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Summer staycation: Where Germany’s politicians are spending their holidays

From Chancellor Angela Merkel to Bavarian state premier Markus Söder, Germany's politicians are drawn towards Deutschland's domestic destinations this summer. Here's where they're headed.

Summer staycation: Where Germany's politicians are spending their holidays
Green party politician Katrin Göring-Eckard is planning on sailing in the Baltic Sea on her holiday. Photo: DPA

After months of coronavirus crisis management, Germany’s Bundestag and Bundesrat have taken their parliamentary summer break. 

For many politicians, this means a chance to head on holiday before the last quarter of the legislative period begins. 

But in times of pandemic travel warnings and border closures, the choice of potential holiday destinations is limited, even for politicians. Yet that has not stopped them from setting their sights on some of Germany’s best travel destinations.

READ ALSO: How to travel the world while staying in Germany

Due to the virus, Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democrats, or CDU) is planning on spending her summer holiday domestically this year. When asked on ZDF Television in June where she would go exactly, the Chancellor simply said “Germany” without giving a more concrete answer.

In the past years, Merkel was often drawn to the mountains of South Tyrol in northern Italy. But the Chancellor will have to wait a little longer for her Alpine fix.

Next week, the EU special summit on the EU coronavirus reconstruction awaits. That means Merkel is still on duty on her 66th birthday on the first day of the summit on July 17th. 

Home, sweet home

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of CDU sister party CSU is planning a staycation – and not just because of the coronavirus. 

“I have not been going on holiday for 25 years, as I would rather stay at home in my Heimat, especially in the Altmühl valley,” in Bavaria said Seehofer. “Once you get to know it, you’ll never want to go elsewhere.” 

Germany's Altmühl valley, situated along the river, is a popular hiking destination. Photo: DPA

The Ingolstadt resident has a holiday home in the nature park known for its spectacular low mountain range.

CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak has similar ties to his homeland. He says he is lucky to live “where many Germans go on vacation.” Ziemiak and his family will spend a large portion of their days off from work and school in Sauerland, as he told DPA.

A staycation is also in the cards for Environment Minister Svenja Schulze of the Social Democrats (SPD). “Actually, my husband and I wanted to go on holiday in France this year,” she told DPA. “Now we are staying in Germany and are at home in Münster most of the time.”

Bavaria's state premiere and CSU leader Markus Söder is spending his holidays at home, but is looking forward to a mudflat hike during an official visit to northern Schleswig-Holstein in August. 

For CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, “relaxed, sunny days” with family, friends and bicycle tours are on the agenda, she told DPA.

Wherever they get a chance, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender like to relax in the mountains. That’s where they are headed this summer too, though the President's Office stayed silent about the exact destination. 

In the past, Steinmeier and Büdenbender crossed the Brenner Pass and hiked in South Tyrol.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) also wants to hike with his wife. According to his ministry, he is also looking forward to a few days to read, sleep in, jog, and ride his bike. 

The ministry did not want to reveal whether the Vice Chancellor, who lives in Potsdam, and his wife, Brandenburg's SPD Education Minister Britta Ernst, will stay in their home turf or relax somewhere else.

According to a spokesperson, Green Party leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck will  use the holidays to spend more time with their families. But Greens faction leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt has set her sights on sailing in the Baltic Sea.

READ ALSO: North Sea or Baltic Sea? How to decide between Germany's two coasts

Lake Ratzeburg in the northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

Highly political

For Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), the decision on where to go on holiday is highly political. His ministry is responsible for travel warnings and travel advice for foreign countries, which change rapidly in coronavirus times. So personal holiday planning can quickly be seen as a political signal. 

That’s why Maas has so far blocked all questions about his holiday destination, not even revealing if he’s staying in Germany or going abroad.

“I don't give any travel recommendations either. Because if I did, it would cause a lot of trouble with about 25 other Member States of the European Union,” he once said at a press conference with his Italian colleague Luigi di Maio.

According to her ministry, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) is taking very little time off over the summer because of the coronavirus crisis and the German EU Council Presidency. 

“If work permits, she will go to the Dolomites for a few days to recharge her batteries and go hiking”, a spokesperson said.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) Chairman Jörg Meuthen does not yet know how he will spend his holiday: “Everything is still open with me because Covid-19 has reopened all the original plans”.

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CULTURE

Where to celebrate Diwali 2022 in Germany

The holiday of Diwali kicks off on Monday. Here's where you can celebrate all around Germany.

Where to celebrate Diwali 2022 in Germany

With over 100,000 Indians in Germany, and over 175,000 people of Indian descent, it’s little wonder that Diwali – the famous five day Hindi festival of lights starting this year on Monday October 24th – is being celebrated all around the Bundesrepublik

READ ALSO: Indians in Germany: Who are they and where do they live?

Even the House of Parliament in Frankfurt is honouring the holiday for the first time with a special reception on October 30th.

Diwali takes its name from the clay lamps or deepa (the event is sometimes called Deepawali) that many Indians light outside their home. With the days shortening in Germany, there’s all the more reason to celebrate light — especially over lively music, traditional dance and authentically spicy Indian cuisine.

We have rounded up some of the top events to celebrate around Germany, both the week of Diwali and afterwards, stretching into mid-November. If you have an additional event to suggest, email us at [email protected]

October 24th in Heidelberg

Happen to be in Heidelberg? Then it’s not too late to head to the Sweet Home Project, which will be cooking up a storm starting at 6:30pm. The menu includes an assortment of Indian sweets and savoury dishes. The collective only asks that participants bring along a candle (and a hearty appetite).

If you miss this event, and are still craving some (really) spicy traditional cuisine, the Firebowl Heidelberg is hosting a Diwali party on October 29th, replete with lots of food and drink and Bollywood beats the whole night. 

October 29th near Frankfurt

For those who fancy a Feier with a full-buffet, this celebration in Dreieich delivers through an all-you-can-eat dinner with traditional fare. Starting at 5pm and stretching into the early hours of the morning, the festive feast includes traditional Bollywood music by Derrick Linco. There’s also a dance party for kids, who receive free admission up to seven years old and €25 up to 14 years. Normal tickets go for €40 per person.

A previous Diwali celebration of traditional dance and music in Dresden. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

November 4th near Düsseldorf

On November 4th at 6pm, the Deutsch-Indische Gesellschaft Düsseldorf will be hosting a family-friendly party in nearby Ratingen with classical Indian music and dance, a huge dinner and Bollywood music led by DJ SA-ONE. Tickets cost about €40 each, but children under six receive free entry. 

November 5th in Bonn 

The Indian Students Association of Bonn-Cologne will be hosting its biggest event of the year: for €10, event goers can try an array of Indian food, play classic games and tune into cultural performances. 

READ ALSO: Moving from India to Munich changed my life

November 12th in Essen 

Whether you like traditional bhajans or meditative ragas, this concert will capture many of the classic sounds of Indian music with artists such as Anubhab Tabla Ensemble, Debasish Bhattacharjee and Somnath Karmorak taking center stage. The performance starts at 5pm and costs €10. 

November 12th and 13th in Berlin

Indian food fans will get to enjoy 12 stands devoted to Indian cuisine and products, all coming from the local Indian community. The weekend-long festival will also include stand-up comedy from the Desi Vibes Comedy Group. Karaoke fans will also enjoy singing along with the Sounds of India group, followed by an after party on Saturday. All this only costs €2 at the door. 

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