From Bratwust to Bravaria, not forgetting the Bauhaus, the Germans have it 'sehr gut'. A vast and varied country, seeped in history but also one of the most progressive in Europe. Party, meet and be at one in Berlin or straddle the Alps in the South. Germany has so much more to offer than just their renowned efficiency. Read about our trip here...
Watch Our German Adventure Here.....
Travelling Into Germany
We arrived into Germany in the strangest fashion. It seems when travelling from Norway to Sweden they actually put the train on a boat! They did this so seamlessly that we didn't even know we were on a ferry leaving a harbour, with the train in the hull, whatever next? We had a quick stopover in Copenhagen before a train to Hamburg and then our arrival at the first mainland capital, Berlin. We travelled with Interail tickets, which cost £340 each and allowed 15 full days of travel for as far as you can get, but beware as some routes are fast or commuter which need to be booked at an additional £8 a train per person. This is not the case in Germany because you can board all trains without booking and every train has wifi, charging points and ample seating, perfect for travellers writing blogs ;-) German trains were the best we boarded in Europe but they did lack the traveller chic of those in the East.
Berlin, so much to say. We felt pretty attached to this place as it felt a lot like home but is more progressive, has friendlier people and creativity in the air, everything we like in a capital city. We wrote a piece on Berlin and London on how they are so similar and yet are moving in very different directions. You can read our compare and contrast here:
This place has so much to do because it is a city filled with many young people who are creating art, making music, performing in the street, running club nights, the list is endless. Meaning that in terms of culture Berlin has it all. Of course it has great bars and restaurants, a melting pot of different cultures means many local foods are cheap, delicious and everywhere. More conventional attractions like currywurst are also widespread along with most modern cuisines, we even had a typical English night out in a curry house! We haven't even started on the history yet, there are tones of museums, buildings and places of historical importance everywhere. We have written a more detailed piece on our top picks here:
All good things have to come to an end and our last night in Berlin was a memorable one. We'd had a few drunken nights out in Berlin, one in Kater Blau and another just walking around Kreuzberg but the one that will stick with us is our last night. Our AirBnB host had been on an all day session with some friends, we said we might join them for a few in the evening but as the evening came they seemed to be staying at another friends place, or so we thought. We were awoken at 3 in the morning by our host who was on top of us kissing our faces asking us to come party with them, we had to decline on the basis our train was only a few hours away. We boarded a train a few hours later learning an important thing about Berliners, they love to party!
We decided on a little unplanned detour when making our way South, stopping off at Dessau, which is a sleepy little village in an old manufacturing district. This was the home to the legendary art school, the Bauhaus. Many styles and techniques developed at this school went on to become universal classics; chairs, graphics and buildings all featured. This ended up being one of the more memorable days of our entire trip; as keen fans of art, design and architecture I couldn't name a more important place to visit. We wrote a detailed piece about our experience here:
After camping in the cheapest and most remote campsite ever, a small yacht club with a 7€ patch of grass 25 mins from the centre of Dessau, we boarded a train for Munich via a random grey town that reminded us of the worst bits of home. Departing the train 6 hours later in Bavaria, which is the fancy part of Germany, we got our a third train to Garmisch, camping at base of Germany's highest mountain, Zugspitze, in Unter Grainau. From here there were many activities to do but we would say that you will definitely be sharing the experience with many other, mostly German, tourists in high season.
We took a recommendation from a nice American couple to visit the Partnachklamm, a deep water-drenched gorge that we would definitely worth the small entrance fee of 3 Euros..
On the other side of the gorge is a vast network of trekking paths, which were far less busy than the gorge itself. We took the 4 hour Reintal path to the Reintal cabin on the south side of Zugspitze. This walk was very beautiful; shrouded in mist with flares of sun breaking through. Most trekkers take provisions, sleeping bag, climbing hat, poles and harnesses and sleep in the huts conquering the tallest mountain over two days fuelled by tankers of German beer. In Europe drinking at high altitude is the norm by the way. We didn't get the memo about the packing overnight so we had to take a 4 hour trek back down but we didn't meet another soul the whole way having the mountain to ourselves, a rare thing around here.
We decided to skip the highest peak, also on recommendation, taking the the cheaper cable car to near the summit of Alpspitze, Germany's second highest mountain. It was busy but mostly with tourists who just ride the car, have a beer and sausage, and then go down again. We decided to walk down the peak back to our campsite, which took around 6 hours. This was a stunning route as Zugspitze was ever present the whole way down making for great scenery and photography. There were two huts on the way for food and drink and we encountered some walkers on route but it never felt as if we were in a line queuing. The last passage down to the base passes through the HollernachKlamm gorge, which costs a few euros to pass through. This part had many tourists many of whom got really wet, just make sure you have a rain coat because this was a drippy one!
On the last night we met a really inspiring couple, Roberto and Annika, who had this year finished a 5 year trip around the world, completing the whole journey by bike! They were lovely people who achieved something most only dream of. All the while spreading a great message; that travel brings people together, check out their website here:
Trekking quota filled for a while and wallets much lighter, Bavaria is quite expensive. We travelled back through Munich onto Prien Am Chiemsee, a popular lakeside town with strong traditions and plenty more beer. We camped about 3km out of town at the Hofbauer campsite, don't arrive at lunchtime because they shut for two hours and we had to wait and then queue as they sorted the line of Camper-vans desperate to register. Prien Am Chiemsee is strongly 'geared' for cyclists, sorry for the dad joke, with extensive cycle paths circling around Lake Chiemsee. So many cyclists, it at times feels like the autobahn with its unrestricted speed limits! We rented a couple of bikes for 7€ each and cycled about a third of lake; stopping for swimming, ice creams and even a spot of bird watching. This place is very busy with huge numbers or tourists at every part of the lake, if piece and quiet is your thing this not the place for you. The biggest surprise was the town festival on the bank holiday that brought everyone together in their authentic Bavarian dress. Here you can find men smoking fish, all manner of cakes on sale, rotary chickens, currywurst, live music, whip music and plenty more beer. Pretty much Octoberfest but in mid August!
The next morning we walked back into town to take the train into Slovenia to Jezero Bled, Lake Bled to us. This required two changes and was filled with interailing backpackers! The interail app is great for finding train times as it works offline on your mobile, navigating Europe is very easy!
Our equipment has been honed for an around the world trip, so our packing has been considered for the long term. Some of the following equipment will not apply for those seeking a short break of days or weeks. Still this should give you an idea of what is required for camping and hiking in in Germany.
outdoor jacket / walking boots / walking socks / snood / packet pants / hat / quick drying clothes / underwear / backpack (we had 70L / 60L bags) / 3 season tent / 3 season sleeping bags / roll mat / inflatable pillow / water sacks (2 litres each) / hob / gas / pots and pans / cups / sporks / toileteries / basic supplies of food / SLR camera / Gopro / first aid kit / ear plugs / sun cream / eye mask for light sleepers
Purchasing a high quality water and windproof jacket is a must, ideally Gortex. The weather changes so quickly that having a good jacket with a peaked hood and lots of pockets is super useful. Snoods are handy for quick coverage during a weather blip and they can be left around the neck the rest of the time. Hat and gloves are essential as it can get very chilly in the evening or at the top of the mountains. if you are trekking during their summer (June to Sept) 2/3 season kit will assure comfort when needed.
We brought packet pants, waterproof trousers, which we definitely used a couple of times, keeping those pins dry! Lest we forgot, decent walking boots that are comfortable and waterproof. We were also big fans of synthetic shirts / long sleeves tops as they dry very quickly.
We found camping in Germany really easy and were able to turn up on the day for our whole stay in the national parks and surrounding towns and villages we visited. This meant our travel around the fjords was flexible and could adjust to changes in weather.
We brought our 3 seasons tent, roll mats and sleeping bags. We paid extra for lightweight, effective kit and it was worth it. We have a Berghaus Tent which has been fairly reliable during wind and rain.
You can read more about camping experiences in the blog post:
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You can check out our Germany snaps in the gallery here:
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