The enormous differences in culture, tradition and ways of life between the various European countries in the relatively small landmass of Europe, is something I found fascinating as a journalist.
And although the countries of the German speaking world, with its centuries old Germanic Culture, do share a common thread they are also very different.
Finding myself in Germany it was to discover a country of sixteen states that were until comparatively recently (1871) independent monarchies, principalities and dukedoms; but where all have retained many of their original, and distinct, traditions, history, food etc.
A truly unified country, although one where the former nation states have retained their individual characteristics and traditions. In many ways Germany is an enigma; a modern economic powerhouse but with unbreakable ties to traditions that often have their roots in the very distant past.
Present day Germany remains an unknown quantity for many, even within Europe where it is a central player in many organizations not only the European Union. Images and beliefs of the country and its people held by "outsiders" often remain those that have been influenced more by a relatively recent past, than the more distant history and the present.
Few countries are able to offer as much, culturally, historically and in natural beauty. Nevertheless for those without some type of German ancestry, a spell spent in the country on military service, or the longtime wish for a Munich Oktoberfest "fly over visit", it seems Germany is not somewhere that pops into the mind when it is time to plan a vacation.
German culture began long before Germany became a nation-state and, then as now, it covered an entire German-speaking world.
Shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, religious and secular, the German cultural heritage of today, in everything from language, intellectual tradition and influence to customs, remains widespread throughout the German-speaking world of Germany and its neighbors.
From Modern Life, History and Architecture to Travel, Traditions and Regional Recipes, you will find "a taste" of it here...and I hope you enjoy it.
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My Thanks, Francine.
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