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German News And Events

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

We do our best here at MyGermanCity.com and in our G-ZINE to bring you all sorts of information regarding what’s going on in Germany. If you want more German news and cultural events, programs, and even books there are plenty of English sites that’ll give you what you’re looking for.

Deutsche Welle, my personal favorite, is one of the most trusted names in German news. Their website has historical, travel, and other articles for not only the English speaking (reading?) public but in 29 other languages too. Plus, you can watch DW World live on their website.

Thelocal.de is a great site for getting all the info you want for Germany’s major cities (Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, even the Rhineland). They’ll give you up-to-date movie listings (for English speaking movies, no less), restaurant reviews, and other cultural events.

Living or visiting Berlin? Can’t read German? Good thing EXBERLINER knows how to take care of you. They’ve got the best info on life in the capital city with restaurant reviews, listings, classified ads (need an apartment), and nightlife.

The same holds true with The Munich Times. If you want all the non-German language info on current events, sports, politics, and business in the Bavarian city — you don’t have to go any further than right here.

SPIEGEL ONLINE is the online version of Der Spiegel, and they’ve conveniently translated their German, European, and World headline stories from Deutsch to English for you.

Thanks, that’s most kind. ;-)

When trying to keep current of all the cultural events in Germany, you’ve got two choices. The first, Signandsight, might draw some of its “news” from other sites (for which they’ve translated to English for you). It’s said to be all about the “cultural and intellectual life in Germany.” That means books, music, art, etc. Love it!

The second, the Gothe Institute, is also all about German cultural life. You’ll find their website most informative about cultural programs. Plus, they have offices in countless cities around the globe (there’s even one in Kathmandu).

If you hear about any more English-speaking (or reading) websites, be sure to let us in on where to find them by posting a comment below, please? :-)

Top 10 Berlin Movies

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Berlin is a magical city. It has seen its fair share of ups and downs, political intrigue, and was once the capital of the dreaded Third Reich. And I’m pretty sure that not another international city has been the setting for as many movies as this gem of a city.

No, I’m not talking about movies shown at the annual Berlin International Film Festival, either. I’m talking about movies that center around a country’s capital.

You’d think that all the movies about Berlin would be about its separation into East and West Berlin during a divided Germany. They weren’t all Cold War spy films, though; and neither were they all about World War II (that’s another blog post, altogether).

I also decided not to add Berlin Express (1948) to this list, because it already made the Top 10 for the best World War II films, ever.

So, here’s my pick for the best flicks taking place in Berlin.

A Foreign Affair

Directed by Billy Wilder, A Foreign Affair stars German actress Marlene Dietrich in this romantic comedy from 1948.

Grand Hotel

There’s still something truly special about this 1932 Academy Award winning film, Grand Hotel, even after 70 years.

Kuhle Wampe

Kuhle Wampe is one of the best films taking place in Berlin that doesn’t have to do with World War II, Cold War intrigue, or anything else—it’s about a family struggling to get by during the Great Depression.

The Big Lift

Sure, The Big Lift is about the Berlin Airlift, but this 1950 film stars Montgomery Clift. Ain’t that enough for you ladies?

Octopussy

James Bond makes his appearance in Berlin during this 1993 flick Octopussy staring Roger Moore as the title character. Sorry, Mr. Sean Connery—Roger was great as the dapper and dashing British spy.

Rosenstrasse

Don’t you just love movies that are total flashbacks? I do; and the Rosenstrasse film takes a look at the Rosenstrasse Protest that took place in Berlin from February to March 1943.

The Bourne Supremacy

Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne in 2004 trying to escape the U.S. Government. I swear it’s not German politics at play in The Bourne Supremacy, my personal top favorite of all ten here. ;-)

Dr. M.

A 1990 whodunit film on a number of deaths that looked like suicides. Yeah, I enjoy a good spy thriller, but I sure like trying to figure out who did it, too.

Valkyrie

Yeah, this 2004 Tom Cruise film had some controversy before and during its making; and although I didn’t add it to the World War II list, it does deserve an honorable mention somewhere.

I bet you were expecting a “Top 10” list, but I’m leaving it at just nine—this way you can add your favorite.

OK OK, I just thought of another one…

Gotcha!

The 1985 Anthony Edwards film titled Gotcha!; it’s a comedic look into a poor college kid who’s suckered into bringing a package over to East Berlin from a girl he met in Czechoslovakia (it wasn’t nowadays’ Czech Republic back then).

Yeah, make that my 10th pick for the best films of Berlin—you can add number 11, OK?

Top 10 World War II Flicks

Monday, November 28th, 2011

I don’t know whose brainchild it was to give me the power of the pen (oh, I mean the power of the keyboard) for publishing on the Web. That’s the good thing about blogs—I can write (or let write) whatever I feel like.

In this case, I’ve decided to give you an all-time list of Best World War II movies. Stay tuned though, I’m pretty sure that I’ll bringing up other movie lists that center around Germany in the future.

Berlin Express

Receiving both criticism and cinematic acclaim, Berlin Express is a 1948 film that shows real-life footage of a post World War II Frankfurt and Berlin. The real plot, however, is a sort-of whodunit on a train where a diplomat is “killed;” and you never quite can guess who really is who they say they are.

Black Book

Filmed in Dutch with English subtitles, the Black Book movie is raw and graphic (to a point). And unlike most European films, it surprisingly has a sort-of happy ending.

Das Boot

Released in 1981 by West Germany and the Bavarian Film Studio, the Das Boot movie centers around the U-96 with an embittered crew and a war correspondent onboard. You can feel the crew’s low morale, high hopes, and fear as they try to get to a safe haven for Christmas. Movie creators used real-life U-boat officers as consultants to give the movie true brilliance.

Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 tale of an alternate universe to assassinate Adolf Hitler is sheer genius. Actually, I think it was Christoph Waltz’s character as a Nazi SS Officer that did it for me—and the acclaim of his peers with an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Notorious

Alfred Hitchcock does it again and again, this time in a partial love and espionage tale with Claude Rains, Ingrid Bergman, and Cary Grant in Notorious. I think the war is secondary to the kissing scene (quite scandalous in 1946) between two of the three characters in this love triangle.

Saving Private Ryan

This film’s first 25 minutes opening sequence of the chaos of the Normandy landing alone could earn this film a spot on this list. Add in the heartfelt journey to return home a mom’s only surviving son in this war drama; and you’ve got one of the best World War II movies ever made.

Schindler’s List

Filmed in black & white, Steven Spielberg brought the nitty-gritty of the war to center stage when he filmed this 1993 flick, Schindler’s List. Ralph Fiennes’s portrayal of Amon Göth is both chilling and cinematic genius. And you got to hand it to Liam Neeson who couldn’t play the lead character of war-profiteer and womanizer Oskar Schindler any better than he did.

Sink the Bismarck

The 1960 Sink the Bismarck film centers around the search for the infamous Nazi Battleship named for the esteemed statesman Otto von Bismarck; and shows how the Germans started an era of sea superiority—that is, until the Bismarck is sunk by British destroyers.

Sophie’s Choice

Meryl Streep won an Academy Award for her 1982 Sophie’s Choice character as a Polish mother forced to make the ultimate sacrifice, one of her children at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Sad. Poignant. Brilliant.

The Colditz Story

Based on the 1955 book by British Officer, P.R. Ried, the The Colditz Story movie deals with the escape of British, French, Dutch, and Polish POWs at the infamous Colditz Castle in Saxony. Fantastic.

While some of these films might be controversial, they’re certainly a conversation starter.

Care to add some of your favorites?

Lufthansa’s Airbus A380

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Oh yeah, you’ve got your vacation time set, and Germany’s on the itinerary! Except one thing, how you getting there?

Now I don’t want to suggest one airline over the other, except that Lufthansa is the largest German airline (and one of the largest worldwide).

Oh, and the best part? They’re offering that new Airbus A380 for service from Frankfurt Airport to Singapore, Miami, San Francisco, New York (JFK), Johannesburg, Beijing, and Tokyo.

Whew, that’s a long list. Ain’t it grand, my international friends!?!

Most people aren’t able to fly either Business or First Class (although I know how to save a whopping 70 – 90% on the usual ticket prices), but I got to tell… the First and Business Class seats in this A380 aircraft are AWESOME!

In First Class there’s a seat that’ll stretch out to just about 2 meters with 17-inch video screens, a constant humidity level that won’t dry out your skin (women of the world, rejoice).

First Class offers privacy screens in case you don’t want to “be bothered” by your seat mate or anyone else for that matter. Plus, the cabin is made with materials to reduce noise (yeah, cause jet engines are known to be “quiet” ;-).

Unfortunately, the seats don’t recline to a fully flat position in Business Class (yet), but just about. Oohh, comfortable—even if you’re a bit taller than the almost 2 meter seat! This class takes up the entire upper deck of this super huge wide-body aircraft, which is pretty cool if you ask me.

Meals in either First or Business are a scrumptious affair (keep in mind I am talking about airline food) with fine wines and plenty of snacks.

People in Economy Class will find they got a little more leg room than in other aircrafts; mostly because of thinner seat backs. Don’t worry, you’ll eat fairly well in Economy Class as well.

As with any aircraft on Lufthansa you’re able to order special meals to accommodate any kind of dietary issue (low-fat, kosher, diabetic). You get the point, right? Besides, German food on the German airline can be a precursor to the awesome dishes you’ll find once you land.

So, I guess I’m saying fly Lufthansa for the best German experience—before you even arrive!

New Alternatives To Traditional German Garden Allotments

Monday, July 19th, 2010

It’s been a beautiful summer in Germany, and I have certainly enjoyed the fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. The farmer’s markets are full, as are the pantries of those lucky enough to have small garden plots.

Getting a small garden plot in Germany can be a bit of an adventure for those who don’t live in the countryside. Urban dwellers can try and join a Kleingartenverein, the Small Garden Associations which provide land for gardens. However, these well-established systems have long waiting lists and holdings are often kept by members for decades.

This doesn’t mean that German city dwellers have stopped looking for fresh greens and organic gardening options. Quite the contrary! Into this hungry market has stepped Meine Ernte (site in German), a company offering rental gardens for those who want to try their hand at having a garden.

Meine Ernte, which means “My Harvest,” isn’t a traditional garden co-op. Instead, they cater specifically to would-be organic farmers without a lot of time or even gardening experience.

The company has set up cooperative agreements with organic farmers near some of Germany’s largest cities, including Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Bonn, and Dortmund. The farmers provide swathes of land, which are planted by professional gardeners at the beginning of the season. A small bit of land is left for customized plantings, but the rest has a mix of 20 popular edible plants.

Renters have their choice of section size. Small gardens are for 1 – 2 people, standard gardens cater to 3 – 4, and large gardens cater to large families and groups. Prices range from €149 to €433 per season, with renewable subscriptions and the option to change as your needs change. Meine Ernte estimates that even small sections produce at least €600 of produce per season.

Each of the locations has a professional gardener on site to offer consultations and aid. Renters should plan to spend 1 – 2 hours a week tending to their garden allotment, which does make it rather easy to have a summer hobby garden.

Meine Ernte plans to expand to new cities in 2011 — so plan ahead for your garden share. Those Meine Ernte doesn’t have waiting lists like the Kleingartenverein, there is still just a limited amount of space available for those who want to try their hand at gardening in Germany.

—Marcus

A New Way To End A German Romance

Monday, July 5th, 2010

A German romance is a beautiful thing. My countrymen (and women!) are wonderful people, and you could just meet your soul mate here. Whether you use one of the German dating sites I told you about in February or meet someone in your travels, it is relatively easy to start a new dating life here.

How about ending a relationship? Well, this might be challenging… I remember some of my own dating adventures and wince, but I’ll spare you all of those stories!

At times, breaking up is hard to do, that’s a given. Add in the complexities of a multi-national or multi-cultural relationship and it can be even more challenging. So what’s a German dater to do?

Well, we Germans are nothing if not innovative! We like solving difficult problems, and a man in Berlin has created a special service to help people get out of their dating relationship more easily. I didn’t believe it when I first heard about it, thinking it might be one of my country’s famous April Fool’s Day jokes, but it seems that this is a very real service!

Known as the Separation Agency (site in German), this company was founded by Bernd Dressler. Essentially, you hire the company to go to your significant other and explain to them that you don’t want to continue the relationship. Though I wouldn’t think this would be much of a business, apparently the company has been thriving for three years!

They offer four levels of service: the basic phone break up with a “Let’s still be friends,” a “Please don’t speak to me again” phone call, a break up by letter, and a personal visit from Mr. Dressler himself to announce the end of the relationship.

The cost for the services ranges from about 30 euros for the basic to over 60 euros for the door stop visit. On personal visits, Mr. Dressler can also collect items left at a soon-to-be ex’s home.

Mr. Dressler, who carries the nickname “The Terminator” thanks to his work, has reported in various media interviews that the bulk of his clients are younger women, and that business is busiest on Monday’s and after holidays. Thus, my poor fellow men, watch out for a phone call or knock on the door from a stranger after a bad weekend or lousy holiday trip!

Though I find this service amusing — especially now that I am married and out of the game (at least for the time being ;-) — I can see where it would be useful to some.

However, I wish all of you the best in love and hope you never have to experience “The Terminator” or his services yourself! ;-)

—Marcus

Language Camps And Schools In Germany

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Last week I talked about some of the different dialects of the German language, and where you can hear them in Germany. This prompted some of you to ask questions about learning German. Although you can get a new phrase each month from me in the G-Zine, you can also enroll in school in Germany.

Enrolling in a German language course in Germany makes learning German a fun and memorable experience. You have two main options when it comes to coursework. You can come for an extended stay in German and take a course from a university, or you can come for a few weeks to a month and enroll in an intensive German language camp, which I recommend.

Either way, you have plenty of choices. There are more than 116 registered language programs scattered throughout the country. Prices vary, and many are concentrated in Germany’s bigger cities, with Berlin, Munich, and Frankfort serving as popular study destinations, especially for formal language study and intensive German courses.

However, there are also a number of programs in smaller cities. For example, Regensburg has a very famous language program with year round courses.

The key is to determine what you want to use your German for. If you are coming to Germany to start a business or live full time, you will want to take a more formal course. If you just want to be able to make very basic conversations on your vacation, a month-long intensive program may be sufficient.

Naturally, you may also want to consider your region. Learning High German is good for communicating all over Germany, but you may also want to study your local dialect if you are interested in living in Germany long term.

However much you learn, don’t be afraid to use your German whenever you can. Even after you go to a language school, only with practice will you be able to keep up your skills.

So practice, practice, practice . . . I want to be able to chat with you someday! :-)

—Marcus

No Valentine? Here’s How To Find A Date In Germany

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Well, Valentine’s Day is here, and even though Valentine’s Day isn’t a historical holiday in Germany it has become popular to celebrate it here. Usually, couples will exchange flowers or other small love tokens. It isn’t as big of a deal like it is in the United States or France, but I know I’d still better get something for my wife!

However, if you are without a date for Valentine’s Day it can be a little depressing. Fortunately, there are many ways to meet single people in Germany. One method that is growing in popularity in Germany is online dating.

There are several different types of online dating sites in Germany. The biggest four German dating sites, based on paid membership models, are listed below. You can register for free and browse listings, but you need to pay a subscription to actually talk and/or connect with dates:

  1. FriendScout24
  2. iLove.de
  3. Neu.de
  4. Parship.de

Neu.de is also good for listings across Europe and around the world, as it is affiliated with Meetic, a global dating network.

If your budget is tight, you can also try some of the popular free sites. Two popular free German dating sites are Freenet Singles, and Single.de. You can meet good, interesting people on the free sites, but you will need to have more patience than with the paid German dating sites as you will find there are more ads, junk, and poor matches to look through.

There is also one up and coming site for dating German academics, which is ElitePartner. They promise fast matches based on a scientific matching system, though I haven’t tried this for myself yet.

I have personally tried many of the other sites — after all, I met my wife online! ;-) So I can tell you truly that you can meet a wonderful date for Valentine’s Day in Germany by registering with the German dating site of your choice. Millions of my single countrymen (and women!) are waiting to meet you. And rest assured that your soul mate DOES exist!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

—Marcus

Germany Ranks 4th Of World’s Best Places To Live

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Insiders know that Germany is a great place to live and do work, but it is always nice when outsiders recognize that as well. ;-)

This year recognition of Germany’s charms comes from the 2010 International Living Quality of Life Index.

International Living itself is based out of France, Ireland, and the US, and publishes a monthly magazine and that caters to expats.

Every January, International Living scores 194 countries across nine categories to determine which countries offer the best values and lifestyle benefits to residents. The categories are Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate.

The data for scoring each of these categories comes from the World Health Organization, United Nations reports, The Economist, and government websites. By using third party reports, International Living hopes to avoid bias and present the most accurate picture of the experience a new resident would have in the country.

In 2009, Germany was not even in the top 10 for places to live. This year, as the economic climate around the world has shifted and safety issues have changed, Germany has gained ground in several categories. Average earnings for workers have stayed up, the infrastructure continues to be excellent, and health services still provide remarkable care.

In awarding Germany the number 4 spot in the top 10 best places to live, International Living also cited the reasonable cost of real estate and rentals around Germany. You can rent beautifully appointed apartments in all regions for much less than in neighboring countries and buying real estate is also affordable as Germany was spared the housing bubble that plagued much of the rest of the world.

As ever, you know it is my opinion that there really is no place in the world quite like Germany. France, Australia, and Switzerland may have ranked higher on the list this year, but Germany is moving up! :-)

With this new recognition, it is just one more reason for you to give Germany a try.

—Marcus

German Photographers With Bottles On The Brain

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Leave it to Munich to give birth to Germany’s only photography service devoted exclusively to bottles. With Oktoberfest in its midst and the wine country all around, it’s no wonder that the locals have bottles on the brain. ;-)

The specific locals are Moritz Wurfbaum, Catharina van Delden, and Veronika Wurfbaum. Moritz Wurfbaum and Catharina van Delden are a part of innosabi, a Munich based consumer innovation and product development company. Veronika Wurfbaum is the main photographer.

The company they’ve launched together is called Flaschenfotos, and the premise is simple.

They shoot bottles.

Their goal is to provide outstanding service in their niche, so the only other product they offer is Flaschenfotos T-shirts.

The company was founded in August, and the online site was launched in September.

If you’ve been reading my writings on business in Germany, you know that you really can start a company that quickly, and that Germany is very friendly to start ups like this.

It has a straightforward pricing structure based on the number of bottles shot. Each bottle shot against a white background in high resolution. The bottles are then retouched (airbrushing is not just for models anymore! ;-) so they are ready for print and online media uses.

There is a discount for organic and fair trade products, and the target market is retailers, bloggers, and journalists looking for graphics to go with their products.

Given that Germany has more than 40,000 wine producers alone, the company certainly has plenty of bottles to go after even before starting in on the local beer masters!

It’s always interesting to me to see what my fellow Germans are coming up with for business ideas, especially when they target off-beat markets like this. It’s just another example of how creative German people really can be, and the possibilities available to you if you want to start your own business in Germany.

—Marcus

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