cars and fairytale castles'|
Through the turmoil of the 20th century, Germany has emerged as
a confident, powerful nation and, with the memory of the wall that
divided Berlin into east and west still fresh in
the national consciousness, continues to be the driving force towards
greater European integration.
The German people enjoy a reputation for accuracy, precision and
efficiency and words which are often used to describe their excellent
cars. Although an equally enduring image is of lederhosen-clad Bavarians
hoisting beer steins at Munich’s famous Oktoberfest.
Neither of these stereotypes reflects the diversity of Germany’s
towns and cities. From romantic Heidelberg, the
medieval Nuremberg of Dürer and the Weimar
of Goethe and the Bauhaus, to the lively
port cities of Bremen and Hamburg,
the financial centre of Frankfurt and revitalised
cities of the former east like Dresden. Overshadowing
them all is the cosmopolitan decadence of Berlin,
where bureaucrats of the new capital rub shoulders with artists
and techno club-goers.
The German landscape is similarly very varied. To the south, the
Alps attract ski-lovers in winter and hiking enthusiasts
during summer, who come to explore the scenic lakes and atmospheric
castles here and in the Black Forest. Watersports
are another summer pastime, and in the north, the island of Rugen
with its majestic white cliffs and coastal towns like Wilhelmshaven
offer terrific facilities for adventures on the North Sea.