DK Eyewitness Travel – £16.99
Once again, DK Eyewitness Travel has published another indispensable travel guide. In fact, this idiosyncratically informative, well designed, and altogether chunky book on Germany goes way beyond that of being a mere travel guide. It almost steps (once more) unto the breach of contemporary history and quintessential revelation – the sort of which invariably draws the reader in and entices them to reader further.
For starters, there’s ‘A Portrait Of Germany’ which kicks off on page 19, which goes on to include sections on Daily Life, History and Romance, Art and Culture, along with well laid out, colourful writings on German Literature, Music and Painting. This is followed by a chapter called ‘Germany Through The Year’ – which thankfully substantiates that there’s far more to the German calendar than the world renowned Oktoberfest; which in turn, is followed by fourteen pages on ‘The History Of Germany.’
Beginning with the 1st millennium BC (during which the main basins of the Rhine, Danube and Main rivers were settled by Celts – who, by the 2nd century BC had already been displaced by Germanic tribes) and concluding with Reunification that took place on October 3rd 1990, it bequeaths readers with more than dense and dynamic morsels of turbulent history. So much so, that each period is worth investigating in its own right, although it (wholeheartedly) needs to be remembered that this book should act as an introduction to Germany, rather than an analytical study.
And what a terrific introduction it is.
For instance, in relation to the aforementioned section on Art and Culture, the editors write: ‘’German is a land of sagas and legends that tell of woodland spirits, beautiful princesses, magicians and sirens such as the Lorelei. These legends have had a strong influence on German art. An example is the German epic poem, the Nibelungenlied, which was written around 1200 on the basis of old legends. This poem was the inspiration for Richard Wagner’s cycle of operas, The Ring of the Nibelungenlied, as well as for a trilogy of plays by Christian Friedrich Hebbel and a film by Fritz Lang.’’
Suffice to say, ‘Travellers’ Needs’ include in-depth pieces on ‘Where To Stay’ (from Hotels to Camping, from Pensionen and Gasthofe, from Argotourism to Mountain Hostels), ‘Where To Eat’ (from What and When to Types of Restaurants, From Dress Code to Vegetarianism, from cuisine in Northern and Eastern Germany to cuisine in Western and Southern Germany), while Practical Information includes everything from the weather to language to Visa regulations, from Security and Health to Banks and local Currency to Communications and Transport.
As quoted in The Observer: ‘A pleasurable read with ravishing photography plus maps and plans of supreme quality.’’ Indeed, it’s all here in one literary fair swoop.