Guest Post: My experience travelling in Germany

Editors Note: The following is a guest post by Natalya Pobedova. For more information about writing a guest post for please email johnguzdek1@gmail.com

Anyone traveling to Germany is in for a treat, as well as an amazing cultural experience. This is what happened to me when I visited there. I had taken a few years of German language in school prior to my trip and even had a friend from Germany. But the Germany I experienced during my four weeks of travel, was not at all like the one I was expecting.

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Expansive crop fields juxtaposed with the gorgeous Bavarian Alps off in the distance, while taking the hour long train from Munich International Airport out of the city outskirts into downtown Munich, was my first glimpse of the country. So this was Germany. Land of beer and lederhosen.

The first time stepping out of the Munich Hauptbahnhof into downtown Munich was exhilarating, to say the least. German BMW’s and Mercedes Benz’s zipped by in every direction, gorgeous German architecture stood in every direction and amazing scents wafted out left and right from various bakeries and street side food vendors. Shops of all kinds were selling interesting trinkets and souvenirs and anything else, as I made my way to the city’s famous Frauenkirche cathedral.

My experience with public transportation and hostels while traveling through Germany was amazing. It floored me how quickly and easily I could get anywhere I needed to go, by using the extensive train, subway, tram and bus systems present in even small German towns. Often I just needed to buy a day pass for a couple city Tarif Zones and could use it pass as much as needed. Connection times were rarely an issue either.

The hostels I stayed at during my four weeks were all wonderful. I chose the cheapest accommodation options and usually paid about 20 Euro a night to sleep in a shared room with typically 5-6 other people. There was always a locker where I could lock up my valuables while away for the day. Some of the hostels offered fantastic continental breakfast with authentic German rolls, meats and cheeses, Nutella and fruit. There was usually wireless internet connection as well, but the best part of staying at the hostels was getting to meet other Germans traveling around the country too.

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Making an effort to meet people all along the way, I met a lot of really nice Germans who would show me around. They often seemed initially a bit reserved and standoffish, but would eventually warm up to me with incredible kindness and incredibly funny humor. It really broke down my stereotypical view of what most Germans are like, and I was surprised me at how many Germans across the board can speak amazing English.

Four weeks traveling in German changed my whole perspective on the country. It’s not just the land of beer, wurst and lederhosen. It is also home to some of the kindest and most welcoming people I have ever had the fortune to meet. I am forever grateful for my decision to spend four weeks there, and not somewhere else.

Bio: Natalya Pobedova is a travelling nomad and backpacker from beautiful Brno Czech Republic. She is 27 and makes a living as a freelance web developer to support her traveling needs. She also runs a travel website for backpackers as a hobby: http://www.travelsiders.com/. She dreams to fly to Brazil and speaks Portuguese fluently. She visited 14 countries already and most of them are in Asia and Europe.

Manchester Travel Guide

The following short travel guide of Manchester got me to the final stages of a job interview so I thought I’d share it. It’s an example of how I can make something extremely average sound much better than it is – Manchester!

Manchester – Moving on from the Mills

Manchester is the old mill town that’s thrown off an industrial image to become England’s second most visited city.  Come to visit Manchester and you’ll be charmed by a city famous for its music, football and world class venues as well as a lively nightlife, spicy culinary specialities and endless shopping opportunities.

A little bit of history

Manchester started as the Roman fort of Mamucium but really came to prominence in the nineteenth century as an industrial powerhouse spinning the world’s wool. This new-found wealth enabled the city to adorn its streets with the grand Victorian architecture that still sets the tone for the city’s streets.

Nowadays, Manchester is better known for its reputation as a football powerhouse, cultural hotbed and musical innovator.  Alex Ferguson, Oasis and the ‘Madchester’ scene have become synonymous the world over with the exciting Manchester of the Nineties which continues into the present day.

Fun Fact #1

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, responsible for “The Communist Manifesto”, frequently visited Manchester which helped them form the building blocks of their Communist ideology. Find out more with a New Manchester Marx and Engels walk on selected days.

Things to do in Manchester

Old Trafford tour – A trip to the home of the all-conquering Manchester United Football Club is a fans’ ultimate pilgrimage.  Book a guided tour and explore behind the scenes of ‘The Theatre of Dreams’.

The Trafford Centre – This shopping Mecca boasts an abundance of shops from classy boutiques to almost every High Street brand.

Concerts and comedy – With popular venues like the Etihad Stadium and MEN Arena, Mancunians are spoilt for choice when it comes to live gigs and comedy acts.

The Lowry – Delve into Manchester’s burgeoning cultural scene with a visit The Lowry. This interesting gallery boasts a fine collection of L.S Lowry’s distinctive paintings depicting industrial life in the area.

Coronation Street – From April to October 2014 is your last chance to visit the set of Coronation Street, the world’s longest running soap opera. This famous cobbled street is loved from Australia to Canada and beyond and is an unforgettable day out for any fans of the show.

Fun Fact #2

The city is widely thought of as one of the UK’s wettest spots but this is slightly unfair as it receives less rainfall than the UK’s average.

Eating Out

The Curry Mile – Never heard of it? Well, it is a colourful and aromatic 800 metre stretch of road filled with Indian restaurants offering Britain’s newest national dish to connoisseurs and late night revellers alike.  Ask any local and they will recommend their favourite!

The French – For a more sophisticated experience why not try the cuisine of award-winning chef Simon Rogan at The French fine-dining restaurant in The Midland Hotel.

Fun Fact #3

Manchester is one of the world’s leading gay-friendly cities. The Gay Village – centred around Canal Street – is a thriving LGBT community with an abundance of lively and welcoming bars and restaurants.

Getting around

Most of the major sights and attractions can be reached on foot in twenty minutes and along the way you can peruse the city’s striking Victorian architecture. Alternatively, if you are constrained by time (or it’s raining!) there are the frequent and free Metro Shuttle bus services that run all over the city and trams that are of the last surviving urban tramway networks in England. This fairly compact city centre is easily navigated by bus, tram and foot.  The city is also served by a major airport, Manchester Airport, and is well connected to its neighbouring cities Liverpool and Leeds by train and bus.

Old Articles – Communism and Kitsch in Central Europe

I’ve recently been nostalgically thinking back to my first real taste of Europe as I interailled around the continent in the Spring of 2008.

I wrote a number of articles and I randomly (yes, I google myself – so what?) found out that my piece Communism and Kitsch in Central Europe for bootsnall.com was reference in an academic piece in an actual book. Thank you Marita Sturken and Rites of Return: Diaspora poetics and the Politics of Memory.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be adding a few of these that I deem worthy to the archive.