Deutschland: Beer and Brats!

   Geography: Germany is in Western and Central Europe, with Denmark bordering to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria to the southeast, Switzerland to the south-southwest, France, Luxembourg and Belgium to the west, and the Netherlands to the northwest.  Germany is also bordered by the North Sea and, at the northeast by the Baltic Sea. With Switzerland and Austria, Germany also shares a border on the fresh-water Lake Constance, the third largest lake in Central Europe.  It is the seventh largest country by area in Europe.  The forested uplands of central Germany and the lowlands of northern Germany are traversed by such major rivers as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe.
    German Beer: Germans rarely ask for a beer by its brand name.  They order beer by its style designation, asking for a Pils, an Alt, a Kölsch, a Weissbier, a Helles or a Dunkel, for instance. Depending on your definition of beer style, there are arguably between two and four or five dozen styles in Germany. Some people consider Bockbier, for instance, a broad style that comprises many subcategories, such as the stronger Doppelbock and the even stronger Eisbock, while others count each of these brews as a separate style. The same goes for Altbier and its stronger version,the Sticke Alt, for instance. Likewise, the large family of yeast-turbid German wheat ales, called Weissbiers or Hefeweizens, has a clear, filtered member, called Kristallweizen, as well as a strong member, called, Weizenbock, which many consider separate styles.
    German Foods: Of course we are all familiar with German beer and German sausage, thanks mostly to the popularity of Oktoberfest worldwide.  Germans produce sausages in almost 1,500 varieties, including Bratwursts (veal, pork), Weisswursts (white sausage), and Currywursts (steamed, then fried pork).  Like most countries in Europe, Germans are very proud of their bread: German bakeries produce about 600 main types of bread and 1,200 different types of pastries and rolls.  German cheeses account for about a third of all cheese produced by Europe.    
    The capital city of Berlin still shows the scarring that happens when a people are divided forced to live against basic human principles.  Based on the Berlin/Bonn Act, adopted in 1994, Berlin once again became the capital of the reunified Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  There is still a section of the wall intact that is an amazing and surreal site.  
    I met up with a good friend from college and spent the day walking around Berlin.  It had some of the best street art I have seen, and there is heaps to see all over Europe.  We were fascinated by the buildings that still had bullet holes scattered along their exteriors and amazed at the ability to rebuild that we observed.  The Berlin wall left us mostly speechless, some of the political art on it was just fascinating.  We were slightly appalled by some of the unimaginative art obviously placed on the wall by those who were not around to realize the significance of the wall, but it is considered open to all so, what can you do.