Monthly Archives: April 2015

Great Inventions You Didn’t Know Were German

Blog 3- German InventionsThere’s no denying that Germany has played a major role in shaping the modern world. The first automobile was invented in Germany, along with the first motorcycle, truck, helicopter and cruise ship. Germany was the first to have a Christmas tree, advent calendar and an advent wreath. Scientific inventions and discoveries include the theory of continental drift, the discovery of Uranus and Neptune, Planck’s law and Planck’s constant, the theory of relativity, metal detectors, chip cards, computers, television, jet engines and the X-ray. Some musical inventions include the glockenspiel, clarinet, harmonica, accordion and gramophone record. So here are just a few lesser known German inventions:

Gummy Bears

These bear-shaped gummies were invented in the early 1920s when Hans Riegel founded his candy company – Haribo. The first gummy lollies produced by his companies were shaped like bears and Haribo continues to be one of the world’s top manufacturers of gummy lollies.

Blog 3 - Haribo

Aspirin

The world’s most popular painkiller, Aspirin, is a German invention! The little white pill was developed by chemist Felix Hoffman in 1897 for the Bayer AG (a giant pharmaceutical company). Although a US company claimed the patent after World War I, 25% of Aspirin produced globally is still made by Bayer.

Stationary

Many stationary items, such as the ring binder, hole punch, tape and glue sticks, were invited by Germans! The first glue stick was invented in 1969 by the company Henkel after studying the convenience of lipstick applicators. The first glue stick was released under the ‘Pritt Stick’ brand which was sold in 38 countries just two years later, and in 121 countries by 2001. The first multipurpose glue stick which could be used on other materials, such as wood and glass, was the ‘PowerPritt’ released in 2003.

Coffee Filters

After using blotting paper from her children’s school books to remove unwanted coffee grounds, Dresden housewife Melitta Bentz had the idea to patent her invention in 1908. She then founded a company with her husband and the couple were selling over a thousand filters by the next year.

Blog 3 - Coffee Filter

The Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny is well known around the world for leaving Easter-eggs for children on Easter Sunday. Whilst many people believed that the Easter bunny originated in America, it was first mentioned in German literature in the 1600s and was brought to America in the early 1700s by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania.

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City Spotlight: Köln (Cologne)

Cologne - Panorama

With a population of just over one million people, Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city. The city is found on the Rhine (Rhein) River and is home to the famous Cologne Cathedral. Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest cities. It was founded by the Romans in 50 AD and was named ‘Colonia’ and just a few years later it became one of the most important trade and production centres in the Roman Empire north of the Alps. In the Middle Ages, Cologne was the most densely populated and one of the most prosperous towns in the German-speaking region.

Fast forward a few years…. 90% of the inner city was destroyed in the second world war and only 40,000 people were living in the city. In 1947 work began to rebuild the Old Town and the city now ranks as one of the most prominent travel destinations in Germany and Europe. The city has much to offer including the Cologne museum, which is ranked as one of the best museums in the world, the annual Koelnmesse, which is home to approximately 55 international tradefairs and attracts more than 2 million visitors, the extensive shopping options and the world renowned Cologne Carnival (Kölner Karneval).

Cologne - CityTop 3 Tourist Attractions:

Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) – The Cologne Cathedral is the most impressive building of the Cologne skyline and can be seen from almost every point in the city. The North Tower is an impressive 157.38m high with the South Tower just 7cm shorter. The gothic cathedral is the second highest building in Cologne and was completed in 1880, however, the Cathedral has a very long history dating back to 1248 when its foundation stone was laid. It was initially built to house the remains of the Three Kings, which Archbishop Rainald von Dassel brought back in 1164 from Milan, however, construction was stopped in the early 16th century when money ran out. For more than 300 years the city’s skyline was dominated by a huge building crane and an incomplete South Tower. After the turn of the 19th century there was a reawakened interest to complete the Cathedral and in 1842 King Friedrich Wilhelm IV ordered the recommencement of work on the building. It was finally completed in 1880, however, received extensive damage during World War II. Since then, the Cologne Cathedral has been restored and continues to attract millions of visitors annually. In addition to the Shrine of the Three Kings, the medieval gold craftsmanship within the Cathedral surpasses all other shrines in the Western world in terms of size and grandeur. The Cathedral is also home to a Medieval sacristan crypt which contains church treasures dating back to the 4th century made of gold, silver, bronze and ivory. Visitors are also able to climb up the stairs of the South Tower and enjoy a view of the city from approximately 100m above! On the way up visitors pass the bell chamber which contains eight bells including St. Peter’s Bell which is the largest freely swinging church bell in the world.

Cologne - Cathedral

Römisch-Germanisches Museum (Romano-Germanic Museum) – the Romano-Germanic Museum is an archaeological museum featuring a large collection of Roman artefacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia. The basement is home to the museum’s main attraction, the Dionysus (god of the grape harvest) mosaic. This extremely well preserved mosaic was originally discovered when a bomb shelter was being built during World War II and is believed to have been created around 220 to 230 AD. The mosaic is made up of over a million pieces of glass, stone and ceramics and is the heart of the museum (in fact, the museum was built around this floor). The museum opened in 1974 and mimics the layout of the ancient village which once stood there. In addition to the mosaic, the museum features a reconstructed tomb of legionary Poblicius (approx. 40 AD), as well as an extensive collection of Roman glassware, medieval jewellery and many everyday items from life in Roman Cologne (including pottery, portraits, inscriptions and architectural fragments).

Cologne - Mosaic

Imhoff Schokoladenmuseum – In 1993 Hans Imhoff opened one of Germany’s most popular museums – the chocolate museum! It is situated in the city’s Altstadt (Old Town) and exhibits the entire history of chocolate – from its beginnings with the Olmecs, Maya and Aztects, to contemporary products and production methods. The museum attracts over 675,000 visitors and provides approximately 5,000 guided tours annually. It contains a small tropicarium (a greenhouse made specifically for the growing of palms and other tropical and subtropical plants) which houses two species of cacao: Theobroma cacao and Theobroma grandiflorum. The museum also displays miniature versions of machines used in the production of chocolate, allowing visitors to observe the chocolate production process with small chocolate bars given out at the end. The museum-shop is found next to the foyer featuring almost entirely Lindt products, some which are almost exclusively found at the museum-shop. Finally, the biggest (and our favourite!) attraction is the 3m high chocolate fountain – employees dip wafers into the melted chocolate and hand them out to the visitors and yes, you can eat as many as you like!

my favourite fountain...Fun Facts:

  • The University of Cologne is one of Europe’s oldest and largest universities
  • Cologne is home to Germany’s only Palm Tree Alley
  • The city’s favourite pub snack ‘halber Hahn’ (or as the locals say, ‘Halver Hahn’) is often mistaken by tourists as being half of a chicken, when it is in fact a bun with cheese and mustard
  • The famous perfume “Eau de Cologne” was initially a medicine against the pox; the brand ‘4711’ used to be the house number of its founding company, Farina, in the Glockengasse
  • The Cologne Cathedral is Germany’s second largest religious building and was the highest building in the world for a four year period after its completion

Cologne - Panorama 2

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Oktoberfest Brisbane 2014 Fun Facts

The Oktoberfest Brisbane is now the largest and most authentic German festival in Australia – something we’re extremely proud of! There’s nothing we enjoy more than sharing our love for German culture with Brisbane locals and visitors! Here are just a few fun facts about our festival in 2014.

Blog 2 OFB

155,632 dollars raised for Brisbane charity, Youngcare, since 2008

37,000 visitors ‘embraced their inner German’ at the 2014 Oktoberfest Brisbane

25,794 sausages savoured

13,976 Facebook friends

13,500 pretzels eaten (including 3,500 giant pretzels)

3,760 pork knuckles devoured

3,222 metres of Bavarian white/blue ceiling bunting used to decorate the Oktoberfest Tent

2,500 schnitzel burgers sizzled and munched

2,195 school students and teachers at the Oktoberfest for teens

490 table & bench sets – exactly the same ones at Munich’s Oktoberfest

395 years combined age of the classic Porsches & Mercedes at the Autofest show

204 years since the first Oktoberfest in Munich

143 years the six Oktoberfest Band members have played folk music in Germany (how many years is that per band member? You do the math!)

7 years of Oktoberfest Brisbane

6 years old was the youngest Alpenrosen dancer

2 German-Australian families organise Oktoberfest Brisbane

1st place as Australia’s largest Oktoberfest & largest German festival

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City Spotlight: Munich

We all know that Munich is home to the Oktoberfest, but the city has so much more to offer throughout the year…

Munich - PanoramaMunich is the capital of Germany’s largest state, Bavaria, and with a population of almost 1.5 million people it is Germany’s third largest city. The city’s name derives from the old German term ‘Munichen’, which means ‘by the monks’. The city’s first records date back to 1158, which is assumed to be its foundation date and was officially granted city status in 1175. Nowadays Munich is home to many major universities, museums and theatres, as well as many international sporting events, exhibitions, conferences and, of course, the Oktoberfest. In 2006 the city changed its motto to “München mag dich” which means “Munich likes you”. The city was ranked fourth in the world by the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, as well as ranking 15th in the world for economic and social innovation, thus, it is no surprise that it is one of Germany’s fastest growing cities.

Munich - By nightTop 3 Tourist Attractions:

Englischer Garten – The English garden is a large public garden in the heart of Munich. With an area of 3.7km2, it is one of the world’s largest urban public parks, larger than New York’s famous Central Park. The park has many sights and attractions available throughout the year. The Japanese teahouse and Japanese garden were added into the park in 1972 to celebrate the Summer Olympics that year which were held in Munich. The Schönfeldwiese (Schönfeld’s meadow) is a large open space where nude sunbathing has been permitted since the 1960s. There is also an artificial stream flowing through the garden on which people can go surfing (yes, you read that right – surfing in the middle of a large city!). There are many other temples and towers found throughout the garden, such as the Chinese Tower. There is also a large lake, the Kleinhesseloher See, a Hall to honour the garden’s founder and even a grazing area for sheep. With so much to do, it is easy to spend an entire day in the park, just remember to bring plenty of food, water and sunscreen (if you’re lucky enough to catch a day of sunshine in Germany!).

Munich - English GardenMarienplatz – The Marienplatz, or Mary’s Square, is the central square in Munich and has been since 1158. In the centre of the square stands a Mariensäule (Marian column) erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation and is topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary. During the middle ages, the city’s square hosted many markets and tournaments. Nowadays it is dominated by the New City Hall. The Glockenspiel in the new city tower was inspired by these medieval tournaments and attracts millions of tourists each year. The Old City Hall is located on the East of the city square. The surrounding area of the city square is a crowded area filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. The Marienplatz S-Bahn and U-Bahn station, a very important transportation hub, is located below the city’s square. One tip from us – if you’re visiting Munich in summer, take the time to sit in one of the many cafes in the Marienplatz and enjoy a wonderful ice cream creation.

Munich - MarienplatzBMW Museum – The BMW museum, as the name suggests, is a large automobile museum in Munich which shows the history of automobile manufacturer BMW. The museum shows the technical development from engines to aircrafts, cars and motorcycles. The museum’s information is available in both English and German as it takes visitors through the past, present and future of the BMW brand. It was founded in 1973 as one of the first ever brand museum and was redesigned and expanded in 2008.

Munich - BMW Museum & Welt

Whilst these are some of Munich’s top attractions, there is so much more to see including the Frauenkirche and Asamkirche, the Deutsches Museum, Tierpark Hellabrunn, Schloss Nymphenburg, the Viktualienmarkt, the Munich Botanical Garden, the Starnberger See, Olympiapark and a day trip to Schwangau to visit Schloss Neuschwanstein (the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle).

 

Fun Facts:

  • Munich is home to the Bavarian Film Studios which are the biggest and most famous film production studios in Europe
  • Munich has the lowest unemployment rate of any German city
  • The Deutsches Museum is the world’s largest science and technology museum with more than 50 exhibition areas and 1.5 million visitors per year
  • Munich is home to 61 theatres, 36 museums and 4 symphony orchestras
  • The most expensive retail space in Germany is located on Munich’s Kaufingerstrasse
  • Munich is known as the second largest publishing centre worldwide with approximately 250 publishing houses in the city
  • The Weisswurst (white sausage) is a Munich specialty served with sweet mustard and freshly baked pretzels
  • There are over 60 beer gardens in Munich

Munich - Neuschwanstein

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Top 4 Reasons to Learn German

Blog 1So you’re learning Deutsch? That’s awesome! Learning languages should be a fun experience, but there are some additional benefits to learning this fantastic language.

German is spelled phonetically

Aside from a few exceptions (because there always has to be SOME kind of exception to the rule!), German is pronounced the way it is spelled and spelled the way it is pronounced. Once you know how to pronounce letters and letter combinations, you’ll be able to read just about anything – so even if you have no idea what you’re actually saying, at least you’ll be saying it correctly! 🙂

 

German is the most widely spoken language in Europe

Europe has a population of over 742 million people – that’s massive! Whilst Germany, Austria and Switzerland have almost 100% German speaking populations, German is also the most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union. Whilst speaking fluent English will get you quite far in Europe, speaking German will get you even further and speaking both… well, the possibilities are endless!

Blog 1 German

Germany has a rich culture

With people such as Albert Einstein, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Karl Marx and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (just to name a few!), it is clear that Germany has a very rich culture, whether it is science, literature or music. With so many notable inventions it is not surprising that many books and journals have ­never been translated into English. By learning German you are opening a door to all kinds of literature and information which you may not have had access to beforehand!

Student Scholarships

The DAAD (Deuscher Akademischer Austauschdienst: German Academic Exchange Service) grants more than 60,000 scholarships PER YEAR (yes, you read that right). With this, it claims to be the largest academic exchange organisation in the world. There are short and long term scholarships available for everything from study abroad to summer courses, thesis research and internships!

Blog 1 DAAD

Most Common German Words:

When learning German, it is often helpful to make sure that you know what the most common words are, as this will help you to understand German much quicker than learning a random vocabulary set. The top 10 common German words are: das, ist, du, ich, nicht, die, es, und, Sie & der. For a full list of the 1,000 most common German words head to http://www.languagedaily.com/learn-german/vocabulary/common-german-words

Blog 1 WORDS

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City Spotlight: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg

Hamburg panoramaWith a population of roughly 1.8 million, Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city, and what a city it is! Hamburg is home to the largest sea harbour in Germany (second largest in Europe) and has been called the commercial centre of Northern Europe. Whilst the city is vital to the country and all of Europe’s economy, the city has much more to offer. It was voted Germany’s most attractive and hippest city and is home to more than 40 theatres, 60 museums and 100 music venues and clubs.

Hamburg HafenTop 3 Tourist Attractions:

1. Miniatur Wunderland (our personal favourite!!) – the miniature wonderland is the largest model railway in the world! Rather than telling you about this extraordinary exhibit, you can see parts of it in this YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACkmg3Y64_s

2. Hamburger Hafen – the Port of Hamburg is located on the river Elbe, 110km away from the mouth of the river which opens up to the Nordsee (North Sea). The port is also referred to as “Gateway to the World” and it is the busiest port in Germany. The port is almost as old as Hamburg itself, founded in May 1189 by Frederik I for its strategic location. The port is one of Hamburg’s largest attractions, both as an industrial and logistic centre and as a backdrop for modern culture with museum ships, bars, restaurant hotels and even a floating boat church.

Hamburg Hafen 23. Hamburg Rathaus (town hall) – the city hall or town hall of Hamburg is the seat of the government, located in the Altstadt quarter in the city. The building was constructed from 1886 to 1897, after the old city hall was destroyed in the great fire of 1842, and nowadays still houses its original governmental functions with the office of the First Mayor of Hamburg and the meeting rooms for Hamburg’s parliament and senate. The lobby of the city hall is a public area used for concerts and exhibitions, whilst the hall on the first floor is used for official presentations. The balcony of the city hall has the Latin inscription “Libertatem quam peperere maiores digne studeat servare posteritas” which means “May the freedom won by their forebears be preserved with dignity by future generations.”

Hamburg RathausFun Facts:

  • Hamburg has more than 2,300 bridges (not as many as Berlin but still more than Venice and Amsterdam combined)
  • 14% of the city area is made up of green spaces and recreational areas
  • Hamburg’s town hall has 647 rooms
  • Hamburg is home to the biggest Japanese garden in Europe
  • The Miniatur Wunderland features just over 12,000 metres of train tracks
  • The Hamburger Zoo was the first zoo with no cages (the open enclosures are surrounded by moats rather than cages, so visitors can see animals in more natural environments)
  • Hamburg has the oldest opera in Germany
  • Hamburg is home to more millionaires than any other German city

Hamburg FotoHamburger Sport-Verein (HSV)

HSV, or commonly known as Hamburger SV, is Hamburg’s sport club, most known for its football team. The current HSV was founded in 1919, although it officially traces its origin back to 1887. The HSV is the most unique football team in Germany as it is the only team to have played continuously in the 1. Bundesliga (top tier of the German football league system) since the end of World War I and it is the only team to have played every season of the Bundesliga since its foundation in 1963. HSV has won the German national championship 6 times, the DFB-Pokal 3 times and the League Cup twice.

Hamburg HSV

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City Spotlight: Berlin

This year we have decided to take you on a virtual tour of some of Germany’s largest cities – we’ll be introducing you to a new city every week with information, top attractions and much more! This week we’ll be starting with Germany’s capital and one of our very favourites: Berlin!

Berlin - DOMWith 3.5 million inhabitants from 184 different nations, Berlin is Germany’s largest city. The flag of Berlin has three stripes, two red and one white, with a bear (civil flag) or the coat of arms of Berlin (state flag – see below). The bear on the flag is apparently a pun on the city’s name (Berlin = Bär – lin) and this has been the official flag of Berlin since the reunification in 1990.

Berlin - FlagTop 3 Tourist Attractions:

Reichstag – the Reichstag was completed in 1894 following German national unity and the establishment of the German Reich in 1871. During World War II the Reichstag suffered damage and destruction and due to a fire and other damage, the original dome was demolished in 1954. After its restoration in 1961, the building was used as a venue for parliamentary committee meetings. Many momentous events in German history have taken place in the Reichstag with one of the most notable ones being the official reunification of Germany on October 2, 1990. Today, the Reichstag is a visitor must – visitors can register online and then visit the Reichstag for free, including a lift to the top of the building and an audio-guide as visitors walk up the glass dome with a view of the entire city – from the Tiergarten to the Fernsehrturm.

Berlin - ReichstagBrandenburger Tor – the Brandenburg Gate is an 18th century neoclassical triumphal arch at the junction of Unter Den Linden and Ebertstraβe. It was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace and was completed in 1791. Whilst the gate suffered considerable damage during World War II it was fully restored from 2000 to 2002. Today it is considered as a symbol of the vast German history, but also as a symbol of European unity and peace.

Berlin - Brandenburger TorBerlin Wall – the Berlin Wall divided Berlin into East Berlin and West Berlin between 1961 and 1989. The wall was 155km long and 3.6m high with more than 300 watchtowers, 20 bunkers, thousands of soldiers, guard dogs, alarms and ditches to trap vehicles. Whilst there are no exact figures, estimates show that approximately 5,000 people were successful in crossing the wall, whilst more than 130 people died trying. Nowadays there are some remains of the Berlin wall covered in graffiti at the original site (the East Side Gallery) and scattered across the city and there is a brick outline of the entire length of the wall throughout the city.

Berlin - Berlin WallFun Facts:

  • Berlin is NINE times larger than Paris
  • Berlin has around 1,700 bridges – FOUR times as many as in Venice
  • With the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the city has become a proper central rail hub for the first time in its history – and the largest in Europe
  • The first set of traffic lights in Europe were put into place in the Potsdamer Platz in 1924
  • Berlin is Germany’s biggest university city with 4 universities, 4 art schools, 10 technical colleges, ~130 non-university research facilities and over 134,000 students
  • With 175 museums, Berlin is said to have more museums than rainy days
  • Berlin is the most multi-cultural city in Germany (out of 3.5 million inhabitants over 470,000 residents have foreign passports)

Berlin - SiegessauleAs Jean Paul said in 1800:
Berlin ist mehr ein Weltteil als eine Stadt” (“Berlin is rather a part of the world than a city”).

If you’ve visited Berlin, we hope you love it as much as we do, and if you haven’t, we hope that one day you’ll have the chance to visit this truly remarkable city. 🙂

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