For some years now, my friend and I have been travelling to a different country each summer, for a month or so exploring its culture, history and its natural wonders. We work hard during the whole year to put some money on the side for this purpose only, travelling quite minimal hence cheap flights, cheap accommodation and cheap eats with a few exceptions here and there.
This year we decided to go to Germany for a couple of weeks or better say until we ran out of money. As with every other trip we take we do a lot of research about the country we are about to embark. With each article we read Germany sounded more and more appealing so we were counting the days left to our departure.
First things first, we had to make sure we have all the documentation in order to apply for a Schengen visa in the German embassy, as our student visa had expired so we had to undergo the procedures from scratch. As we both had jobs in our beloved Balkan country Kosovo, and means to maintain ourselves during the trip getting the visa was no difficulty.
Finally we arrived in Frankfurt, and the journey began. We spent two days in Frankfurt, three days in Munich and the rest of the days we resided in Berlin though we were on the move all the time. Each place was so very different from the other; like they didn’t belong to the same country hence every time we moved we’re caught by surprise. As patient observers several characteristics have been embroidered in our memories concerning this peculiar country, the same old stereotypical myths oddly came true.
- Ze Germans
I can’t say I made any friends during this trip yet I met a whole bunch of interesting people to have one truly superficial opinion. Germans strike me as humble and hardworking people; they live their lives on fast forward during the daylight while at nights they mostly prefer indoor cozy and intimate gatherings. It’s highly unlikely to meet a German person that talks too much; they’re usually pretty mature and reserved when it comes to first impressions.
As the myth implies, punctuality is one of their strongest virtues up to OCD, the majority of German people honor their word and promises.
At work or any other activity, be it business or pleasure; expect them to be meticulous and methodical.
Germans have this passion for the nature and several outdoor activities. Maybe that’s why most of the people in this country are full of optimism and positive energy.
Germans aren’t known to lead a fancy and complicated lifestyle. Honestly their work obsession is freaky in the beginning, especially for people who pretty much spend their time hunting for fun but it becomes inspiring at some point.
The city resembles a bumblebee assemble during the day; the streets are crowded with people running to their desired destinations not saying a word. When greeting an acquaintance in the street its short, firm and almost formal.
The weird thing is that you won’t find anyone complaining about the workload or abusing the momentary negligence of the supervisor.
After work hours are however very special for the people in this country therefore they prefer to spend them in peace and quiet. A beer or two fit perfectly in the scenario.
On the other hand, holidays are sacred. There is no chance on finding any store open during a holiday since this is time for celebrating so you better celebrate as well.
3. Cheaper by the Dozen
Germany is an ideal country to live in according to the cost of living and the unlimited opportunities the state offers to its citizens.
Accommodation is a doll, spacious comfortable apartments in decent neighborhoods cost half of what you would pay in every other EU country.
Food supplies are abundant, of high quality and inexpensive. One is able to find any ingredient needed, no matter how exotic, the choice is yours.
The education system is a classic. Public Schools and Universities are nearly free of charge basically encouraging everyone, national or international to come and benefit from studying in one of the most prestigious institutions in Europe and beyond.
Health insurance is divided into public and private sector. As a student you will hold on to the public one which offers a generalized and affordable alternative applicable to any public health institution. Yet, as a visitor we had to purchase a private one and did that easily online through a German company recommended by some friends who live in Germany. Can’t say we were disappointed though. More information about Germany health insurance system can be found here.
As part of a contributory fee to your education one get a free transportation pass for the Railway underground and overground system, highly sophisticated and efficient means of transportation.
4. Cold Beer in a Summer Day
Germany is utterly famous for its beer consumption and production. Among others, there is the Oktoberfest held annually in Munich celebrating this holly drink.
There is nothing better than a Beer or Two in a hot afternoon, sitting outside watching the sunset. Because of the awkward climate Germany doesn’t get so many sunny days during the year therefore on a sunny day this is the ritual.
5. Wurst, Wurst, Everywhere
German traditional cuisine has been influenced by several other nationalities and their background growing to become a real delish in time.
Currywurst is something you can get anywhere in the streets, it’s cheap yet absolutely fabulous.
The traditional taverns are a must, the food is ok yet the feel is priceless. Germans are very fond of their folk songs so if in a good mood, the owner might sing a few songs for you.
Among the ancient there is also the contemporary scene of novel and creative mini restaurants with the oddest recipes. Truth or Dare!
6. Berlin Hipsters
Berlin is definitely exceptional. It’s by far the capital of Europe with its cosmopolitan structure, the sense for fashion and trend, the hipster scene of creative masterminds unraveling the core of the city’s potential.
7. Highway to heaven
As we travelled a lot, renting a car was the optimal solution. Driving in German highways for a passionate driver is like flying up on clouds. You get the feeling that the car is floating on air like a feather, so smooth, so delicate.
By Haruto Abe