Today I’m running through my top 10 places to visit in Germany that aren’t painfully obvious. That means your Berlin, your Munich, your Neuschwanstein-Disney Castle all gone. Why? Because listicles can be irritating enough without someone stating the obvious like, “Berlin is a place in Germany to visit! It’s got history! There was a wall. And now there’s not! (mostly).”
Instead, I’m showing off my favorite spots around the country that I don’t think I would’ve ever found without living and traveling around here for four years.
I think it’s appropriate that my first trail video isn’t from one of the better-known spots of Germany or Europe but rather from this haphazard collection of trails I connected between Eberswalde and Chorin in the state of Brandenburg.
The Black Forest is probably the second German region behind Bavaria that most of us have heard about from overseas. We know it’s, well, a forest and that it has something to do with fairytales. The Brothers Grimm, perhaps?
I’m of course talking about the fairytales in their original version––not the cutesy, sanitized versions that found their way to Disney. The German versions wouldn’t give two Scheiße about our modern conceptions of protecting children from violence and gore. The violence and gore were front and center in these stories. And many of these stories were inspired by the region of southwestern Germany we know today as the Black Forest.
Disclosure:I traveled in part as a guest of Weimar Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own.
I’ve wanted to visit Weimar for about as long as I’ve known about Weimar––namely its role in early 20th century German history. The long and short of it is, Weimar was the heart of Germany’s post-war (that’s the Great War) democratization efforts. But, we all know what happened to the short-lived Weimar Republic.
“This might be the most beautiful place I’ve been in Germany,” I told Melanie.
It was just our second day in Saxon Switzerland National Park in southeast Germany on the Czech border (not Switzerland, to most everyone’s surprise). The country had just started to open up again and it felt safe to wear our masks for a two-and-a-half-hour train ride to Bad Schandau on the Elbe River for a short getaway after hunkering down in Berlin for what was starting to feel like a lifetime.
I traveled to Fürstenberg for this story as a guest of Brandenburg Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own.
This is like Suchitoto, I thought to myself in my first stroll around Fürstenberg. The lake town in northern El Salvador is dressed in cobblestones lined with stocky, colorful homes––just like Fürstenberg. There was even a smoky aroma in the air that I’ve come to associate with small town Central American life.
But I was not in Central America. I was a short train ride north of Berlin on the Havel River surrounded by the lakes of the Uckermärkische Nature Park. By boat, as most would’ve traveled until relatively recent history, it’s a two-day journey. I learned this upon my arrival to the Culture Gasthof Alte Reederei where I was staying.
Like a bird on the wire. Like a drunk in a midnight choir. I have tried in my way to be free.
Leonard Cohen wrote the words to the opening verse of “Bird on the Wire” from his Hydra hideout in the early 1960s. The story goes that a 25-year-old Cohen retreated to Hydra to finish his first novel. He had been in London on a Canadian Arts Council Grant, uninspired by the cold and rain outside his Hampstead lodgings.
There’s something inherently special about eating in Athens that I can’t quite put my finger on or find the words to describe. But I think of tucking into a piping hot bite of moussaka in a clay pot with the Acropolis lit up like a movie star ahead of me. This scene, this blend of ancient human history with classic Greek cuisine is objectively extraordinary.
I’ve long been intrigued by Athens, even more so since moving to Germany nearly four years ago. I imagined it would be like any other European capital with exquisite architecture, walkable boulevards and plazas, and omnipresent relics of its history.
Some of that is true but it doesn’t make up for how wrong I was.