Uhhh, Germany?

Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to Germany I go. That’s right Debt Punchers, I’ll be whistling while I work…half way across the world. Just got word yesterday, I’ll be heading to Deutschland for six weeks on a business trip from mid March to late April.

I’m pretty excited about the opportunity to spend some time in Europe, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. It will be the first time I’ve been completely immersed in a different culture, unless you count Aruba. Which in my opinion was more American than Hawaii.

So many things are running through my head right now….

  • Will I like German food (p.s. I hate pork)?
  • Do most Germans speak at least some English?
  • Will there be California burritos in Germany (sadly I don’t think so)?
  • What should I try and do in my free time?
  • Which other countries should I consider visiting?
  • Am I going to be forced to drink gallons of beer?
  • Will Girl Ninja be able to take time off work and come visit me?

I’m 99% sure I’ll have a good time, 110% sure I’ll miss Girl Ninja, 20% sure I’ll try and speak German and make a fool of myself, and 36% sure I’ll drive on the wrong side of the road 50% of the time. Like I said, I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m pretty excited.

Have you been to any European countries? Anything I need to know? Is Germany even cool? I feel like most people go to France, UK, Italy, Spain, rarely do I hear about people backpacking Germany. There are burritos is Germany….right?!

p.s. I should make an extra $8,000 on top of my base salary while abroad (how’s that for a PF tie in?).

p.p.s. No you can’t come visit me unless A) your name is Girl Ninja or B) you bring me a burrito.

47 thoughts on “Uhhh, Germany?

  1. 1. German food is pretty much…. well, okay, I would avoid the cabbage salad if I were you (bleerrgh) but really most food is a lot like here. Just a lot less Mexican food (bad news for the burritos)
    2. Most YOUNGER German people have a basic grasp of English. The grandmas and grandpas of Germany don’t. I would say in the 30-40 year range, most people are comfortable enough speaking English, but certainly not to the same extent as the rest of Europe. Mostly because Germans are silly, and dub EVERYTHING to German.
    3. See #1
    4. Germany has amazing pubs. As far as what you should do in your free time, it really super depends on where in Germany you’re going to be. It’s a rather large country.
    5. Swizerland and Austria are both gorgeous, and in keeping with the German theme!
    6. You can always opt for Kinder beer… (Kids beer. It’s got very very little alcohol.)
    7. Only Girl Ninja can answer that!

  2. (Creepy fast comment — I’m still in college, and avoiding writing a paper)

    If you dislike pork, then you may have some issues with German food — but, they have lots of good bread and stuff, so you’ll be able to survive. (You really should try a decent brautwurst, though!) They still have beef and other foods, too. Make sure you eat Doner Kebab at least once; it’s tasty and cheap, and sort of like a gyro, but Turkish. (Lamb? Beef? Not sure, they sort of shave it off of a giant chum. But seriously, really good)

    Most Germans do speak at least some English, especially the younger ones. (I spent a couple of weeks there about two years ago, and it was rare that I couldn’t find someone who spoke better English than I did German, and I was in my second year of German at that point.)

    There probably aren’t any decent burritos there, sorry. You won’t be forced to drink gallons of beer, but it may be hard not to: coke there is much more expensive than even pretty good beer. (Supposedly it’s good. I didn’t like it much.) And a lot of the time when you ask for water, they make you buy really nasty mineral water that’s pretty funky. You can ask for tap water, though, if you don’t mind some funny looks and the occasional refusal.

    You should try and see lots of castles and cool cities, etc. (I’m afraid I don’t have much specific advice here, since my time was spent in the southwest of Germany, away from all the cities, and most of what you’re probably going to be close to) Can’t help you with GN coming to visit, I’m afraid. 😉

    And by the way, they drive on the right in Germany, just like they do here. So you really will seem out of place if you drive on the wrong side of the road. 😉 (“Why is that crazy American driving on the left hand side of the autobahn….?”)

    • That’s good to know about the driving. For some reason I thought we were one of the only countries that drove on the right. I’ll be staying about an hour outside of Frankfurt. Hopefully in a populated area. I wont know till i get there.

      • I live in Germany…as far as driving goes just a few tips. Legally you can go 40 km over the suggested speed limit. After 40km cameras can take your photo and you would get a present in the mail, ie ticket. If you see a sign with gray diagonal lines that means you can go as fast as you want. The far left lane is the fast lane and if the other drivers think you are not going fast enough they will ride your tail or flash lights until you move over.

        Side note…if you are coming during the first week of March it is Fasching here…German Mardi Gras…with candy thrown at you instead of beads.

        Now for your other questions:

        Pork is a staple here. It is kind of like how Americans love chicken. They do have it though. Food is heavy and simple but I like it. I reccomend trying the Kase Spatzle (It is basically German mac and cheese.) the bread is awesome, cheese…Chocolate. Doner kepab is a Turkish food but it is everywhere.

        The level of English really does vary, I would think if you are going for work the area would have more English speakers. Be sure to ask for help if you need it. If you do not ask you may not get. Oh Ausfahrt means exit on the Autobahn (highway).

        Sadly as someone from Cali…no luck with burritos. I keep trying to find one but no luck (Last time I got sweet salsa…that was warm?!?). I have heard good things about Berlin though.

        For Germany I would suggest Berlin, Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle (Walt Disney used it as his model for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.), Heidelberg, Hamburg.

        Other countries…Italy (any city, the food is wonderful)
        Amsterdam is a beautiful city with lots to do and see. Great little cafe’s to just sit. Oh coffee shops…you should avoid those. They do not have just coffee.
        Switzerland, Austria (they are both very expensive but worth it.)
        Spain, Turkey, Prague. You can check our Ryan Air, Condor and German Wings. They are all discount airlines.

        Beer…You will not be forced. I did not drink beer until I moved here. I would suggest trying a Radler (half lemonade and Pilsner), Colawisen (half cola, half hefeweisen). The plain old beer to try would be Pilsner or Hefeweisen (they have dark and light). If Mrs. Ninja drinks wine (sweet white) you should bring her back a wine from the Mosel region, look for Reisling or Eiswein.

        As a fellow teacher I would strongly encourage you both to take advantage of this opportunity to see parts of Europe together. It really is wonderful.

        Good luck, have fun and I hope all my ramblings are of some help to you!

        • I’m from Germany so that comment about going 40 km over the speed limit urged me to reply. That is wrong!

          When there is a sign that you are only allowed to drive with the speed of 80 km/h, you could get a speed ticket if you drive 81 km/h (of course only when they catch you).

          This sign http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Zeichen_330.svg&filetimestamp=20060307164045 means “Autobahn with no speed limit”. That means that you can drive as fast as you’re car can. But beware: on dangerous parts can be speed limits installed. Also note that on Autobahnen you can only pass – in the sense that you drive faster and want to pass a slower car – on a left line. The slowest cars drive on the right line, the fastest on the left. You’re supposed to drive on the right line when this line is free.

  3. * Will I like German food (p.s. I hate pork)?
    Well, there are plenty of options. Here in Germany, we have not only traditional german food (like sausages ^^), but a lot of chinese, italian and turkish food. So if you don’t like “kraut” – which I don’t like as well, althoguh being born and bread german – just head somewhere else!

    * Do most Germans speak at least some English?
    As was already said, older generations don’t speak English in general, but everyone younger than 40 has learnt it in school. Don’t expect too much! If you are staying in a city with one of the bigger universities, chances are good that there will be better English speakers around.

    * Will there be California burritos in Germany (sadly I don’t think so)?
    No. Sorry!

    * What should I try and do in my free time?
    Hiking, climbing, swimming, visiting the place you are staying… Can’t give you any ideas without knowing where you will stay! The north is pretty flat, so no climbing there. But then again, yu might be able to visit the coast there, which is always nice.

    * Which other countries should I consider visiting?
    Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium (bring Girl Ninja some chocolate from there 😉 )

    * Am I going to forced to drink gallons of beer?
    Noone will force you, but you should at least try it. There is alcoholfree beer around, which tastes not exactly like the original but comes pretty close.

    * Will Girl Ninja be able to take time off work and come visit me?
    That is totally up to her (and your budget)!

  4. So jealous! You will love it! And yes, GN should totally come visit…hello spring break vacation! My top picks would be meet her in Paris (yes, totally cliche but I think it is super romantic), B. meet her in Rome (you two are uber religious right? Getting to see the Vatican and St Peters Basilica…amazing!), #3 The Greek Isles are so fun. Mykonos would be my fave.
    You’ll note my ideas are GN heavy…I repeat, she has to visit. What a wonderful opportunity! Enjoy it, don’t worry about the cost…using Alaska miles to get a Euro trip is the way to go (in my opinion:).
    And, from one picky eater to another, Germany has bomb pretzels…they are literally the size of your head!

  5. Dude, I hate to break it to you, but on a business trip you are unlikely to be “completely immersed in a different culture.” Even if you’re working every day with German colleagues, if you’re staying in a hotel you’ll have a place that is 100% yours – an American zone.

    Most Germans speak English, you shouldn’t have much trouble communicating.

    Have a blast, and don’t worry so much.

  6. I am currently studying aborad in Germany! The good news is, if you are taking your trip in Berlin, burritos will be delicious and there is one called Mission Burrito (San Francisco)! Otherwise, don’t get your hopes up to try anything Mexican or Spanish. It won’t be tasty.

    I love Germany and nom nom nom they have some tasty breads and specialties here. Make sure to eat at a Germany bakery (Gawker is good) in the morning or get some fresh bread there. You’ll be hooked!

    * Will I like German food (p.s. I hate pork)? Hmmmm try some schnitzel and work your way up. Red meat isn’t that popular here though.
    * Do most Germans speak at least some English? Yes and they will love speaking it with you. Just also try to learn a few words from their language.
    * Will there be California burritos in Germany (sadly I don’t think so)? Berlin! Go to Mission Burritos and your mouth will thank you! It’s a San Francisco shop transplanted in Germany!
    * What should I try and do in my free time? Visit the churches and the greenery of Germany. Munich, Koeln and Konstanz are nice places to visit.
    * Which other countries should I consider visiting? Well, you will be very close to Paris, one hour plane ride away from London, close to Amsterdam. Really, just take your pick.
    * Am I going to forced to drink gallons of beer? Nope. They expect you to come in and try to outshine them with your horrible American drinking abilities. But really, they don’t drink in such a way and would love it if you learn to ‘enjoy’ alcohol and not binge. Not drinking is no big deal.
    * Will Girl Ninja be able to take time off work and come visit me? ????????????????

  7. I’m going to England soon, and then onto a year in France. One thing I recommend is checking out RyanAir, a very cheap flight company for jetting around Europe if you have downtime, or for meeting GN somewhere.
    Don’t be scared, don’t overpack…you’ll have a great time! You were going to have a little time away from GN, at least now it’s will be an exciting adventure!

    I know you aren’t moving there, but in the interest of checking som things out and maybe even meeting for coffee with some expats, check out http://www.expatforum.com/expats/germany-expat-forum-expats-living-germany/

  8. I love that you were worried about driving on the wrong side of the road! Go to Austria if you get a chance. I spent 2 months there and it is one of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever been. Plus the people are super friendly.

  9. Oooh this is exciting! I lived in Germany when I was an undergrad, and it was amazing. And Germany is definitely cool, it just gets overlooked so much. But don’t worry, pretty much everyone knows some English, especially in the cities and college towns. It annoyed the crap out of me when I was there, because I couldn’t really get anyone to speak to me in German, even though I was there to study the language.

    I’m not sure about the food really. It’s a shame you don’t like pig, since there is so much awesome pig-based food to be had in Germany! But you can certainly get beef and chicken too. A restaurant is a restaurant, they’ll have similar things to what we have here. And don’t worry, no one will make you drink beer. But if you wanted you could also try a Radler, which is like half lemonade, half beer (sounds gross but it’s sooooo good!). It’s fruity and light and has less alcohol. I love them. But you can also get soda… just make sure to ask for Cola and not Coke. 🙂

    Also, am I allowed to ask which town you’ll be staying at? I also lived about an hour outside of Frankfurt, so I know some good places to go around there. Heidelberg for one!! Also, you could rent a car and drive up and down the Rhine (on the right side of the road of course!)… beautiful scenery and tons of castles and wineries.

  10. Never been to Germany, but would loooove to go one day! Group Ninja’s posted many of the points I would’ve pointed out, so I won’t repeat them… have a GREAT time! You’re going to be so close to so many amazing cities/countries, I’m sure you’ll be able to check out surrounding European countries; hope GN gets a chance to come and see you. I travelled to Budapest, Hungary for business about 4 years ago… was quite the experience… glad I had the opportunity to go, especially on the company’s dime! The one thing I wished was that Hubby could’ve join me (he’s 1/2 Hungarian); I really missed him, but I did meet some wonderful people that I still correspond to via Facebook.

  11. I studied abroad in Germany and spent half of last week looking at my old town on Google Earth and missing it so much.

    food info: I second that you should eat lots of doners. You can get chicken, and um, non-chicken (I always got chicken). They are so good. They are Turkish, but Germany has a strong Turkish influence due to an agreement that allowed guest workers from Turkey to work in Germany after the war.
    Wiener Schnitzel: wiener = veal; schnitzel = pounded and breaded meat then pan fired.
    if you don’t like pork avoid anything with ‘schwien’ in the description. ‘schwien = pork/pig’ Bu tI also second that you should try some sausages, you can probably find non-pork.

    Where to go:
    1. Berlin. You can never really comprehend what it must have been like living in the ‘island’ that was West Berlin until you see it and realize how closer off they were. An easy weekend trip from the Frankfurt area by train (Trains in Germany are awesome, super fast and super on time)
    2. The town I was in Lueneburg/Luneburg (an umlaut over a vowel = an extra vowel). Southeast of Hamburg, one of the most beautiful old towns in Germany. Avoided bombing in WWII becuase they had no military association, but lots of wealth due to salt mining.
    3. weekend trip ideas that are totally doable: Amsterdam, (very cool and beautiful city even if you don’t partake in what they are best known for in the US), Prague, London (if you can take an extra day on one end, cheap flights intra-europe), Munich/Munchen (go to a beer hall even if you don’t drink the beer), Denmark
    4. best way to see cool things: get a really good map (not GPS, a paper map) and see what is around you that looks interesting on the map, and drive there to investigate. Adorable towns, villages complete with castle, wall, and moat, and much more are out there if you just let yourself voyage out with your map in hand.

    and lastly, I did not like beer much when I was in Germany (though I have seen gained a love of it), there is a traditional way of serving beer called Radler (bicyclist) where they mix 1/2 pilsner and 1/2 lemonade in order to serve beer to bike racers without getting them drunk…or so the story goes….anyway, you might like it, try it at least once!

  12. I am of the personal opinion that, anytime you visit another country, you should learn the basics of the language. It is unfair to expect them to speak english to you, so maybe brush up on some phrases, like Hi, how are you, how to order a drink/ food, how to say where your staying (if you want take out or something) how to ask for directions & the time. Sometimes you can get a CD with basic phrases that you can learn. Plus, that will enhance your trip!

  13. Seriously, hook me up with your job!

    Joking aside, it sounds like a great opportunity to see parts of Europe. I’d consider taking weekend trips here and there…and then maybe taking some time off (if both schedules work out) at the end so you and GN can travel together! You’re only an easyjet flight away from the rest of Europe, so please, take advantage of it while you can.

    I’d also consider getting a travel guide (fodors, lonely planet, rick steve’s etc) from the library for places you might be interested in visiting before you leave. I’ve found them to be soo helpful so you know a bit about your destination before you even get there…and they also tend to help the basic phrases too 😉

    Woot woot for the PF peice of it too!

  14. My cousin went to Germany and had a great time. There was a lot of beer involved. I’m sure the same will hold true for you.

    If you travel, I recommend anywhere but Paris. I spent a lot of time in Spain, Italy and France, and Paris was my least favorite city.

    • Ha ha! Paris was my least favorite too! I would recommend Austria and Switzerland. You might even get some skiing or snowboarding in! Way super fun! I was in Germany for 3 weeks to learn how to make beer and I’ve been a few other times as well. German beer is pretty amazing stuff, but if you don’t like beer that’s cool. I’m sure you’ll be fine. Like someone else said though…be prepared to pay a lot for coke!

  15. Germany is beautiful! Even though it was 1989 when I was there, out of my 17 day, 6 country tour, some of my best memories are from Germany. The scenery is gorgeous. Visit castles! I also remember Austria as being a place I’d like to spend more time – we didn’t stay there, just traveled through.

  16. Awesome! You will have so much fun. I second what everyone else said about food, etc. Danka = thank you. Use it often. Yes GN must visit and travel as often as possible Eurail passes and Ryanair will make it cheap.

    Go to Munich and see the glockenspiel and the beergarten. Take a train from there to see Neuschwanstein’s castle. It’s the one the Disney castle is modeled after.

    Go to Interlaken, Switzerland, stay at Baumer’s Hostel and take the train to Zermatt and see the Matterhorn. Then take the train to Grindelwald and hike up to the Glacier Bar and have beer overlooking Switzerland.

    Really anywhere is amazing!

  17. Answers from a German:
    Will I like German food (p.s. I hate pork)? There’s much more than just pork. Plus there are a ton of different restaurants here. Especially if you are staying close to Frankfurt, Frankfurt due to being the financial center of Germany is very international.
    Do most Germans speak at least some English? Yes and most will be happy to speak English
    Will there be California burritos in Germany (sadly I don’t think so)? There are some Mexican places
    What should I try and do in my free time? Go up to Cologne and visit the cathedral (about 1- 1 1/2hrs by train), Munich, Hamburg. Go see the Rhine somewehre between Koblenz and Cologne and take a boattrip.
    Which other countries should I consider visiting? Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria are all in vicinity. Ryanair & Germanwings has great deals on flights. I’d recommend Germanwings before Ryanair though. Spain is just about a 2 hour plane ride away.
    Am I going to forced to drink gallons of beer? Absolutely not. Plenty of non beer options out there.

    What to bring back home to girl ninja? Haribo!

  18. Where in Germany will you be? (Not stalking, just, that might help with the recommendations.)

    I would try to learn at least a bit of German (hello, goodbye, please, thank you, how much is…) before you go. It never hurts to be polite in the language of the country you’re in.

  19. I recommend you go east during at least some of your travels. It will be cheaper and you can see plenty of amazing things. I’d definitely go to the Czech Republic if I were you, and Hungary if you can. Check out some of the European airlines for cheap weekend tickets. Have fun, and consider it an adventure!

  20. 1. “Will I like German food (p.s. I hate pork)?” Then you might not like Chinese either. Don’t worry, you’ll find plenty to eat.
    2. “Do most Germans speak at least some English?” Define “most,” “Germans,” “speak,” “at least,” some,” and “English.” Aber, zu antworten deine Frage: “Ja, gewiss.”
    3. “Will there be California burritos in Germany (sadly I don’t think so)?” Google “burrito in Germany.”
    4. “What should I try and do in my free time?” Look for burritos.
    5. “Which other countries should I consider visiting?” I could go on for hours here. Within Germany, you can easily visit Berlin, Dresden, and Munich. Outside the country, you can get to Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Lyon, Prague, Milan, and Venice. Which to visit? as many as you can. You can either fly or use high-speed rail, a fantastic mode of transportation we have yet to adopt in our country.
    6. “Am I going to forced to drink gallons of beer?” At gunpoint, yes.
    7. “Will Girl Ninja be able to take time off work and come visit me? p.s.s. No you can’t come visit me unless A) your name is Girl Ninja or B) you bring me a burrito.” I refuse to change my name, but I’ll pick up a burrito today to qualify under option B).
    8. “Have you been to any European countries?” Thirteen that I can remember. Have not visited Andorra, Bulgaria, or Portugal.
    9. “Is Germany even cool?” I think even now, Germany has not completely escaped the reputation of its Nazi past. As a Jewish person visiting Germany and Austria, I was very careful not to reveal my heritage. My fears were no doubt unfounded, but they were real. Visiting the concentration camp at Dachau (outside Munich) was scary, but it’s something everyone should do if only once.
    10. “Is Germany even cool?” Absolutely. Ja, gewiss. I envy you very much.

  21. How exciting! This will be a grand adventure, indeed, even if it IS for work. I’ve traveled all over Europe – primarily eastern and central, but a bit in western Europe as well, although I’ve spent very little time in German, something my husband and I will rectify in April, when we go to Berlin for 5 days and then Prague for 5.

    Where exactly in Germany will you be? Like the US, there is a tremendous amount of regional variation.

  22. not that I’m stalkin’ ya but I’m getting a good picture of what kind of secret agent ninja you are by your various side trips…
    In order
    Yes – they love potatoes and they do have non-pork options.
    Yes – younger folks, with whom you’re more likely to interact, do. Bring them Levis and they’ll love you forevah!
    NO – you could import them & they might love ya forevah!
    LOTS – cram a lot of sightseeing into your visit
    Belgium, Austria, Amsterdam – just don’t smoke any pot – the US Govt doesn’t like its agents smoking weed even where it is legal
    Yes – even as a non-drinker like you, you should try some of the local brews. You might be converted.
    AND HECK YES!! doesn’t she have a spring break?

    Have fun!

  23. Travel in Europe is very easy! Try to experience as much as possible. German food is somewhat heavy, but there are other kinds of food in Germany. Enjoy yourself.

  24. Suggestion for country to visit: Holland. Especially outside of the major urban hubs. Very pretty, and they have some different ways of doing things there that you’ll probably appreciate. Much more… sustainable.

    I agree with the above comment that if you’re on a business trip, you’ll probably be in a hotel that’s fairly americanized, hence no worries about language, etc.

    I was going to make a comment about sampling all the German beer you can, but I think I read that you don’t drink. Anyway, have fun!

  25. If you are hearty eater you will like German food, but considering you are looking for California Burritos… maybe not… When I was in Europe I found that most people spoke English as their second language. Hardly will you ever be some place that you wont be able to communicate. If you have a chance to travel over to Belgium I’d go for it. I spent a week there and enjoyed the heck out of it! They wont make you drink beer, at least they didn’t make me do it! But I’d try some Kriek (it’s cherry flavored lambic, also comes in other flavors like raspberry, apple, peach.. but cherry is the best!)

  26. You are going to have a blast!
    – They have non-pork food.
    – People will speak English.
    – You probably don’t want to try the burritos, but that could be a fun adventure to find them.
    – Try beer and make friends!
    – Check out the Czech Republic!
    – No, but you should try some.
    – I hope she does!

    I’m been to Greece, Turkey and the Czech Republic. Bring a water bottle, camera, and small backback. Also, learn to say: “please”, “thank you” and “bathroom”.

  27. As an alcohol free person, I drank fruit juice when I was there. Don’t even bother asking for water. My favorite was Kirschsaft = cherry juice. It is thick and smooth. Also the young peeps order ‘Kiba’ which is short for Kirsch-bananensaft = cherry-banana juice.

    Another food to try is Kukenflammen which is like a crunchy white sauce pizza!

    +1 for Doener kebabs (pitas). Just don’t eat too many.

    Since you’ll be working, I would just stay within Germany when seeing the sights. The country has enough to offer. Don’t waste you valuable time (and money) traveling to another country unless there is a spot you’ve always been wondering about and wanting to see.

    For a cheap and interesting way to travel. Use Mitfahrengelegenheit (rideshare http://www.rideshare.co.uk/), gas is quite expensive in Europe and people are always wanting to share car rides to save on gas. Good way to meet young people and other foreigners. Just go on the website and find the ride, email or phone (no problem with English) and set the price. I traveled this way from Berlin to Zurich and it was awesome (and cheap). The autobahn is something to experience. Many of the rides use the central train station (Hauptbahnhof) of each town as the meeting point to make things easy.

    Train travel is cheapest on the month passes. Rail Europe (http://www.raileurope.com) has some good stuff. Especially if you actually do want to travel to other countries. They won’t charge taxes (VAT) either if the pass is mailed to an address outside the European Union before your arrival in Germany.

  28. I love Germany! I lived there for two years, where are you going to be? Definitely check out Garmisch if you get a chance–I don’t know what clearance you have, but there’s an American resort there (edelweisslodgeandresort.com) which is where I used to work. Not that you’re going there to see American things, but they offer bike rentals/skiing/etc. and you can pay in dollars, although I heard a rumor that the euro is less than the dollar now (it was definitely NOT when I was there).
    Anyhow, in Garmisch there is a lot of hiking (depending on the weather), skiing, and the whole town looks like a storybook. If you happen to be there on a Tuesday night, go to the bar Peaches and meet up with some Americans (it’s American night) and they can give you ideas on where to travel/things to do. Or just go to the Edelweiss during the day… but that’s not as fun. =P
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garmisch
    http://www.allthingsgarmisch.com

    As for other places to go… the Czech Republic is really neat. Prague is amazing, Czesky Krumlov is neat, and there’s that bone church… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czesky_Krumlov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_Church
    Depending on where you are in Germany, these all should be doable in a weekend.

    I never made it to Berlin, but heard it’s amazing. Munich is a great city, and there’s a lot to do there. You don’t have to drink gallons of beer, but if you do try some, get a hefeweizen, they are delicious! If you’re not into drinking a lot they can put “lemonade” in a helles (light beer) which makes a radler or in a hefeweizen which makes a russ. By “lemonade” i really mean “Sprite” but they will call it lemonade. =]

    And in my experience, people in the more southern states spoke more English/were friendlier than the people up north, but that may not be true!

  29. Dude you’re from California! Europeans may not always dig Americans (even in the age of Obama) but being from California is a HUGE plus! I spent a summer in England in 2005 and a couple of weeks in France in 2009, and once I told people I was from Cali they would perk up and ask me all kinds of questions about Hollywood, the OC etc. Seeing as how you’re from SD you should make lots of friends, I know there are lots of Europeans who would love to have a friend Cali to visit.

    P.S. I’m extremely jealous, enjoy your trip!

  30. My family lived in Holland for 6 months when I was 15 and we visited Germany once or twice. I actually didn’t like most of the food anywhere we went (Spain, France, Austria, Germany, and Holland). BUT, their bakeries are great and a good sandwich usually makes up for weird pizza and mayo on French Fries. Make sure to go to a street market at least once – they are fun and you can pick out the yummy foods by smell. 🙂

  31. I highly suggest Berlin. I had no interest in going there at all, but it turned out to be one of my favorite cities ever. And don’t leave Germany without eating damfnudel. I got by in Germany by only knowing how to say five things: thank you, one, two, three, and coffee. It worked quite well.

    Austria is pretty sweet too, you can go to Salzburg and spin around in a field singing songs from The Sound of Music…not saying I did that or anything.

  32. Munich in and of itself isn’t that exciting of a city, however, Dachau is definitely worth a visit. Even if you’re not interested in Holocaust history, the museum is totally worth it because it’s incredibly well done.

    And other countries you should go to — anywhere that RyanAir is having a sale to! Out of everywhere we visited in Europe, our absolute faves were Norway, Ireland and Spain. Spain is cheap, Ireland and Norway not so much. But they’re awesome.

  33. Ninja – love your blog, it’s one of the first I read everyday! Keep up the good work!

    Sorry if any of this is repeat – I didn’t read through all the comments!!
    I spent a semester in Berlin during college and loved Germany
    To answer your questions and more…
    Will I like German food (p.s. I hate pork)? Depending on where you are (small town vs city) you will find a variety of food. There are a lot of Turkish people in Germany so you will find lots of Turkish food – Doner being the big one. Its the Turkish version of a burrito (kind of…). You will find Italian food, sushi, Mexican, etc in a bigger city. They also have Subway, PizzaHut, McDonalds, Burger King so you definitely won’t starve! There are also tons of bakeries – I would recommend trying some different baked goods out. They won’t be as sweet as American desserts but still delicious. My favorites were Apfulkuchen (Apple cake) and donuts (with no hole, can’t remember the name) covered in sugar – those were 25 Euro cents, favorable to a poor college student!

    Do most Germans speak at least some English? In big cities, yes. My German was terrible – I would speak German and people would speak English back to me, probably due to my terrible German and also because people wanted to practise speaking English
    Will there be California burritos in Germany (sadly I don’t think so)? See Doner Kebab, or Doner Durem – delish
    What should I try and do in my free time? If you enjoy history, Germany is full of it. There are tons of castles (my favorite is near Munich in southern Germany – Neuschwanstein and sister castle Hohenschwangau. The Disneyland castle was based on Neuschwanstein.) There are lots of museums and historical sites in all cities. You could go to Weimar (center of German government in the early part of the century). Near Weimar is a concentration camp (depressing but worth a visit) – Buchenwald. It is fascinating to be at places were history took place, whatever that history might be. You could go to a soccer game – those are fun because people are so excited about soccer there. Drink beer at a beer garden.
    Which other countries should I consider visiting? Any of the surrounding countries as well as towns within Germany. The train system in Europe is wonderful – it is a great way to see the countryside and get to other countries. The nice part is minimal or no security and depending on your ticket, you can just go when you want – you aren’t stuck to a particular time train like you are with air travel. Within Germany they have Schoeneswochenende tickets (Happy Weekend Tickets) – these are inexpensive tickets (30 euro approx) that you can travel with up to 5 people, so 6 euro a person! Even without people to travel with, they aren’t terribly expensive. You do have to take the slow trains, which really aren’t terrible, but the ticket is good for the whole day for any slow train within the country. For plane tickets, look at Ryanair and Easyjet- their tickets are inexpensive and they have a ton of destinations.
    Am I going to be forced to drink gallons of beer? Not if you don’t want to! If you like wine, Germany has great inexpensive Rieslings (and most other wines) – you can go to the store and buy a bottle of wine for 3 euro. Cheap!
    Will Girl Ninja be able to take time off work and come visit me? You gotta ask her that one! Hopefully she can! It is a great country! Very clean – there are garbage cans everywhere

    Also, most places (stores) don’t take credit cards – the total opposite from the US. It’s an attitude left over from the early part of the century. Even Ikea didn’t take credit cards (in 2005) – Germany has the lowest, or near lowest, credit card debt because of the lack of places that take credit cards. This should warm your PF heart!!

    If you have any questions, feel free to email me! Enjoy!

  34. For what it’s worth, I’ve very much liked every German I’ve worked WITH as an engineer. Supposedly they are pretty demanding to work FOR (which I have not done). Spain might be worth a trip to see, been there before.

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