Experience Germany Like a Local

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Gifts for Travelers Going to Germany

I’m going to mix it up this year for our holiday gift guide. There are way too many generic traveler gift guides out there, most with the same items on it. So this year we’re focusing on only items that are involved with German culture, because at this point everyone has luggage tags, passport covers (if they want them), and a scratch off map. Travel guides? If you’re planning on traveling or your friend is, travel guides are such a personal decision, it's better to leave them to the traveler themselves.

Going back to our roots, that ‘Tourist’ is a dirty word, the more you know about the culture, the more likely you won’t feel like a tourist. Here are some gift-able items that will make you feel less like a tourist when you travel to Germany because you’ll know more about the culture and history. I promise they’re fun too! Or maybe you’re looking for ideas of what you want for yourself and add to your own Christmas list.

A gentle reminder that all links are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, purchases made after clicking these links will help keep this blog going by contributing towards web hosting costs.

Entertainment That Will Make German History Come Alive
I have two DVD series and a movie, all are German with English subtitles. Another great way to get an ear for the language too! Both of these series give you an inside look at the German’s perspective, which as Americans is incredibly hard to come by. Deutschland 83 a TV mini series revolves around the Berlin Wall and espionage, and a second season is in the works! Generation War a TV mini series covers World War II from four very different German experiences.

Finally, the movie Good Bye Lenin, also involves the Berlin Wall, it specifically covers the time period of what the East Germans experienced right after the wall came down. Everything I’ve linked to are playable on USA and Canadian DVD players. With foreign films, always be sure to check what regions the movies will play in. For these, the Blu-Ray versions are only coded for Europe, so stick with the DVD.

Books That Will Impart German Culture
In case you missed it, the best German Historical Fiction book and German Historical Non-Fiction book I read this year that I couldn’t put down.

German Historical Fiction: Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. Here’s my full review about Women in the Castle.

Historical Non-Fiction: House by the Lake by Thomas Harding. Here’s my full review about House by the Lake.

Insider German culture tips guaranteed to make them smile? German Men Sit Down to Pee by Niklas Frank and James Cave. You’ll think it's a gag, but actually very helpful! It’s a small, lightweight paperback easy to pack.

For the cook in the family, Classic German Baking by German American author by Luisa Weiss . This book has been tested like crazy to make sure you can recreate German recipes utilizing what is available in American grocery stores.

For the foodie who is also a history-buff, I recommend this beautiful hardcover with heavy-weight paper, Beyond Bratwurst: A History of Food in Germany (Food and Nations). I learned about this book from the blog A Sausage Has Two: Seasonal, Regional German Food and Culinary Travel, and I bought it for myself. It's gorgeous!

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Is Lufthansa Premium Economy Worth It?

A first-hand review from a passenger who upgraded for anxiety reasons. It explains the differences between the Premium and regular Economy for Lufthansa. Includes annotated photos of the upgraded finishes.

In the eleven years we’ve been together, I’ve personally flown with Sebastian on twelve vacations to Germany. We’ve been fortunate that our hard work has rewarded us so well. Although I’m not fond of flying for eight to nine hours over the ocean, I’ve always been able to ‘get through it’ because Sebastian was by my side. This year’s trip was unique in that Sebastian flew two weeks before I did, so I needed to fly solo.

What?!

Yup. Alone.

While all sorts of morbid, paranoid dust storms kicked up in my imagination, I tried to talk myself out of my irrational fears. Sebastian’s sister who is my age flies by herself all the time. Heck, I flew by myself to Australia when I was 15. But, that was before I grew up and knew enough to be afraid, that was before 9/11.

Sebastian knows me well enough to know how to outsmart my fears, and my paranoias. When he booked my flight from Florida to Germany, for the first time ever he upgraded my seat to Lufthansa’s Premium Economy. He flipped my ‘situation’ upside down, and tried to give me something to look forward to instead of dread.

It helped, and my curiosity battled it out with my fear. Sebastian himself has never flown Premium Economy, so I made sure I took notes of the differences and took pictures. I hope this post will provide some insight if you’re on the fence about upgrading, whether it be for anxiety-related reasons like mine, or just for more personal space.

Welcome to Your Lufthansa Premium Economy Bubble
Right away, you notice the upgraded finishes and larger armrest. There’s leather/pleather accents where in Economy there’s plastic. The arm rest is wider, and seemingly longer with it's slightly recessed cup rest at the end. In Lufthansa’s Premium Economy the seats recline further, warranting the need for the pull out tray to come from the arm rest instead of the seat in front of you. This took me and my neighbor some getting used to and mutual coordination, but it was much more comfortable than in Economy where I felt I had to lean forward to eat over the tray. Storage for your carry-on luggage above and below seems about the same as economy. Storage below the seat in front of you can be tricky with the the added foot rest, but the foot rest is definitely worth the trouble. I'm 5'5" with short legs, and it was comfortable for me, and I used it. If you have long legs, it might be a nuisance.

Also because the seats recline further in Lufthansa Premium Economy, there’s a need for a remote. Although I had movies on my phone, I used the on-board entertainment. The screen is noticeably larger and nicer than what I’ve had in Economy in the past. There’s a corded remote also on the arm rest, right next to where an additional side strap holds your complimentary ammenity bag. I noticed the headrest will go a bit higher if you’re taller and need a few more inches. Between the seat reclining further, the extra armrest space, and the foot rest, I slept three hours, my best yet.

A first-hand review from a passenger who upgraded for anxiety reasons. It explains the differences between the Premium and regular Economy for Lufthansa. Includes annotated photos of the upgraded finishes.

Additional Customer Service in Lufthansa Premium Economy
I was startled when the flight attendant asked if I’d like an orange and mango juice while the plane was still in the boarding process. He also helped my neighbor with her carry on luggage by lifting it up to the overhead compartment. With Lufthansa’s Premium Economy, you’re allowed a 2nd checked bag, so I had checked my rolling carry on bag. There’s a regular-sized bottle of water waiting for you when you board, so no need to find and purchase one after getting through security at the airport. You also receive a traveler’s amenity bag, which I mentioned earlier is tucked into your arm rest. At the time I flew, it was a Picard® pouch, and inside were a generic pair of warm, tall socks, an eye mask with Lufthansa logo, toothbrush and toothpaste, and packaged cleansing towelette.

Boarding Process
My only complaint with Lufthansa Premium Economy is that the boarding order is last. First on is the Handicapped, then Families with 6-year-olds and younger, next is Business Class, followed with Economy Rows 29-46, and then finally Premium Economy. The Premium Economy is such a small section of the plane, probably consisting of 25 passengers in total, that it really seemed odd to make us board last. With the extra checked bag allowance, I noticed I wasn’t the only one that checked a rolling carry on, so our boarding would have been incredibly fast. Especially given that a juice drink is served during boarding, why seat us last? It felt like a mistake.

Was Flying Lufthansa Premium Economy Worth It?
Yes, definitely. For the additional hour or two of comfortable sleep and personal space it was worth it. If you’re planning on working on a laptop, the pull out tray from the arm rest is perfect, and there’s enough space between the tray and the back of the seat in front of you that you can have your laptop screen upright. If it's a stretch financially, I’d recommend upgrading the flight only on your way to Germany, since that’s when you want to sleep, and then fly back to the States in regular Economy. Have you tried Lufthansa Premium Economy? What did you think?

If Premium Economy isn't an option for you right now, and you're looking for tips on how to sleep on the long-haul flight, we wrote about that previously here. For Sebastian especially, getting noise-cancelling headphones was a big game changer. He was able to sleep for 5 hours and was so happy he wrote a whole product review for them. With the holiday season soon upon us, that might be a great gift idea for your own wish list or for the traveler in your life.

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If you enjoyed this article, or these topics sound interesting to you, you'll love our weekly newsletter. You'll receive the newest posts each week and exclusive access to free planning resources like ‘Packing List & Tips for 2 Weeks in Germany’ and ‘Everything You Need to Rent a Car in Germany’.

Thank you for reading!


Lufthansa Premium Economy
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Leipzig's Best Fast Bite To Eat When Hangry

It was 3pm and I had not had lunch yet. Unfortunately, I am one of those people that get “hangry” when not fed on a regular basis, so I fired up the Yelp app on my phone. There were some mediocre dives and high-end restaurants near us, but I was not after a sit down meal. All I wanted was good comfort food at a reasonable price. That’s when I spotted the entry for Globus Döner with a 4.5 out of 5 rating. I am a sucker for Döner, especially since it is hard to find one in the United States. My family also enjoys this Turkish specialty, which lead to my Mom, Dad, sister, Denise and I heading over towards a residential neighborhood of Leipzig.

If you’re wondering what this magical thing called Döner is all about, check out our earlier post, A German Spin on a Turkish Tradition You Should Try.

Leipzig's Best Fast Bite to Eat When Hangry

Globus Döner is located on a busy street corner and is small on the inside. There are three tables, maybe eight chairs total, the counter and a fridge or two. Two friendly men were behind the counter, smiling at us when we entered. All the ingredients looked fresh, and there was a steady stream of customers coming and going, all grabbing takeout orders. Not bad for a small place at 3pm on a weekday. We decided to commandeer all the tables as a group of five and then ordered five Döner Teller, or in English Döner plates. Instead of a being wrapped up in pita bread or wrap, all the ingredients are plated, which makes them much easier to eat if you’re out in public and want to minimize getting your hands messy. You use a fork and eat it like a salad. After a short wait we had a large plate in front of us, with the traditional meat, cabbage, tomato, fries and a white sauce, reminiscent of a salad dressing. I have to tell you: this was the best Döner I have ever had in my life! Fresh, delicious and savory, all of us tried our best to wipe the plates clean.

The man who had prepared the Döner for us was actually the owner. His name is Kiyanosh, and he moved to Leipzig from his home country of Iran. In between helping customers, he sat down with us for a chat about his family, his home country and Leipzig in general. His Döner store was one of the first in former East Germany, after the wall fell in 1990. He told us proudly, that over the years he managed to open more than eight stores. We had a great conversation with him while enjoying our Döner Teller. It was definitely worth spending our late lunch break there, and we left feeling like we had a friend in Leipzig.

Drinks to Try With Your Döner
When you go for a Döner (at any store), make sure to try one of the Turkish sodas they sell. My favorite is Gazoz, which is a lemonade-like drink, made with whey, water, sugar, and fruit flavors. Its in a bright green and yellow can, you can see it in front of Denise in the picture above. The taste of Gazoz is most comparable to Sprite, but less sweet in my opinion. As a parting gift, Kiyanosh gave my mom a yogurt-based drink with water and salt called Ayran, and he told her, that this drink would keep her healthy.

Kiyanosh, if you read this, thank you again for your hospitality and great food. We will stop by again on our next visit to Leipzig!

Follow Along
If you enjoyed this article, or these topics sound interesting to you, you'll love our weekly newsletter. You'll receive the newest posts each week and exclusive access to free planning resources like ‘Packing List & Tips for 2 Weeks in Germany’ and ‘Everything You Need to Rent a Car in Germany’.

Thank you for reading!



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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler