Five Trends You’ll Find in Southwestern Germany

Every spot in the world has its special features, and the southwestern corner of Germany is no exception. This is not to pigeonhole anywhere into a narrow category of stereotypes. Regional trends and geographically unique phenomena, rather, are things that I believe are worth celebrating. So after my week in Nanzdietschweiler, I compiled a far-from-exhaustive list of things that seem to be particular to the area. Thus I give you…Five Trends I Found in Southwestern Germany!

1) ZOMBIE SHIELDS. I kid you not. This is the Rhineland’s answer to curtains, Venetian blinds, and brain-sucking bad guys. Next to every window is a set of switches with up and down arrows on them. Hit those switches, and watch as your Zombie Shield springs into action! Metal plates will slide down the window frame, effectively protecting your home from all invaders. Sit back and enjoy the gleeful merriment as all nearby zombies attempt, and fail, to breach your home. Just in case you miss a window, though, we recommend buying shovels and pickaxes. BONUS:  if you’re a fan of caves, these shiny shields will effectively turn your home into one, from which no light may enter or escape.

Can you hear the overlord calling? You're standing in her castle.

2) USELESS HERITAGE SITE SIGNS. The concept behind these makes a lot of sense: when driving down the Autobahn, wouldn’t YOU like to have all of the area’s historical eye candy pointed out to you in advance? These brown-and-white signs are made and positioned with great care to guide your eyes to this interesting castle or that old tower as you drive by. Of course, the thing these signs don’t account for is the utter lack of this castle or that tower in the vicinity. Instead, the signs trick you into thinking you’re about to see something fascinating, when in fact it’s simply another hill. My theory is that they’re intended to get you to slow down, because something else they have in the area are…

3) SCARY ROADS OF DEATH. The Autobahns aren’t themselves scary roads of death, but many of the streets they connect are. These roads, aptly named by my partner, are approximately wide enough for one and a half cars and cut through the scenery in a vicious serpentine shape. This is Germany’s answer to the infamous narrow roads of rural Ireland, except German sheep don’t provide any additional road hazards. That job is left to the Germans themselves, who are genetically modified to drive as fast and recklessly as possible on roads like these. With a speed limit of 70 kph that no one follows, these are the roads that you drive to prove you’re a Man…or a grownup with no common sense.

4) CASTLES. The Rhineland has a long and fruitful history of angry overlords crouching on hilltops, surrounded by bricks and mortar, shaking their fists at each other. The buildings they (and/or their servants) constructed are significantly more crumbly than they were back in the day, but still exist to be set upon by contemporary would-be overlords such as myself. Simply follow the nearest Scary Road of Death up the nearest hill, and behold as your medieval castle springs into view out of the very forest! Bear in mind, though, that your local castle does not come with any of the following features: knights in shining armour, damsels in distress, horses, mutton, minstrels, tapestries, swords, or holy relics.

5) PUBS AND BARS. When you live in a country that’s famous for its beers, it’s not surprising that the paragon of beer enjoyment- the pub- will spring into life in a multitude of hot spots around you. These come in a variety of forms, from the “have dinner here” sort to the “have sex here” sort, and offer a broad and beautiful selection of beers for your enjoyment. For those visitors who aren’t inclined towards topless bartenders, an easy way to distinguish between the establishments is to listen to any of the local Americans discussing it. If they call it a pub, that’s your hub! If they call it a bar, you’ll want to go far. For those who prefer beer drunk in a more naked context, the easiest way to find these bars is to get to the nearest train station. Any establishment within a several-block radius will meet your needs.

And there you have it, folks! Stay tuned ’till next time for more stories of adventures and romance in the beautiful hills of Germany.