Germany, Off the Beaten Path
Germany is full of beautiful cities, such as Berlin, with its cosmopolitan flair and bustling art scene; Leipzig with its architectural diversity and inspiring revolutionary spirit; and Frankfurt, otherwise known as Mainhattan, for its incredible museums and breathtaking parks.
These are all worthy of discovery and showcase a lot of what the world knows and loves about the country and the culture. But if you want to see Germany in a different way, take the train or rent a car and head to the south to the countryside.
Like its cities, each region is as diverse as the next, varying in traditions, landscape, and even dialects.
Here are three unique ways to take in German culture off the beaten path.
Visit a legendary cuckoo clock maker
The cuckoo clock has a long tradition in the Black forest and the Rombach and Haasclocks has a history going back to 1894. Handmade from beginning to end, and in their fourth generation of clock makers, the design of these timepieces range from antique to contemporary. Walk into the shop and meet the clockmakers to learn the history of these world-celebrated Black Forest Clocks.
Go to the other carnivals
Mention carnival (Karneval, Fasching, and Fastnacht) in Germany and most people will immediately think of Cologne and the Rosenmontag, the largest and most popular masquerade parade in the country.
Though the traditions of carnival have mostly Catholic and Protestant roots, how they are celebrated varies. The most authentic experiences can be had in areas such as Schramberg and Rottweil in the state of Baden-Württemberg, in the eastern part of the Black Forest.
They are not heavily visited by tourists which makes it easy to mingle with and learn from the locals. If you’re lucky, you might even get a cultural lesson or two from local dignitaries, all of whom spend the day among other members of the community in celebration.
Have lunch in a farm in the Black Forest
A visit to Reinertonishof, a family-owned farm house built in 1616, is like a step back in time.
Enjoy a typical Black Forest meal at their restaurant, rides from ponies in the farm, and other outdoor activities like snowshoeing and skiing in the surrounding grounds. The farmer’s wife is usually the one to greet you, and though her English is limited, her smile is contagious and her welcome, warm.
When traveling off the beaten path, English speakers may be harder to come by, but not impossible to find; a car may be required, and it’s often best to recruit local guides to help you navigate through the area. But experiencing some of the unique cultural elements of Germany will only make you love the country and its people even more.