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Who goes to Germany to avoid beer? It’s the third biggest beer manufacturer in the world and entire cities here pride themselves on thousand-year-old brewing techniques. Plus, there’s almost always an ongoing beerfest waiting for you to sip a liter or two.
But today, going to do the opposite. We're serving up a taste of Germany beyond the beer to include a taste of the Rhineland Riesling corridor, a cider-obsessed city, and a corner of the country so proud of their wine they elect wine queens—in the same competitive way South America anoints beauty queens—to represent the country.
Here are some cities that avoided beer altogether and prefer a fruitier touch to their happy-hour.
Only in Germany will you encounter a museum dedicated to sausage, particularly the famed currywurst. Just steps away from Checkpoint Charlie—you know that famous site that separated East and West Berlin and was often photographed with tanks during the Cold War—is the Deutsches Currywurst Museum.
At the museum, visitors can learn the history about the snack, listen to some famous currywurst tunes, watch a film dedicated to the best of the wurst, play ketchup-bottle whack-a-mole, and even sit on a most phallic of sausage couches—ohne Darm, if you catch our drift. Well, to our surprise, there was a lot to learn about this essential Berliner snack. Here are just some of the basics:
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Brandenburg Gate. Alexanderplatz. Checkpoint Charlie.
The 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall has done more than just shed a brighter light on some of Berlin's best-known tourist sites; it's wholly reignited interest in the brief history of the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik), aka East Germany. Although the DDR technically ceased to exist upon Berlin reunification in 1990 and East Germany feverishly adapted to Western fashion and culture, the particular details of DDR everyday life continue to fascinate.
A handful of Berlin sites continue to preserve DDR design, and anyone is welcome to visit. Here are five of our favorites:
For 28 years the city of Berlin lived every day divided. The East and the West were defined by der Mauer ("the wall"), and though Sunday marks the 25th Anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city remains shaped by it in other ways.
This weekend the Lichtgrenze ("light border") installation traces the path of the Berlin Wall, but with a 9-mile chain of 8,000 minimal white balloons instead of a barbed wire-and-concrete barrier. The balloons are lit, which has made possible some spectacular nighttime photos from the air (see above).
We'll have more on how to be a part of Berlin's celebrations through the rest of the year, but do check out these articles if your plans include any upcoming Germany travel:
Where on Earth is the Berlin Wall? Tracing where pieces have ended up over the years. [The Guardian: Cities]
An original TV news report from 1989 [ABC News]
'We are the people': A peaceful revolution in Leipzig [Der Spiegel]
Official Lichtgrenze Twitter [Twitter]
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We get it. Porn festival? You’re hesitant, probably imagining the unrealistic sexcapades, neck-bearded men in trench coats, and theater seats equipped with lotion and tissue paper. Whatever your preconceived notions of a porn film festival may be, at Berlin’s Porn Film Festival last week, not to say none of the above occurred, but, well, none of that really occurred.
The festival stretched over four days at Cinema Moviemento in Kreuzberg and included lectures from prominent producers, porn workshops, and, obviously, an extensive range of films from softcore to hardcore to—err, how to put this—zombie porn.
So after spending roughly five days consuming more porn than a fifteen-year-old boy home alone on a Saturday night, here were some of our favorite lessons from this year’s Berlin Porn Film Festival.
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Above: Heidelberg castle, with the market and ice skating rink in a Platz below
Christkindlmarkt, Weihnachtsmarkt or Marché de Noëlwhatever the name, the game's the same. European Christmas Markets are several weeks of seeing cities at their best, festively decorated and with tasty seasonal specialties on offer. Travelers used to seeing Europe in summer are in for a shock, and perhaps a change of season preference, once the charm of winter takes hold of the historic city centers and the hot mulled wine is poured.
With so much magic in store across the continent, it can be difficult to chose just one or two cities for your winter market visit. Luckily we've narrowed it down, highlighting the most beloved markets for the 2014 holiday season, in the countries with the most tradition behind the events:
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Hey, what are you doing on April 25, 2015? Chances are you probably aren't planning that far ahead quite yet, but when it comes to a flight to the North Pole, you kinda have to. Yeswe said a flight to the North Pole.
On that date, Air Berlin will see off an Airbus A330 full of intrepid travelers, all of whom are onboard for the purpose of viewing the Arctic tundra at altitudes both high and low. The flight departs Dusseldorf, Germany, for a 12-hour sightseeing journey, including passing through every time zone as the flight makes circles above the North Pole.
The flight may be 12 hours in length, but a healthy 5 of those hours will be spent sightseeing in the polar region. Tickets begin at 444 EUR ($556) per person, and are available from air events, who describe the routing thusly:
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Mention Oktoberfest to most Germans and expect a few groans. It’s touristy, overpriced, and a poor parody of Bavarian traditions. Still, that doesn’t make it any less fun.
Now that the world’s most popular beer festival is over for another year, we can put away our lederhosen and let our livers enter a year-long rehab. Waitain’t nobody got time for that.
Here are just a few relatively unknown German beer festivals that more authentic and way cheaper than Munich’s premier beer fest:
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In the midst of the bustle of travel, it's all too easy to overlook the details. We're talking about special touches others have stressed over just so you can enjoy a unique experience, whether you know it or not. Every so often we'll highlight The Little Things like this, so now you will know.
All too often these days, airline passengers moan that the the glamor has gone from travel. While it's true that legroom is decreasing and a full, complimentary steak dinner is no longer the norm onboard, the Frankfurt-based leisure airline Condor refuses to let every smidgeon of retro style and comfort be lost to the ages. In fact, Condor slips historical hints of the jet age into each of their flights today.
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Like airline food enough to have a fridge filled with mile-high menu items? Craving a certain dish you noshed on from your most recent flight?
If you've answered yes to either (or both) of those questions above, then you're in luck! Your dreams can come true with a few clicks of a mouse, all thanks to a new service in Germany called Air Food One. Get it?
The presidentially-named company teamed up with LSG Sky Chefs to offer those on terra firma the opportunity to see what people flying overhead are dining on that week. All You Need (A service similar to Peapod) customers head to the website to enroll, and a frozen, ready-to-heat-and-eat airline meal arrives at the door weekly. Prices range between $11.60 and $12.90 per meal.
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These are the words"it is tapped!"with which the Mayor of Munich will open 2014 Oktoberfest tomorrow, September 20. After that first keg starts flowing some 6 million people will pass under the Willkommen before the festival closes on October 5, all sharing the goal of making memories while singing along to "Ein Prosit" in one of the big beer tents.
Therein lies the problem; those tents, large as they are, are pretty tight and tables are booked by advance reservation. Unfortunately for the first-timer or last-minute visitor to Oktoberfest, the pre-booking process is out of the question and bribes are not standard.
Don't give up! There are definite ways to grab a coveted seat inside a tent, (even Hofbräuhaus!), if you try out our three tips:
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We come across some downright awesome airline amenity kits in our travels, and the surprises of each zippered pouch can often make or break comfort on a premium flight. With this in mind, here's to our new series: Inside the Amenity Kit, wherein we unzip, unwrap, and expose the loot inside:
Blue and yellow. A crane-like logo (it's actually a Condor). German flight crew with jaunty neck scarves.
Sounds like Lufthansa, right? In most cases, yes, but here we were somewhere between Toronto - Frankfurt on DE1061, a Condor Boeing 767. The similarities are no coincidence; Condor is a partner of Lufthansa and we were on our way to visit Condor HQ in Frankfurt, Germany,
Their 767-300s are three-class airplanes, with Economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class (formerly “Comfort Class”). Business on Condor now sports flatbed seats, with a multi-course meal and some of the nicest HD in-flight entertainment with which we’d had the pleasure to play.