German States In A Nutshell, Part 2
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…
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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? :-)
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).
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? ;-)
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