Lake Titisee - Black Forest (Photo: shafas via Flickr)

Lake Titisee – Black Forest (Photo: shafas via Flickr)

Beer, sausage, good cars, wine, efficiency, organization. These are all things that many people associate with Germany. But the country is so much more than just that. From the Alps in the South to the plains of the North, The Black forest to the West and the relics of Soviet rule in the East, there is no understanding of Europe today without understanding Germany at the same time. People are often surprised to learn that Germany only existed as a unified country since 1815. Many of the regions remained independent until this time, which accounts for such established diversity. Mini-kingdoms spawned fairytale castles – the castle on the Disney logo is based on Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria – and to this day regional beers and types of wurst sausage can be found exclusively in specific regions. The banks of the Rhine River are ideal for the grown of Riesling grapes that produce some of the best know white wines in the world. All the while bustling cities drive the German economy. Munich is the more laid-back, spiritual home of Oktoberfest, whereas Berlin is edgy, current and the very picture of bohemian freedom of expression. With so much to explore you are guaranteed to be drawn back to Germany time and again.