Good to know about Germany

You plan to visit Germany? Then you’re on the right page. Here you find some “Insider” news, tips, help and other good-to-know-stuff  about my home country. 


Brandenburger Tor


Germany has a size from over 350,000 square kilometers and more than 80 million inhabitants. Our capital is Berlin, and of course, we speak German and pay with the Euro. Our head of government is a woman. Our country has a big historical background (and not everything was good), especially the Second World War is still an important subject in Germany and we were divided into two countries (with a wall between which even divided Berlin into two parts). The German reunification was on the 3rd October 1990, it is our national holiday. We are less than a half percent of the world…


Shops are closed on Sundays: It’s cheaper to buy food in the supermarket and cook an own meal than go out to a restaurant. However, if you go to restaurants or clubs it is important to give the waiter tip (around 10%, in bars most time we just round the sum up) for his good service. But when the waiter was impolite or the service bad you do not need to gibe tip. If you want to buy food in the supermarket you should know that all shops and supermarkets are usually closed on Sundays. There are some exceptions on special days or special little shops. But the stuff will be more expensive there. If you need anyway, something you could be lucky at a petrol station or at shops in the train stations. Some bigger cities also have some markets, which are open on Sundays. One special attention for tourists in Bavaria (Munich, Nuremberg, castle Neuschwanstein) and Saarland: Supermarkets close here a little bit earlier, at the latest 8pm.

Extra money for plastic and beer bottles: In Germany, we have a deposit for most bottles. You recognise it through a little sign on the bottle, shows a can and a bottle with a returning arrow. Most plastic bottles, but also cans and beer bottles have deposit. Most big glass bottles with alcohol (wine or spirits) are non-returnable bottles. Plastic bottles and cans have 0.25 Euro deposit, beer bottles (glass) only 0.08 Euro. After you emptied the bottle you can bring it back to the supermarket and get your money back. This deposit system is part of the environmental protection of Germany and should help the recycling system. Furthermore, many homeless people in Germany collect bottles with a deposit from public parks.

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Public transport: Compared to many other countries, Germany has an expensive public transport. Especially the local transport could be very expensive (price reduction for single tickets only for kids under 14 years). When you want to travel across the country you can use planes, trains (for long distance travels, it’s cheaper to buy the tickets at least three days before – Deutsche Bahn or sometimes cheaper here), busses (f.e. FlixbusPostbus or Eurolines) or also take a ride with car (f.e. Blablacar). The last one is a good decision when you want to travel spontaneously. There are different portals you can use and ask foreigners to take them for less money with you.

No speed limit: One cliche about Germans is, that German men love their cars more than their wives. I think this could be discussed. But true is we love to drive really fast. That’s why Germany doesn’t have a speed limit on highways.

Clean tap water: Our tap water in Germany is very clean. So you don’t have to buy water in the supermarket and can just use the tap to refill your bottle. Many people buy their water anyway in the supermarket. One reason will be that sparkling water is really in common here (but you can also buy water without carbonic acid).

Age Limits: Germany produces a lot of wine and beer. The age limit to taste this alcohol is 16 years. For any other alcohol or driving a car, you have to be 18 years old. With 18 you’re at your full age in Germany. But for some clubs and every casino you have to be 21 years old anyway.



Japanese Christmas Market in Berlin

In Japan live about 2 percent Christians. So for sure it wouldn’t be the first country you would associate with Christmas. But this fact doesn’t keep Berlin from organising a Japanese Christmas market. What you can find there? Please scroll down …






At the weekend of the second advent I had visited the Japanese Christmas market together with my flatmates (Sometimes we’re kind of Asia nerds). The market was in a big hall in Alt-Treptow in Berlin. The first look wasn’t really Christmassy (neither the second). There were a lot of different booths with typical Japanese stuff like soft toys, pictures, little action figures and accessories. You found hand-made kimonos and self-made art. The vendors were different people from Germany or Japan, who came to the market to present and sell special things.

Beautiful kimonos
Japanese art
Try sumo wrestling
Thuna-Don and Zenzai
Japanese curry with rice
Made in Japan
Korokke (related to croquette)
Yakitori (chicken)
And of course, there were many different booths with Japanese food. In Germany is a big trend to eat vegan, so there were also a lot of possibilities to have dishes without animal products. Of course they had a lot of meals with rice like Japanese Curry or Thuna Don. The last one is a rice bowl with marinated tuna Sashimi. Other little things were Yakitori (chicken) or different crepes with Salmond-Teriyaki, Kimchi-Cheese or Matcha-Atzuki. They also sell kind of Hot Dogs with specific food like Kimchi, Wasabi and Teriyaki. Okonomiyaki reminded me to a big pancake, I think you could compare it with each other. Of course you could eat typical food like Sushi and Japanese soap. They also sell Zenzai. It’s a sweet red bean soup. 

My Gyoza

It was really hard to choose only one dish from the big offer. I decided to try Gyoza. It’s thinly rolled pieces of pastry filled with meat (pork) or vegetables (vegetarian). If you know the German “Maulentaschen” you will know, what I mean. You eat it with soya sauce. It was really delicious, but I waited for one hour to get them because the food needs a lot of time and many people wanted to eat them. But I was lucky because the seller gave me one Gyoza more. Thanks to the hospitable Japanese.




Christmas Markets Berlin Pt.II

Christmas markets at the Kurfürstendamm, Alexanderplatz and nearby the Rotem Rathaus in Berlin. I tell you where you find a rink for ice skating and real snow, which doesn’t depend on the weather.



What is a Christmas Market?
Christmas markets are street markets during the weeks if Advent. These kind of markets are really typical for Germany, but also Austria, South Tyrol (Northern Italy) and some eastern regions in France. The history goes back to Late Middle Ages of German-Speaking parts in Europe. Christmas markets have a lot of different stalls which sell all kinds of things, also typical Christmas dishes as German gingerbread (“Lebkuchen”), candied almonds, a variety of sausages (“Bratwurst”) and hot mulled wine (“Glühwein”).


City-Christmas market at the Gedächtniskirche

One of the most famous churches in Berlin is the “Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche” at the Kurfürstendamm in Charlottenburg.


I really enjoyed the mood of the Christmas market there, because of the thousand beautiful lights in the trees and above. Really typical for the markets in Berlin are the big Christmas pyramids with candles and figures from the nativity scene. Above the pyramid is a wheel, which turns around.

The entry of the "City Weihnachtsmarkt"
The Christmas tree at the entry
"Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche" (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) is in the thick of the market
A carpet of lights
The Christmas Pyramid
A big Christmas ball ornament

Christmas Market at the Alexanderplatz

The Christmas Market of the Alexanderplatz has many different food booths with typical German sausages, French Crêpes and sugared almonds.
Furthermore, the stallholders sell different Christmas stuff like candles, star lamps, soap, clothes or all other kinds of things for decorating or design your home. It has a big carousel for children nearby the ‘World Time Clock’ and a really cool Christmas pyramid. One floor is a little indoor room, where you can drink your hot mulled wine. Around of the pyramid are tiny fireplaces. One of the highlights is the snow which falls down from the pyramid at every full hour. And this snow will fall without matter if it’s cold enough or not (the snow is foam).
The "World Time Clock" in front of the Christmas Pyramid at the Alexanderplatz
Snow and the Television Tower in the background
Snow at the Christmas pyramid


Christmas Market at the Rotes Rathaus

Not far away from the Christmas market at the Alexanderplatz you will find the next big market.


It’s near by the Rothem Rathaus (red town hall). It has a big wheel and a skating rink around the fountain (Neptunbrunnen) for ice skating. One special menu in Berlin is warm green cabbage. Normally it will be served with sausages. Another particular dish is Lángos from Hungary and fried apples.

Different decorations and lights
A big wheel at the Christmas market of Rothes Rathaus
... fried apples



Christmas Markets Berlin Pt.I

Berlin has over 50 Christmas markets, one of them is the Scandinavian Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt with Glögg, Feuerzangenbowle and the “Open-Air-Mantel-Heizung”. Another one is at the castle of Charlottenburg and the Potsdamer Platz.



What is a Christmas Market?
Christmas markets are street markets during the weeks if Advent. These kind of markets are really typical for Germany, but also Austria, South Tyrol (Northern Italy) and some eastern regions in France. The history goes back to Late Middle Ages of German-Speaking parts in Europe. Christmas markets have a lot of different stalls which sell all kinds of things, also typical Christmas dishes as German gingerbread (“Lebkuchen”), candied almonds, a variety of sausages (“Bratwurst”) and hot mulled wine (“Glühwein”).



Lucia Christmas Market

I just moved to Berlin a few weeks ago. The capital of Germany has a lot of different Christmas markets and I want to try to discover some of them the next weeks until Christmas.


The first Christmas market I visited was the “Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt” in Prenzlauer Berg. You can find him at the “Kulturbrauerei” at the Subway Stop “Eberswalder Straße”.

The market gets his name from Lucia from Scandinavia, she brings the lights on the 13th December (in English it’s the Saint Lucy’s Day). Of course, you will also get here some Scandinavian drinks like Glögg. But of course you can also drink the typical hot mulled wine, you can buy at every German Christmas market. Or another choice could be “Feuerzangenbowle”. The drink is named after the pliers above it. It’s hot mulled wine with rum-soaked sugarloaf, which has a blue flame.  

When you easily feel cold you should visit the “Open-Air-Mantel-Heizung”. Visitors can wear one of the coats, which are combined with heaters, which get their warmth from an oven nearby.  

A stall with different candles and decoration
"Feuerzangenbowle" (hot mulled wine with rum-soaked sugarloaf above)


Christmas Market at the Castle of Charlottenburg

Charlottenburg is one of the most expensive districts, however, in my opinion also one of the fancier ones. It has different Christmas markets, one of them is at the castle of Charlottenburg near the train station “Westend”.

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The Christmas market is really large and has one little section especially for children with different carousels, a little roller coaster and a special train.

However, the market has also a lot of different stalls where the (international) holders sell Christmas decorations, candles, accessories or also arts and crafts. You will also find an offer of a  variety of food. Germany is really famous for its large selection of sausages, you should give it a try. Though, the market offers even more particular Christmas dishes as German gingerbread (“Lebkuchen”), bread from a wood stove, of course, hot mulled wine and pan-fried mushrooms.

Beside a Christmas pyramid, the market has also a crib and of course the castle, which will be illuminated the whole night in different colours.

A Crib which reports the story of Christmas
A train full of candies
Christmas decorations
Christmas pyramid
The castle of Charlottenburg
The castle of Charlottenburg

“Winterworld” Christmas Market at the Potsdamer Platz

The “Potsdamer Platz” is one of the most famous places for tourists to visit. It also has a Christmas market, or actually two, because it is separated. You can reach the markets really easy with trains and the subway (the station names are also “Potsdamer Platz”).


The Christmas market has a large toboggan run out of ice (however, it costs money per ride). You can also try ice stock sport and ice-skate a small rink. An Austrian cabin (“Salzburger Schmankerl’ Hüttn”) offers a variety of typical food from our neighbour country. Beside “Obazda” (savoury cheese spread – also typical for Bavaria), “Brettljause” (a wood plate with different meat and sausages), goulash, “Kasnocken” (as the German version of “Käsespätzle” – spaetzles with cheese), also sweet dishes as “Kaiserschmarrn” (sugared and cut-up pancake, typical with raisins), Sacher cake and apple strudel.

One of my favourite candies at the market at Potsdamer Platz was “Schneeballen” (means snowballs, photo above). I didn’t know the dish before. It is like a really large and round cake with chocolate glazing and filled with different topics. I had one with white chocolate and filled with nougat. I don’t want to make too many covered advertising, though it was really tasty.

Besides all the food Potsdamer Platz is also a good opportunity to go shopping. A large shopping mall is full of golden lights and decoration, in my opinion, it’s a little kitschy (but hey, it’s Christmas). Also really kitschy is a big colourful Christmas tree with tonnes of lights in front of the Theatre of Potsdamer Platz. Last but not least, the stallholders also sell different things as clothes, Christmas decorations, lights or handmade woollen hats.

A toboggan run out of ice
The kitschy Christmas tree ...
Shopping mall ...
Inside the shopping mall
The Christmas tree in front of the Theatre at Potsdamer Platz
"Schneeballen" - snowballs, out of chocolate