Experience Germany Like a Local

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Our Favorite Gifts for Travelers

For our first Holiday Gift Guide this year, we have put together an assortment of gifts that are perfect for feathering your personal wish list, or for the friend or family member who loves to travel. From less than $10 to over $1,000, there’s something for all price points.Gift Guide For Travelers

  1. Guide Book | Our favorite guide books are from DK Eyewitness and Lonely Planet and use them both interchangeably. The best part about DK Eyewitness books are that they provide 3D cutaways of important buildings and show floor-plans of museums and churches. That way you can get a much better understanding of what awaits you inside. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Germany (associate link). We love Lonely Planet's guidebooks for their trip planning guides and the writing style, which feels more conversational and friendly. Lonely Planet Germany (associate link).
  2. Luggage Tags | Every traveler needs luggage tags and this set of colorful tags does not only make it easy to identify your luggage on the belt, but it will also be a lifesaver if your luggage gets lost and the airline tries to get a hold of you. Lalonovo Luggage Tags Pack of 5 (associate link).
  3. Universal Charging Port | Different countries require different power plugs and it is wise to get a Universal Travel Adapter so you can charge all your gadgets wherever you are. Our recommended one even has two USB charging ports, which means you can leave all the small wall plugins at home and travel with only one plug. This is the one we use and love. Travel Inspira Universal All in One Worldwide Travel Power Plug Wall AC Adapter Charger with Dual USB Charging Ports for USA EU UK AUS (associate link).
  4. S'Well Bottle | While exploring cities, we pack our S’well water bottle in the morning, filled with refrigerated tap water. The bottle keeps water cold for 24 hours and before we discovered S’well, we were going through plastic bottles like crazy. If you're interested, this is the S'well bottle we use, in the Galaxy Collection, Supernova design. It changes colors depending on the lighting. S'well Online Shop. not affiliated
  5. Wifi Hotspot GlocalMe | Our favorite way to go online in Germany is a hotspot device called GlocalMe G2. It looks like one of the first iPhones, but is about twice as thick and heavy since it includes a large 6,000mAh battery. Simply turn it on, wait for about two minutes for the bootup and login to complete and then connect up to 5 wireless devices to it. For more information about GlocalMe, be sure to read our previous article, "How to Get Mobile Internet in Germany & Our 10 Favorite iPhone® Travel Apps." GlocalMe G2 World's First 4G Global Mobile Wifi Hotspot (associate link).
  6. Totes Auto-Close Umbrella | Germany is a beautiful country, but let’s face it: It does rain a lot. When this happened to us, we tried to take a break in a cafe or waited it out in a museum. With this small umbrella, you will not have that problem anymore. The coolest thing about it is the automatic mechanism. Press the button and the umbrella unfolds. Simply genius and not only to be used while traveling. We have it in our car and it has saved us several times from getting drenched. Totes Signature Auto Open Auto Close Compact Umbrella (associate link).
  7. Bose QuietComfort Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones | For years I had been using the headphones that the airline gave us or in-ear headphones, that started hurting after several hours of in-flight use. It was a quantum leap for me to spend so much money on noise-canceling headphones and I was worried that they would not live up to the hype. When I used them for the first time I slept 5 hours, whereas before I could barely get 2 hours of sleep on the plane. They are very comfortable to wear for hours and are simply the best headphones I have ever owned. Bose QuietComfort 35 (associate link).
  8. Digital Scale | When we go to Germany, we tend to bring a lot of items for our family. Therefore, we try to maximize the space in our suitcases and pack to the maximum allowance of 50 lbs. This digital luggage scale makes it easy to see if you are under or over the limit. Attach the suitcase to the strap and lift up. The display will show you if you packed too much or if there is still space for some last-minute items. Luxebell 110lbs Digital Luggage Scale (associate link).
  9. Scratch Off World Map | We all dream of going places and a Scratch Off World Map will give you a great overview of where you have been and will inspire you where to go next. Scratch The World (associate link).
  10. MacBook Air 13" | Our favorite travel laptop is the MacBook Air 13’, based on its weight of about 5 pounds and a 12 hour battery life. Make sure to get the larger hard drive with 256GB. That way you do not have to carry around an extra hard drive with data and ensure that all the travel pictures you take can be secured without a problem.MacBook Air 13.3" Laptop 256GB (associate link).
  11. National Geographic Travel Magazine | To prepare for the next trip or to get inspired by some of the best travel articles and pictures, give yourself or a friend/family member that loves to travel the gift of a subscription. Subscriptions are much less expensive than the retail price on the local store shelf and get delivered right to your mailbox. National Geographic Traveler Subscription (associate link).
  12. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Book | is exactly what the title promises: a book that functions as a practical guide and as a wish list for future travel planning. It will give you lots of beautiful places to add to your bucket list. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: Revised Second Edition (associate link).
  13. Ornament | Ornaments are a fantastic gift for Christmas and this one is made out of resin instead of ceramic. It will not break if it hits the floor, making this an ornament to keep for a lifetime. Stacked World Signs with Globe "See the World" Ornament (associate link).
  14. Fragrance Sample Subscription | Scentbird is a monthly fragrance subscription, where each month you will receive a new fragrance with enough perfume to apply daily for a whole month. We have been using this for many months now and your first order comes with a travel-friendly atomizer, making it perfect for your carry-on. The subscription is $15 per month and you choose from over 450 fragrances for men or women. (affiliate link; save 25% off your first subscription with code SCENTBIRD25).
  15. Bandeau | Denise is not a fan of the elastic eye mask for sleeping on the plane because its a one-time use that you're stuck carrying for the whole vacation, and it still lets in a lot of light below the mask. Instead, she uses a Boho Bandeau from Natural Life, that can technically be worn 12 ways, not the 11 that's described. The twelfth way being she uses it to cover her eyes on the plane. Its not as tight on the face, and blocks more light than an eye mask. The fabric is really soft too. Natural Life Boho Bandeau Solid Grey (associate link).

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Essential Highlights at the Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau in Konstanz, Germany

Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau | Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, Konstanz, Germany

We wandered only a short distance through the old part of town before spotting the highest tower of the Cathedral, then used it as our compass. In Konstanz, Germany, we sought out the Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau, Cathedral of Our Dear Lady. We opened one of the side nave doors, and found ourselves surrounded by tracery windows, and stained glass windows with the afternoon sun shining through them. Stained Glass Windows at Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau | Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, Konstanz, Germany

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust, and I took a deep breath. The interior of the cathedral is brighter than I expected, and with almost all church/castle/cathedral/palace.. your eyes tend to wander up. The original Romanesque painted wood ceilings are long gone, but the whitewashed, plastered ribbed vault ceiling is pretty, and does make the Cathedral bright and spacious.

White washed, plaster, arch ribbed ceiling at Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau | Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, Konstanz, Germany

Baroque-Style Ceiling at Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau | Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, Konstanz, Germany

Don't Miss This-
Allow a healthy hour to explore the whole cathedral. There are truly details everywhere, even the crypt. Don't let the word 'crypt' scare you. It felt more like a basement or a cellar, and while it did have low-sloped ceilings, its not cramped. If you venture down, you'll discover three copperplates, one large plate depicting Christ which dates back to the 10th century, and two smaller copper plates from the 13th century. The faceless figure in one of the smaller copper plates depicts the patron saint of Konstanz, Saint Pelagius, whose relics were held for a time in the tomb that is opposite the copperplates.

Copperplates from 10-13th Century and Saint Pelagius Tomb in the Crypt of Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau | Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, Konstanz, Germany

Its hard to beat stained glass windows in wow-factor, but look for the wooden spiral staircase that leads to the pulpit. If you have time, try and plan for hearing the Cathedral bells ring, which are fondly considered by some as one of the most harmonious in Germany.

Wooden spiral staircase pulpit in Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau | Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, Konstanz, Germany

BONUS Konstanz Cathedral Architectural History, in English

Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau | Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, Konstanz, Germany Architectural History, as Displayed in the Church

It would be a disservice to try and summarize the English synopsis of the cathedral's history that was on display in the entryway. I've looked online and I can't see it posted anywhere, so I've retyped it from a photo I took. The Wikipedia page for Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau in English is an 1/8th of the size of the page in German, so here's to bridging the language barrier in regards to this stunning building.The official website for the cathedral is completely in German as well.

"Cathedral of Our Dear Lady in Constance is a cruciform, three-nave column basilica with a square east end. The former episcopal church (circa 600-1821) is considered the most significant Romanesque church building in South-West Germany. The patron saints of the present minor basilica (designated in 1955) are the Virgin Mary, St. Conrad of Constance (10th century) and St. Pelagius (3rd century). The cathedral dates back to the early days of the bishop's see and was mentioned for the first time in official documents in 780. For over twelve centuries, it served as the bishops' cathedral and was used as a meeting place during the Council of Constance (1414-1418). Since the dissolution of the bishopric in 1821, the cathedral has been used as a Catholic parish church.

The main section of the three-nave Romanesque basilica (consecrated in 1089) is supported on eight monolithic columns with bell-shaped capitals made of sandstone from Rorschach. It is spanned by a plastered ribbed vault (1679/80) made of brick that- as in the aisles- replaced a flat painted wooden ceiling. Demand during Baroque times for light-flooded rooms was met by enlarging the clerestory windows and the whitewashing the church interior.

Transept and chancel
The main chancel with a square end and classic high altar (1774) join the almost square crossing to the east. To the north and south are the St. Thomas choir and Maria-End choir with monumental Baroque side altars. The interiors moulded in the French Classicism style from the period around 1775, created by the famous French castle and church builder Jean Michel d'Ixnard, still determines the appearance of the cathedral today. The rear wall has been windowless since the three large gothic east windows were closed off in 1923. In front of the middle window hangs a significant oil painting of the "Assumption of Mary" (1701) by Franz Carl Stauder, flanked by the statues of the church's patron saints Conrad and Pelagius (1923).

Side naves/Side chapels
After the Council of Constance, the Romanesque interior was converted to a late Gothic style with ribbed vaults and tracery windows (1423-53), a measure that still characterizes the appearance of the interior today. From the 1470s onwards the side chapels were successively expanded starting with the south chapels in the east and finishing with the last chapel in the east of the north side built in 1623. The chapels are largely furnished today with the altars from the 17th and 19th century and stained glass windows (1880-1906).

The mighty sandstone facade is divided into a northern, a middle, and a southern tower. The northern and southern towers (13th and 14th centuries) are divided visually by circumferential cornices. The foundation stone for the middle tower joining the two was laid in 1497; the vestibule is topped by an embellished four-part stellar vault (1518). The tower was completed in 1853 by placing on it an octagon with a tracery spire.

The cathedral has 19 bells weighing some 35,000 kg in total. Together, they form the second-largest group of bells after Cologne Cathedral and even the largest in terms of numbers. Of the seen historic bells, St. Ursula's bell (1584) made by the H.C. Löffler from Innsbruck had one of the most beautiful chimes in the 16th century. Its foundry pit was uncovered during excavations in 1990 in the area south of the church. In 1966, the historic bells were supplemented by 12 new ones, a gift from the state of Baden-Württenberg to the minor basilica. The bells as a whole are considered among the most beautiful in Germany on account of their harmonious sound."

Exterior of Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau | Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, Konstanz, Germany

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Explore a Zeppelin Replica in Friedrichshafen

Exterior of the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany

The size of the museum building was intriguing. A classic Bauhaus style building from 1933 enhanced with a large glass annex and three double-doors serving as an entrance. Inside I found myself in the middle of a marble entrance hall with water views of Lake Constance. Just off to the side I spotted a 33 meter long Zeppelin replica. Impressed, I was excited to take a look around.

Size comparison to the LZ 129 Hindenburg Exhibit at the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany

Friedrichshafen is the second-largest city on Lake Constance and owes its present size to partly to the establishment of the Zeppelinwerke, the first Zeppelin factory in 1908. The development of the gigantic airships started in Friedrichshafen, and up to this day many airship related companies have remained faithful to this city, which ultimately resulted in the creation of the Zeppelin Museum. After the acquisition of the harbor station by the city of Friedrichshafen, architects and museum specialists, the museum opened in 1996.

After purchasing the admission tickets, we entered the first room, showcasing the history of the Hindenburg airship and Graf Zeppelin. Above our heads was the gigantic looking exterior hull of the Zeppelin replica. I began to understand my family’s fascination in the stories of these huge airships.

Recreated lobby and crew member rooms from the Zeppelin Museum in the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany

I was itching to get up into the Zeppelin replica. We walked up a staircase and crossed a small aluminum bridge into a corridor, which led us to see two guest rooms and one larger lobby room. The guest rooms were very tight, however the illusion of the reproduction was perfect. It felt like you were aboard an airship and could run into someone very rich and/or famous at any time, who were the only people that could afford such a trip.

Several glass cases displayed crew uniforms, food menus and items like a compass or maps, which were used to navigate this big balloon.

Our next stops were in the light-filled and more modern-themed history rooms, where there was more to discover. We found ballast containers, gearboxes, coins, tin toys, newspaper clippings and even original porcelain pieces with the name Hindenburg engraved on them. Passengers that booked such a trip did not eat from ordinary white plates. There were also corner displays with iPads showing 3D models of the different artifacts.

Artifiact and Model Exhibits in the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany

Another part of the exhibit halls revisits the use of airships in WWI and as American aircraft carriers. It felt like we were looking at Zeppelin-themed treasures, collected from all corners of the earth.

After spending most of our time on the second floor looking at all the knick-knacks and historic timepieces, we went up to the third floor. It was dedicated to Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was an art lover. There is really no relation to the airships on this floor, and save a few pieces that Denise liked, we left disappointed after about ten minutes. To be honest, when we first arrived on the third floor we thought we were lost. This is a section you can skip if you’re tight on time. Do however make sure to take the time to appreciate the architecture of the building from the outside and inside and spend time on the second floor exploring all the artifacts in the glass showcases.

Recronstructed Zeppelin Bracing System in the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany

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Show more posts about traveling in Germany

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