Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How smartphones are changing air travel

According to SITA/Air Transport World's 2011 Passenger Self-Service Survey, airline passenger use of smartphones has doubled in the past year, making it now 54%. Not only that, but 74% of business and first class passengers had a smartphone on them at the time of data collection. The survey questioned 2,457 air passengers from 70 countries and 73 airlines.

In an article from The Press, they state that the CEO of SITA, Francesco Violante, is calling this type of smartphone enthusiastic traveler the "mobile-centric passenger". These fliers expect "personal and timely communication from airlines, airports and other providers of travel-related services."

The data collected by the survey shows that passengers aren't just using their smartphone for work and personal reasons, but also for travel. For example, 31% of passengers have used a smartphone to check-in for their flight and 17% had used mobile boarding passes. While this percentage may not seem huge, it is most likely because not all airports and airlines are using technology to its fullest capability yet. In fact, 73% of survey respondents said they would like to use mobile boarding passes.

Airports aren't ignoring this data, as plans for 2014 show, including 97% of airports planning to offer web check-in, 89% planning to offer mobile check-in, 87% planning to offer bar-coded boarding passes for mobiles, and 63% planning to allow fliers to print luggage tags at kiosks.

While technology isn't going to change air travel overnight, it is certainly on its way to altering the way people travel and fly. Only time will tell what else technology has in store for the future of travel.

Courtesy of

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Musical Leipzig

From Johann Sebastian Bach to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and a veritable orchestra of maestros who have been born, or have lived or died in Leipzig through the centuries, this small but stately city in Germany’s north-west Saxony is rightfully anchored at the epicenter of Europe’s rich cultural history.

Leipzig commemorates and celebrates its musical heritage with passion. The city will mark the 800th anniversary of the world-famous St. Thomas Boys Choir, Church and School in 2012 and the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner in 2013, making the next two years a fascinating time to visit.
In 2012, the city will also unveil the new Leipzig Music Trail, a three-mile walking route connecting the city’s most significant historical sites with distinctive stainless steel ground markers identifying each attraction.
The recently opened Bach-Museum on St. Thomas Square is a highlight of the new trail, exhibiting a treasure trove of hand-penned scores, original manuscripts, precious instruments and priceless memorabilia from the life and works of Bach. Tip: The touch screen interactive display in the Research Laboratory adds a contemporary edge to the classical music artifacts.

Bach was cantor of the neighboring St. Thomas Church for 27 years and is buried under the main altar. Note: The St. Thomas Boys Choir performs occasional concerts in the church, but you can also hear them sing on Fridays at 6 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and at Sunday services.
Another must-see in the city is Mendelssohn House, the only remaining private home of the great composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, which has been painstakingly restored to what it looked like when he lived there in 1845.
The acclaimed Gewandhaus Concert Hall and Leipzig Opera vie for attention on either side of central Augustusplatz, while the Schumann House on Inselstrasse is one of the city’s architectural gems.

If you start confusing Beethoven with Bach and Mozart with Mendelssohn, take a break from the music scene with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts on Katherinenstrasse. Children will love Leipzig Zoo ( which recently opened Gondwanaland, Europe’s largest tropical hall.

The most stylish shopping arcade in Leipzig is Maedler-Passage where you’ll find upscale designer stores such as Aigner, Mont Blanc and Wempe.
The historical Auerbachs Keller in the same arcade is worth dining at just to see the dramatic cellar decorated with scenes of Faust by Goethe, who was a regular at the tavern when he was a student in Leipzig from 1765 to 1768. End your evening with a drink in one of the city’s lively pub alleys, Kleine Fleischergasse or Barfussgasse, which are short walks away.
For a more sophisticated evening, Falco Bar, Lounge and Restaurant at The Westin Leipzig Hotel on Gerberstrasse is positioned on the 27th floor, hundreds of feet above the city, with panoramic views of the skyline. The bar serves an array of aged whiskeys, digestifs and cocktails, and the sleek restaurant has two Michelin stars to its name.
Tip: Stadtpfeiffer in the Gewandhaus is another highly recommended restaurant with one Michelin star and a great place to dine before a concert. For a slice of history with fine food, reserve a table at Niemanns Tresor, set in a former private bank near St. Thomas Church.
One of the best late-night bars in Leipzig is Chocolate, on Gottschedstrasse. It’s also a popular restaurant but really comes alive after 10 p.m. when the city’s party crowd hits the bar and disco. Note: The bar specializes in coffee, cocoa and chocolate drinks, hence the name, but be warned, it’s also a smoker’s bar.
Hotel Fuerstenhof
Built in 1770 as a private residence for Karl Eberhard Lohr, a respectable banker and city councilor, this elegant mansion is now one of the best luxury hotels in Leipzig.
On Troendlinring, a five-minute walk from the city’s historical center, Hotel Fuerstenhof bears all the hallmarks of its patrician heritage while delivering a contemporary and stylish guest experience.
The entrance lobby has a country-house feel with sink-into sofas and armchairs, fresh flowers and a whisper-quiet ambiance, along with a polite and efficient check-in staff to whisk you through the formalities and up to your room.
Note: There are no irons/boards in the rooms and the TVs are outdated, but General Manager Jorg Muller (; 011-49-341-140-4608) says new flat-screen TVs are being installed in all 92 guest rooms this summer.
The Fuerstenhof’s six larger and more luxurious Executive Suites (Nos. 102-104 and 202-204) are the most requested premium accommodations, and all the suites (on floors 1-4 with room numbers ending 02-04) overlook the hotel square and have the best views of the historical center.
The Wintergarden bar, with its Tiffany-inspired glass ceiling, makes for a cozy pre-dinner cocktail before dinner in Restaurant Villers where up-and-coming Head Chef Till Weiss is a contender for his first Michelin star with interesting dishes like sturgeon rillette with fennel honey and lobster confit with champagne risotto. 
For a more casual bistro-style meal, opt for Vinothek 1770 with its 140 wine selections.

Check out more pictures from my visit to Leipzig below!

Chris Weike

Thursday, July 14, 2011

FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™

As of today, the U.S. Woman's Soccer Team have qualified for the finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ against Japan! While we keep our fingers crossed for Abby Wambach and her team to win the cup on July 17th in Frankfurt, it is time to take a look at some of the cities they've played in throughout this tournament.

Berlin, Wolfsburg, Dresden - Welcome Visitors After the Games
Berlin is the city where the opening game was held on June 26th, and Germany’s capital. It boasts trendy hangouts, non-stop entertainment, world-class shopping and is a must visit when it comes to history, cultural sites and architecture. The famous Kurfuerstendamm shopping mile invites visitors to join the celebrations of its 125th anniversary through October 2011.

The young town of Wolfsburg, set between the Harz mountains and the Lueneburg Heath region, has been shaped by the automotive industry as it is the home of Volkswagen. Each year two million visitors are attracted to the world’s biggest automotive factory, exhibition center, and theme park "Autostadt". The U.S. Women's Soccer Team beat Sweden here in the game on July 6th.

Dresden is a gemstone among the host cities and famous for its Church of Our Lady, the Green Vault, and the Zwinger palace with the Old Masters Picture Gallery and the world’s largest porcelain collection. But, Dresden is a hot tip for party animals, too, with more than 150 bars, clubs, trendy venues and a dynamic party scene. The U.S. team played here against Korea DPR and Brazil.

For more information on the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™, please see our friends at the German National Tourist Board.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lufthansa Wins Best Transatlantic Airline Award

Since Lufthansa is one of our top preferred airlines, we though we'd share this article with you. Don't forget to call us for your holiday flights - on Lufthansa of course.

More than 18.8 million travelers from more than 100 countries have voted Lufthansa as the Best Transatlantic Airline in the customer product and service quality categories in the 2011 Skytrax World Airline Awards, the world’s largest passenger poll in the aviation industry. Furthermore SWISS, member of the Lufthansa Group, was named Best Airline Western Europe, with Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines rounding out the top three spots.

“Travelers flying between the Americas and Europe have acknowledged Lufthansa’s high-quality service as the best in its class. This award demonstrates our customers’ appreciation and recognition of our efforts to provide premium service at a consistently high level,” said Jürgen Siebenrock, Vice President The Americas. “We are continuing to invest in dedicated products and services for our customers around the world, such as the launch of the Airbus A380, renovated lounges and new cabin interiors in all classes,” he added.

As one of Europe’s leading network carriers across the Atlantic, Lufthansa serves 21 destinations in North America (17 in the United States and four in Canada), the backbone of Lufthansa’s longhaul operations. On routes across the North Atlantic, Lufthansa has re-introduced FlyNet, a broadband wireless internet connection onboard. By the end of this year the service will be available on the majority of all intercontinental flights.

Lufthansa serves six destinations in South America. In October 2010, Lufthansa began five weekly flights from Frankfurt to Bogotá operated by an Airbus A340. The latest South American addition to Lufthansa’s network will be Rio de Janeiro with a new non-stop service from Frankfurt, launching on 30 October 2011. Flights to Brazil’s second-largest city, after Sao Paolo, will be operated five times weekly with an Airbus A340.

Visit Nonstop Travel

Monday, June 20, 2011

FIFA Women's World Cup, Germany, June 26 - July 17, 2011

Nonstop Travel wants to alert travelers to Europe, especially ardent soccer fans on their way to the Women's World Cup Soccer in Germany, that Eurail Passes continue to offer great value for money and provide tremendous flexibility in planning itineraries for travel throughout Europe.
Germany, its people known for their hospitality and love of soccer, is ready to welcome FIFA World Cup fans and to introduce travelers to its excellent railway infrastructure. Germany has a staggering 47,200 km (27,300 miles) of railway tracks available to Eurail Pass holders.
The FIFA Women's World Cup Soccer is recognized as the most important international competition in women's soccer.Germany will be hosting the games from June 26 to July 17, 2011. Deutsche Bahn (the German Railway Company), is offering complimentary local public transport on the days when matches are played.
For those wishing to combine a soccer match with a European rail adventure, a Eurail Pass could be the perfect travel solution for long distance travel within Germany and beyond. The Eurail Select Pass allows you to "select" three to five adjoining countries, whereas the Eurail Global Pass is valid for travel through most European countries.
Traveling by rail remains a relaxing, comfortable and convenient way of travel, enabling passengers to enjoy the diverse landscapes, cultures and European sights. More than 427,000 overseas travelers experienced the ease of getting around Europe with Eurail Passes in 2010.
Germany is one of the largest countries in Europe. Considering that the various soccer matches are being held at sports arenas across the entire nation, it is easy to combine a trip to the games with some additional sightseeing in the area by using a rail pass. Or of course to take advantage of your Eurail Pass to include a rail trip to the neighboring countries.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Question of the month: Cell Phone & Money in Germany

Today we received the following question from a loyal client and we thought we publish this, as many clients do have questions about these topics:

I can't believe it's one month away...I am preparing now so I have a few Qs.

In the past, my parents had a rented cell phone sent to them prior to their departure and activated with their current number. I read that cell phones can be rented at major airports and prepaid. What have people done? I'd like a phone for emergencies and for use in Germany to contact family and friends for planning purposes, not chitchatting. Can you recommend something?

Last time we went two years ago we had trouble using a Visa card or getting cash from ATMs. I found most places in smaller cities didn't take US cards and most preferred cash or only took cash ie-Gasthauser. Are traveler's checks still used? Should we purchase Euros before we leave? Pleases advise.

Our Answer:

My recommendation in regards of the cell phone rental is getting one upon touchdown. Either a sim card or a phone including sim card. Both options are available for prepay, so there are no contracts or anything binding involved. Obviously they would get a phone number for Germany. They can pick up one of those packages at any phone provider’s store and they can conveniently recharged (money) at any gas station. T-Mobile, Vodafone and O2 are the main player in Germany.

If you need a data-plan while travelling in Germany you have the choice of an internet stick for your laptop, which will cost you about € 60 plus a daily usage fee of approximately €4 on the days you are using the internet. The data-plan for your phone can also be added. Simyo offers no contract plans for as low as €10 per month, which allows to surf the web on your smart phone. You will need to pre-order the sim card and pay before arrival in Germany. Both alternatives do not have any binding contracts, so you only pay as you go.

Traveler’s checks are not a very common way to get money any longer, although banks and the postal offices still exchange them for cash, you will find it hard to use them in stores or restaurants. The most common way to get cash over there is using your debit card with your pin. Any ATM will take your card and allow withdraws of up to € 300 daily. There is a nominal fee from your US Bank, but it’s somewhere between $2 and $5 for each withdrawal, which is by far less expensive than using your credit card for cash withdrawal. Your credit card will be excepted in major restaurants, gas stations and some larger department stores, but you are right, Germany prefers CASH.

Please email us your questions in regards to travel to Germany and we will answer them for you! &

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Germany Beer - Don't forget to join us on our Beer & Heritage Touruide

Don't forget to join us on our Beer & Heritage Tour!

German brew: Where to start? German beer to the rest of the world is synonymous with Lowenbrau, Becks and Holsten Pils, but it houses more than half of Europe’s breweries inside its borders; there are 64 types and sub-types of German beer. To complicate things further, Germans are discerning when it comes to beer styles and can be wedded loyally to their local brew. When they order a beer, they hardly ever ask for a brand name. Instead they order beer by its style name, asking, for instance, for a Pils, an Alt (Old), a Kölsch, a Weissbier, a Helles or a Dunkel. Generally, beers become maltier going from north to south and “hoppier” from south to north. In addition, some styles can have more than one regional name. A Kellerbier, for instance, may also be called Zwickelbier, Kräusenbier or Zoigl. The north German Dortmunder, which is a pale lager containing 5 percent alcohol, is also known as Export.
Given regional loyalties, it’s probably best to talk about beers that you are likely to find at a regional airport!

Join us on our Beer & Heritage Tour in May 2011 or come along to experience the Oktoberfest in Munich with us.

Brews to look out for in Bavaria
Weissbier: This white beer is the most popular beer style in Bavaria. It’s a pale lager made from malted wheat. It’s varieties include Märzen, a medium body, malty lager that comes in pale, amber and dark varieties, or Dunkel, the dark sweetish, malty Munich style lager. When in Munich Airport, visit the “Airbrau,” they actually brew their own beer on site! If passing through Munch during winter, it’s traditional to drink Bock beer. Originally, dark lager beers, Bockbiers are among the heaviest and maltiest, yet smoothest, brews in the world. Sub styles include Maibock, Helles Bock, Doppelbock and the strongest, Eisenbock, which is frozen to remove excess water. These brews should be sipped, not guzzled because, traditionally, a Bockbier has a minimum alcohol content of about 6.5 percent. Most "standard" Bocks do not exceed an alcohol level of 8 percent, but some can weigh in at a staggering 13 percent.

Join us on our Beer & Heritage Tour in May 2011 or come along to experience the Oktoberfest in Munich with us.

Brews to look out for further north
Kölsch: One of only a handful of traditional German ales, this is the local brew of the city of Cologne. It is one of the palest German beers made and may only be brewed in the immediate area of Cologne.
Altbier: A copper-colored brew that’s indigenous to the Rheinland in the northwestern part of Germany. The best known Altbiers come from Düsseldorf, the state capital, and are most likely to be available at the airport.
Dortmunder: A full-bodied, moderately hopped beer of at least 5 percent alcohol content.
Berliner Weisse: A sour, tart, fruity, highly effervescent, spritzy, and refreshing ale that’s almost only ever found in and around Berlin. A drink for hot summer days, this beer is relatively low in alcohol, only 2.5—2.7 percent by volume, and because it’s a sour beer, it’s often taken with a shot of wood-ruff or raspberry syrup.
Pils: The home of this famous brew is Hamburg. Pils is a very blond, brilliantly clear, moderately effervescent lager, modeled largely after a beer style invented in 1842 in the Czech city of Pilsen from which it takes its name. Pils is often strongly hopped with an assertive up-front bitterness and has an alcohol content of about 5 percent. It’s sold everywhere in Germany and has about 60 percent of the German market.
For those wondering why Frankfurt has been left out of the German beer guide, the reason is that it’s in the state of Hesse where Apfelwein, which means cider, is the state beverage.
Thirst quencher: If you’re dazed, confused or at a loss with what to ask for, play it safe and say “Eine Pils bitte” – I’ll have a Pils please!

Join us on our Beer & Heritage Tour in May 2011 or come along to experience the Oktoberfest in Munich with us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Celebrity Cruises - Made in Germany

Did you know that Celebrities newest Solstice class ships were all built in Germany? Papenburg's Meyerwerft is one of the oldest and most recognized ship yards in Germany and with it's recent extension it is able to accommodate the constant growing demand for larger cruise ships.
Chris Weike from Nonstop Travel was able to sail on one of these brand new ships last December through the Caribbean.

"The moment I stepped on the Eclipse, I felt like entering the lobby of a European boutique hotel. Contemporary interior, lot's of glass, reserved colors and friendly staff set this ship apart from the traditional and often 'stuffy' ocean liners. Spacious cabins, smartly designed bathrooms and high-tech equipment in the cabin make this cruise ship standing out from it's competitors. A lawn club on the top deck, glass blowing demonstration under the stars, a large variety of specialty restaurants, an ice bar and Broadway like production shows are only a few items, which let me enjoy an outstanding cruise on-board the Celebrity Eclipse."

While on board, Chris took numerous of pictures and videos, which we have posted for your disposal. While the slideshow is below, you can find the videos by clicking HERE!

Nonstop Travel's Family & Friends Cruise to Canada and Alaska has still some spots left. We will be sailing on Celebrities Century from/to Vancouver July 31st for 7 nights. Come along and join Lisa Schmitt on-board for an unforgettable cruise.

Also keep in mind, that we currently have a ONE WEEK SALE on most Celebrity sailings, which entitles you to a 50% reduced deposit, stateroom on-board credit and a Value Booklet, with up to $250 in on-board savings.

Your Nonstop Travel Team is expecting your call! Click HERE to search for available cruises.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Travel Market Report: Air Costs: Get Ready for a New All-Time High

Air Costs: Get Ready for a New All-Time High
Air fares took a hike in 2010 - a 7% hike, according to the latest Business Travel Monitor from American Express Business Travel. That left fares just 6% shy of all-time highs in 2008. Continuing fare increases in early 2011 suggest it won’t be long before companies are paying a new all-time high in air fares. “With oil prices rising, airlines are looking to cut their capacity growth plans to combat higher fuel costs,” said Christa Manning, director of research for Global Advisory Services, the research arm of American Express. “Increases in airfares are likely to remain on an upward trend in 2011. So far this year, we are seeing this trend hold true with domestic airfare rates in January up 8% compared to January, 2010.”

Unused Tickets Not Always Money Lost
Unused air tickets don’t have to mean money lost. There are fees associated with changing itineraries and traveler names, but it’s usually cheaper to pay the fee and change a ticket than to discard an unused ticket and buy a new one — if you can keep track of all those unused and partially unused tickets. Carlson Wagonlit Travel said it saved clients more than $850 million on unused travel documents in 2010. The company’s Document Bank recycled 98% of eligible unused travel documents in North America by applying credits against new travel. The system can track and integrate travel documents that are not managed through the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) in the U.S. or the Bank Settlement Plan (BSP) in Canada, as well as documents that are settled through those standard channels. Other travel management companies offer similar programs.

Amadeus Signs Global Deal With conTgo 
Amadeus has become a global reseller of all conTgo mobile solutions. The global transaction processor is integrating conTgo products into its entire corporate product portfolio and pushing them out to current and new customers. For travel managers that use Amadeus, that means the company’s Mobile Travel Assistant becomes immediately available to book and manage corporate travel and corporate travelers. Relevant information available on traveler’s smart phones includes ground transportation and hotel details as well as any location-specific information selected by the traveler’s employer or TMC. The product also provides location-specific and traveler-specific warnings and risk information and lets travel managers communicate directly with at-risk travelers via a map interface based on itinerary filtering and geo-spatial selection. Until this announcement, American Express was the largest TMC to have integrated conTgo into its client offerings. 

Rising Oil Prices Not a Big Deal in the Short Term
You can stop worrying about the impact of rising oil prices on business travel. A short-term spike, even as high as $200 per barrel, would only cut about 2.5% off total business travel spending between 2011 and 2013. The numbers are contained in What Does Triple Digit Oil Mean for Business Travel? which was released by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation earlier this month. The report looked at scenarios with oil above $125, $150 and $200 per barrel through 2011, with a return to baseline by 2013. The conclusion: business travel spending and the number of trips taken will continue to grow even with the spike in oil prices, but projected growth will be reduced. Oil at $125 per barrell would cut projected travel spending growth by $5.8 billion, or 1.5%, and 700,000 trips over the next two years. Oil at $150 per barrell would cut projected travel spending by $6.9 billion, or 1.8%, and 1.8 million trips. Oil at $200 per barrell would cut projected spending growth by $9 billion, 2.5%, and 2.7 million trips.

Disagreement Over Free Checked Air Luggage
The Global Business Travel Association turned thumbs down on a suggestion from the U.S. Travel Association that airlines be required to allow one checked bag in all base fares. USTA said a free checked bag would reduce the burden on TSA by decreasing the number of carry-on bags that need to be screened. That would reduce wait times at security checkpoints. GBTA said in a statement that it does “not support the suggestion that the Department of Transportation require airlines to allow one checked bag as part of the base airfare. Airlines should be able to price their products as the market will bear.” GBTA did agree with USTA’s overall call for updating aviation security, including the creation of a Trusted Traveler program. “Business travelers are looking for a system that can help ensure safety while minimizing long lines and inefficient one size fits all security techniques,” the statement said. 

Large, Small Corporate Agencies Differ in Services, Prices
There are more differences between large corporate agencies and small corporate agencies than size alone. A new survey by the American Society of Travel Agents and The Beat found that larger agencies tend to charge lower transaction fees, while smaller agencies tend to charge less for special services and customized management functions. The Corporate Agency Report also found that 70% of agencies offer clients some sort of mobile booking solution. Some 25% of bookings are made online by travelers, but 16% of those traveler bookings later need some sort of agent assistance. Agencies most often use Concur for online bookings and Trams for management reports. 

Moscow Continues as Hotel Price Leader
Companies that complain about hotel prices in New York or Tokyo don’t know how lucky they are. For the sixth year running, Moscow is the most expensive city in the world for business travelers. The 2010 average price of $415 per night is a 3% decline over 2009 according to U.K-based travel management company Hogg Robinson Group Plc. New York comes in second at $339, followed by Geneva ($325), Paris ($321), and Zurich ($328.) Tokyo is number 18 on the list of 75 most expensive hotel cities at $270, while the cheapest hotel stay is in Milton Keynes, about 50 miles northwest of London, at $112.

Latin America on the Rise
“Latin America has been the up and coming region in business travel for as long as I’ve been in the industry. The latest data show that Latin American travelers and travel managers are moving faster than almost anywhere outside the Asia-Pacific region.” -  Ron DiLeo, executive director, Association of Corporate Travel Executives

Travel Market Report :: Business Travel: Article :: Air Costs: Get Ready for a New All-Time High

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Authentic German Spa-Treatments: Ruegen Chalk

One of the regions where visitors can experience unique local remedies combined with stunning scenery is the Island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea (3 hrs from Hamburg or Berlin). Not only are the dazzling, white chalk cliffs the island's most famous landmark, but they also make for the major ingredient in local health and beauty treatments. Ruegen Chalk, often referred to as the "white gold", is an ideal remedy to treat muscle or joint disorders, osteoporosis and rheumatism; and is a popular skin cleanse product used in local beauty spas.

Binz, the largest seaside resort of Ruegen, offers various chalk therapies, one of the finest, white sandy beaches, and an annual open air summer event program that have made the town an insider's tip among international spa-goers. The resort also boasts the richest coastal iodine spring in Europe. The Travel Charme Kurhaus Binz***** is an elegant seaside hotel from the imperial 1920's overlooking the beach promenade. At its stunning PURIA Spa with saunas, indoor and outdoor pools, your clients can indulge in relaxing massages, as well as various beauty and health treatments.

The seaside resort of Sellin is only 15 minutes away, and is home to the longest pier on the island. Here, travelers can enjoy romantic views of the sea, and even get married right on the water. Architectural gems from Renaissance to Classicism and Art Nouveau are a feast for the eyes just like in Binz - and besides luxury hotels such as the Spa Resort Hotel Ambiance, many of them house affordable accommodations.

Formed during the Ice Age, the bizarre chalk cliffs in Jasmund National Park are Rügen's most famous landmark. The tallest of the cliffs, the "Königsstuhl" (King's Seat), is 118 metres high. Those with an interest in culture will love the Störtebeker Festival at Ralswiek open-air theatre during which the people of Rügen perform the tale of the infamous pirate Klaus Störtebeker. Other highlights include the historical steam trains that run a regular service on Rügen. With locomotives and carriages that are almost one hundred years old, Rügen's impressive "Racing Roland" narrow-gauge railway runs right through the south-east of the island.

As you would expect, the Baltic islands are renowned for their fresh fish and seafood specialities. Particular favourites include pike-perch cooked in a variety of ways and the traditional herring which is served in traditional bars and fine restaurants. May is garfish season on the island of Rügen. They swim along the coast in their droves before landing on the tables of the island's best restaurants. This eel-like fish with a sharppointed mouth is part of the pike family and its green bones certainly give it a striking appearance.
In Fischland you can enjoy hearty specialities such as Mecklenburg roast ribs and Götterspeise - a jelly dessert. To quench your thirst, try a traditional island beer on Usedom or a Störtebeker Pils beer on Rügen.
Served all over the region, the Rostocker Doppelkümmel (schnapps) known as "Mann un Fru" (man & woman) is said to aid digestion.

For more information about Ruegen, please visit their website.

Call your Germany Experts at Nonstop Travel at (800) 949-6362 to plan and book your vacation in that beautiful and mostly unknown destination.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Augsburg, Frankfurt, Sinsheim are gearing up for the games

In the city of Augsburg soccer madness will meet small-town charm. Magnificent historical buildings from the Roman, Rococo and Renaissance eras as well as the Roman Museum, Fuggerei, and Mozart House are among the many attractions visitors come to explore each year. 
Hotels in Augsburg.

Combining the traditional with the modern, the city of Frankfurt is an exciting, cosmopolitan metropolis to visit. Experience the vibrant cultural scene with its numerous museums, music events or modern theater performances, and soak in the city's vibrant atmosphere at one of the cozy wine bars in the historical district of Sachsenhausen.

Sinsheim is situated in the scenic Rhine-Neckar valley where the US team will be playing against Colombia on July 2. Lush vineyards, the medieval Castle Steinsberg, the nearby Castle Road and the picturesque city of Heidelberg invite to romantic escapes in between the matches.

Hotels in Sinsheim

The FIFA Women's World Cup is taking place from June 26th through July 17th in Germany. it is not too late to book your packages! Please call Nonstop Travel at (800) 949-6362.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

German Cars: Porsche

With 125 years of automotive history, Germany can look back to a long tradition of car manufacturing. Porsche is one of the car makers that developed into an international, renowned brand, best known for sports cars. Dating back to 1875 when it was founded by Ferdinand Porsche, nowadays the company stands for high quality, safety, and innovation, offering a series of car models including the popular Boxter, Carrera, and Cayenne.

The extraordinary architecture of the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen is as impressive as the cars inside: The monolithic building looks as if it is about to take off. The exhibition follows the idea of a museum on wheels with many of the 80 vehicles on display also used outside the museum, and some even compete in races.

Special Event 2011:
In addition to several special exhibitions, the "Museum on Wheels" participates with its vehicles in a number of classic car races throughout Germany:

May 2011 - 125th Anniversary of the Automobile in Stuttgart
July 2011 - Heidelberg Historic
August 2011 - Sachsen Classic
August 2011 - Oldtimer Grand Prix Nuerburgring
September 2011 - Eifel Classic

More information can be found here

... and if you want to experience Germany while driving in a Porsche and other luxurious cars, check out our Self Driving Tour of Southern Germany with several luxury German cars!

Friday, February 11, 2011

How Berlin Became the Coolest City on the Planet

"New York in the '80s." "London at the height of Britpop." "Paris in the '30s." Berlin now.
If you believe the hype, and you really should, Berlin is the coolest city on the planet.
You can see it in the Metropolis futurism of Potsdamer Platz, home away from home for the red-carpet glitterati of Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and company. You see it in Mitte, the hipper-than-thou quarter for the upscale bohemian, where local fashion kings Lala, Kaviar Gauche and Michalsky float their flagships and where, at the Javier Peres gallery, James Franco will unveil the first European exhibition of his art work. You see it in the packed Berlin clubs -- the Berghain, Watergate, Cookies or Tresor -- meccas for the international techno crowd. You even see it in the ghetto chic of Kreuzberg and Neukolln, where the strong immigrant population holds out against the forces of gentrification and where real Berliners go to party.
"When I set up my own label in 2006, I could have gone anywhere. I could have gone to London or Paris, but I consciously chose Berlin," says Michael Michalsky, the hottest of the rising troupe of Berlin fashion designers and the man Karl Lagerfeld already has crowned as his successor. "As a designer, I feel I'm a seismograph of society. And in Berlin, the future is being lived on the streets. This is where I find my inspiration."
Michalsky is a busy man. He recently presented his new fall/winter collection at Berlin's fashion week as part of an event that included the German premiere of Tron: Legacy. And he has just designed a new bar -- the Catwalk Bar in the Marriott on Potsdamer Platz -- where the barstools are named after supermodels and guests can sip vitamin cocktails while they look down on VIPs rushing to catch the next Berlin International Film Festival gala.
This sort of cross-pollination between film and fashion, of music, high art and club culture, has been one of the keys to Berlin's rise on the hipster meter. Young creatives from throughout Europe and around the world have swarmed into the city where the underground rubs against haute couture, Hollywood and the avant-garde hang at the same clubs, and you can rent a spacious loft for the price of a closet in London.
In fact, Berlin is cheap -- that's part of the appeal. Soaring real estate prices have driven the starving artists out of downtown Paris, London and New York. But Berlin, with no real industry to speak of, has only the artists to rely on. Here, coolness is an economic survival strategy. As Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit puts it, coining the city's unofficial motto, "Berlin is poor -- but sexy."
"Berlin has made culture its primary industry," Berlin festival boss Dieter Kosslick says. "Music, film, art, fashion -- that's been the driving force, the creative industries. It's an extremely culture-rich, extremely international city."
Caterer K.P. Kofler is more blunt: "Berlin is everything Germany is not: spontaneous, exciting, open and cosmopolitan."
For the duration of the film festival, Kofler has erected a pop-up restaurant, Pret a Diner, on the site of the old East German state mint.
"Try finding a place like this in Frankfurt or Munich," he says. "No one has eaten here before; it's completely virgin ground." He waves his arm around Pret a Diner. The mint's gray concrete has been left untouched. The tables, chairs and deco are secondhand, picked from flea markets around the city. "Berlin is still unfinished; that's what gives it its energy."
That energy -- the sense that Berlin, 20 years after German reunification, still isn't set in stone -- is the magnet that draws people in.
"Berlin's got an excellent mix of people, from the avant-garde filmmakers of the Berlin School to the Hollywood productions at Studio Babelsberg, from Til Schweiger to [new German production giant] UFA Cinema," says Wolfgang Braun, ex-head of Disney Germany and current boss of indie distributor Kinowelt. "At Kinowelt, we want to be the No. 1 indie in Germany, so Berlin is the place we've got to be."
Braun had no problem persuading Kinowelt parent StudioCanal to move the company's HQ to the German capital. Or to have the European premiere of its biggest film, the Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie thriller The Tourist, on Potsdamer Platz. The crowds were huge, the media -- film critics aside -- ecstatic. The paparazzi were restrained and polite. In what other city but Berlin could Pitt stroll through unmolested, four kids in tow, as he did on the day of the Tourist gala?
But other cities have stars. Other cities have designers, chic labels and cool shops. What sets Berlin apart is its nightlife.
The story of Berlin's rise to the zenith of European club culture has been told before. During the early 1990s, East Berlin was an empty shell. After the fall of the Wall, the locals left, en masse, to the West, leaving row upon row of abandoned factories and concrete housing estates. Then, from the West came students and DJs -- would-be artists and characters with names like Till "103 Club" Harter, Heinz "Cookies" Gindullis or Dimitri "Tresor" Hegemann -- who saw an opportunity and opened illegal underground clubs in warehouses, cellars and desolate storefronts.
"Back then there were no rules," Harter recalls. "You could just squat in a spot, set up a club and go."
Although he says he's not nostalgic, when Harter talks about Berlin during the early '90s, he can't suppress a wry smile.
"There was no Internet, no cell phones," he says. "There were barely any land lines in East Berlin back then; everything was word-of-mouth. Everyone in the scene knew everyone else."
Berlin's club culture was DIY and spontaneous. Clubs would pop up, become the "in" place and disappear during the course of a few months. Others, like Cookies, made a virtue out of transience, shifting from location to location and open only midweek for the hard-core clubbers.
"It was just at the moment when a generation was switching from rock 'n' roll to electronic music, to dance music," Harter says. "DJs came to Berlin because there were so many great spots to perform in. And because it was so cheap to live here, they stayed and made it their home. It was just the right place at the right time. It all came together in Berlin."
Two decades later, Harter is still here, and spots like his Bar Tausend in Mitte -- whereLeonardo DiCaprio and Ben Stiller hung out during the 2010 Berlin fest -- are still shaping the scene.
Harter worries that the hype around Berlin could ruin the vibe. "Hype is always dangerous," he says. But so far, this city hasn't lost its mojo. There's still no curfew in Berlin, and you can still open a bar "with an idea and a couple hundred Euros," Harter says. Twentysomething clubbers still hop budget flights to Schoenefeld Airport for a 72-hour pilgrimage to the techno temples of Berghain, the Watergate and Tresor. The illegal scene still thrives in the rougher Neukolln district, where they celebrate Sparkasse parties: taking over an ATM enclosure and clubbing till the cops come.
Berlin has cleaned up a bit during the past 20 years. You can dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant, hit Friedrichtstrasse for your pret-a-porter accessories or spoil yourself at Soho House's Cowshed Spa. But it's by keeping it street that Berlin has kept its edge.
"Berlin's underground culture, that's the appeal -- that's why the stars want to come here, and that's why people keep coming back," says Christoph Fisser, co-head of Studio Babelsberg, whose recent guests included Liam Neeson and January Jones in Unknown and Quentin Tarantino and the Inglourious Basterds crew.
"London might still have the class, if you're looking for that," he says. "But for the underground, Berlin still beats them all."

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