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All About Germany


Germany is the economic and industrial powerhouse of Europe, equally comfortable in its reputation for post-modern museums and cutting-edge club culture as in its tourist brochure image as a land of half-timbered villages, rivers guarded by craggy castles, and beer drained from liter-sized mugs. It is a nation that loves opera as much as oompah bands, fine white wines as much as platters of wurstel and sauerkraut in a Bavarian Ratskeller (many towns operate a beer hall in the cellars of the town hall—how very German).

Germany is the land of Beethoven and Bach, but also of forest hikes in the footsteps of Brothers Grimm heroes; of walled medieval villages filled with timber-framed houses and of baroque cities rebuilt from the ashes of World War II; of amazing industrial museums and of fairytale castles set against the Alps; of spa towns in the mountains and of hand-carved wooden toys and mugs of steaming glüwein at open-air Christmas markets filling town squares.

Germany’s expansionist aggression of the early 20th century was considerably modulated by spending the next 45 years sliced in two by the Iron Curtain, leaving the former east and west Germanies with two distinct personalities—and a fascinating story, unfolding in real time, of how the two are knitting back together, most visible in Berlin, formerly a divided city but not now a furiously rebuilding major metropolis, a European capital of cuisine, culture, contemporary architecture, and spectacular museum complexes.

When to Go to Germany: For Europe, Germany is huge, stretching from North Sea islands to Alpine meadows, and from vineyard valleys shared with France to the forested peaks of Eastern Europe—and its seasonal weather varies just as much. Germany has, in general, a temperate climate, at its loveliest in spring and autumn. Summers don’t got too hot (or crowded, as they can elsewhere in Europe), but can be rainy. Winters can be chill and damp, but nowhere in Europe is better in December, when Christmas market season turns many a German town into a winter wonderland where Santa himself would feel at home.

Deutsche Bahn, or German Railway (DB), is Germany’s railway company. A private joint-stock company, its single shareholder is the Federal Republic of Germany and it is the largest railway operator and…

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