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Germany

One of the greatest economies in Europe with numerous castles, cities, and other sites to explore...

If you're visiting a US military base in Germany, you might look for the Never a Dull Moment travel guide, basically the Army/Germany equivalent of the Naples Overseas Spouse Club's Shopping on the Boot

Stuttgart

Home to various military commands, this is the capital of the Swabian region (Baden Würtenberg), known for its friendly hospitality and Black Forest.  Just outside of town, check out the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche factories/museums.  Stuttgart also hosts the "Volksfest," which is often described as "Oktoberfest without the tourists."  Good restaurant: Alte Kanslei, near the New Palace.

Berlin

The bustling capital and home to pieces of the Berlin Wall (including the Brandenburg Gate) and the Bundestag (the rebuilt/rennovated German parliament building).

Heidelberg
Nuremberg

Bavaria

Munich (München)

Captial of fun-loving Bavaria, very famous for the Oktoberfest at the Theresienwiese fair grounds. Seating inside the large, more famous beer tents (i.e. Hofbrauhaus, Lowenbrau, etc.) is ticketed & more information can be obtained on the official Oktoberfest website. Note that week 2 of Oktoberfest for some reason has lots of Italians. Entrance to the fair grounds is free and traditional German food & beer are plentifully for sale, along with souvenir lebkuchen (or, gingerbread) iced with sayings such as "ich liebe dich" (I love you) and "Prinzessin" (Princess) that are meant to be worn around the neck of your sweetheart. 

Lederhosen and Dirndl

If you're not German and think you'll look silly wearing the traditional Trachten (dirndl for women and lederhosen for men, though some lederhosen is made for women), then think again. You'll actually look out of place without it! Don't bother trying to order online and risk an improper fit, as there are plenty of places in Munich to buy authentic and more costume-like outfits (permanent department stores such as Galeria Kaufhof  and temporary huts set up on the sides of streets during the Oktoberfest). If you do don the dirndl or lederhosen, please just respect the fact that this is the national costume of the Bavarian people and should be worn appropriately.  Here are some places to consider:
  • ReSales - allegedly sells used Trachten (lederhosen & dirndl), and thus is cheaper than getting new ones
  • Normal Shops - Lederhosen run about €150
  • Lodenfrey - Maffeistraße 7, NW of Marienplatz, +49(0)89/210390, this is the really fancy shop for traditional, hand-made Trachten; for example, some of their lederhosen are more than €1000 (although others are closer to €300).

Direct flights from Naples to Munich almost every morning at around 7am (approx. 1 hour); perfect for arriving early & covering a lot of ground in one day in Munich. The S-Bahn train runs from the airport to the Central Station (approx. 30 minute ride). Very easy city to get around, no car necessary.

Munich is a wonderful "staging area" for many sites within driving distance throughout Bavaria. 

Hotels

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Restaurants

  • Der Pschorr, Viktualienmarkt 15, (+49)(0)89-51818500
  • Andechser am Dom, Weinstraße 7, (+49)(0)89-298481
  • Ratskeller am Marienplatz, Marienplatz 8
  • Other ideas from Chowhound: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/265947 and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/761804 ...also check out ToyTown Germany's Restaurant List
Other Tourist Attractions
  • Marienplatz - Center of town with beautiful architectural sites (such as the Neue Rathaus, whose Glockenspiel does a great show at 11 and noon), fabulous & plentiful shopping and is home to the Munich Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) every holiday season. 
  • Viktualienmarkt - A very short walk from the Marienplatz, Munich's largest outdoor all-year market, with outdoor booths selling flowers of every kind, exotic cheeses, spice mixes, arts & crafts and plenty of food & beer.
  • Hofbrauhaus - Also within walking distance of the Marienplatz, the classic beer hall.  During lunch/dinner they have oompa bands.
  • Alte & Neue Pinakothek - the Old and New Painting Gallery, these include art from the Middle Ages - 17th and 18th - 19th centuries, respectively.  The Alte Pinakothek, given its time period, has a lot of religious art, including some amazing Raphaels, although it also has some secular art (such as Bruegel peasant scenes).  The Neue Pinakothek has a lot of landscapes, including several of Italy (including Catel's Volksfest bei Pozzuoli), plus some Impressionist paintings near the end (Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, etc.).
  • BWV Werld / Museum / Factory - If you want to tour the BWV Factory, you have to do it on a weekday and reserve well in advance (although you may get lucky and get last-minute tickets).  BWV Werld and Museum are a must for car geeks, although the Museum is confusingly laid out.  (Werld has a beautiful building, a cool motorcycle demonstration at 2 PM, and a very nice restaurant.)
  • Yoderwirt - A fun place to spend the evening, although it's tiny.  Squeeze your way upstairs to enjoy traditional Bavarian music sung live with an accordian, etc.

Neuschwanstein

Located in Fussen, this is the so-called "Cinderella Castle," upon which Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty castle was modeled.  Ludwig II of Bavaria (AKA: "Mad King Ludwig") built the castle just above his boyhood summer home of Hohenschwangau (the yellow castle open for touring on the same property) in a sort of tribute to the famous German composer, Richard Wagner. It has many notable features including an incredible throne room with lapiz lazuli columns, the king's ornately carved bedroom, an artificial grotto with a waterfall and "rainbow machine" and a singing room for performances. It also boasts stunning views of the lakes Alpsee and the Schwansee, which was the inspiration for the ballet "Swan Lake." The swan is the heraldic symbol of the area an may reside on the two lakes. It is possible to take a paddle boat or canoe onto the Alpsee for wonderful photo ops of the two nearby castles. When visiting Neuschwanstein, be sure to take the trail into the woods on the far side of the castle for an easy trek to a bridge that provides perfect a photo op with the castle.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, (approx. 1 hr. drive from Munich) are twin cities that are well-known for winter sports, though have gorgeous views of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. It is incorrect, though common, to hear of Garmisch-Partenkirchen referred to only as "Garmisch," as the cities were only "united" upon order of Hitler just before the 1936 Winter Olympics to more easily market the area competitions. Partenkirchen residents seem to take particular offense at the error, given that the two towns have separate and defined identities.

The Edelweiss Lodge & Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is an American military resort with loads of amenities (pool, restaurants, gift store, spa) and easy access to skiing and other winter sports. An American-run ski school is also available on the premises. Edelweiss books up well in advance during busy holiday periods, so be sure to make reservations as early as possible. A ridiculously low rate is offered to those on R&R from a deployment and it usually includes 1 meal per day (sometimes 2 meals). There is also a U.S. Army base nearby that has a post office for mailing home souvenirs.  Also convenient appartments available for rent in Garmisch; google "Garmisch rentals" for information.

Garmisch is within driving distance of Fussen (see Neuschwanstein above), via a short drive across the Austrian borders. It is also very close to the small town of Ettal, which is home to an unusually elaborate and large basilica belonging to a Benedictine Monastery. These monks make their own cheese and beer (both of which are delicious) and a visit to sample, as well as see the basilica, are a must in the area.
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