Germany

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GERMANY

Germany one of the largest countries in Europe, it has a large variety of landscapes medieval villages and great cities such as Berlin and Munich. Famous rivers such as the Rhine river, Moselle Neckar, Main and Ruhr rivers all dotted with picturesque villages, medieval castles and one the oldest universities in Europe. All this results in a booming tourist industry bringing millions of visitors to Germany each year.

Germany it not an overland off-road destination, but while we crossed Germany on many occasions coming from Egypt (2016) West Africa 2011 and the Middle East (2010) using Europe to park our truck while we went home for a break, we made sure we visited some of the highlights.

  1. Berlin and former East Germany

Berlin is more than 750 years old and over the decades, all generations have left their monuments and landmarks in town. The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most important monuments – a landmark and symbol all in one with over two hundred years of history. Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known border-crossing of Cold War days. Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, located in the middle on a stretch of the former “death strip”, where the Wall once stood near the Brandenburg Gate, is Berlin’s stunning monument to the Holocaust, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II. The Reichstag are major tourist sites but the one what we were interested in was the Berlin wall. The Berlin Wall was both the physical division between West Berlin and East Germany from 1961 to 1989 and the symbolic boundary between democracy and Communism during the Cold War. The Berlin Wall was erected in the dead of night and for 28 years kept East Germans from fleeing to the West. Its destruction, which was nearly as instantaneous as its creation, was celebrated around the world. Within a short period of time after the war, living conditions in West Germany and East Germany became distinctly different. With the help and support of its occupying powers, West Germany set up a capitalist society and experienced such a rapid growth of their economy that it became known as the “economic miracle.” With hard work, individuals living in West Germany were able to live well, buy gadgets and appliances, and to travel as they wished. In East Germany, the economy dragged, and individual freedoms were severely restricted. By the late 1950s, many people living in East Germany wanted out. No longer able to stand the repressive living conditions of East Germany, they would pack up their bags and head to West Berlin. Although some of them would be stopped on their way, hundreds of thousands of others made it across the border. Once across, these refugees were housed in warehouses and then flown to the West. Having already lost 2.5 million people by 1961, East Germany desperately needed to stop this mass exodus. Desperate to keep its citizens, East Germany decided to build a wall to prevent them from crossing the border. There had been rumors that something might happen to tighten the border of East and West Berlin, but no one was expecting the speed or the absoluteness of the Wall. Just past midnight on the night of August 12-13, 1961, trucks with soldiers and construction workers rumbled through East Berlin. While most Berliners were sleeping, these crews began tearing up streets that entered West Berlin, dug holes to put up concrete posts, and strung barbed wire across the border between East and West Berlin. Telephone wires between East and West Berlin were also cut. Berliners were shocked when they woke up that morning. What had once been a very fluid border was now rigid. No longer could East Berliners cross the border for operas, plays, soccer games, etc. No longer could the approximately 60,000 commuters head to West Berlin for well-paying jobs. No longer could families, friends, and lovers cross the border to meet their loved ones. Whichever side of the border one went to sleep on during the night of August 12, they were stuck on that side for decades.

  1. October Fest

It’s lederhosen time! Celebrate the Oktoberfest in Munich
Visit the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest fair and the most popular beer-related celebration in the world. Every year the Oktoberfest attracts more than 7 Million people from Germany and all over the world?

Some interesting facts are

  1. 700000 roast chickens, 150000 pork sausages are being sold in just 17 days, party tents accommodating between 8000 and 11000 people each every day.
  2. The area covers 420000 square meters
  3. 13000 staff employed, many are employed 3 months before the event starts (training)
  4. Nearly 8 million liters of beer is sold in 17 days.
  5. Up to 500 passports are lost
  6. Only local Munich beers are served
  7. Augustiner is Munichs oldest brewery founded in 1328
  8. October fest was first held 1810
  9. Called Octoberfest but starts in September
  10. In the 207 years of the October fest is has been cancelled 24 times due to war and cholera epidemics
  11. Vomit proof sneakers!! Adidas has released a limited edition of vomit proof sneakers, as the amount of beer being consumed results in some people being sick on the end of the afternoon/night?
  12. Octoberfest includes 14 large beer halls each seat 11000 people and all beer halls close at 10.30PM
  13. Over 150 restaurants
  14. 25% of the visitors are from Germany
  15. The beer is served in liter glasses (steiners) and is extra strong and has at least 6% alcohol.
  16. Between 700 and 800 people suffer from alcohol poisoning
  17. On average around 8000 people need medical attention
  18. Police is called around 2000 times
  19. Albert Einstein worked at the octoberfest in 1896
  20. Waiting list to open a food stall is up to 20 years
  21. Paris Hilton is banned for good from the Octoberfest as she tried to promote a brand of canned wine.

World record set carrying Oktoberfest beer mugs! See for yourself the contestants and the ultimate champion, Oliver Struempfel, a German waiter, who broke the world record by carrying 27 full beer mugs in Abensberg, about an hour from Munich, Germany!

https://youtu.be/4dQyu01tnSg

The Bavarian Alps,

after lots of drinking it became time for a detox and what better place than the German Alps. The mountains are majestic and the villages and castle a must visit. Number one destination is Neuschwanstein Castle, this fairy tail castle is stunning. With over 1 million people visiting the castle every year this is not to be missed. The Zugspitze is Germans highest mountain which can be visited by mountain train or cable car once on the top you are able to see around 400 alpine peaks on a clear day. Other places we visited were the chiemsee, Oberammergau, Ettal abbey and many other Benedictine abbeys.

During our 2012 visit to Germany we arrived during a cold snap and all freeways where blocked or barely impassable due to heavy snow. By 6 PM (It gets dark by 4 PM) we were not sure about the road as it became slippery. We decided to stop and as it worked out it was the right decision as the freeway (autobahn) was closed at 7 PM and never reopened till 6 AM the next morning. It snowed all night, it was cold (not in the truck) and when we woke up the snow ploughs were trying to keep the freeways driveable. It became a very slow drive to Holland and the freeway was completely covered with snow. The 225 KM took us nearly 7 hours with an average 32 KM per hour on the German Autobahn. But we made it and arrived as planned on Christmas Eve at Clary’s parents.

Once we finalize our around the world overland tour we return for a lot more sightseeing.