndl.

Berlin

Yes, I’m fully aware that Berlin is Germany’s capital city, though it’s also a federal state (totally surrounded by Brandenburg). I’m still not sure how the city has managed to have over 700 hotels, 135 million visitors a year, over 150 museums, and some of the liveliest nightlife — when over a third of it is covered by parks, gardens, lakes, and forests. What a unique mix!

Brandenburg

This state doesn’t include Berlin, mind you (wait, didn’t I just say that in the paragraph above). Brandenburg’s capital is Potsdam, but with countless parks, lakes, national parks (including the Spree Forest) you’ll have a heckava excellent time hiking or bicycling around this part of the country.

Bremen

Yet another state that’s also a city — and Bremen also includes Bremerhaven. The city of Bremen has been a free city for centuries (its Roland statue from 1404 proves it), and its Marktplatz is one of the most beautiful in the country.

Bremerhaven is a port town that’s a perfect setting for the German Maritime Museum. The weather’s great during the summer — where temperatures rarely (if ever) get above 30° C or 85° F. Quite cool if you’ve ever spent the summer in the European South. ;-)

Hamburg

Germay’s second largest city seems to have an even better climate than Bremerhaven (average summer highs are only in the 20s/70s); and has a cityscape that’s got to be seen to be believed. It’s a gay-friendly city with an opera house, almost 4 dozen theaters, and 60 museums.

While you’re here try the local Birnen, Bohnen und Speck — a dish made from pears, beans, and bacon. After a day of mudflat hiking at the Wadden Sea National Park, you’re bound to be starving.

Hesse

Inasmuch as Brandenburg is a nature lovers dream destination, Hesse could rival it in a heartbeat. Yeah, this might be where you’ll find cities like the cosmopolitan Frankfurt am Main, academic Darmstadt, and medieval Kassel — I’d pretty much say the Westerwald, Taunus Mountains, and the Vogelsberg are the real showstoppers.

Just one thing: you better behave yourself while your here; Hesse is the only state in Germany that still has the death penalty — YIKES!

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Bordering Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is Germany’s least populated federal state. Doesn’t that sound great when you want to get away from the masses? Hey, with over 280 nature reserves and 14 national parks — there ain’t no room for people, I guess. ;-)

Just kidding, but this state that’s got Chalk Cliffs, borders the Baltic Sea, and over a thousand megalithic monuments is often not given the respect it truly deserves.

Don’t worry, MeckPomm, as you’re lovely called… I’ll be right here on this blog to sing your praises — just as soon as I can tear myself away from your chalky cliffs, OK?

Stay tuned for Part 2 (next week). There’s so much more in store. :-)

Artists Favor Berlin Over Other European Capitals

Monday, March 8th, 2010

I mentioned earlier this year that Germany was recognized as one of the best places in the world to live, and I’m happy to see more evidence piling up! ;-)

This time the news comes in the form of a special lifestyle feature out of Amsterdam. The piece focuses in on artists and other creative types who are leaving their homes to move to a new creative capital — Berlin.

Berlin has served as a creative capital of Europe before, and insiders know that the museums, theaters, and concerts are second to none.

In this time of economic uncertainty, however, Berlin’s numerous cultural charms are being seconded by the financial realities.

Berlin is cheap.

Don’t scoff! Compared to many other cities in Europe, the cost of living in Berlin is surprisingly low. Artists and others who make their living in creative fields can find reasonably priced homes and apartments throughout the capital. The stable real estate market in Germany helps keep prices from fluctuating wildly, making it easy for artistic types to survive and thrive in the capital.

Another factor in many artists decision to move to the city is the overall economy in Germany. Unlike other countries in Europe, Germany’s economy is strong and stable. Both the government and the average person have money to spend on artistic items, such as museum visits, tickets to performances, paintings, sculpture, or other things for the home.

Though many people want to believe in art for art’s sake, the truth is that artists need a market of buyers in order to survive, and in Germany that market is vibrant!

Though other places in Europe may be crying over their lost artists, Berlin is happy to see new arrivals and support their work. With a low cost of living, strong market for artistic goods, and strong arts culture, it is no wonder artists favor Berlin over other European capitals.

Naturally, what is good for artists is also good for anyone interested in living in Berlin. Even visitors will benefit from all the new artistic activity coming to the capital, so be sure to save a few days for Berlin in your next vacation! ;-)

—Marcus

Germany Ranks 4th Of World’s Best Places To Live

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Insiders know that Germany is a great place to live and do work, but it is always nice when outsiders recognize that as well. ;-)

This year recognition of Germany’s charms comes from the 2010 International Living Quality of Life Index.

International Living itself is based out of France, Ireland, and the US, and publishes a monthly magazine and that caters to expats.

Every January, International Living scores 194 countries across nine categories to determine which countries offer the best values and lifestyle benefits to residents. The categories are Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate.

The data for scoring each of these categories comes from the World Health Organization, United Nations reports, The Economist, and government websites. By using third party reports, International Living hopes to avoid bias and present the most accurate picture of the experience a new resident would have in the country.

In 2009, Germany was not even in the top 10 for places to live. This year, as the economic climate around the world has shifted and safety issues have changed, Germany has gained ground in several categories. Average earnings for workers have stayed up, the infrastructure continues to be excellent, and health services still provide remarkable care.

In awarding Germany the number 4 spot in the top 10 best places to live, International Living also cited the reasonable cost of real estate and rentals around Germany. You can rent beautifully appointed apartments in all regions for much less than in neighboring countries and buying real estate is also affordable as Germany was spared the housing bubble that plagued much of the rest of the world.

As ever, you know it is my opinion that there really is no place in the world quite like Germany. France, Australia, and Switzerland may have ranked higher on the list this year, but Germany is moving up! :-)

With this new recognition, it is just one more reason for you to give Germany a try.

—Marcus

← Newer Entries
Older Entries →

 

E-Mail Updates

Subscribe To the Germany Blog Community

Newest Posts

  • No items
preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload preload