So here I am, being offered my favourite chocolate (Ritter Sport if you must know) and some lovely Moselle wine to explore how Germany can be a good travel destination. Nothing more to my liking than that! It is a bit strange for me though drinking German wine, which I connect with summer in Germany sitting outside in the sunshine of an early evening, here in Glasgow on a rather dreich and chilly March evening. It's just not the same and it makes me long for my summer holiday which will actually take us to Germany.
Germany is not the most popular tourist destination. It's a bit underrated that way. It's a big country with very different regional characteristics, it's by no means a place that can be easily summarised. My parents hail from the Eifel, which is a wine growing region but also makes its own beer, a rural, mountainous and very wooded part of the world which is rather beautiful and very much undiscovered by tourists outside of Germany. The wine, like that of the Rheinland further south, is the perfect drink on a hot summers day, and seriously better than its reputation. I have not had a bad wine in Germany and really don't know where that Liebfrauenmilch myth comes from.
My own part of Germany lies 200km further north, just outside of Cologne, a very densely populated area steeped in chemical industry and with the Black Country of Germany next door. And there's beer being made there too. In fact my hometown is on the borderline between two types of beer, Alt and Koelsch and it's really rather important which one you are partial too, and whether you see yourself closer to Duesseldorf, the city of fashion, or Cologne, the city of Tuennes and Schael, comedy, carnival, hard work and hard partying and a rather impressive Cathedral.
And we are yet very different from all the other regions, the fishheads of the north (it's a term of endearment, honest) or the south/Bavaria, who drink their beer by the litre (when we prefer tiny 200ml glasses, aka test tubes). And Berlin is of course a world on its own.
In our attempt to find a proper holiday destination (in the sense of something that isn't my hometown or one of the fabulous places our friends are from), we have come across a lot of regions to discover. There are canal holidays, the lakes of Mecklenburg, Swiss Saxony with stunning scenery, you only need to drive for an hour and you can discover a slightly different regional identity. Holidays in Germany also mean bathing in lakes, the mudflats of the North Sea, romantic Ruegen at the Baltic Sea, beautiful town centres which are pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
The food is traditional still and you'll get your regional fare anywhere really, it's only the big cities that have the usual multicultural variety of cuisines available. Which means that yes, as a vegetarian, it can be a bit of a struggle, because it is true, Germans love sausages. But there are also foods which have rarely traveled and really should have, take Spaetzle, or the amazing varieties of German bread. In fact, start any German expat on the topic of bread and you'll not hear the end of it.
The great thing about a German holiday is that it's not geared up for mass tourism and isn't pretentious and also doesn't capitalise on what it has to offer. It's all a bit understated, as if nobody really thinks that anyone would even consider coming all the way from where ever to visit Germany - we certainly had a decent amount of disbelief on our farm holiday in the Eifel, where people wondered in amazement why we would travel so far for this kind of holiday, not understanding that actually, it's a pretty amazing idea to live on a working farm and have the opportunity for the children to see how it all works, as well as daily pony rides through the beautiful German forests.
Inntravel is a travel company that offers Slow Holidays in Germany, which are tailor made and offer self-guided walking holidays, cycling holidays and more, which offer a great opportunity to explore Germany. An example includes Meanders of the Moselle, which takes travelers through the
vineyards of this Moselle wine region, providing plentiful opportunities for tastings along the way. A full selection of holidays in Germany is available too.
What's best is that I can give away another set of 2 bottles of tasty German white wine and a couple of bars of the most delicious Ritter Sport chocolate to a lucky winner. Please leave a comment on here, and share this giveaway on facebook or twitter with #MyGermanDiscovery @cartside for an extra entry each. Giveaway closes 10th April.
(Open to residents of the UK only sorry).
Disclosure: we received German wine and Ritter Sport chocolate to join in the #MyGermanDiscovery campaign.