Category Archives: Travel

Köln – the Oldest Beauty with the Ever-Youthful Face

Köln, or if you are to use the English name Cologne, is the oldest and the fourth largest city in Germany. This beauty lies on the banks of the River Rhine and is a major metropolitan area with a population of around 10 million. To journey through this beautiful city is to travel between the past and the present, the medieval and the ultra-modern.

The history of Cologne can be traced back to 38 BC as the city was founded by the ancient Romans. Cologne still retains its old world charm while being one of the most modern cities of Europe. Now, let’s walk through the streets of this magnificent beauty to fall under her unique spell.

The Cologne Cathedral

The visit cannot start from anywhere other than the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), which spires loom into the German skyline, casting forth its eternal benediction. The cathedral, a masterpiece of medieval Gothic architecture constructed in the shape of a Latin Cross, is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. The Cologne Cathedral was built between 1248 and 1880 and is the most famous landmark of this amazing city. It has the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited monuments in Europe.

The treasure chamber of the Cathedral is the home to some of the richest treasures of the Christian church dating back to the 4th century.

The Museums

Cologne is a dream-come-true for aficionados of art and culture. The city houses more than 30 museums and galleries in excess of hundred. The exhibits here range from the most ancient to the most contemporary. Some of the must-visit museums include the Museum Ludwig, the Wallraf-Richratz Museum, Römisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne Carnival museum,  the Cologne City museum, and of course, the German Sport and Olympics Museum for the sports buffs.

From the Roman Praetorium to the latest in the art scene, these museums pay homage to a multitude of areas that has been fascinating humans from the time of creation. The Museum Ludwig is a virtual paradise for the lovers of pop culture with it largest collection of pop art this side of the Atlantic outside the USA. The museum is a cathedral to modern art dating from early 20th century.

The Wallraf-Richartz Museum is dedicated to the Middle Ages and the 18th and 19th century with a wide variety of exhibits that include alter pieces and crosses. The Römisch-Germanisches Museum pays tribute to the Roman influences on Cologne and has the world renowned Dionysus mosaic and the tomb of Poblicius as some of its major attractions.

How could the city that has one of the most entertaining carnivals in the world miss out on a carnival museum? The Cologne Carnival Museum traces the history of carnivals from its origin to the present day. It presents a comprehensive study of carnivals from different parts of the world and is one of the largest museums of its kind in the German speaking countries.

And then there is the heaven for the sport lovers, the German Sport and Olympic Museum. All that you need to know about Olympics and national and international sports is to be found in this 2,000 square meter area.

Museum of Chocolates? Come to Cologne to get a delicious break from the common and get lost in the mouthwatering world of chocolates.

The Carnival Scene

The Cologne Carnival, the crazy days as the natives call it, is one of the major occasions of celebration in the city of Cologne. Founded in 1823, the carnival extends for a week beginning from the Fat Thursday or the Thursday prior to the beginning of Lent and concludes on Ash Wednesday. It is marked by pageants, street parades and celebrations of all kind and is the best time to visit this ancient city.

The Cologne Zoo

The Cologne is one of the oldest and the most modern zoological gardens in Europe and has one of the most extensive primate collections in the world.

Well, Cologne is not just art and culture and enjoyment. This magnificent beauty is also the home city of the oldest and one of the largest universities of Europe, the University of Cologne.

If ever in Europe, never miss the Köln.

Three Cheers to the Oktoberfest

Unlimited supply of beer, foot tapping music, and mouth-watering delicacies – the Oktoberfest has all that and more to offer you. If you wish to be a part of the most famous beer festival in the world, then get ready to pack and leave for Munich, Germany. The Oktoberfest is a 16 day extravaganza organized every year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It usually begins towards the last week of September and concludes in the first week of October.

In 2012 the grant party begins on September 22 and would conclude on Sunday 7, October.

The Oktoberfest is perhaps the largest and the most visited tourist attraction in Germany. Annually, more than 5 to 6 million people from all over the world congregate in Germany to drink beer and have the time of their lives. The Oktoberfest is an integral part of the Bavarian culture. But when did it start? Let’s trace the history of this unique festival which has inspired many clones in different parts of the world.


It all began with a wedding. The crown prince Ludwig of Bavaria tied the knots of matrimony with Princess Therese of Saxony on October 12, 1810. The whole of Munich was extended an invitation to celebrate the royal event. The celebrations were held in the huge open field that over looked the city gates. The field later on was given the name of the princess, Theresienwiese or Theresa’s meadow or fields.

To conclusion of the event was a magnificent horse race with the royal family as the witnesses. The occasion was so grant a success that it was decided to hold the horse race every year, thereby giving birth to the tradition of the Oktoberfest. The festival was also accompanied by an agricultural show in the next year. With the passage of time, the horse race was left out, but all the other local flavors were retained.

Later on, it was decided to begin the festivities in September to take advantage of the more favorable weather conditions.

Ah, the Beer

If you are a beer lover, then don’t you dare miss the Oktoberfest. Any idea about the quantity of beer that gets consumed during these 16 days? Well, somewhere around 5 million liters by the final day! And mind you, not any brand of beer can be sold for the Oktoberfest. The beer has to conform to the Reinheitsgebot or the purity order which insists that it should contain a minimum of 6% alcohol.

It is also mandatory that the beverage should be brewed within the Munich city limits. If all these criteria are satisfied, then the beer is given the tag of Oktoberfest beer and is permitted to be sold at the festival.

Let the Celebration Begin!

Huge tents are constructed in the Theresienwiese often shortened to Weisn, near the city center of Munich in preparation for this largest celebration of beer drinking. But remember, the festival is not just consuming gallons of beer. It also involves a host of other activities, the most important being the food festival. Yum, the delicacies that are sold here! You get anything from traditional Bavarian cuisine to cheese noodles. The aroma itself would tempt even a saint.

Had your fill of delicious food? Then, it’s time to groove. The music is a whole day event for the Oktoberfest. But the fun and enjoyment reaches its peek past noon when traditional folk music is accompanied by dancing. People link their arms with each other and dance to the music swinging the beer mugs from side to side. Anyone can join in the fun. The dances include marches, polkas and so on. The other festivities consist of official parades and open air concerts.


Of course, hotels are aplenty. But for those who wish to save their money or would love to enjoy the great outdoors, youth hostels and tents are available for cheaper rates. When you avail this mode of stay, you also get to meet people from different nationalities and get to enjoy the truly international fervor of this festival.

Oktoberfest is not just about guzzling unlimited quantities of beer. It’s about celebrating the tradition of a country which has been preserved past two centuries and being a part of one of the largest parties of the world.

The Top 5 Destinations in Germany

The perfect German trip ought to include a relaxing variety of contemporary cities and charming villages; sites full of history and mountainous hikes.  You’ll find it all here, in the top 5 destinations in Germany.


Most of the city is covered with lakes, rivers and parks.  It is equally, a contemporary and very old city.  There are a variety of sites to surround yourself with.

  • Berlin Wall – a blockade built by the German Democratic Republic, beginning in 1961, that divided West Berlin from East Berlin.  Most of The Wall has been destroyed, however a restored stretch remains along the southern border of Wedding and Mitte;
  • Berlin Philharmonic – features some of the greatest classical music within Germany today;
  • Topography of Terror – the documentary exhibition expresses the European heights of the Nazi supremacy of terror;
  • Gendarmenmarkt – a beautiful town square which is surrounded by several historic structures; a great place to shop;
  • The Holocaust Memorial (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) – visiting this memorial can become a heart-wrenching experience. There are two parts of it ‑ the stelae field and the underground museum where you can find information and facts about the life of the Jews who had fallen victims to Nazi regime;
  • Neues Museum – collection of Egyptian artifacts;
  • Garten der Welt – take a refreshing walk through a beautiful garden;
  • Hohenschoenhausen Prison – an East Berlin prison used during the Cold War to house, and sometimes torture political prisoners;
  • Museumsinsel (Museum Island) – the residence of three prominent museums – the Altes, Bode and Pergamon;
  • Pergamon Museum – this worldwide famously archaic history museum holds numerous  incredible artifacts, including the well-known Ishtar Gate from Babylon, and the vast Altar of Zeus.

 The Romantic Road

The Romantic Road is a path of highway located in the South of Germany, between the cities of Wurzburg and Fussen.

This road is one of the most popular areas of Germany, perhaps the world, for visitors.  Entering the Romantic Road is like stepping back into your fairy tale storybooks.

  • Explore the castles, cathedrals and natural beauty of the area. Segments of the road are as ancient as the Roman Empire, and the route, uniting over two dozen charming market towns and cities are full of history;
  • You’ll encounter Baroque churches, Gothic cathedrals, well-preserved castles, guard towers, half-timbered fachwerk houses and more;
  • There are many cycling paths and hiking accessible to you, with a stunning view of the lakes, mountains, picturesque countryside, forests and rivers;
  • Immerse yourself in scores of monuments including the legendary Neuschwanstein Castle.

The Black Forest

The Black Forest – mountainous foothills surrounded by the Rhine Valley to the west and south, located in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, in south-west Germany.

The Black Forest is a place which offers peace and serenity; discover and explore some of the most natural beauty Germany has to offer.

  • Unearth the town of Calw, which is the birthplace of Hermann Hesse, the world-renowned German author;
  • Visit Schwarzwalder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof, a museum and restaurant which collects and preserves elements found within the Black Forest so that visitors and people of the province can access it and enjoy the plethora of the museum’s wonderful collections;
  • There is a well-known route which traces the horological history of the province. 


Munich, which is located on the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, was virtually demolished in war, yet the city maintains its  Bavarian ancient culture and historical features.

  • Oktoberfest is legendary, but you can visit the Hofbrauhaus any time of year for a colossal beer;
  • A must-see is Olympiapark, the site of the 1972 games.  Be sure to strap on a pair of ice skates and loop the Olympic ice rink or swim a few laps in the pool – all accessible to visitors;
  • It’s worth noting that Munich is also the site of the Dachau Concentration Camp.  The visit will leave you with reminders of the terror and awfulness of the Holocaust.


Cologne which is located on both sides of the Rhine River is known for mainly: cathedrals and fragrance.

In fact Cologne is considered the true birthplace of men’s fragrance.  The city offers style and glamour mixed with a past dating over 2000 years. 

  • Visit the Cologne Cathedral (In Germany known as Kölner Dom.) This incredible in its beauty cathedral is one of the kind even for Germany. It is a well-known and a simply mind-blowing fact that it took more than 600 years to finish the construction of Kölner Dom. This is a mind-blowing fact.   The sheer size of this building can be awe-inspiring;
  • Cologne Christmas Market is a whimsical and wonderful place to visit – and you don’t have to wait until December!  This market has everything you could possible want or need for the holidays – all year round;
  • Check out the many museums:  Museum of Applied Art, the Museum Ludwig, and for chocolate lovers, the Chocolate Museum!  On sale at the gift shop are delicious, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates from all over the region;
  • The Koelner Zoo has more animals than any other zoological park in Germany; featuring an aquarium and the world’s largest elephant park;
  • One of the best features of Cologne, is the Pub Crawl!  This unique activity is a guided tour with free shots included, through some of the most popular pubs, some of which produce and distribute their own beers and spirits;
  • Stroll through the Botanical Gardens Flora.  This garden, which dates back to the 1800s, is an oasis, and houses a variety of cacti and plants from around the world.

Germany as a Travel Destination

Did you know that for the majority of the 20th century, Germany has led the world in Nobel Prizes focusing in the area of: medicine, physics, chemistry and physiology? Germany, a self-governing nation today, existed as an amalgamation of states, generally throughout world history.

Overview of German History

Many would begin Germany’s history with the rise and fall of the notorious Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler.

Under Nazi control, they would seize other nations including: Poland, Belgium, the Balkans, Denmark, Greece, France, Luxemburg, and Netherlands.

In what later became known as The Holocaust, the Hitler’s Third Reich regime would commit horrific crimes of genocide, creating policies to vanquish many rebels and minorities. Millions of people have fallen victims to the Nazis regime during this period. This includes over six million Jews, some minority groups; and people of political and religious resistance.

Victory in Europe Day, also known as V-E Day or VE Day would be the ruin of Hitler’s Third Reich. In 1945 the Nazi armed forces surrendered, and in 1945, Hitler committed suicide.

In 1961 the Berlin Wall was built. Its main aim was to prevent East Germans from emigration to the neighbor West Germany. However, by the late 1980’s, there were radical political changes; civil unrest grew over the separation and within weeks, the fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification.

Today, Germany is a thriving country and top tourist destination; full of history, diversity, culture, art, and entertainment.


During the spring months – April and May, Germany’s climate can be a bit erratic. You may get sunlit skies and balmy temperatures, or you could encounter warm, wet and chilly conditions. May is a picturesque month as flowers bloom and much greenery is seen throughout the country.

During the summer months – June through September, moisture is at its highest levels. Be prepared for rain, and perhaps midday thunderstorms, particularly in July and August. Extremely hot weather is unusual though warmer temperatures are more common in southern Germany.

During the autumn months – October and November, this season is still subject to bright days and humid temperatures.

In November though, the days will become perceptibly shorter. Climate is more often than not, misty, foggy and cool with grey skies.

During the winter months – December through March, winters are quite placid, on the other hand, temperatures my fall well below zero, particularly at night. It’s typically cooler in eastern and southern Germany and warmer in the north and Rhine regions. Snow generally crops up in December, January and February. The Bavarian Forest collects the majority of snowfall.

Your Visa to Germany

A “German” visa does not exist anymore. Germany has joined other countries in Europe, and collectively, they’ve created the Schengen Visa.

If you are a European Union (EU) citizen, you are not required to obtain a visa to enter Germany. As a general rule, all people from countries that are not a part of the EU require a Schengen visa to enter Germany. There are some exceptions, though.

For example, if you and you are from one of the “non-visa” countries countries for which the European Union has abolished the visa procedure.

Such countries include but are not limited to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United States.

Be sure to contact your local consulate for any updates or changes on visa requirements to Germany.

What Type of Currency Should You Use While Visiting Germany

The official currency of Germany is the Euro. If you need to exchange currency, many exchange desks are located at any airport and most train stations in larger cities and towns. All banks within Germany exchange currency and if you prefer to use your ATM or major credit card (Visa), most ATM’s are multilingual and will accept them.

The Language

The official language of Germany is standard German. Learning ANY new language can always be a challenge. If you are visiting Germany and you’re not familiar with the language, it’s almost essential, from a tourist standpoint and for your safety, that you learn some basic words and phrases to get you by. If you are concerned about not knowing the language, it’s suggested that you take a quick lesson online or purchase a how-to handbook prior to your trip.

Traveling to Germany

Flying can be the least expensive way to enter Germany – much cheaper if you book early. When you travel to Germany there are high chances that you will arrive at one of these airports: Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, Berlin-Tegel, Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart. Most major airlines fly into Germany. Always research and compare rates so that you are offered the best deal possible.

Cities to Visit While in Germany

Germany is filled with so much culture, charm and entertainment, it’s always best to know what cities to visit first – getting the most out of your trip.

Berlin – Germany’s largest city offering many restaurants, art galleries, nightlife and bars.

Munich – the largest city in the federal state of Germany, borders Austria. Seek out the Bavarian culture and one of the most popular festivals in the world – Oktoberfest.

Cologne – Germany’s oldest city is rustic with photogenic medieval and Roman features and Belgian-style chocolate shops.

Frankfurt – the fifth largest city in Germany; the financial centre of Germany and home to the world’s busiest airports.

Hamburg – best known for the Beatles hang out prior to their fame – this part of Hamburg filled with brothels and sex shops (be warned, locals can be a bit hostile if you are there ‘just for the look’.) Other parts of Hamburg offer a great fish market, Museum of Hamburg History, St. Michaelis Church and boat tours.

Dusseldorf – amazing architecture, art and nightlife.

Berlin, Germany: A Must-See Destination!

Many who visit Berlin, the capital of Germany, proclaim it to be one of the most vibrant cities in Europe.

Let’s take a tour through the Berlin of today; a city of veracity, whose history has inspired much progress; shaping one of the most dynamic destinations in Europe.


Perhaps Berlin is best known for its most famous dictator, Adolf Hitler who took over power in the 1930s.  The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall is a significant piece of Berlin’s vivid history.

Attractions & Sightseeing

Check your calendar as you’ll want to be a part of this extraordinary experience.


The Berlinale – an International Film Festival given during a two week period; Visitors and locals love to stargaze as Berlin hosts over 400 films representing over 120 countries.  Celebrities, parties, art and glamour are all a part of this extravaganza.


Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures) – an incredible summer festival; featuring festive, celebrations with international cuisine, exotic libations, dance performances,  a parade of floats and hand-made costumes.


Christopher Street Day – a gay and lesbian festival.


Open Classic Air – a summer concert situated at Gendarmenmarkt, converted into one of the most striking arenas in all of Europe.  Musical selections include:  German-Italian opera, Jazz, Pop, Swing, and Soul hits.  The laser, light and fireworks show is particularly amazing.


The Long Night of the Museums – Over 100 cultural institutions and museums open their doors to visitors, all night, to tour collections, artifacts, galleries and exhibitions, augmented by an array of events.  A shuttle service is provided to make travel between venues, easy and affordable.


Pyronale – for two nights visitors take in a massive fireworks display.  It is one of the most spectacular fireworks display in the world.


Festival of Lights – the whole of Berlin is set a-light with projections of light and illuminations which light up more than 50 famous Berlin landmarks.


New Year’s Eve in Berlin – this is the place to be on New Year’s Eve!  Though it gets really cold in the winter months, layer up and enjoy the festivities!  Over 2 kilometers of space, show stages, video screens, party tents, food, refreshment stands, light and laser performances and a stunning midnight fireworks show to cap off the evening, entertains guests.

Berlin offers great events during specific times of the year though the best sightseeing adventures are offered all year round.

Markets, Shops, and Cafes

  • Türkischer Markt  – offers great Turkish fare;
  • Farmers’ Market at Wittenbergplatz – offers local produce including cheese, dried meats, fresh pasta and bread;
  • Christmas Market – features  large skating rink, Fairy Forest, and antiques, traditional German toys, and crafts
  • Markt am Kollwitzplatz – offers an organic market filled with local high-grade produce and spices;
  • Nowkoelln Flowmarkt – offers vintage clothing and home goods including delicious pastries and local fruit juices;
  • Tauentzienstraße, the extension of Kurfuerstendamm  – offers great shopping for the entire family;
  • Hackescher Markt and Hachesche Höfe- offers great places  to head for a dynamic blend  of bars, cafés and shops;
  • KaDeWe – the largest department store on the continent is worth checking out;
  • Winterfeldt Markt – offers a great café hang out for coffee and people watching

Museums & Historic Land Marks

  • Museum Island – this World Heritage site which lay in the center of the Spree, houses five of Berlin’s most historic museums: Neues (Egyptian relics), Pergamon (Roman, Pergamon archaeology), Altes, Alte Nationalgalerie (host of 19th art), and Bode (exhibiting sculpture collections and late antique and byzantine art.)
  • DDR Museum – travel back in time and take an interactive tour East Germany
  • Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial – the history of Berlin is so riveting that you probably won’t experience Berlin in all of its genuineness, if you don’t include a trip to this commemorative site.
  • Berlin Wall – Though most of the Berlin Wall has been destroyed, it’s worth visiting Checkpoint Charlie, the well-known border control during the Cold War which now acts as a tourist centre displaying the Wall’s history.


  • The Swissôtel Berlin is just one out of many hotels in Berlin that will garner you nothing less than 5-star treatment;
  • Melia is one out of many offering a nice and budget friendly option


  • Witty’s – offers the best in Berlin staples;
  • Jolesch – offers a traditional Austro-Hungarian menu;
  • Café Jacques – menu filled with mixed provenance fare; heavy French-Algerian influences and an amazing wine list

Night Life

Berlin is considered to have one of the liveliest night life scenes in Europe.

  • Trinkteufel in Kreuzberg’s Naunynstraße – known for rock and heavy metal;
  • Kiki Blofeld – an outdoor space catering to the summer crowd;
  • Berghain/Panorama Bar – most famous club in Berlin featuring:  house, disco and hard techno;
  • Club der Visionäre – an open-air spot situated on the banks of the canal; great weekend hang out

The brilliant and thrilling facets of Berlin are multi-sensational on every level.  This progressive city inspires and offers an amazing variety of activities for the seasoned or novice traveler sure to fill your storybook with an exhilarating ride of adventures!