Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Rough Guide to Germany

I'm always rather keen to check out guide books on countries I know well - I can compare what the writers say to what I know from reality - so I jumped at the chance to review a new guide to Germany. Sometimes the info adds up, sometimes it doesn't. I'm not necessarily a fan of using guide books any more (if you've followed my posts about falling out of love with Lonely Planet you'll know this already) but I know there are still plenty of people who love to have all the info about their destination in one book, ready to delve into at any point on their trip.

On the whole, most of what I've read in the new Rough Guide to Germany rings true. (Although the sentence saying "the balmiest climate in Germany is found in the wine-growing southwest" - which is where I lived and found it felt like winter for about 50 weeks of the year - did make me wonder if I could have survived anywhere else in the country!) Germany is a massive country full of stuff to see, so fitting it all into under a thousand pages is quite an ask, and as you'd expect this guide divides Germany up by mostly by its "states" (although Bayern - Bavaria - gets three out of fifteen chapters - with Munich in its centre, I guess that's where lots of tourists head).

My two favourite parts of Germany are Berlin, simply because it's an utterly fascinating city, and the Baden-Württemberg region, because that's where I lived, worked and married. This guide does a good job covering both of these, with lots of interesting facts and trivia in pop-out boxes, and given that I know the Baden-Württemberg area particularly well, I was pleased to see some of my favourite spots like the ZKM (Zentrum für Kuns und Medientechnologie) - a really cool museum in Karlsruhe - get mentioned.

Reichstag in Berlin
However, my only criticism is one that probably applies to 90% of guide books anyway - it is still missing some of the best parts of Germany. That's probably because I prefer to travel a bit off the beaten tourist track and I get excited by local highlights like Bad Wimpfen. And if guide books put all these places within their pages, they'd probably get overrun with tourists and I wouldn't like them any more. So I guess I shouldn't complain!

Full disclosure: The opinions in this review are entirely my own - I wasn't compensated for the review, apart from receiving a copy of the guide book.

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