- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Go to Germany
River cruises on the Rhine and Maine
One only need kick back and take in the mesmerizing beauty of the German countryside, with its captivating landscapes, elegant old castles perched on the nearby hilltops, and vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see; the main waterways of Germany allow one to see the country from a unique perspective and gain an insight into how important a role some of the main rivers have played historically in the development of important urban centers (Frankfurt, Mainz, Koblenz, Cologne, Dusseldorf, etc) and thus the country as a whole. The navigating of the stretch of the river known as the Rhine Gorge, dotted with beautiful castles, as well as the Lorelei rock (towering over the river just as painted by J.M.W. Turner) are particularly enjoyable aspects of what truly is a magical journey.
The Carnival Season
A wonderful opportunity to relax and allow yourself to get swept away by tides of carnival celebrations, simultaneously taking place in a number of cities and regions in Germany (especially its western and southwestern parts) during the weekend and through Rose Monday (also on Mardi Gras in larger centers) just before Ash Wednesday. ‘Fifth Season,’ as it is also called, brings with it an explosion of colors: decorated floats, all kinds of flamboyant costumes, bizarre setups ridiculing politicians, street dancers and marching bands. For a truly awesome carnival party go to Cologne – you will experience first hand the warmth of this city, have one helluva good time, and see the stereotypically ‘reserved’ Germans in their ‘party animal’ edition.
Berlin Film Festival
The Berlinale (a.k.a) is doubtless one of the most glamorous events in the global cinematographic calendar; but glamor, commerce, and relentless media attention notwithstanding, this prestigious film festival manages to maintain a good head on its shoulders, in the sense that it promotes and rewards genuine artistry and innovation in film-making within a number of different genres (hence its several sections: Competition, Forum, Panorama, etc) and spanning the full spectrum of global film production. Attending ‘the Berlinale’ is a great way of keeping abreast with the latest trends and developments in the film industry (not to mention it being a great time to visit Berlin), as an incredible number of film projections – up to 400 – are held for the duration of the festival, making it the world’s largest film festival based on public attendance (over 300.000 tickets sold).
City of Berlin
For the young and young at hart: you’ve got to set some time aside to explore this city! Now, there’s no shortage of events taking place in Berlin that in and of themselves are enough of a reason to visit (Berlinale of course, ‘Karneval der Kulturen,’ ‘Fête de la Musique,’ ‘Long Night of the Museums,’ etc), but just exposure alone (open-minded, needless to say) to the creative stirrings of this bustling city , with its alternative art-scene, ‘underground’ culture and wild parties, is a stimulating experience. Make the most of the atmosphere around the ‘Hackesche Höfe’ and ‘Oranienburger Straße,’ and get catapulted into Berlin’s nightlife.
Everyone (beer aficionados in particular) should, at least once in their lifetime, attend this great festival IMO, and join in the fun of downing consecutive Maßkrüge, to the sounds of lederhosen-clad ‘Oompah Bands’ while feasting on ‘wurst,’ ‘hendl’ and ‘schweinebraten,’ and generally, celebrating all things Bavarian. Little wonder people from all over the world travel to Munich in droves to be a part of this festival – the atmosphere in and around “die Wiesn” (the epicenter of the festival) and the tents is cheerful in the extreme.