Germany, Wonderful Mix of Old and New
Sitting in the very ancient heart of Europe, modern Germany forms a bridge between the cultures of the West and the East, between days gone by and opportunities yet to come. Modern industry sits right next door to ancient walled towns and shepherds tending their sheep. Over 133 million foreign visitors come to Germany each year to enjoy its history and its culture. The tradition goes back to the 1700s, when cities such as Dresden, Munich, and Weimar were regular stops for the elite traveling on the Grand Tour of Europe. In the 1800s and early 1900s spas that were of world renown sprang up along the North and Baltic Seas and in the Rhine Valley. Since the re-structuring after WWII, Germany has become a place where one can relax in the rustic countryside, soak up the pastoral aura, and slip back to medieval times.
The reasons to visit Germany are as varied as the sight-seeing opportunities once you arrive. The majority of tourists come for the cultural experience, to enjoy the outdoors, and to explore the cities. While the Netherlands and the United States have the most tourist visits, people travel from all over the world to meet in the magic place that is Germany. A visit to its new, old capital, Berlin is a must for any traveler. The city has massive monuments and excellent museums in a setting that is surrounding by lovely lakes and virgin woodlands. One of the wonderful aspects of visiting Germany is the ease with which you can travel. Almost every place that would be on your list is accessible by clean, dependable, inexpensive rail travel. Seeing the countryside from the comfort of a train coach is an experience in itself.
Another important stop on your journey should be Munich, the capital of Bavaria. Famous for its Beer Festival known as Oktober Fest, folks come from all over Europe to celebrate in the beautiful beer gardens. The Southern German culture is alive and well here. You are also not far from Oberammergau, home of the world famous Passion Play, put on every ten years by the town's residents. If you really want to see this you must buy your tickets well in advance. It will be performed in 2010 and not again until 2020. This Alpine region contains the breath-taking Bavarian Alps, home of the Zugspitze and the fascinating castles, Neuschwanstein and Linderhof, designed and built by King Ludvig II. If his people had only realized how much revenue his eccentric castle-building "hobby" would later create, perhaps they would have appreciated him more.
There are so many other places to capture your imagination. A trip to Cologne to see a huge gothic cathedral, or to Dresden for its baroque architecture, or the Black Forest where Switzerland and Austria meet-- all these places are easily accessible by rail. Clean modern hotels, great local food specialties, and warm, friendly hospitality combine to make Germany a wonderful vacation destination. Come and enjoy.