Germany Travel Tip – Potsdam’s St. Martin’s Day

On the 11th day of the 11th month each year special celebrations take place all over Germany. Also marking the start for the annual carnival season this day is widely known as St. Martin’s Day. Children walk the streets with self-made lanterns singing traditional songs, the St. Martin’s bonfire is ignited and traditionally a Martinsgans, Martin’s-Goose, is served to commemorate the life and legend of St. Martin.The public park of Potsdam, capital city of Brandenburg and very close to Berlin, is a good place to experience this old tradition and cozy restaurants are nearby, where you and your family can share a fresh, oven baked Martin’s Goose.

The history takes us far back to the 4th century and to the young Martinus, who served as an officer in the Roman army. One night he was riding on his horse through a town and was approached by a beggar asking him for warm clothes, since it was freezing cold. Martinus split his coat with his sword and gave a half to the beggar. Later Martinus quit his job in the Roman army and became a soldier of God and lived a life of an anchorite. When the story of his good deed spread he should become a bishop. Legend has it that Martinus was too shy to take this honor and tried to hide in a goose hutch. People equipped with lanterns, searched the half night for him and were finally alerted by the twitter of the geese. The geese were butchered and eaten, Martinus became Bishop Martin and was later canonized and still today his story is told and celebrations take place to remember the good deed of St. Martin.

Although this is a nice story to explain why a goose is on the menu on this particular day, there is a far more rational explanation to that. In the yearly calendar of the church- and farmers, the 11th of November marks the beginning of the winter and the 40 days lent before Christmas, where no fat food is allowed. It was also the day, when the farm laborers were laid-off, got paid and received a present and when the annual land lease had to be paid. As currency and presents a goose came in very handy, since money was not often used in the Middle Ages.

All that is left today, thinking of the goose, is the traditional way of preparing this festive meal. Basic rule is, the more aromatic the filling, the better the taste of the meat. In the north of Germany it is common to fill the Martinsgans with a mix of ground pork, onions, garlic and herbs while in the south soaked buns, chestnuts, roasted nuts, apples, plums, sugar, salt, vinegar and red wine are widely preferred. The goose is placed in an oven and constantly basted with its own stock to ensure the meat doesn’t dry out.

A good place to experience the traditional St. Martin’s Day is in the Public Park of Potsdam, Brandenburg. Celebrations start at 3:30 p.m., on the 11th November 2009. First you can watch or help tinker the lanterns later used in the romantic procession through the park. Before that the St. Martin’s Play, displaying traditional, colorful costumes is shown to all visitors, reminding of Martinus good deed. Finally a bonfire will close this event in the early evening hours and you might like to continue your St. Martin’s Day experience in the nearby restaurant. Beautiful located in the San Sanssouci Park, the Restaurant & CafĂ© Drachenhaus, Dragon-House, invites all guest to a delicious prepared Martinsgans. Starting at 7 p.m., a whole goose with green- and red cabbage, dumplings, potatoes and plenty of tasty brown gravy is served for a party of 4 people. Half a goose with all side dishes can be shared by 2 people. Reservations are recommended and you can contact them through their web site.

This is an example of what you can do in Potsdam while traveling in Germany. If you want learn more about Potsdam we compiled a more comprehensive Potsdam travel guide in collaboration with local residents that provides unique travel insider tips which you can use during your Germany vacation.

Kakopetria Cyprus Travel Guide

Kakopetria is a village sitting between the Kargotis and Garillis Rivers, just over 30 miles from Nicosia. Standing at an altitude of 667 metres it is the highest village in the Solea Valley. The pure mountain air and authentic atmosphere here make Kakopetria the perfect destination for a relaxing holiday. During the winter months Kakopetria makes an ideal base for skiing on Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountains. The whole of the old town is a protected national monument with tiny streets lined with old stone houses and historic churches and buildings. Stroll around and soak up the amazing atmosphere before relaxing over a quiet meal or drink at one of the traditional tavernas that are found in the shady town square.

This authentic romantic mountain village offers traditional shops, a market and some great cafes and bars serving traditional local cuisine and local wines. If you enjoy a glass or two of wine a visit to one of the mountain wineries to sample some of the local vintages is a must on your holidays to Kakopetria.

The area is steeped in history with many ancient monasteries and Byzantine churches, including Kykkos Monastery which is one of the most famous in Cyprus. Historical places to visit include Paphos which is a World Heritage Site. Here you will find the Tombs of the Kings, the House of Dionysis, Paphos Castle and the Archaeological Museum.

The thick forests, beautiful valleys and array of flora and fauna attract walkers, hikers, nature lovers and bird watchers. There are many marked trails that will guide you through vineyards and orchards, passing mountain streams and old churches on your way. Pears, apples, plums, apricots, peaches and cherries are grown in the regions orchards. A hike along one of the scenic routes to the Troodos Mountains will give you the chance to explore the amazing monasteries dotted about on the mountain side. Another way to explore the beautiful countryside is by mountain bike. There are many trails that lead riders through different types of terrain, including easier ones for visitors just wanting a leisurely ride and more challenging ones for the more experienced and adventurous. Other ways to explore the countryside include jeep safaris and horse riding excursions.

The south coast beaches near Limassol are ideal for some relaxation, swimming and water sports. There are also excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities along the coast. For golfers there are several golf courses a short drive away from Kakopetria.

The climate here is hot and dry in the summer but not as hot as the holiday resorts along the coast. Temperatures often reach 30C but the cool mountain air makes it more pleasant and less humid than at the coastal resorts. Kakopetria enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year, even April sees 8 hours of sunshine a day, an ideal time to book one of the many holiday deals available to Cyprus.

Spring and autumn are the best times for cheap package holidays to Kakopetria. Spring sees the region burst into life with the mountainside covered in beautiful flowers and the trees in the fruit orchards covered in blossom. Autumn is ideal for walking and hiking in the warm sunny climate that the area enjoys at this time of the year.

Kyoto Travel Guide

Kyoto remained the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years. It carries the repute of being one of the most beautiful cities of this world. The initial perception of Kyoto anyone would perceive is of a city that has its roots in its own traditions but is simultaneously merging with the modernization of this world.

Transport
Kyoto is served by two Osaka airports namely Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport since it does not have one of its own. But, the track between these two cities is worth more than one glance for sure. Other modes of conveyance like buses and railways can also be used. Inter-city transport comprises majorly of buses, taxis, railways and for people who want to enjoy the picturesque allure of Kyoto, the option to travel slowly on foot or bicycle has also been given. If you love getting first class importance and treatment while traveling, then you can access this city in five star rooms of first class trains or on a business class ticket in a leading airplane service to reach this city of an entirely beguiling landscape.

Blossoms
If you have the opportunity of visiting this aesthetically attractive city, make use of it and experience the beautiful blossoming cherries and plums. Kyoto is a world famous area that offers its visitors with an opportunity of panorama of cherries and plums especially in the season of blossom. There is a plethora of places where you can view this, for example Eastern Kyoto, Central Kyoto and Northern Kyoto.

Festivals and Events
On every 3rd and 4th February, the event of bonfire takes place on the shrine of Yoshida. The perfect season to view the bloom of cherries is April 1 – April 15. Visitors throng in huge numbers to take one glance at this. Gion Masturi is another one of the most famous events of Kyoto. Daimonji Gozan Okuribi is another event of its kind whereby reverence to one’s ancestors is paid.

Cuisine
There are a number of options for lovers of food in Kyoto. There are numerous Japanese and Italian cafes that can cater to your needs. Kyoto is renowned internationally for its matcha and yatsuhashi. Matcha is mainly green tea but there is also some matcha ice-cream available for you. Yatsuhashi can either be raw or baked depending upon your own preference. Initially, it was made with cinnamon but now it’s always available in matcha and strawberry flavorings. Other unique specialties are inclusive of hamo, tofu, suppon and kaseki-ryori.

Accommodation
If you visit Kyoto in the season of bloom of cherries or in the period of Golden week, the price of accommodation would be astronomical. Most of the accommodations that cater to the needs of foreign tourists are in the central city. But a number of temples and shrines run their own lodging areas for visitors who do not have too much money to spare for 5 star accommodations. However, the staff that runs these lodging areas hardly speaks English so this is a major turn-off. Hostels are also a very reasonable and practical solution for tourists who want to live with some reduced costs but not reduced facilities.