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German News And Events

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

We do our best here at 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. 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? :-)

Punctual German Rail = Great Time

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Those with the travel-bug most likely love anything that has to do with planes, trains, and/or cars. Am I right?

I know I do. Yet, this isn’t about planes or automobiles, really. It’s all about the trains.

Germany’s network of trains is exceptional; offering a handful of choices for your train travel needs.

Suppose you’re in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, or Belgium; and you got this burning desire to come to Deutschland? By the time you’ve gone through airport security, managed to get your clothes & stuff back on, and sit on the tarmac for umpteen hours—you’d have already been there if you hopped on the ICE Train (these babies do 300 k/h or 186mp/h, so they’re really, really, REALLY fast).

Um, that’s the Inter-country rail line; but, not the only one. Express service of the ICE will take you nonstop on intra-German lines (like Berlin to Frankfurt, Hamburg to Duisburg, you get the point).

Don’t want to kill a day traveling? Use the Night Train (called the DB Nachtzug). Oh, this is a gem of a line—with sleepers, couchettes, and women-only compartments with routes taking you to/from Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, and Prague (to name a few). There’s even room for your bicycle onboard.

Already in one of Germany’s big cities, and want to head out towards the suburbs? You won’t need the night train or the ICE—you’ll take the S-Bahn. No women-only compartments needed since most travel is within a 60km radius of any major city. They’re quick, they’re convenient, they’re punctual, and they’re affordable.

Better than having to fight your way to the center of town from the airport, I think.

Even better that just about everything runs on-time in Germany. Being punctual is of the utmost importance to us! ;-)

It’s also important to easily buy your ticket, too. Most of Germany’s train tickets can be bought on as well as at the stations themselves, even on the trains (with a small surcharge).

Wow, what a great (easy, affordable) way to see the German countryside and the best of its cities, no?

Origins Of The Prowess Of Germans And German Engineering

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

The other day, Harald Wolf from Canada contacted & asked me a very interesting question about us Germans, our German History, and why we are the way we are.

However, because I’m a greenhorn when it comes to the topic of history (who would’ve believed that… but my favorites in school were Mathematics, English, Geography and Sport), I had to ask our history buff and German History expert, Lisa Keller, in terms of what could be an accurate answer to Harald’s question.

So here it comes… Harald’s question first, Lisa’s response next, and then some final thoughts from yours truly…

Here’s something for you to pick up on, or keep in mind. I’ve been searching for many years for the origins of the prowess you talk about in “German Engineering Is A Leading Engine In Our World.”

Studying the origins of civilization in general is a bit of a hobby of mine, as is early German history. Of course, German history is rather swamped by more recent events, and I get the idea few Germans like to spend a lot of time thinking about the past.

There seem to be several black holes — between the Völkerwanderungen and the rise of the Frankish Empire and during the Dark ages. What events may have contributed to the intense “can-do” National pride that put the Germans among the top technical innovators — and kept them there for longer than any other nation?

Having learned that Germans are at least as much a mixture of races as any other country, I certainly don’t buy Hitler’s Ayrian superiority concept.

How did we get from a bunch of feuding Barbarian tribes to a nation that refuses to play second fiddle to any other nation in innovation and engineering?

If you have any suggestions of where I could find such information, I would appreciate that too. (And yes, I can read German, though with a bit of a struggle when it gets technical.)

Again, excellent question. Here’s Lisa’s response…

I’ve thought long & hard about this question–and you’re probably better able to answer some things better than I could.

But, from a historical standpoint, Germany wasn’t really a technological leader until around the mid-19th century. The country had been in the midst of wars (Peasants’, 30 Years, even the Reformation itself for that matter for the better part of two centuries).

What Germany did have was location, location, location. The country was located on some old major trade routes, it had resources (silver, etc), rivers for navigating around to trade with other countries. And it had food, as much of the country was used for agriculture.

If you ain’t worried about eating–you got time to think about other things, right?

Too bad the church hierarchy and the “guilds” wielded too much power for the common man to change much of the status quo. It wasn’t until Wilhelm II came to power, and wanted to at least be on par with countries like England–wanting to build a navy like the Brits–and a chance to get away from the bureaucratic way of thinking of his father, grandfather, and Otto von Bismarck. He kicked off much of the industrialization that propelled Germany into a technological marvel.

Of course, education comes in to play. Men like Copernicus & Kepler are only two of the brilliant minds that came from Germany educating its population–plus the 20 year battle of the French Revolution helped to bring around changes of equality and liberty to the people–even though all this took place before Wilhelm’s day.

Women were another resource, they made great strides for themselves in the Weimar Republic–until the Nazis came to power, that is.

The Nazis might have used the phrase “Aryan superiority”, but they ostrasized many brilliant minds–forcing the likes of Einstein and others to flee the country. So, no–I don’t “buy” into that either.

My opinion there wasn’t one catalyst event that caused German to become a technological leader. It was (and still is) a combination of events, people, education, and location that leads (and led) Germany from barbaric tribes to all the technological advances it’s made and will continue to do so.

I hope this helps!

Thank you very much, Lisa!

Thinking about it myself, four characteristics usually come up in my mind that could explain how we Germans are and why, and be reasons for the prowess of German Engineering — in addition to what Lisa said above…

Perfectionism — Probably a prime reason, we have a distinct sense and desire for perfectionism. We simply go an important step further and discover and fix flaws where others give up or think it would be “good enough.” It’s not. It’s never good enough.

Discipline — Discipline helps us focus and stay on track. I’m not sure where our tendency towards discipline stems from. Perhaps due to all the wars we had and the “trainings,” “camps” and “drills” we went through and experienced?

Seriousness — Yeah sure, after all those wars (and we really don’t want any other war anymore, ever!) we lost happiness and joy and now go through live in a serious manner — looking down on earth when walking. Kidding aside, our seriousness helps us “get down to business” and focus on the task at hand (rather than get sidetracked by distractions or delayed by dull chatter).

Climate — Germany is ideally located in Central Europe. The climate is not as warm or hot as in, say, Greece or Portugal, nor is it as cold as in Island or Canada. This, too, helps us focus and concentrate to deliver top (and perfected? ;-) products.

A possible fifth reason just popped up in my mind… Silence. We love silence and a quiet environment that helps us relax, enjoy, think, consider, contemplate, focus (again), and concentrate.

70% of our population lives in smaller (& quieter) towns and villages with less than 100,000 inhabitants. With 82 Million people living in 14,000 German towns, they are scattered all over the country — something rare in our world. And these smaller towns and municipalities provide a quieter environment which, again, helps us focus and concentrate on what’s important.

And focus and concentration ultimately leads to better performance, productivity, and products.

(This does not mean Germans don’t love to party. Yet still…)

And speaking of silence, ever noticed that windows in our houses are usually so thick and insulated, they eliminate noise from the outside almost completely?

Again, thank you very much for this excellent question, Harald. Really something to chew on… (although my own response was probably more about the current state rather than historical roots… ;-)


A Replica Of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater For Sale On eBay

Monday, August 15th, 2011

It’s official, you can buy anything on the Internet.

I was a bit stunned to see Shakespeare’s Globe Theater for sale on eBay a while back. Not the real Globe Theater in England, but a full-size replica at the famous Babelsberg Studios just outside of Berlin.

The best part? It would’ve only cost you 11.50 Euro to buy it. The down side? It would’ve cost you about 50,000 Euro to have it dismantled and carried away.

You really didn’t think they’d ship it to you in Some Small Town, USA, did you?

Still, would you’ve been interested?

The Babelsberg’s Globe Theater can actually seat 700 people; and is worth an estimated half a million Euro (approx. $716,000 USD). I can just imagine what the neighbors would say if you tried to put this out in your backyard.

It was a gift to the Shakespeare Company Berlin from the German-born director Roland Emmerich (he directed Independence Day with Will Smith) after he made the movie Anonymous.

The studio where this Shakespeare’s Globe sits is pretty historical in its own right; it’s the oldest theater in the world, ready to celebrate its 100th birthday next year.

Did you know that The Blue Angel (the movie that catapulted Marlene Dietrich to stardom) was made here in 1930, and Fritz Lang’s movie Metropolis was also made in the studio’s lot in 1927.

More modern movies have been made at Babelsberg Studios (all under the watchful eye of the Globe), including Valkyrie, The Reader (with Academy Award winner Kate Winslet), The Pianist, Inglorious Basterds, and The Ghost Writer.

Not to mention, the approximately 1000 movies made by Joseph Goebbels between 1933 and 1945. OK, they were propaganda films, but in terms of number of movies that’s still a whole lot being made.

If amazing pieces of cinematic art like the Globe Theater (or the closest you’ll get to the real one) were for sale on eBay, I guess it is true; you can buy anything on the internet.

The Wonderful Boom In Our German Economy

Monday, April 25th, 2011

It seems that exports from our wonderful and business-minded country have created a lot of consumer spending and spurred much hiring. This is a promising outlook for the future of Germany’s economy.

Per reports, the economy of this country is expected to grow 2% this coming year and it is predicted to even reach 1.5% in 2012. Goals of large corporations are being met and beat, meaning even they can’t fully predict what growth Germany will really attain.

Of course, we Germans are enraptured with the predictions. It simply validates our good sense and determination to succeed. Certainly it has sparked incredible consumer confidence, thus spending.

Last year, unemployment dropped by a huge margin. This is happy news for all of those who have been out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

Elsewhere in Europe, prospects are not as great. But this simply means that the outlook for Germany remains good. We become the country to turn to for excellent service, fair prices and quality goods. :-)

The president of one of Germany’s leading think tanks has also predicted a golden age. He had a view when he wrote his book, “Can Germany Be Saved?” which was one of pessimistic outcomes — but he has changed his views. He believes it has now been saved.

This is likely true. The German people are enjoying a strong economy and don’t intend to let it slip. They see it in life each day as shoppers turn out to buy their goods, employees work hard at their jobs and factories produce high quality goods.

Although in 2008-2009 output was cut as the threat of a depression loomed, Germany’s factories have made a comeback, and are enjoying a prosperous 2010 and 2011.

One of Audi’s executives has commented that 2010 was their best year ever. So the faith that good times are returning is strong and stable. And it seems it is wide spread through all areas of the country.

The reasons Germany’s economic structure prospers have been under investigation from a number of sectors, and no one can agree on a common factor. Speculation runs high. However, it should seem obvious that Germany should carry on doing what it’s doing to maintain its forward push toward prosperity.


Welcome The New Berlin Brandenburg Airport In 2012

Monday, March 28th, 2011

As the capital city of Germany, Berlin has had its run of airports. The newest is called Berlin Brandenburg International (airport code BBI or BER) a.k.a. Willi Brandt Airport, and is scheduled to open in the latter half of 2012. That is, only if officials have their way. Construction is still underway, despite some protests from local Berliners who are upset over the flight paths.

City officials hope to stream all of their passengers into this one mega-airport. Right now, Berlin’s air traffic is divided up between Berlin-Tegel Airport in the northwest and Berlin-Schönefeld Airport in the south.

Because of the long history of these two airports, their size is limited. For the last few years, they’ve been at a breaking point, bursting with passengers and they can not be expanded any further. The obvious solution is to either build a new one or expand an existing one that can accommodate all of those people visiting this vibrant metropolis.

Now, Berlin decided to expand its existing Berlin-Schönefeld Airport and rebrand it to the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport. Once this new super-sized airport comes into the picture, the plan is to phase out the older airport of Tegel. A third airport, the historic Tempelhof, was closed in 2008 already.

Berlin-Tempelhof Airport was once among the twenty largest buildings on earth. Orville Wright, the father of flight, made one of his first flying demonstrations here and the airport also played a vital role in the Allied-led Berlin Airlift at the beginning of the Cold War.

One of the most notable features of Tempelhof was its canopy-roof, which let passengers disembark in heavy rains without getting wet, and was certainly much-beloved by grateful visitors. The entire complex was built to look like an eagle in flight. The hangars, semi-circle in shape, represented the spread wings.

Tegel has its own long and interesting histories, which will regrettably come to a close. Before we say good-bye to it, let’s remember its best moments. :-)

Berlin-Tegel is known for its hexagon-shaped building. This unique shape allows for some of the shortest flight connections you can imagine. Some airport access walkways are just thirty meters (ninety-eight feet). Passengers, which numbered over fourteen million in 2008, will certainly miss the convenience! But Tegel wasn’t always such a well-traveled place.

The delicate political situation of the Cold War meant that it was, at one time, a highly-restricted airport. Only holders of American, British or French passports were allowed to serve as flight crew (i.e., pilots, navigators, etc.) and only Allied airlines could fly in and out of it.

Berlin-Schönefeld was once the only airport serving the Communist East Berlin. It is also notable for its great pride in being a “green” airport. During its construction, the crews went out of their way to protect ancient oak trees, and even relocated bats and amphibians whose habitats were in or around the airport.

So while these airports will be missed, the future is always an exciting place. Visitors to Berlin in the coming years — expected to be over 25 million! — can look forward to a new, cutting-edge airport that will soon create its own interesting history.


125th Anniversary Of The Benz Patent Motor Car

Monday, January 24th, 2011

In 1886 in Berlin, Carl Benz filed his patent for what he called “a vehicle with a gas engine drive.” This was the famous Benz Patent Motor Car, its birth a boon to the wheeled world. Now, 125 years later, it seems only appropriate to celebrate this event with banners flying and arms waving.

Independently of each other, two of the founding fathers of Daimler AG were developing motor cars during the same time period — Carl Benz, the three-wheeled Benz Patent Motor Car and Gottlieb Daimler, the first four-wheeled vehicle. Right here was the foundation of all our present-day vehicles, trucks and buses.

Mercedes-Benz went on to develop and manufacture diverse and enduring motor cars for the world to enjoy in comfort and safety. Models have continued to evolve through the years, bringing design to a new level.

After these long 125 years, it is a time to commemorate this one particular vehicle’s special birthday. To celebrate, festivities are occurring around the world in many forms.

In the Mecedes-Benz World in Stuttgart is a large event that will take place at the end of this January, 2011 with political, economic and society icons, including Dr. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Those who have devoted their time and energies to working within the company will have the opportunity to be part of any of multiple events. At all Daimler locations throughout the world, employees will enjoy celebrations, raffles and prizes.

The opening events will begin on 29 January 2011.

At the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart, attendees will enjoy an international football match, pitting the German team against Brazil. Mercedes-Benz will act as sponsor and be offering multi-media performances as well as fascinating vehicle exhibitions, including glimpses of the future of automobiles.

The match will be held on August 10, 2011 in the converted Mercedes-Benz Arena.

At the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, more than 160 exhibits by over 80 international and well known artists will be on display, including both modern and contemporary art and, of course, paintings featuring cars.

The exhibition will be held from May to September 2011. Here’s more about the Mercedes-Benz Museum Stuttgart.

A Bavarian tourism company has also teamed up with numerous car makers to offer a premium tour opportunity behind the wheel of a fabulous car, staying in top hotels and taking driving tours through forests and countrysides. It’s called the “8-day Premium Cars of Southern Germany Tour.”

The head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, who is also chairman of the board of Daimler AG, says (and I agree) that Daimler and Benz have changed the world for the better and will continue to do so, with new brands, green technology and many business opportunities.

Anyone can join in these celebrations taking place in Germany, and offer their enthusiastic approval of such pioneering technologies that shaped our world.


Is Germany Getting Less Expensive?

Monday, May 31st, 2010

If you follow the world economic news at all, you know that Germany is caught up in a tangle of European finance. German’s own economy may not always shine, but it is relatively stable. However, not all of our neighbors are doing as well!

As a result of our stability, many people around the world look to Germany for financial help in times of stress. Whether this is eastern European banks looking for help due to mortgage backed securities issues or Greece looking for help with its debt, Germany gets the call. German leaders offer advice, make speeches, and sometimes commit to large bailout programs along with other European nations.

What is this doing to the Germany economy?

In many ways, the average person doesn’t see a lot of change in the street. On a broader level, however, Germany’s economic fate is linked to that of the European Union. Thus, you can look at the euro for a gauge of price trends in Germany.

Looking at the last few months of euro trading, you can see that the economic stress across the European Union has been putting significant downward pressure on the euro. This makes it more expensive for Germans traveling outside the euro zone (as I’ve discovered at airport currency exchange stations), and also makes some imported goods more expensive for local shoppers.

On the other hand, this downward pressure on the euro makes it easier than ever for you to visit Germany. As currencies like the dollar, pound, and yuan appreciate against the euro, the real cost of hotel stays, train tickets, and nice dinners goes down for visitors like you.

Thus, if you are thinking about taking a trip to Germany, you may want to think about doing it soon! The euro has been through a lot of up and down cycles over its lifetime, and who knows what will happen next?

Take advantage of the current dip in the value of the euro to enjoy a Germany that is both beautiful and more affordable than ever. :-)


2010 German Summer Travel Trends

Monday, April 5th, 2010

The other week, I talked about airport currency exchange rates. This has an impact on tourist traffic that tourism and travel agency monitor closely. I’ve had a look at their predictions and wanted to share some of them with you!

First, you will want to book early for your summer travel. According to industry reports for the initial quarter of 2010, travel bookings to Germany have already exceeded their 2009 levels. This means to ensure you have a train seat or a hotel room in August you should make reservations NOW.

Second, you will want to be mindful of specials. Cruises, for example, have been dropping in price over the last few years, and German River Cruises are in line with the trend. It is becoming more and more affordable to do a Rhine Valley cruise, and this year the falling euro and the cruise ships specials make a German cruise a great value.

Third, you should be aware that you will be facing stiff competition from locals. Germans took 86.6 million domestic trips in 2009, which was up 2% from 2008 and is expected to go up again in 2010. Yes, we love to travel and we love our own country, so expect festivals, trails, and scenic spots to be well populated with natives as you travel.

Fourth, you will want to be mindful of the most popular travel destinations. If you want to avoid crowds, stay away from Bavaria and Lower Saxony, Germany’s most visited areas. You will be able to find more space for reflection and perhaps more open hotel rooms in other regions.

Finally, be sure to check low cost airfares. Discount air travel has been rising in Germany, and now accounts for nearly 40% of all travel. With a robust market, there are multiple carriers serving the German market, and by shopping carefully you can really snatch up some cheap flights.

Happy travels! :-)


Solar Power Solves Public Transport Problems In Germany

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

We Germans are some of the most environmentally conscious citizens on the planet. We recycle more than other developed nations, invest millions of euros in green energy expansion, and actively protect our green spaces from pollution. The country leads the world in solar power production, and is the world’s top photovoltaics installer — if planet Earth holds still, we Germans will try to put a solar panel on it! ;-)

As an example of this in action, you need look no further than the way solar power is used to solve transportation issues in Germany. It goes far beyond simply installing solar powered roadside lights and road signs. Instead, we Germans use solar power to run some of our largest and most notable ferries.

In Hamburg, for example, the solar powered shuttle has been operating since 2000. It can move up to 120 people across the river at speeds of up to 15 km/hr. The sleek needle shape is 42 meters long, and has a pontoon style layout with bench seating.

Many people compare it to the famous Serpentine shuttle in Hyde Park, completely unaware that the 14.5 meter British ferry is a miniature of the Hamburg model constructed by Christoph Behling!

Further south, a catamaran style solar shuttle operates on Lake Constance. With a spiraled translucent top, you can enjoy the beautiful shorelines of the lake as you make your transfers between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Although the shuttle holds up to 60 people, with the clear sides you will feel as though you are floating alone on the water, and be able to get some stunning photographs.

These are just a few of the green innovations in use in Germany as solutions to the pollution many public transportation systems cause. Thus, when you explore Germany using public transport, you get the satisfaction of supporting some of the world’s most cutting-edge installations of solar power. :-)


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