December 6, 2019 0 By Gary

How To Get A Visa For India?

Are you planning to visit India? You should go to India because it is really a nice place to visit.  If you want to go to India, then first and foremost, you need a Visa. Now if you don’t know what is a visa. Let me tell you a visa is legal permission to enter and stay in a country for various purposes. Firstly, if you need a Visa you need to tell them in what country you live because people of different countries can use different websites to apply for a visa for India. But the main procedure for getting a visa remains the same. 

Well, if you want to travel and love to travel then you need a visa. Going to India can be a really good choice for you because India is a vast country with a diverse culture. Foreigners love to travel to India. India has always been a tourist’s favorite spot. 

Well, to get a passport and visa for India is really easy. Indian Tourist Visa Fee is also not very high. You just need some money and time to get a visa for India. 

Getting a visa for India is neither easy nor difficult. It just needs time and patience. Here are the steps you can follow to get a visa for India. 

  1. You need to identify the type of visa you need. First and foremost you need to find out whether your visa should be an employment visa, tourist visa, business visa or any other type of visa. You need to find that out only then you will be able to get a correct visa for India and fulfill your dream of traveling to India. 
  2. Your passport should not be very old. You need to make sure that your passport must be at least 180 days from the date when you plan to enter India. You need to renew your passport if it expires within the next 6 years because a passport is an important thing. 
  3. Visit the appropriate website. If you want to go to India as a tourist for 60 days or less then you would have to apply for an e tourist visa. Indian Visa Tourist Apply Online facility is available on its specific site. 
  4. Enter your information: You need to enter your specific information like date of birth, nationality, expected date of arrival, birth location, religion, visa type, name on your passport, passport information, etc. 
  5. Upload a digital photo: After adding all the required information you need to upload an appropriate digital photo. The photograph must meet the requirement mentioned on the form. 
  6. Select an appointment date: After that, you will have to select an appointment date with the Indian mission. 
  7. Pay the fee: The most important thing that you need to do is pay your fee for your visa which is very necessary if you want to travel to India and get a visa to do the same. If you won’t pay you will definitely not get any visa. 
  8. Print out the application: The lady and the most important thing that you need to do is print out the application. And you have got your visa. 

So, apply for the Indian tourist visa and get going!

October 3, 2019 0 By Gary

6 Reasons Why Germany is an Amazing Land

Living in Germany is truly amazing just as the country is. If you are a foreigner who has lived in this land for a while, your eyes have likely opened to compare the predominant differences among the varied cultures and lifestyles in various parts of the world. You have noted that outstanding reasons many people consider Germans privileged people. Here are the top reasons why this land rocks, and you should consider making it your next destination.

Plenty of Epic Travel Opportunities

Living in Germany means that you have plenty of travel opportunities. You can visit many iconic places, such as Heidelberg, Lubeck, and Neckar valley. Other than that, many other countries are on your doorstep. Germany has great international  borders with Australia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, and Belgium. In the entire of the European Union, that is the most significant number of borders. So, you have opportunities to take a train or a bus at anytime and begin your international tours. The existence of short flight times also makes it possible for you to visit many countries and back in a single weekend.

Thus, if you love longer travel stints, you are well covered. You can make one of the most outstanding inter-rail networks and still achieve your goal of hopping from one country to another. In this regard, Germany and the entire of Europe have exceptional travel opportunities that can meet your varied touring needs.

Affordable Living Cost

Germany has a comparatively low cost of living. According to a credible study, this country in Western Europe offers expats more bang for their buck than many others do. This study ranked Berlin at position 106 out of 200. London appeared at position 12. However, Zurich, Geneva, and Bern made it to the third, fifth, and ninth positions. As you can see, the three Swiss cities are the most convenient places to live in if cost of living is your concern..

What all this means is that if you want to live in a place where you can eat what you want from morning to evening without feeling the pinch like other people do, Germany is your ideal destination.

Enchanting Public Holidays

You have plenty of opportunities to rest due to the high number of public holidays in the land. These holidays do not count towards your leaves. Some cities are also extremely generous with these important day-offs. If you reside in the wealthy state of Bavaria, you will enjoy at least 13 major public holidays each year. What’s more, many companies in Germany provide 30 days leave as the standard. But you can expect another two weeks free. These are the times you can give your lovely dogs the special attention that they deserve or explore Germany and its neighboring countries.

Ease of Getting Jobs

The healthy economy of Germany makes it incredibly easy for you to get the most rewarding jobs. The private sector is highly viable. Since 2008 when the entire world witnessed the unprecedented economic meltdown, the unemployment rate in the country has been falling at a stable rate. In November 2018, it hit a low of 3.3%. And all this did not end just at that. The government has predicted that this trend is set to continue, and the demand of many professionals will continue to amplify beyond 2030.  

Affordable Childcare

The German government has substantially subsidized the cost of raising children in the country. If you are living in this country, the social welfare system guarantees you at least €194 per child that is under your care. Depending on the financial condition of your family, you are also guaranteed generous tax cuts.

Healthy Beer

When it comes to drinks, you cannot separate Germans with fresh beer. The land boasts of more than 1,300 breweries and 5,000 brands that are helping the residents and citizens to drink high-quality beer in more quantities than any other European nation other than the Czech Republic.

The nation’s law ensures that your beer will have no adverse impact on your health. The Deutsches Reinheitsgebot regulation requires that you can only mix your beer with hops, barley, and water. This 1516 statute has never disappointed the people who drink beer. They are safe.

Final Thoughts

There are just so many reasons why Germany is a great country that should be on your radar. From the quality of food and drinks to the iconic scenes and stable economy, you cannot lack a few fantastic things to point at despite how you think of the country. For that matter, if you are looking for a safe place where you can settle in or visit for a while, you now know what you need to do. Germany is a perfect location for you if these fantastic things impress you.

August 11, 2019 0 By Gary

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Get P2P Lending for Your Holiday

When you want to plan the holiday of your life, the cost of travel may be your big concern. The amount that you have set aside for this purpose will determine your stay location and your overall holiday experience. Nonetheless, these limitations should never cause you to reduce your travel days or choose a non-inspiring experience. You can use the holiday or festival that you want to be part of to do important things, such as develop plans your next trip or vacation. As such, lack of money should never be the reason you choose to stay behind. Remember, you can take a peer-to-peer loan for your next holiday to avoid the many distractions if you prefer.

What is a Peer-to-Peer Holiday Loan?

A P2P holiday loan is money you get from a peer-to-peer lending platform to fiancé your travel expenses when you are on holiday. Depending on the specific requirements of your lender, you may need to have a guarantor or collateral to get these loans. However, some of these platforms will give you unsecured personal loans when you need them. 

What is the Right Application Process?

Create a Travel Checklist

The process of getting as P2P loan starts with proper planning. As you know, a good start means half the success. You can only enjoy the service if you are well organized and understand what you need for the journey well in advance. To do so, ensure you read travel guides and websites related to your destination, make a clear list of the activities that you intend to engage in, and estimate your budget before you consider taking a loan. Finalize the amount that you can afford and then decide whether you actually need the loan. 

Check Credit Score

Your credit score determines the cost of your loans. In many cases, if it is too low, you will not get a personal loan due to the security risks involved. For that matter, before you consider taking a loan for your next holiday trip, turn to the credit bureaus to be sure you are on the safe side. Otherwise, you may waste time processing a too expensive or non-existent loan, which is unnecessary. 

Do Window-shopping

Many platforms can offer you the loan that you need to finance your holiday plans. You may need to be sure your final decision is the best thing that you need. Consider your bank and the credit unions. Also, shop the most popular P2P lending platforms. At this point, you can think of lendingtree vs lending club since they can offer you flexible and low-interest loans as well. Lending Club can facilitate the investment between you and your lenders. On the other hand, Lending Tree can find for you the loans that you qualify to take and allow you to choose those that you want. After your homework, you may establish that peer-to-peer lending has much more advantages than the tradition lending options. 

Consider the Eligibility Criteria

Different companies have varied loan terms. Consider their respective interest rates. The higher these costs, the more amounts you will have to repay. That is not all. The repayment penalties that some companies charge may interfere with your financial stability. Ensure to evaluate the ultimate impact of the penalties even if you are sure you will be able to settle the loans as agreed. It is better to take such precautions than make any assumptions. 

Apply Responsibly

Once you have established that the terms of your chosen lender are favorable, you can make the next move now. Apply. First, furnish your requirement on the peer-to-peer group’s website. Second, on the online platform, upload all the necessary documents.  

Remember, you should apply for the exact amount that you need to finance your holiday. If you demonstrate that you are trustworthy and have the ability to repay your loans in time, some lenders will want to give you larger loans than you expect. Do not be tempted to take large loans and use them for things that are not beneficial to you. If you do, you may have many unnecessary debts. That can hurt your overall financial strength. 

Accept the Loan

Once you finish your part, give your lenders time to finance your loan. If it is large, you may need several of them to support your effort. Keep in touch with your lending platform since you may get the loan within as little as a few minutes. When they have funded it, accept the loan terms, and turn to your bank to withdraw. It will be credited instantly into your account.

Final Thoughts

You can take a personal loan when you want to travel for your holiday. It can be the best option if you do not have adequate funds. Before applying, consider whether you really need the loan and have the ability to repay it in time. If you do, apply for the exact amount that you need. 

June 29, 2019 0 By Gary

Celebrating Resurrection Miracle with Love from Germany

As the King of their Hearts returned from the grave to Mary Magdalene and Salome, the great joy of Easter commenced! In the Bavarian village of Oberammergau, the residents re-enact the Passions of Christ to keep their commitment of faith to the Lord. Every ten years they enact the six hours long epic clay in celebration of the mythical event. 2020 is a scheduled year, so you should be ready to behold this great spectacle.

The myth

He resurrected in the glory of the Holy Father. As the heavenly abode welcomed the Son of God, the Messiah, the miracle unfolded in the celebration of faith. Such majestic is the beauty of His Love for mankind, that he raised himself for saving those same people who were there in crucifying him. O, how did he sacrifice his blood on the Cross? The events that began from the Last Supper were too fateful to comprehend. The betrayal, the denial, the suffering, and then that doomed road to Golgotha were too painful to behold. The Lord did send Simone to carry the cross for rest of the way, but what more could he do? The son was willing to sacrifice.

The sun went dark as the chosen one died on the cross. The devout women kept the Sabbath as they waited by his grave on those fateful days. Blessed with the Holy promise of returning for forever and ever, this celebration of Life after death is a source of eternal happiness. The great joy of faith knows no bound, forever and ever.

The time

The date of Easter Sunday varies. This may seem surprising until you realize that it’s the lunar calendar reference set by the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. The time is on the day of the First Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. It is also coinciding with the Jewish Passover. As the Gregorian calendar used is not according to moon cycles, the Easter date is different every year. In the coming year, it is on 12th April, Sunday. 

A lovely occasion

In Germany, it is really special because of so many unique traditions. Very few Christians all over the world may actually know that the Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny are originally German traditions! As the legend is, the Dutchess Rosilinda von Lindenberg was the first person who colored a few eggs and hid them for the children to find. She and her children were hiding in a village, escaping from war. As the villagers offered them safety, in her gratefulness she decided to rear chickens for them. It was then that she thought upon playing this simple game with the eggs. So, as the kids were looking about, all of a sudden, a hare jumped in front of them from a grass thicket. Lo! There were eggs!

Do remember to visit the Ostereimuseum or the biggest Easter Eggs Collection of the whole world. It makes a great time for a perfect family vacation. Apart from the fun tradition of finding the Easter eggs, people also decorate a special tree with colorful eggs tied to its branches. This is Germany’s own Tree of Life, the Ostereierbaum celebrating the resurrection! You can also have your own Easter Eggs tree, which is usually a Pussy Willow sapling. Many renowned families have huge trees with thousands of beautifully decorated eggs to behold. One can also find out community trees in almost every town and hamlet.

It is one of the most important yearly events as there are two weeks of school vacation. The commemoration begins from Palm Sunday, on the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. These seven days to Easter Sunday is the Holy Week, called Karwoche in Germany. On Karfreitag or Good Friday, the mood remains somber in remembrance of the great sacrifice made by the Son of God. In 12 German states, an official prohibition on loud music marks the solemnity of the occasion.

Another special event is the elaborate designing of community water fountains to celebrate the flow of eternal life from God. The most beautiful of these is probably the one in the Bieberbach Village of Bavaria. It is a Guinness World Record winner. These are public display artworks that attract tourists from all over the world.

Psalm 36:9 New International Version (NIV)

For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

People celebrate with a lot of chocolates and sweet dishes. Do not miss the Hefezopf, the wonderfully sweetened bread rich with raisins! Children especially savor the chocolate bunny and the sugary lamb cake. The celebration ends with another exclusive event called the Osterfeuer. This ceremony coincides with the pagan rituals welcoming spring. It is but a great bonfire that the community people lit up in a safe open space around sunset time on Holy Saturday. It is a really big fire that burns throughout the night. Many towns arrange mini carnivals surrounding this Holy Flame.

Welcome to Germany.   

June 22, 2019 0 By Gary

Fun Facts to Coax You to Visit Germany Soon

The agenda of this article is pretty straightforward. It means to encourage you to visit Germany as soon as possible. It is just so that you can have the time of your life. Get ready to enjoy fantastic nature trails, visit weird museums, drink beer openly (it is legal), try to speak German in the right way, and so much more! Especially for students all over the world, head over to in and around Berlin now! This is because university education in good old Deutschland is free for all, even for non-Germans. Germany welcomes you to share its culture of work ethics balanced with fun! In fact, some facts about Germany are so strange that foreigners may actually find it a bit weird to believe! Here you go.

The top ten strange things

Precisely, here are the best ten reasons why living in Germany is different.

  1. Sundays are more than just national holidays. It should be rare to find anything open on the seventh day. All the department stores and shops take a sabbatical. People enjoy their leisurely walks and bonding with each other. So much so, any kind of drilling work is illegal on a Sunday, and that includes even DIY home renovation projects.
  2. The Oktoberfest is the biggest beer festival in the world, and it begins a good two weeks before October. Munich is one of the major centers of this Bavarian country celebration. Special traditional beer drinking flasks called steins are novelty items with detailed engravings and etched designs. The brewed beverage must be according to the German Purity Law. It is actually an official food of Bavaria. The Germans love the beverage so much that it is legal to drink it openly. The Germans brew about 1500 varieties of their favorite drink. (FYI: Ireland first, Germans Second as for beer consumption).

If you order with your first finger at a bar, you get two beers because the thumb counts as another one. Just use the thumb if you want only one. However, do not drive under influence though. In fact, even cycling under influence is under strict prohibition.

  • There is a common folk belief that fresh air from an open window can cause illness.
  • You cannot tune your piano in the night. It is against law. It is also against law in most states to play loud music on Good Friday.
  • Be careful with the language and the quirks of it. For example, to say Danke or Thanks in response to a question can actually mean “No, thanks”. JFK, on his famous visit to Berlin, said “Ich Bin Ein Berliner”, which translates roughly as “I am a jelly donut”. Moreover, be polite to the police because even arrogance can cause you a hefty fine. The government (precisely, the Standesamt or the civil registrations office) can reject baby names that do not make the gender of the newborn obvious.
  • Flipping the middle finger is a serious offense and can cause you fine. Prostitution is legal though. Sex workers have their due respect over here.
  • Football is an incredibly popular activity. In fact, here one can find more football fan clubs than anywhere else in the world!
  • There are 300 varieties of bread and 1000 different kinds of sausages! The currywurst is the most famous type. More than 800 million of these disappear every year from dishes. There is also a museum dedicated to this.
  • Local people call the chancellor’s office as the ‘washing machine’. There is a Barbie Doll fashioned after Angela Merkel (which probably does not look much like her anyway).
  • The Germans do not punish anyone caught trying to escape from their prisons, for they believe that it is the natural right of a person to want to be free.

On a serious note

On a serious note, the Germans are hardworking, straightforward and honest people and anything against these basic natural traits typically raise eyebrows. It is illegal to deny the Holocaust in Germany. The city of Berlin is 9 times as big as the city of Paris. It also has more bridges than Venice. The rail station in Berlin is the biggest in all of Europe. Popular traditions such as the Christmas tree, the Easter Eggs hunt, and the Easter Bunny all have their origins in Germany. On the first day of school, each child receives a cone filled with candies and donuts. There is an Easter Eggs museum near Stuttgart. Other weird archives include the Hygiene museum, the museum of unheard things, and the museum of dialogue.

The Easter celebrations here are among the most prolific in Europe or anywhere in the world. Schools give a two-week vacation.There is also this unique tradition of lighting up a special Easter bonfire to herald the onset of spring, correlating with pagan traditions. They keep the fire lit throughout the Easter night.

June 2, 2017 0 By Gary

Shopping in Germany

You can smell the fresh products and the vendors actually know what they are selling! The colours, the sounds of people discussing price and weather, the atmosphere of conviviality, and the fragrance of real food is paradise on earth for the gourmet. 

The producers can explain to you what recipes to make with their vegies or their fruits, the cheese maker might let you taste a “Stück” (piece) of his best Käse (cheese) and the butcher a small Würst (sausage). And if you don’t know the name of one of the hundred kinds of bread, or cheese or sausages, don’t worry. Just explain which one you want by pointing at it. There might be someone close by who will be able to help in an approximate English that still might be better than your German. 

If you would like to know what it’s really like to shop and live in Germany, we suggest A Year In Germany. An eBook full of discoveries and shopping adventures! A year in Germany, is a humoristic account of our life in a new country!

There are also still a few “real” (i.e. independant) bakers and pastry chefs (Konditoren; female pastry chefs: Konditorinen) in Germany, but unfortunately they too are victims of globalization and their numbers are in decline. More and more we see big companies making goods that are resold in smaller shops. It is very unfortunate, but you might as well go to the grocery store to buy bread for less money than in most of these small “bakeries”. Big production means lower quality, and therefore, less taste.

BUT, if while Shopping in Germany you encounter a real Backerei/Konditorei run by a real master where they make their own breads and pastries, stick to it. The difference in taste is like night and day. 

The same is true for the Metzgerei (Butcher). Meat is one of the more expensive things to buy when Shopping in Germany, so you might as well try to get the best quality. Which usually means going to an independant butcher outside of the big stores. These stores now usually only sell pre-packaged meat.

Of course, if you are in a hurry, you can also go Shopping in Germany in big grocery stores such as Aldi or Lidl or Rewe. Those are similar to the ones in North America, Australia etc. They sell just about anything you’ll want – even peanut butter, but it is rather pricy, about 5 euros for a very small jar. We haven’t found Vegemite in these stores yet, only in a small speciality British Shop. 

These big stores are also quite often open longer hours than the small ones and, contrary to smaller ones, they might also be open Saturday afternoons. But except for a very few stores in tourist areas and in some train stations and gas (petrol) stations, they all close on Sunday, all day. That is the law. 

As mentioned earlier, most smaller stores outside of city centres are closed from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning. So, it might be good to visit the farmers markets on Saturday mornings to do your shopping in Germany, after all! 

Another important point is that stores in Germany are more specialized in their activities and the products they sell. They will often have an incredible selection in a very narrow field. For example, you might find a store that sell precision instruments of all kinds imaginable, from the small tweezers to tailors’s scissors. But, then, that is all that they will sell – precision instruments. Another example is the pharmacy (Apotheke). They sell medications of course, but ONLY medications. If you want toilet paper or deodorant, you have to go to the Drogerie (or a big grocery store). 

On the other hand, Shopping in Germany for alcohol could not be easier: you can buy beer, wine and liquor at the grocery stores. But for a better selection, you might want to go to a Beerstore for beer and wine, and to a Spirituosen Laden for liquor. 

Also, you can sometimes find local people making hydromel (Honey liquor) and other “Schnaps” and “Branntwein” or “eau-de-vie”, all liquors made from nuts or fruits or herbs. These are quite popular at country markets throughout the year.

And if you really can’t do without your shopping mall experience while in Germany, you can find shopping centers or malls in most big cities. They are not as popular here as in North America, but can be found at the outskirts of major cities or in outlying suburbs.

That is also where you will find the “big box” stores such as IKEA, MediaMarkt (electronics) and Baumarkt (building materials). But getting to them by public transports is not always very convenient. Fortunately most of these big box stores deliver to you door and you can also shop on-line. 

If you have decided, like us, NOT to have a car while in here, Shopping in Germany is not that difficult. For one thing, German cities were generaly planed to be walkable and one result is that they have truly compact city centres. You will find a very good quality and diversity of stores in these centres and you can access them either by walking, riding your bike or taking public transport. 

Also, at least once a week most cities and villages have a famers’ and producers’ market at the Marktplatz (market square). Some places have markets every day and others twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

As the refrigerators in Europe are usually rather small in comparison to what we are used to in North America and Australia, you will have to do the grocery shopping more often and buy in smaller quantities.
The markets are perfect for that. You buy just what you need for the next few days, and so can be sure that the products are fresh. It also helps the local economy. So, it is a win-win situation. 

Another important point: bring your own bags or your basket when you go shopping in Germany, especially at the markets. 
Few stores will give you bags of any kind, and those who have plastic “throw-away” bags, such as the big grocery stores, sell them. On the other hand, you can buy a cute wicker basket, or a collapsible fabric basket that is made in many different colours with or without patterns. It is a must in Europe. 

Also, as Germany is a leader in environmental issues, it is not too surprising to learn that some municipalities are also thinking to ban the cheap throw-away plastic bags altogether. So, a nice re-usable fabric or wicker basket will be very useful. 

Shopping in Germany during the Christmas markets is an extraordinary experience; the ambience in these markets is really unknown in the English-speaking world. If you are looking to buy something typically German, this is your chance. 

Germans love Christmas (“Weihnachten”) and they prepare for it weeks in advance. 
And Christmas shopping in Germany is NOT spoiled with awful muzak of Christmas music being played repeatedly for three months in advance, as it is elsewhere. Actually, except in the markets, you rarely hear any Christmas music in stores. In the markets, if one hears it at all it is usually local Carollers singing together while sipping Glühwein (a kind of spicy, warm and sweet concoction made with red wine. I think it is an acquired taste). 

April 12, 2017 0 By Gary

Wonderful Castles of Germany

The castles of Germany are probably “The attraction” of the country: Everyone wants to see the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein that Walt Disney copied, or the romantic ruins of Heidelberg castle described in the German song!

But there are many more castles in Germany; there are even a few “roads of the castles” (Burgenstrassen) that you can follow either by bike, by boat or by car. There is a well known route along the Mosel River, close by Trier, and another one called “Die Burgenstrasse” that follows part of the Rhine, the Neckar and the Danube, all the way from Mannheim to Prague!

Many of these castles were built or entirely renovated in the 18th and 19th centuries and so have the Romantic style of that period (such as Neuschwanstein!). But you will also find some originals that are much older, dating from the Middle Ages of the 11th to 14th centuries. Some are only ruins, a few remain inhabited by aristocratic families, while others still have been transformed into hotels and restaurants. 

The four Castles of Neckarsteinach

Several good examples of these older castles are found in Neckarsteinach, about 15 km up-river from Heidelberg along the Neckar. There, you will find not one, not two, but four fortress-castles! All of these castles were built between 1100 and 1300 AD, and two of them are still inhabited by the Lord of Steinach’s descendants. 

The oldest one in the village of Neckarsteinach is probably the “Hinterburg” (translated as: the Castle Behind), built around 1100 AD. This castle, or fortress built on a “mote”, saw many modifications to its original plan throughout the years. It ended up with 3 concentric curtain walls, as well as the castle building itself. 

The second castle built in Neckarsteinach, after Hinterburg, is one of the two presently inhabited castles and is called “Mittelburg” (Castle in the Middle), an apt name as it is situated between the Hinterburg and the other inhabited castle named “Vorburg” (Front Castle). 

Then there is “Schadeck”, also known as the “Schwalbennest”, meaning the swallow’s nest, because of its location high on the hills overlooking the valley and the village below. This castle is more recent, dated 1230. 

What is so interesting about these castles of Germany, apart from the fact that there are four of them within less than a kilometer of each other, is that at least two of them were built by Bligger II. Who’s that, you ask? It is believed that Bligger II wrote the well known German classic “Nibelungenliedes,” used by Tolkien and countless other authors in their own stories. Hitler was also a fan of these songs, extolling the exploits of a true German Hero.

Other castles of Germany that come to mind are Schwetzingen, for its magnificent gardens mainly, the “Kurfürstliches Schloss” of Trier, one of the most beautiful rococo style castles in the world, Bürg Hornberg along the Neckar, Hirschhorn Castle-Hotel also up river from Heidelberg and where you can stay for a few days, Marburg castle, Schwerin castle, the imposing Eltz burg overlooking the Mosel and many many more!

March 20, 2017 0 By Gary

German Food

German Food might not be as well known as the French or the Italian, but it can be just as wonderful! 

I will always remember the first Hungarian Goulash I had in the castle of the small village of Hirschhorn. It was simply deeelicious! The sauce was exquisite and the meat was so tender that a fork was all I needed to cut it!
Since then, we tried all kinds of German food from all over Germany. One of them, the Schnitzels, can be found just about everywhere and each region has its own way to prepare it; turkey (Pute), veal (the original Wienne Schnitzel), chicken (Hühn), pork (Schwein), even beef (Rind-), with cheese (Käse) or not, but always good and always serve with a good helping of Pommes (French fries).
But German food is not only about Schnitzels: we often have excellent fresh fish (the trout is usually very nice and just cook to perfection), and the meat in restaurant is almost always of better quality than what we can find on the “regular” market.

Eating at home!
On the other hand, you don’t have to eat outside to enjoy nice German food: most villages and cities have markets at least once, often twice, a week and the quality and variety of the produces are fantastic! 
The veggies are often locals, while the cheese are from all over Europe (we recommend the sheep cheese (Schafkäse) from Austria!). You will also find the flowers from Holland and the fruits of Portugal, Spain, Italy, etc. And contrary to what most people think, the prices are not outrageous. 

Actually, for similar quality they compare advantageously to what we would pay back home in North America. And frankly, they just taste better.

If you would like to know a bit more about what we are eating in Germany, we suggest A year in Germany . An eBook full of discoveries and some funny culinary adventures (the Christmas geese come to mind…)! A year in Germany, a humoristic account of our life in a new country!

If you want to have a true German food experience, you must try a Biergarten. They are everywhere and the food, without being too extravagant, is usually good, plentiful and satisfactory. And of course, the beer is cheap and delicious! Particularly the Dunklesbier.

We particularly like one of them, the Schwanen-Garten, which is about 10-15 minutes away from home by bike along the Neckar river. This Biergarten in Neckarsteinach is overlooking the river and it is shaded by nice huge Linden trees. It must be one of the nicest spot in the whole of Germany!

Other interesting places to eat authentic German food are the Weinstube and the Brauhaus. They are more or less the German equivalent of British pubs. And kids are usually welcome. In fact, teenagers 16 years old and older can drink beer in restaurants and pubs in Germany but have to wait until 18 to drink anything with more alcohol in it.

We have discovered that for some reason, the more south you go in Germany, the better the German food! 

One of the best meal we ever had, including all the countries we visited, was in Passau, a little city at the German-Austrian border from which many cruise-boats leave for a visit on the Danube towards Budapest and further east.

The restaurant in question has a beautiful terrace at the back, shaded with very old vines and with a fish tank to keep the fish alive until it is time to serve them! No wonder the fish were, well, wonderful! From the entree to the dessert, everything was delicious. And in Germany, the coffee is always good too! None of that whitewash stuff that is too often serve even in the best of North American restaurants!

Some local Specialties

The Ungarische Goulasch is well known in many areas of Germany where deer (or venison) are served in restaurants. It is a bit like a very thick soup or a stew. There are usually a few vegetables in it, but it is mainly meat served in a delicious creamy peppery sauce.
The best ones are in the area of Heidelberg (try small restaurants outside of the big cities: cheaper and more authentic German cuisine). It is a specialty in Hirschhorn, as the name of the place indicates: it means deer antlers!

The best known German food specialty has to be the Schnitzels and in our area (the Neckar Valley) the make very nice ones with Puten (turkeys) and with Schwein (pork) . But if it is the authentic thing you want, the Wienne schnitzel made with veal, you might have to go a bit more south, towards, well, Wienn (Vienna). Although, you will still find some perfectly acceptable in other cities.

Speaking of Schwein (pork), you will find it on menus just about everywhere. And the butchers are full of it: sausages and saucissons of all kinds and shapes and sizes, some schnitzels already prepared, other meals and cuts ready to be cooked. In fact, it is a bit overwhelming all this pork. 

And so, it is nice to see other meats, such as rabbits, goose and chicken on display once in a while. 

But to get more variety of meats, we have taken the habit of going directly to the producers at the market once a week. It is where we will buy our fish too.

The Rouladen is also a well known meal in many Weinstube: it is simply put a roll of beef with bacon and pickled gherkins in it cook with some veggies. It is quite good and not too pricey. You can of course make it yourself at home, but finding good tender cut of beef is not that easy, even at the markets. And on top of it, beef is rather expensive. We think that the producers reserve their best animals for the restaurants.

For Christmas and for the St-Martin, most German families serve a stuffed goose for diner (for a funny account of OUR Christmas diner and the geese, we suggest A year in Germany ). And so, that is what we do too! We go to the local butcher who buy them from a local farmer specialized in poultry. We have to order it in advance but they are truly exquisite birds. 

The Flammekueche, a kind of very thin pizza made with a bread dough, onions and other ingredients, is a specialty of Strasbourg and the Alsace. It is quite good when well made.

Then there are all the seasonal food that come only once a year, such as the Pfifferling (chanterelle mushroom) stews and soups and salads in late Summer to early Fall, the Erdbeere (strawberry) and Himbeere (Raspberry) cheesecake and Eis (ice cream) in June-July, the onion pies for the Christmas markets, the Weiss Spargel (the white asparagus) in the Spring,etc.

Each region has its own specialties, don’t be shy to try them: you might discover your next “best meal” ever!

March 3, 2017 0 By Gary

German Fun Facts

This is a list about some interesting German Fun Facts that we have noticed during our travels throughout Germany. Some of these German Fun Facts might sound weird to outsiders, but we swear it is the truth and nothing but the truth. 

By the way, have you ever wonder what it’s like to live in Germany? In a new country? If so, go to our NEW eBook “A year in Germany”. It is a travelog that I kept during our fist year in this wonderful country. It is full of the adventures and thoughts that we had when we first arrived! “A year in Germany” , NEW travelog eBook, for fun and discovery! 

Back to the facts: We’ll start with the basics:

There are over 82 million persons living in Germany. And that, for a land about the size of Montana, U.S.A.(Germany is 357,021 km2, slightly less than Montana). Making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. 

Even though there are that many people living in Germany, the Germans have succeeded in keeping almost 1/3 (31%) of the country covered with forests and woodlands. And, as you rarely see buildings on top of the mountains, you have the feeling of being surrounded by green vegetation and of wilderness close by. Which makes Germany one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. 

Really Funny German Fun Facts:

Quark in Germany does not refer to a concept in quantum physic (at least, not only to that) but to a sort of cheese. It is made usually from skim milk and has the consistency of very thick yoghurt. It is in fact made from non-processed cheese or curd. It does not taste much and is used to make dessert such as cheesecakes. 

The working week in Germany also includes Saturday! So, when looking at a schedule for the bus or the train and it is written “werktage” (work days), they mean Saturday too, even though most stores close at 1 pm on Saturday afternoon! The mail is also delivered on Saturday mornings. 

Even though they have one of the best public transport systems in the world, a lot of Germans own a car. They love cars – just think of famous brands such as BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and the Autobahn where you can drive at 300 km per hour! 

Still more German Fun Facts… 

According to my Mann, only in Germany can you be almost hit by a supermodel riding a bike! Several times a day! 
There are hundreds of castles in Germany! Some are still inhabited by aristocratic families, others have been transformed into hotels and restaurants, and still others are in ruins. All have their particular charm and they are “THE” Attraction in Germany! 

German Fun Facts about food and drink:

You would have to try one kind of German bread per day for almost a whole year in order to be able to taste them all! There are over 300 different kinds of bread in Germany. 
Germans really do love beer; they rank second in world-wide beer consumption per person after Ireland. Bier is officially considered a food in Bayern, where the normal size beer glass, the Mass is 1 liter.

Germany is the cheapest place in Europe to buy beer, but also the most difficult in which to make a choice – there are over 1,500 different brands and types of beer in this country! We recommend the dark beers – the “Dunklesbier”. Rich and creamy, it is the perfect cool drink after a walk or on a sunny terrasse with friends. 
Germans like beer so much that they even have an expression with it: Das ist nicht mein Bier, meaning “That is none of my business!” 
When answering the phone, Germans do not say Hi or Hello or Hallo, they first say their surname. At first it might take you by surprise, wondering if you have called the right place or whether you have a store or an agency at the other end of the line. After a year I still can not bring myself to do it. 
Germans are very curious about who their potential employees are going to be: they want to see a photo on the CV and to know if you are married or not. Such thing would be considered a breach of privacy in other countries. 
Schools are not all really full time in Germany as some of them finish at 1pm or thereabouts. So, the kids are sent home for the whole afternoon with homework to do, and as there are more and more families where both parents are working, it creates a bad situation. Kids are often left by themselves, or can be found on the streets because there are not enough after-school daycare spaces available and after school activities. There is a push to change this system and quite a few “Land” have changed it already. 
There are more football (soccer for the North Americans) fan clubs in Germany than anywhere else in the world. 
It is a German Fun Fact that Dogs are kings in Germany: they can go just about everywhere: first class restaurants, trains and buses, even clothing shops and bookstores. But NOT in a Metzgerei (butchers) and rarely in a Konditorei or a Bakerei. They even have their own pools.

The following are more true German Fun Facts. We swear it!

An un-furnished apartment or house in Germany means exactly that: there is NO furniture of any kind including kitchen cabinets, bedroom closets and light fixtures. Sometimes there is not even a toilet in the bathroom! For such an environmentally, recycling, re-using friendly country as Germany, this makes no sense at all. 

At the end of the rental contract the renters have the very rare possibility of selling the cabinets and closets to the owner or to the next renters, or taking them with them or, as a lot of them do, throw them away! 

So, when choosing a rental place make sure to ask what is included. You might end up having to pay during the first month: for 2-3 months of rentals, plus Kaution (security deposit), plus fridge, oven, cook top, kitchen cabinets, bathroom and bedroom closets, light fixtures etc. You will need a loan from your bank just to cover these costs! 
And the only people that make money out of such a system are the cabinet makers and the companies such as IKEA. Maybe it is due to their lobbying.