21 Things That Surprised Me About Germany

21 Things That Surprised Me About Germany

When I first set out on my 3 month digital nomad/travel excursion we had just planned on staying in Germany for about 3 weeks, but that turned into 2 months! Whoops. And during that time I really fell in love with Germany – it’s such a lovely country!

Lübeck in northern Germany from St Peter's Church
[Lübeck is a beautiful town in northern Germany, and an easy day trip from Hamburg; this view is from St. Peter’s Church]
I’d been before – to Berlin for a couple of days and then Starnberg and Munich for Oktoberfest. But this visit was the first time I’d really spent an extended amount of time in one country, and in one city no less!

We were in Hamburg the bulk of the time and Berlin for 10 days, but I was also able to squeeze in some day trips and visit the Saxony region for a weekend, too. Here’s what surprised me most about the country itself:

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5 Winter Day Trips from Basel, Switzerland

5 Winter Day Trips from Basel, Switzerland
[Our day trip to Colmar, France – this is “La Petit Venis”, or Little Venice, that is a popular place for photos]
We LOVED Switzerland. Like, I would go back there in a heartbeat. Except for the stupid stupid expensive sad prices 🙁

But everything else – the nature, the beautiful cities, the food (aka cheese)…We loved (and ate) it all.

Tiled rooftops in Basel, Switzerland in February
[Pretty rooftops in Basel]
We had our Switzerland itinerary written out, which was made up of the typical tourist places: Interlaken, Bern, Zurich, St Gallen, and Lucerne.

We booked a private room in Basel on AirBnb (which is pretty much the cheapest place in Switzerland that we could find for accommodation) and hit it off with our hosts. They showered us in chocolate and beer our first night there, and even invited us to go dancing with them!

They asked what we had planned, and I proudly announced our chosen destinations. Our hosts looked at each other, shook their heads, and were like nahhh we have MUCH BETTER IDEAS FOR YOU.

So, here are the best places to go in Switzerland in winter according to 2 Swiss locals!

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My Favorite Vegetarian European Food Dishes & Desserts

[The array of Stroopwafels at van Wonderen Stroopwafels in Amsterdam]
Like pretty much every other human out there, I LOVE FOOD. And when I’m in a new country the first thing I want to do is, well, try ALL of it (the vegetarian options, that is).

Because I don’t have a bottomless pit for a stomach, I haven’t had EVERY veggie option out there, but these are the things I’ve tried and liked and felt compelled to share. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share! I’m always looking for new things to stuff into my stomach.

[Stuffing my face with Swiss Alpine Macaroni]
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Where to Stay Outside of Munich During Oktoberfest: Starnberg

If Munich is Too Expensive, try Staying in Starnberg, a Cute German Town, During Oktoberfest!
[If Munich is too expensive, or you want to stay somewhere with a little more nature, give Starnberg a try!]
UPDATED: September 2019

Full disclaimer: I don’t know if this will ALWAYS be a cheaper option, but for us it was! Plus, ima be honest, I really just wanted to stay OUT OF THE CITY since we had just come from a couple days in Paris and a few in Lyon.

But I digress – for us, it was the cheaper (and prettier, in my opinon) option!

So – STARNBERG.

Starnberg Lake (Starnberger See) near Munich in SeptemberThat’s right. You heard me. STARN. BERG.

It’s a pretty little town with and here’s why I loved it so:

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Belgium is Such a Babe: 5 Sultry Cities To See

Belgium is a beautiful country - here are 5 cities I went and enjoyed!Belgium is SUCH an underrated and unique country! I wish I’d had more time to explore – lots of beautiful scenery and lovely architecture. If you do make it over to Belgium, promise me you’ll try to put more in your itinerary than just Brussels!! (I wasn’t the bigggggest fan of Brussels – but then again, I’m not a huge city person, so…).

Admittedly, I don’t think I really went to the “off-the-beaten track” destinations in Belgium, but maybe I did compared to the average tourist? I’d love to go back and explore more of the countryside – my train rides to Dinant and Durbuy were absolutely beautiful. And I did do some unusual and unique things (read below!!).

The Grand Place (Grote Markt) in Brussels, Belgium has beautiful architecture
[The Grand Place in Brussels – I’d argue that it’s the main tourist attraction in Brussels, and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also just fancy AF]
And the food is GOOD. Between the chocolate, waffles, fries, pastries, and sandwiches (they have so many specific types of sandwiches there! They’re usually in long baguettes, and have a very specific yummy flavor – one of the chains is Panos, and their sandwiches are actually pretty good quality), I was happy happy happy.

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Why Visiting Stockholm in Winter ISN’T Crazy

You Should Visit Stockholm in Winter because wandering through Gamla Stan is beautiful!
[Stockholm was dope. And really not that cold, even in winter. And so pretty!]
Ahhhh Stockholm. To be honest, it wasn’t really on my radar of “dying-to-see” destinations like Abisko and Copenhagen were. And Stockholm in winter? What was I thinking???

And I kind of only went because we found cheap tickets (you can find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner! You can often find prices as low as $300 round trip from many major US airports in winter – ours were about $440 but we paid extra to choose our seats and bought flights only about a month in advance).

But I came away loving Stockholm! I’ll be honest, I liked Copenhagen a bit better, but I also feel like we didn’t get to see as much of Stockholm as we did Copenhagen.

Stockholm was at the beginning and end of our trip, so at first we were too jetlagged to do much (we were there for a day and a half before heading to Abisko), and then at the end we were pretty tired from a week and a half of non-stop (cold) travel. But, I did enjoy it, and would love to see it in the summer (especially to explore the Archipelago!!!).

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Copenhagen – But is it Still Lit in January??

Copenhagen - is it still lit in January?
[Typical perfectly perfect street in Copenhagen]
UPDATED JANUARY 2020

Read on for my suggestions of places to go in Copenhagen in winter, what you can expect for the weather, what to pack, information on getting around, as well as about money and the Copenhagen Card.

Being from California, I was pretty nervous to plan a trip to a notably colder destination like Copenhagen. And in JANUARY nonetheless! And then to call it a VACATION?!

Like what was I thinking???

Bikes at TORVEHALLERNE MARKET in Copenhagen in January
[Bikes are literally EVERYWHERE in Copenhagen! Everyone was riding them, even in winter]
But, I lived to tell the tale.

And to my somewhat surprise I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT.

Psssst…Are you from California like me and clueless what to pack for winter travel? Check out my packing list for Europe in winter!

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Abisko, Sweden in the Middle of Winter

Red buildings from the window at Hostel Haverskog in Abisko, Sweden in JanuaryOkay, so – WHY exactly would I want to go to Sweden in the dead of winter (with minimal daylight) and call it a “vacation”?

Well, the main reason: stupid stupid cheap tickets. Like $440 round trip cheap from San Francisco to Stockholm. Not too bad, eh?

So, we went to Abisko at the end of January, and I was real worried that the lack of light would leave us bored to tears (when I looked online, it said it would only be light out from like 10AM-1PM), but I thought it was fine! It actually ended up being light outside from 9AM-2PMish. Plus we just had so much fun hanging out in our hostel, and met so many cool people!

It’s also not that bad walking around in the dark though, as long as you have a head lamp. However, if you still want to see the northern lights but want longer days, go during February!

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Meteora, Greece is Just as Magical as it Looks

The Roussanou Monastery on a cliff surrounded by trees and giant rocks in Meteora in Greece
[The Roussanou Monastery]

This’ll be my last Greece post…BUT OH MAN you should 10000000% go to Meteora if you’re in Greece.

I don’t care how out of the way it is for you (It’s about a 5 hour bus/train ride from Athens), or how little time you have – YOU. NEED. TO. GO. Like stop what you’re doing right now, buy a ticket to Greece, and go to Meteora. Then probably an island, because it wouldn’t be a trip to Greece without going to one.

Okay, actually, maybe read this guide first – THEN buy your ticket.

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