Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

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Golfing In Germany

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Golfing has been called many things: an elistist sport, boring, and on the other end of the spectrum, the best game on Earth.

The sport didn’t originate in Germany, but now about 500 years after the game was created in Scotland, there are more than 600 courses found all over the country — and Spring and Fall are two great times to do it.

Yeah, yeah, summer too — in case you like the heat-filled season. ;-)

Playing a round or two of golf in Germany isn’t as easy as waking up one day saying, “I think I’d like to take a gander at whacking a little white ball with a club for 6,000 yards.”

It is, however, a fantastic way to relieve some stress.

C’mon, I can’t possibly be the only one out there that thinks whacking the bejesus out of something (in a constructive way) is a therapeutic. Don’t believe me, try it. Or, go to the gun range — that’ll work too. ;-)

Before you can get that kind of therapy on a golf course in Germany, you better have brought your Handicap Card from your local club back home. No card, no play.

Please, at least for you folks it’s a bit easier than what any German has to go through to get their “Platzreife.” That’s a “license” to golf, just like you need one to fish, but with a lot more hassle.

To get it, you better do 18 holes in less than 108 strokes (that would be bad on a par-72 course, wouldn’t it), AND take a written test.

Yikes, a written test to play golf? That’s German bureaucracy for you.

OK, got your handicap card or your Platzreife handy? Good, now all you need to do is book your tee-time. Again, punctuality. It’s the German way. :-)

As with just about every other country where you’ll find a golf course, you need to be considerate to your fellow golfers. Did the guys behind you catch up ’cause you were taking too long? Courtesy demands that you allow that party to proceed ahead of you.

Plus, it’s bad form to have your Blackberry or other electronic device ringing every time someone’s about to tee off or find their way out of the rough.

Otherwise, it might be “rough” to get out of a situation with a crazy German wielding a nine-iron. Nah, maybe not — it’s probably just me. Just tell me how much you love my blog… ;-)

Real Football Is Played Outside America

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

It’s February, it’s freakin’ cold in Europe, and the American public was warm, toasty, and glued to the television with beers in hand for its annual football ritual, the Super Bowl. Last Sunday, that is.

Uh, guys, as exciting as the Super Bowl is or was for the two teams on the hunt for the infamous Lombardi Trophy, you’re not playing FOOTBALL.

Yeah, as if that’s not gonna get a reaction out of some of you. ;-)

Just to set the record straight, guys ‘n girls, we (i.e., the rest of the world) call it football, you call it soccer (huh?), and we (i.e., the rest of the world) call yours distinctively American football.

Anyway, German teams that play real football are on the hunt for the coveted DFB Cup. Hmm, bragging rights alone should be good enough. But this 12.5 pounds of silver is worth more than €100,000; and can actually hold 8 liters of liquid to boot.

I’m guessing it wouldn’t be filled with cola after winning this baby; especially since Bayern München won it 15 times (and that artificial liquid called cola is not really a German drink, or is it?). ;-)

The competition starts at the end of July with 64 teams, ending in May the following year (the 2011 season kicked off July 30) with the final match to be played at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

The DFB League, called Bundesliga, is only of Germany’s top football leagues. The Bundesliga is the highest men’s league in the country. The creme-de-la-creme of the sport. The NFL of soccer, if you will.

They’re all competing for the Champions Trophy, or what’s so eloquently called the “Salad Bowl.” This trophy weighs in at a whopping 11kg (24 pounds), and kind of reminds me of the Ladies Single’s Rosewater Dish trophy from Wimbledon.

Sorry, Manly Men, but it looks like a dinner plate. ;-)

Sure, I make jokes but football is huge in Germany. So much in fact, the game’s played in big arenas like the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, the Allianz Arena (the home stadium for Bayern München) in Munich, and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart.

I mention these so if you’re here visiting you might want to see a game or two. You’ll find tens of thousands of screaming fans all decked out in their team colors who are playing real football. :-)

Now that you know what German football teams are playing for, I’ll fill you in on the rules soon enough. Stay tuned…

Unite For German Rugby Teams!

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Let’s face it. We Germans love sports, and just about any sport will do. There’s football (that would be soccer for my American friends), track & field, skiing, bobsledding, boxing, mixed-martial arts, hiking, biking, and rugby (just to name a few).

Rugby? That’s not big in Germany.

At least for the moment it isn’t, but it sure is on its way.

If you think American football is rough, or think normal football (a.k.a. soccer) is a test of endurance — you ain’t seen nothing yet. But, first the rules!

Rugby, originated in England and the predecessor of American football, is played on a field called a pitch that’s 69 meters wide by 100 meters long. It’s flanked by two H-shaped goal posts; and game action takes place with thirteen players. Unlike American football, the only guy that gets tackled is the one with the oval shaped ball.

Perhaps the most vivid thought about rugby is the “scrum.” That’s when players all lock arm in a circle, all pushing back and forth on each other.

Whatever the rules of the game are; or whatever they’re doing in that huddle of theirs (probably discussing what pub to go to after the game, ha-ha) this is a very competitive and physically grueling game.

There are a lot of other rules, and trying to figure out how to score can be tougher than rocket science, yet it’s still a lot of fun to watch.

Don’t believe me, go see ’em in action. There are few teams in Germany that play for the Rugby League, like the Heidelberg Sharks and the Rhineland Reds.

Of course I bring this up because it hasn’t been all that long since Germany hosted the 2011 Women’s FIFA World Cup.

I know, rugby isn’t soccer, but wouldn’t it be nice to one day host the Rugby World Cup (that’s also held every four years) like New Zealand is set to do this September?

Heck, it would be nice for the German National Team (that’s part of the Rugby Union) to qualify for the Rugby World Cup (for which it’s never done). However, if we all united with them, they just might!

Germany’s Nude Beaches And A Few Rules

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

It’s hot, and most likely you’ve managed to shed just about every ounce of clothing that‘s possible without being arrested for indecent exposure.

Summer’s rough, isn’t it?

However, if you want to shed ALL of your clothing, then you might as well do it at one of Germany’s nude beaches.

Nude beaches? Germany’s got nude beaches?

Yeah, it sure does and they are scattered throughout the country, so you’ll find one when you really want one (or, got the guts to go ;-).

Uh, where are they; and what are the “rules” for being there?

Let’s start at where it all started; the island (and town) of Sylt (in North Frisia). The entire island isn’t a beach for naturists (as nude beach goers are called), but an area of the island has been set aside for those looking to don their clothing since the 1920’s.

Situated on the Baltic Sea in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, you’ll find some nude beaches in the Rügen district. The white chalky cliffs make for a great background. Too bad though you can’t bring a camera to take pictures of them.

You really didn’t think you could bring cameras onto a nude beach, did you? ;-) Do yourself a favor and keep the camera put away until you’ve left the beach area. OK?

Even Berlin gets in on the nude beach action over at the Wannsee. The sandy beach might be clothes free, but make sure you’ve brought something to cover up with while you’re playing beach volleyball or are out paddle boating.

It’s always good form to bring something to sit on or cover up when you’re at a nude beach restaurant, or some other concession area. Sanitary, ya know.

Lower Saxony has got a nude beach on the island of Borkum. Whether you keep your clothes on or take them off, you’ll love the clear lakes and nude camping.

One thing, Gentlemen, if you’ve come to Borkum or some other nude beach to pick up the ladies; you better think twice. Nude beaches aren’t meat markets!

Yeah, that means you don’t invade anyone else’s space. And you certainly don’t want to be up close & personal not smellin’ all that fresh. So, make sure you’ve practiced some hygiene before arriving.

Look, don’t kill the messenger. I didn’t make the rules, I’m just passing them on. ;-)

Hamburg isn’t going to be left out. So, if you’re a true naturist, the Sommerbad Volksdorf is the place you’ll want to be.

Places like this are (believe it or not) quite family-friendly. So, please don’t come to the Sommerbad Volksdorf thinking it’s like Jamaica’s Hedonism. Keep the public displays of affection to a very (very, very) bare minimum.

Better yet, don’t display them at all.

But, don’t let a few rules of etiquette keep you from enjoying the best of Germany’s nude beaches. Then again, most of these “rules” would apply if it was a clothing-required beach, as well. Right?

Steroid Scandal Within The FIFA Women’s World Cup Games

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Now that the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011­™ is over, and the ladies have all packed up and gone home, I have to say for the most part that it was a fantastic competitive event. For the most part, being the key phrase in that sentence.

Ohhhh, you naughty, naughty ladies. Did you know two women of the North Korean Women’s World Cup Team had made the news for testing positive for anabolic steroids during the games?

That’s a big (huge) no-no. It’s also a big bombshell for what had been a pretty amazing competition. It’s high time you women finally get some serious respect in the world of sports; which is why when these two players from the same team tested positive, it kind of diminished all the hard work all the other women of the competition had done so far.

So, what’s going to happen to Song Jong-Sun and Jong Pok Sim?

Well, for starters they were taken off the lineup, and other team members have been subjected to FIFA testing them for the banned substance.

But, does it really matter? I mean North Korea was eliminated from World Cup Competition; because of their game statistics — not because of the doping, mind you.

Maybe nothing else will happen to them. I don’t see North Korea banning them from future competition, or anything.

The two Jongs weren’t the only ones who have tested positive, either. A Colombian player tested positive two days before the official start of the World Cup.

C’mon, what’s with the steroid use? Don’t you know that all samples of your blood are tested by the World Anti-Doping Agency? They’re also tested at the German Sport University (it’s in Cologne, in case you’re wondering).

What? You know how methodical us Germans are. Did you really think we weren’t going to find it?

That’s beside the point, actually. Theo Zwanzinger (president of the German Football Federation) has said that “there’s an inhumane system in North Korea to give athletes success… which could possibly be used for propaganda purposes.”

Ouch, that was pretty harsh.

Even non-sports playing folks can appreciate everything you go through to become the best of the best in your sport. Just think how much better you’ll feel (and gain all the respect and admiration of the public) to know that you’ve won your matches (games, whatever) on the world stage, without the use of steroids or any other banned substance.

Yeah, that goes for the men too!

—Marcus

Denied, Munich Is Not The One For 2018

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

It’s official, Munich, Germany’s bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics has been denied. I won’t be a sore loser, so congratulations to Pyeongchang, South Korea on their success.

Yeah sure, I do wish it was us though. ;-)

I truly am sorry that this Upper Bavarian town won’t get to host the Olympic Games. Germany has hosted the Games on several occasions throughout the years of the modern games.

We have the resources, we have the infrastructure (a top modern train system that’s prompt, thousands of hotel rooms, international restaurants, etc.), and we’ve shown that we can hold world-class sporting events.

Germany’s hosted the 2006 FIFA Men’s World Cup, the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, international boxing matches; oh, and three Olympic Games in 1896, 1936, and 1972, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, the country’s been turned down for hosting the games more times than it has been awarded them. Germany’s been denied for the 1960, 1992, 2000, and 2012 Games to just name a handful.

Drats, foiled again!

But, before I’ve gone off to sulk about Munich not hosting the 2018 Olympic Games; there’s still a chance to host the 2022 Games.

And even detractors for Angela Merkel would have to hand it to her; she really pushed for Munich’s chance in 2018, as well as Katharina Witt (an Olympic Gold Medalist) and other big names in sports, going all the way to South Africa to make a last-minute push to hold the Winter Games.

Hey, at least Munich has Oktoberfest to help drown out its Olympic woes. ;-)

Hmm, do you think we could petition the International Olympic Committee to make beer drinking a sport? No?

What about a bratwurst eating as an Olympic sport? Still no? Wow, this is a rough crowd — even rougher than the International Olympic Committee. ;-)

We’ll all just have to hold our breath for the 2018 then, huh?

—Marcus

German Boxing, Coming To The International Stage

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I’m torn on this. I was reading boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko’s blog at www.KlitschkoBlog.com after his fight with Britain’s David Haye (July 2nd), where it stated that Mr. Klitschko (the younger of the two heavyweight champion brothers) dominated the 12-round bout.

Um, I watched that fight — and this champ, whose adoptive hometown is Hamburg, might have won the match, but dominate? Nah, I don’t think so.

I agree that at times Haye boxed like a little kid afraid for a mother’s slam on his face for stealing candy from the kitchen table. But this didn’t make my beloved Wladimir dominate the match.

However, I won’t be a Monday morning quarterback on this sport that’s often called barbaric.

And German fans are rough; sometimes they’ll boo you as soon as they look at you, even if you are a local boy (sorry, Wladimir you might have won but the thousands of Germans in attendance still booed you). I thought that only happened in Philadelphia, USA where they’ll consistently boo their own team, let alone an opposing one.

At least the Germans aren’t known for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus (yes, that really happened in the City of Brotherly Love).

I only brought this up to talk about how boxing in Germany is yet another sport to add to the long list of other blood pumping, adrenaline rushing activities.

A few famous boxers from Germany have been making international headlines (read: title fights) recently besides Wladimir. His older brother Vitali, also a heavyweight champ, is another professional boxer that has made Germany his home base.

Vitali fights Tomasz Adamek in Wroclaw, Poland on September 10th. With any luck, I’ll give you my analysis of that Klitschko fight on September 11th. ;-)

Arthur Abraham would be another champ (an IBF World Middleweight Champ, to be exact) whose title reigned from 2005 to 2009. He’s proud to be Armenian, but he’s also proud to call Berlin home.

Just so you know, you’ll find quite a few amateur and professional boxing gyms in Germany’s capital. It might be off the beaten path, but why not come into one of ’em, you never know who you might find training. Right?

It would also be a disservice to leave out German boxer Felix Sturm, whose win against Irish boxer Matthew Macklin in a split decision bout not too long ago in Cologne has been controversial to say the least.

Say what you will, German Sturm did get to keep his WBA belt; and he got to do it in front of his hometown crowd.

I look forward to a much anticipated rematch.

—Marcus

FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

It’s time for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011!

From June 26th to July 17th, 2011, folks are looking forward to the matches, and new records in terms of the number of spectators are to be expected as women’s football (a.k.a. soccer) is still fairly young.

So let me list the nine host cities (in alphabetical order) with the names of the stadiums and the schedule of the matches so you know where to go when.

Bookmark this page as I will update this page on a regular basis during the course of the World Cup!

Augsburg

The Impuls Arena in Augsburg will host four matches:

June 29th at 15:00: NorwayEquatorial Guinea (1:0)
July 2nd at 14:00: Korea DPRSweden (0:1)
July 5th at 18:15: EnglandJapan (2:0)
July 10th at 13:00: Quarter-Final 3: SwedenAustralia (3:1)

Berlin

The historical Olympiastadion in Berlin hosted one match only:

June 26th at 18:00: GermanyCanada (2:1)

Bochum

In Bochum it’ll be the Rewirpowerstadion that will proudly host four World Cup matches:

June 27th at 15:00: JapanNew Zealand (2:1)
June 30th at 18:00: CanadaFrance (0:4)
July 3rd at 14:00: AustraliaEquatorial Guinea (3:2)
July 6th at 20:45: Korea DPRColumbia (0:0)

Dresden

Historical Dresden is among the eleven host cities of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011, and its Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion is where you’ll want to go see the following four matches live:

June 28th at 18:15: USAKorea DPR (2:0)
July 1st at 18:15: New ZealandEngland (1:2)
July 5th at 20:45: CanadaNigeria (0:1)
July 10th at 17:30: Quarter-Final 4: BrazilUSA (7:5)

Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt with its legendary Waldstadion (a.k.a. FIFA Women’s World Cup Stadium) is happy to host these matches here:

June 30th at 20:45: GermanyNigeria (1:0)
July 6th at 18:00: Equatorial GuineaBrazil (0:3)
July 13th at 20:45: Semi-Final 2: JapanSweden (3:1)
July 17th at 20:45: FINAL: USAJapan

Leverkusen

The Bay-Arena in Leverkusen is able to accomodate almost 30,000 fans for these four matches here:

June 28th at 15:00: ColumbiaSweden (0:1)
July 1st at 15:00: JapanMexico (4:0)
July 6th at 18:00: AustraliaNorway (2:1)
July 9th at 18:00: Quarter-Final 1: EnglandFrance (4:5)

Mönchengladbach

In Mönchengladbach, look out for the Stadion Im Borussia-Park to find these three matches here:

June 29th at 18:15: BrazilAustralia (1:0)
July 5th at 20:45: FranceGermany (2:4)
July 13th at 18:00: Semi-Final 1: FranceUSA (1:3)

Sinsheim

You’ve probably never heard of the town of Sinsheim yet, but for us Germans it became famous for its successful 1899 Hoffenheim football club which plays in the Bundesliga here in its Rhein-Neckar-Arena — and hosts/hosted the following four matches:

June 26th at 15:00: NigeriaFrance (0:1)
July 2nd at 18:00: USAColombia (3:0)
July 5th at 18:15: New ZealandMexico (0:1)
July 16th at 17:30: Third Place: SwedenFrance

Wolfsburg

In Wolfsburg, the Volkswagen city, it’s the Volkswagen-Arena that will happily greet tens of thousands of fans for these four matches:

June 27th at 18:00: MexicoEngland (1:1)
July 3rd at 18:15: BrazilNorway (3:0)
July 6th at 20:45: SwedenUSA (2:1)
July 9th at 20:45: Quarter-Final 2: GermanyJapan (0:1)

Hike In Bavaria And Experience Amazing Scenery

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Bavaria offers untold adventures among its landscapes. You will find historic sights, towering snow-capped peaks and abundant wildlife. When visiting Germany, this is one outdoor experience you shouldn’t neglect.

There are so many hiking routes to take advantage of around Munich and within lovely Bavaria, that it is impossible to list them all in one short article. But below you’ll find some of the best.

Close to Munich, there are a number of places to take off for a day trip for a walk along a marked trail. A favorite seems to be Jochberg Mountain. In the summer it might get a bit crowded, but it is an easy climb for the whole family. Allow yourself about an hour or even two and a half hours if you want to take it slow. Between May and September there will be no snow, making it easy to reach the summit.

Another Bavarian trail, this one starting in Gunzenhausen, takes you on a long trek of 198 km, but you don’t have to go the whole way. Called Altmühltal-Panoramaweg, this trail leads all the way to Kelheim. Visit ancient ruins, medieval houses, fortresses and darling little towns and villages.

Lake Ammersee offers some scenic hiking for the outdoor lover! Hike along the river Lech. Take an easy jaunt around the lake. It’s very relaxing to walk through gorgeous alpine pastures, across quaint bridges and into lush valleys.

The German section of the Allgäu Alps is one very popular place to go to get in some hiking. Lying on the German/Austrian border, these mountains have a varying terrain which attracts people from all over. If you don’t want to have too much difficulty, you can always hike among the smaller hills that rise from the pastures. These are the Allgäu Prealps and provide stunning views.

Traveling south from Munich, you will find that Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the perfect place to go in summer months for great hiking. In this deep valley, you can enjoy walking on trails around the blue, sparkling lakes or try something more strenuous, like climbing across some glaciers.

For some well-kept trails, you’ll find plenty around Lake Tegernsee. You can take some easy hikes or go for the longer and steeper trails. Many of these are cleared in the winter, making it possible for all-year-round hiking.

There are many trails in the Pfaffenwinkel area, where you will find enchanted forest landscapes and much natural beauty. The Lech-Höhenweg trail is one that provides breathtaking views of river valleys. Others trails include the König-Ludwig-Weg and the Prälatenweg.

Stop for a filling Bavarian meal with delicious beer when you hike around Lake Chiemsee. You can even take some time to enjoy other activities here, such as rafting the Tiroler Achen River, cycling or mountain biking.

The city of Starnberg is known as the heart of the Five Lakes Country, and you can hike a number of trails in this area. Strolling along the shores of the lake is quite a relaxing pastime.

Throughout Bavaria, you’ll find a wide choice of trails, from many easy and well-marked trails to those where you can set off on an adventure along unmarked pathways. Whether trekking in Berchtesgadener Land, in the Bavarian Forest or through Lower Bavaria, hiking in this region of Germany is something you simply can’t pass up.

—Marcus

Hike Through The Gentle Landscapes Of Brandenburg

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Taking a day of pleasure in beautiful Brandenburg, Germany means some time to get away from the hustle and bustle of the workaday world. Hundreds of kilometers of trails offer you some incredible scenery and a multitude of places to stop and take in the fascinating history of Germany.

For instance, starting at the Brandenburg Gate in Potsdam you can take a long circular tour on the trail known as 66-Seen Wanderweg. It takes you through Marquardt, Melchow, Wendisch Rietz, Trebbin, and then comes around once again to Potsdam. This 416-km trek provides such sights as lovely regional parks, Roman baths and palaces of exquisite beauty.

You’ll run across secluded areas where you can swim, enjoying a refreshing dip before continuing on your way. Walk on lakeshores and soak up the sun.

Visit Charlottenhof Palace, dating from the 18th century. This is where the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel worked his magic by transforming a farmhouse into a thing of wonder.

This “66-Lake Trail” is, of course, named for the marvelous lakes along the way. Rivers also run nearby, such as the Havel River and the Spree. The hike will take you all around Berlin and outlying areas. You will find places to stay all along this path.

Naturally, you don’t have to hike the entire 416 km. You’ll discover shorter sections, dayhikes around the city. From Potsdam to Marquardt is only 17 km, an easy trek at any time of year. This is a quiet route starting out in Potsdam and taking you on pathways in the city and suburbs. Although you won’t tour every sight in Potsdam, you get a great cross-section of the area.

Take off from Marquardt for a 20-km hike north to Brieseland. As you follow the Havel River, you’ll marvel at the scenery and solitude of this adventure. It’s a spot not often frequented, with many quaint towns along the way.

Some of the other shorter hikes on the 66-Lake Trail include from Brieselang to Hennigsdorf, 23 km of beauty, Hennigsdorf to Wensickendorf, a hike of 24 km, and many more. You can take a hike of 24 km from Wendisch Rietz to Neuendorf am See or from Wünsdorf to Trebbin, 27 km.

The last leg of the journey is from Seddiner See to Potsdam. This 25-km hike is almost all natural woodland trails, out of town for the most part, and nicely quiet. Wander through a wonderful hardwood forest, the shores of the Havel River and visit at last the park of the Sanssouci Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

You should take time after your long trip is over to tour Potsdam. Here you can visit historic sites that give you a real taste of the past in Germany. Stroll through ethnic quarters, such as the Dutch or Russian sections of the city.

There is another wonderful trail close to Berlin that you can embark on — the Naturpark Hoher Fläming. This is a long 122-km path starting in Bad Belzig and looping around through Rabenstein, Wiesenburg, Görzke and Groß Briesen (part of Friedland). Once you finish and return to Bad Belzig, you can brag how you have seen the best Germany has to offer.

Of course, this trail also is divided into sections, each from 15 to 19 km each. You can take shorter hikes in this way, in case you don’t have time to travel the entire way. You should plan your trip so you are sure to see the area near Dippmannsdorf with all the beautiful springs. There are numerous castles, stone churches and other cultural highlights to this adventure.

You see, hiking in Brandenburg is simply a pleasurable pastimes for outdoor enthusiasts in Germany. You simply must try it to see why.

—Marcus

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