After the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, the re-unification of East and West Germany proceeded at rapid speed. By July the West German Mark had become the official currency of both nations and on October 3 of the same year, the two countries officially became one. Along with the unification of East and West Germany has come economic development and the emergence of the former East Germany as a popular tourist destination for Western travelers. Here are some things you might need to know no matter which part of Germany you are visiting.
From West To East
Even though East and West Germany have been united for a while, there are some differences between the two regions. Many of these are related to the economy, as East German experienced little financial growth during this time period.. Other more subtle cultural differences also exist, not only between the East and West, but all throughout the modern nation of Germany.
During much of the year available rooms for travelers and foreign visitors are relatively easy to come by, even if you have not made a reservation before leaving home. The summer definitely is a busy time, as advance reservations are advised, but except for Oktoberfest in Munich, autumn in Germany is not a busy time for travelers. By the way Oktoberfest begins in mid-September and ends during the first weekend of October.
Many German towns and villages close down from noon to midday afternoon, especially in the southern portion of the country. Life in the cities does not follow this pattern, but the extent to which some quaint out-of-the-way German villages close shop after the noon day meal is surprising.
The Holocaust is well-documented in Germany. Perhaps the best place to learn about this horrific event is in Nuremburg, where the famous trials were held. There is also a Documentation Center here, where travelers can learn more about the horrific event.
Reminders of the destruction that occurred during the Second World War are not only present in the form of an occasional bombed-out building that has been allowed to be left standing, but in more subtle ways as well. Visitors to the Neuegalerie in Berlin should take special notice to how the main galleries are all located underground, while on the first floor there is only an atrium that is filled with natural light. In its own discreet manner, the post-war structure acknowledges how much of Germany’s art collection was stored underground, often in mines, to protect the cultural resource from Allied bombing.