story and photo by Susan Melnyk
Living overseas often means that family and friends come to visit and want the full cultural experience. In order to give your guests the true European experience during their short stay, you need to show them how Germans live, not just where.
Here are a few ideas for providing a real cultural experience in a short amount of time:
Go to a local market:
Walking through one of the local markets will give your visitors a taste of how this centuries old tradition has remained unchanged. The energy and smells of the morning markets are likely to enthrall even the most hard to please guests, and the Kaiserslautern market, held Saturday and Tuesday mornings, is no exception.
Sit on a patio and enjoy the afternoon:
Patios and outdoor cafes are abundant in Germany and provide the perfect place to catch up with your guests and people-watch. Order a local beer or “milch-kaffe” (milk coffee) and enjoy the sun on a warm day. If the weather refuses to cooperate, sit indoors at a busy cafe and sit out the rain.
Drive down the autobahn, then park the car:
Every visitor wants to experience the famous autobahn for themselves, but in order to give your guests a taste of German life, you need to park the car and walk after they satisfy their need for speed. On a nice afternoon, the pedestrian street of any town or city in Germany will be lined with people going about their way. Whether you choose to wander through shops in Trier, explore the picturesque castle in Heidelberg, or pick up souvenirs in the shops of Kaiserslautern, your guests will get a real taste of German life once they get out of the car and explore on foot.
Have lunch (or a late dinner), European style:
Europeans have the art of dining out perfected. Check out the menus displayed by each restaurant and once you’ve found your table, take your time and settle in. Eating out in Europe is an event in itself with a wide range of unique restaurants to choose from. The food, wine, atmosphere and company should be your main focus, and since the table is yours for the evening, enjoy each of them without rush.
Take the train:
The efficient German rail system is a fun way to give your guests a taste of traveling in Europe. Whether you plan to visit Paris or take in a local festival, the train will allow you to show your visitors the countryside, without the stress of traffic or being squished into a car.
Follow a path:
If the weather is cooperating, rent some bikes from Outdoor Recreation or head out on foot to explore the many biking, hiking and walking trails that Germany has to offer. Depending on your group’s fitness level, you can take it easy or make a day of it and enjoy the well-groomed trails and abundant foliage that Germany offers almost year round.
Go grocery shopping:
Sure, it might not be on the top of your list of things to do, but exploring the aisles of a grocery store in a foreign country is one of the most interesting ways to learn about the local culture. From vegetables you don’t recognize to chocolate bars you’ve never seen, a grocery store can be an amazing place to find both delicious gifts for those back home and a bit of insight into the people around you. Even if it’s a quick stop, most guests will enjoy this peak into your daily life overseas.