Monthly Archives: July 2015

Travelling to Germany – Before you fly

So you’ve decided to go on a trip to Germany – that’s fantastic – but before you leave, there are some things you should remember to do or purchase to ensure that you’ll have the best trip possible!

PassportAus Passport

This might seem like a very obvious one, but you should always check your passport’s expiry date before you book your flight (or get one if you don’t own one!). If you leave it to the last minute and realise your passport is going to expire whilst you’re overseas, getting a new one on time is going to be very expensive.

AccommodationAccommodation

Again, this may seem like a very obvious point, but make sure that you have your accommodation, at least for the first few nights, sorted before you leave Australia. If you want to be spontaneous that’s fine, but your first night or two are not the time for spontaneity! You don’t want to arrive in a foreign country and then go on the hunt for a hostel, especially if you’re arriving at night or very early in the morning.

AdapterAdapter

Germany has a different electrical socket than Australia, so it’s easiest to purchase an adapter before your trip as they can be very expensive at the airport. You don’t want to arrive, find out that your phone is dead and then be unable to charge it immediately. If you’re planning on travelling throughout Europe, or stopping over in Asia or America beforehand, it’s a good idea to buy a universal adapter – that way you’re covered wherever you go!

TowelTowel

Your trip from Australia to Germany can take you well over 30 hours – you have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure, then you’ll probably have two or three stops that can take up to several hours and once you finally arrive in Germany you will want to take a shower! If you’re staying with a host family or in a hotel you will be right, but if you’re going straight into your student accommodation or a hostel, you may not be given a towel, so it’s always a good idea to bring one just in case!

EuroEuro

Firstly, we highly recommend that you get a credit card, if you do not own one already, in case of an emergency. Even if you have a travel money card, things can always go wrong and you don’t want to find yourself stranded in a big city with no access to your money! Secondly, order Euros at your bank in Australia so that you have some cash when you first arrive. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, but you may be hungry or need a train ticket when you arrive and you don’t want to have to pay for every small purchase with your card.

internetInternet

Global roaming on your phone is extremely expensive. When you first arrive, you can connect to the Frankfurt Airport wifi and most hostels and hotels these days have free wifi, however, make sure that you have all of the information you need before you leave the airport. Do you know exactly where your accommodation is? Do you know how you’re going to get there? Have you checked that your accommodation does offer wifi?

InsuranceInsurance

Do not travel without insurance. Sure, insurance isn’t cheap, but it will save you a lot of money if anything happens and will give you (and your parents!) peace of mind. From lost or stolen luggage to an ambulance or hospital bill – make sure you’re covered!

AmbulanceEmergency

Your mobile phone should allow you to make an emergency phone call at any time. You can reach the police by calling 110 and reach the fire station or an ambulance by calling 112. Whilst you shouldn’t need these numbers, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Arrival Day Closed

Before you leave, check what day of the week you arrive. If you arrive on Sunday morning or afternoon you will probably want some food throughout the day, however, shops are closed on a Sunday. Whilst many cafes and restaurants are still open, you might want to buy a snack at the airport (there are bakeries and convenience stores at Frankfurt airport), to avoid having to go out (trust us, after the long journey, the last thing you’ll want to do is get dressed up to go out to a restaurant for dinner).

LuggageLuggage

Weigh your luggage before you head to the airport. If you have a 30kg limit, make sure you stick to it. Airlines have become a lot stricter with their weight restrictions in recent years and you don’t want to end up having to unpack your whole suitcase at the airport to find something to leave behind – plus, you’ll probably go shopping as soon as you arrive, so leave some space in your suitcase for all of your new purchases!

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City Spotlight – Duisburg

Duisburg - PanoramaDuisburg is located in North Rhine-Westphalia and is home to the world’s largest inland harbour. The city is split up into seven districts – the largest district is home to over 100,000 people, whilst the smallest district only has around 17,000 inhabitants. There are two theories about the city’s name: the first is that the first syllable derives from the Germanic word ‘dheus’ which means flood plain or wet area; the second theory suggests that the name derives from the Old German word ‘duis’ which meant hill. Whilst legend suggests that the city may have dated back to 2,395 BC, making it one of Europe’s oldest cities, there is no evidence to support this, however, the latest archaeological studies have found artefacts from the Roman period. These studies suggest that the area currently used for markets, was used for the same purpose in the first century. Today it is famous for its metal production, as all blast furnaces in the Ruhr area are located in Duisburg – in 2000 49% of all hot metals and 34.4% of all pig iron in Germany was produced in Duisburg. In addition to this, Duisburg is home to several first and second league sporting teams, botanical gardens, opera houses and museums.

Industrie Skyline - Duisburg MeiderichTop 3 Tourist Attractions:

Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord – The Landschaftspark (landscape park) in Duisburg is a public park, designed in 1991, extending over an area of 180 hectares. The park is made up of a combination of nature, industrial heritage and light installations. The land where the park stands today was used for agricultural purposes before the mid-19th century, after which it was a site of coal and steel production. After the production plant was abandoned in 1985 the site was heavily polluted and thus, planning teams created a park which built around some of the existing structures, whilst completely remodelling other areas of the site. With cycle paths, playgrounds, climbing walls, footpaths, open grass areas, venues for major events and a multi-colour light installation at night, there is something in the park for everyone.

Duisburg - LandschaftsparkSechs-Seen-Platte – If you’re more into water-based recreational activities than land-based ones, the Sechs-Seen-Platte is for you! Literally meaning six-lake-board, the sport park is made up of six different lake areas: Wambachsee, Masurensee, Böllertsee, Wolfssee, Wildförstersee and the Haubachsee. The Wambachsee is the only lake which is cut off from the other lakes (although there is an underground channel connecting them) and visitors are able to hire a paddleboat or take an introductory dive. The other five lakes are surrounded by forest and visitors can go swimming, rowing, sailing, diving, canoeing or just relax by the lake’s shore.

Duisburg - Sechs-Seen-PlatteInnenhafen – The inner harbour was once a key trade area during the Industrial Revolution, however, as the importance of the harbour declined, starting in the mid-60s, it was disused for almost 20 years before being renovated. Some of the renovated highlights include the Herzog & de Meuron arts museum, a ‘Legoland Discovery Centre’, a City History Museum, a ‘Garden of Rememberance’ and the Synagogue of the Jewish District of Duisburg-Mülheim/Ruhr-Oberhausen. In addition this, the area has developed a lively dining scene, with more than 15 restaurants and clubs lining the shore.

Duisburg - Innenhafen

Fun Fact:

Ramin Djawadi was born in Duisburg in 1974 and lived there before attending the Berklee College of Music in the 90s.
Never heard of Ramin? Well, you may have heard of Iron Man, Pacific Rim, Prison Break and Game of Thrones.
Ramin graduated summa cum laude from Berklee, which gained the attention of Hans Zimmer (who most famously scored The Lion King, Inception, Pirates of the Carribean series and The Dark Night trilogy) who recruited Ramin for Remote Control Productions (Zimmer’s film score company). Since those early years he has come a long way to score some of the most popular movies and TV series of the past few years.

Duisburg - Ramin

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5 Untranslatable German Words

Every language has some words which perfectly describe a situation, a feeling, an object or a person, but when you look at their translation, it just doesn’t seem right. Their translation may be close, but just lacks the essence of what the word really means. Here are a few examples:

gemütlich
Translation: comfortable
This is one of our favourite words and if you come across a German and ask them which word is untranslatable, they will most likely say – gemütlich! It’s that perfect balance of feeling cosy, content, comfortable and relaxed. It’s when a situation is just perfect – imagine this: you’re sitting in a lounge chair by the fire, covered by a soft blanket, sipping on the most delicious hot chocolate you’ve ever had whilst soft music is playing in the background and you are watching the snow fall outside the window – that is gemütlich!

GemütlichScheinheilig
Literally means: seems holy
Translation: sanctimonious
Have you ever met someone who appears charming in front of everyone? Who says all of the right things, is involved in all the right activities and everyone just loves… but then you find out that they’re actually quite a nasty person behind everyone’s back? We all know them: they seem lovely but aren’t – they are scheinheilig.

ScheinheiligDas Fernweh
Literally means: distance pain
Translation: wanderlust
Fernweh describes the yearning to see distant places; it describes the feeling you get when all you want to do is travel and see foreign lands. It’s what happens when there is wanderlust, but no opportunity to wander and all that is left is a feeling of yearning and pining for unknown distances. The word’s counterpart is ‘Heimweh’, meaning homesickness, so Fernweh may be describes as a feeling of homesickness for places that you’ve never actually been to. Have you ever sat at your desk, or maybe outside on the terrace on a rainy day and stared off into the distance dreaming about tropical islands or snowy mountains, whishing that you were there? Then you may have experienced Fernweh!

FernwehDie Torschlusspanik
Literally means: goal end panic
Translation: last minute panic
Torschlusspanik is the fear of missing out when you are at the end of something – it’s kind of a ‘last minute panic.’ The word dates back to medieval times when city gates were closed at dusk to protect its residents from thieves and wild animals. If you didn’t make it inside on time you’d have to spend the night sleeping outside of the gates (or pay a fee to be let inside).

Torschlusspanikverschlimmbessern
Literally means: worsen improve
Translation: make worse
Yes, it does seem like a contradiction, but what it actually means is the action when someone attempts to improve something, but ends up making it worse in the process. Have you ever received a bad haircut and thought ‘This looks horrible, I can’t be seen in public like this. I know, I should try and fix it myself! I mean, it can’t get any worse, right?’ Wrong. So there you are looking even worse than you did before – congratulations, you have verschlimmbessert your haircut.

verschlimmbessern

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City Spotlight: Nürnberg

Nurnberg - Panorama 1
Nürnberg (or Nuremberg in English) is another beautiful city in the state of Bavaria. The city was first mentioned in 1050 and soon expanded due to its location on key trade routes. The city now has a population of over half a million, 37% of which are from a non-German background (largest non-German populations are from Turkey, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, Greece and Italy). The city is perhaps most famously known for its production of Lebkuchen (gingerbread), sausages and handmade toys. The first pocket watches, initially known as Nuremberg eggs, were made here in the 16th century and, in the 19th century, the city became known as the ‘industrial heart’ of Bavaria with companies such as Siemens and MAN (a German mechanical engineering company) establishing a strong base in the city. The city is now known for its performing arts, museums, history and the annual Christmas market.
Nurnberg - Panorama 2
Top 3 Tourist Attractions:
Kaiserburg Nürnberg (Nuremberg Castle) – The Nuremberg Castle first appeared in documents from 1105. In 1140 King Conrad III started building a second castle on the site which was to be used as a royal residence.  When Nuremberg became an Imperial Free City in the 13th century, the castle was passed into the care of the city. The castle suffered severe damage in World War II, with only the Roman double chapel and Sinwell tower remaining entirely intact. Today, the eastern buildings of the castle are used as a youth hostel. The castle is open all year around for visitors to enjoy a guided tour and visit the gardens from April until October.
Nurnberg - Castle
Germanisches Nationalmuseum – The Germanisches Nationalmuseum is Germany’s largest museum of cultural history. The museum takes visitors on a tour filled with culture and art from ancient times until the present – guided tours are available every day in German and English. The tour starts with pre- and ancient history, when humans learned how to control fire, utilize tools and subsisted from hunting and gathering. The museum features an approximately 120,000 year old hand axe made of flint, medieval tapestries from the 1400s, toys from the 1800s and much, much more!
Nürnberg - Germanisches Nationalmuseum
Justizpalast (Palace of Justice) – The Nuremberg Palace of Justice, constructed in the early 1900s, houses the appellate court, regional court and local court, as well as the prosecutor’s office. Most famously, the building was the location of the Nurember Trials that were held in 1945 until 1949 after World War II. The tour of the Palace of Justice takes visitors through 12 exhibitions: the events leading up to the trials, the international military tribunal, a film, the defendants, the parties to the trial, the course of the trial, the judgement, prosecution of Nazi criminals, a second film, the heritage of Nuremberg, the media and Courtroom 600 (see picture below). Courtroom 600 is still used as a venue for jurisdiction, thus a viewing of this courtroom is only possible if there is no trial being held.
Nürnberg - Courtroom 600

Fun Facts:
⦁    The most famous person from Nürnberg is Albrecht Dürer, a famous drawer and painter
⦁    In the 1400s Nuremberg was known for its production of metal products (such as armour and cannons) and precision instruments (clocks, compasses, musical instruments)
⦁    Nuremberg was one of the largest urban centres in the Holy Roman Empire
⦁    The Nuremburg International Toy Fair (Spielwarenmesse) is the largest of its kind in the world (see picture below)
⦁    The city hosts a variety of specialist hi-tech fairs every year, visited by experts from all around the world
⦁    The Nuremberg Christmas market attracts over one million visitors each year
⦁    Tinsel was invented in Nuremberg

Nürnberg - Spielwarenmesse

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City Spotlight: Hannover

Hannover - PanoramaHannover is the capital city of the state of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) with a population of over 500,000. It is located on the river Leine, approximately 150km south of Hamburg and roughly 200km west of Berlin. The city hosts many famous annual events, such as the Schützenfest Hannover and Oktoberfest Hannover, however, it is most widely known for its hosting of the Expo in 2000. Hannover won the right to host the Expo 2000 back in 1990, by 1992 the masterplan was created and in 1994 a new company was created by the government to plan and execute the large event. In 1996 construction started and the event saw over 25 million people attend between the 1st of June and the 31st of October 2000. The exhibition had 12 themed pavilions (including Human, Health, Environment and Future of Labour), as well as 155 participating nations. To this day, the area where the Expo was held is used for major fairs, as it had been since 1949. Hannover has much to offer its visitors – from museums and galleries, theatre, cabaret and musicals to rock concerts and sporting events. However, the city is still most commonly known as one of the leading Exhibition Cities in the world

Hannover - Panorama2

Top 3 Tourist Attractions:

Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) – The new city hall in Hannover was opened on the 20th of July in 1913. The New Town Hall is the residence of the mayor, as well as the venue for political sessions and welcoming of official guests of the city, home to many art exhibitions and the ‘Citizen’s Office.’ The New Town Hall has an open-door policy for its residents and visitors. Whilst the outside of the building is very impressive, the inside also has much to offer, such as a monumental mural painting, a Mosaic Hall and many other paintings and sculptures. The building also features a lift from the bottom floor to the building’s dome where visitors can enjoy a view of the whole city and even of the Harz Mountains (on a clear day). Finally, the New Town Hall has a restaurant, the ‘Gartensall’ (Garden Hall), which overlooks the pond behind the building and offers visitors a combination of regional and international cuisine.

Town hall, Hanover, Germany

Herrenhauser Gärten (Herrenhausen Gardens) – The Herrenhausen Gardens are located in one of Hannover’s urban districts and are made up of the Groβer Garten (Great Garden), Berggarten, Georgengarten and the Welfengarten. The gardens are a heritage of the Kings of Hannover. The Great Garden is 50 hectares large and contains grass, hedges, walkways and statues. The Great Garden hosts a variety of festivals throughout the summer, as well as hosting musicals and theatrical performances. It is also the site of one of Niki de Saint Phalle’s last works (her Nanas can also be found along the Leibnizufer in Hannover). The Berggarten (Mountain Garden) is a part of the Herrenhausen Gardens featuring exotic plants in a Regenwaldhaus (Rainforest-house) and different species of tropical butterflies and birds. The Georgengarten houses the Wilhem-Busch-Museum, a caricature museum and the Leibniz Temple, named after Gottfried Leibniz (German philosopher), dating back to 1790. Finally, the Welfengarten is the ground of the University of Hannover and the Welfenschloss (Welf Castle) is used as the university’s main building.

Hannover - Herrenhausen Gardens

Maschsee – The Maschsee is a manmade lake in the southern part of Hannover’s city centre. The lake covers an area of 78 hectares and is the largest body of water in the state. The annual Maschseefest is a large summer festival held on the banks of the lake and is attended by approximately 2 million visitors every year – it was first held in 1986 to commemorate 50 years since the lake’s opening. The lake is also a popular site for water sports during the summer months, including rowing, sailing and the annual European Dragon Boat Race. As well as this, it is a regular route for local runners and walkers, cyclists and roller skaters who use the path running parallel to the park. Finally, the lake is frozen in winter and when the thickness of the ice exceeds 13km the city hoists a flag up at the northern shore of the lake to indicate that the lake is safe for winter activities, such as ice skating and ice hockey. If the thickness of the ice exceeds 20cm, stallholders are permitted to set up on the ice; this last occurred in 2003.

Hannover - Maschseefest

Notable People and Residents of Hannover:

  • Niki de Saint Phalle – French sculptress Niki de Saint Phalle became an honorary citizen of Hannover in 2000. Whilst she is famous for many works, such as her sculpture garden in Tuscany, in Germany, she is most famously known for her Nana sculptures – full-figured, colourful female figures.
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – German philosopher known for his contribution to the history of mathematics and history of philosophy. Furthermore, his contributions to logic were arguably the most important between Aristotle and modern formal logic. Leibniz was the Privy Counsellor of Justice in Hannover from 1677 until his death in 1716.
  • Per Mertesacker (see below – holding the World Cup trophy) – Per is a famous German football player, born and bred in Hannover, currently playing as a centre back for Arsenal FC. He was a part of the German national team for the 2006, 2010 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup and retired from the team after winning the World Cup last year.
  • Lena Meyer-Landrut – Lena won the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest with her hit single ‘Satellite’ and set an all-time chart record in Germany by debuting three songs in the top five of the German singles chart. She has since released four studio albums, been featured on many TV shows and as the voice-over on two major movies and been nominated and won many music awards.

Hannover - Per

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FIFA World Cup 2014 Recap

Today, one year ago, Germany and Argentina battled it out on the football field to win the FIFA World Cup Champions 2014 title… but what a journey it was.

Germany first played Portugal in the group stage, winning 4-0 with Müller scoring a hat trick.

World Cup - Germany v PortugalNext, Germany took on Ghana and drew 2-2. Fans watched Miroslav Klose score his 15th World Cup goal, equalling Ronaldo’s record.

World Cup - Germany v GhanaThe following match against the USA was a tough one, as former German national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann now coaches the United States men’s team (Joachim Löw, Germany’s current trainer, was assistant coach to Klinsmann), however, Müller’s goal not only secured Germany’s 1-0 win, but also secured the team’s spot as the top team in Group G.

World Cup - Germany v USANext, Germany took on Algeria. Whilst fans watched the 90 minutes go by without a single goal, a goal by Schürrle at the start of extra time put the team ahead and a second goal by Özil ensured Germany’s win, as Algeria grabbed a last minute goal.

World Cup - Germany v Algeria

Game 57 of the World Cup saw France and Germany battle for a position in the semi-final. A header by Mats Hummels in the first half was enough to achieve this and France was kicked out of the World Cup.

World Cup - Germany v France

The semi-final was one of the most eventful semi-finals in World Cup history, as Germany scored  the most goals ever in a World Cup semi-final. Klose broke another World Cup record as he scored his 16th World Cup goal, replacing Ronaldo as the top scorer in World Cup history and earning him a standing ovation as he was substituted later on in the match. Whilst Germany’s 7-1 win left Brazilian fans heartbroken, it secured Germany’s spot in the World Cup finals against Argentina (Argentina and the Netherlands went into a penalty shootout in the semi-finals with Argentina securing their spot in the final with a final score of 4-2).

World Cup - Germany v Brazil

After 64 matches in 32 days and a total of 171 goals, the long-awaited final had arrived. The game went into extra time and a goal by Mario Götze earned Germany the title of FIFA World Cup 2014 Champions. It was an unforgettable win and emotions were running high as the team stood up on the podium and captain Philipp Lahm raised the golden trophy up to the sky.

Re-watch the World Cup highlights for Germany here:

When the German team returned home, they were welcomed as heroes. Fans lined up from 4am and could see the team’s Lufthansa flight, renamed ‘Fanhansa’ for the team, fly just a few hundred metres above the city before touching down at Berlin’s Tegel Airport midmorning. An estimated 400,000 people gathered at the Fanmeile outside of the Brandenburger Tor for a chance to catch a glimpse of the team. The team danced and sung, there was a guest performance by Helene Fischer, and Kroos led the crowd in a chant of ‘Miro Klose’ to honour Klose’s title as the tournament’s all-time leading scorer.

World Cup - Brandenburger Tor

It was a nail-biting final, a week of partying and, a year on, we are still immensely proud of our boys!

World Cup - Welcome Home

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Forget Willy Wonka, Germany has Ritter Sport!

We are all familiar with Roald Dahl’s loveable character Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory. Wonka is a creative and eccentric man that created chocolate delights, such as Whipple-Scumptious Fudge Mallow Delight and even a waterfall made out of chocolate. Whilst Willy Wonka is a work of fiction, German chocolate producer Ritter Sport is real!

Ritter Sport - TruckRitter Sport – Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut. (Square. Practical. Good.)

Ritter Sport is a brand of chocolate which produces 100g square chocolate bars, which are divided into 16 smaller squares (although 16.5g mini bars and large 250g bars are now also available). In 1912 Alfred Ritter and his newly wedded wife Clara founded a chocolate factory. Initially the chocolate factory produced regular rectangular bars, however, in 1932 Clara suggested that square chocolate bars would fit perfectly into every sport jacket without breaking (hence the name Ritter Sport). The standard range of Ritter Sport chocolate is made up of 32 varieties including milk chocolate filled with different nuts, marzipan, yoghurt fillings and many more, however, the limited edition varieties are the most interesting!

Ritter Sport - ChocolatesThe company releases limited editions two or three times a year, often with seasonal themes: the spring and summer editions are often fruity and light, such as coconut and wild berries, whereas the winter editions usually feature heavier fillings, such as nougat. Some of our favourite limited editions included cookies and cream, caramel orange and white coconut!

Ritter Sport - Limited EditionWhilst the company ‘only’ has around 34 or 35 flavours available for purchase, you are able to make your very own Ritter Sport in Berlin! If you walk around the corner from the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin you will find yourself standing in front of the Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt (colourful chocolate world). Inside the Schokowelt you can explore, taste and create your very own Ritter Sport chocolate bar. You can choose from white, milk or dark chocolate and then add in one or more of the 25 ingredients (plus 3 seasonal ingredients) – let your imagination run wild! After you pick your ingredients you can stand by and watch as the staff turn your idea into reality. The whole process takes approximately 40 minutes (including refrigeration), so we suggest doing this first and then going upstairs to follow the ChocoPath which will take you on the journey of chocolate production from the cocoa bean to the finished product, purchase beautiful and delicious treats in the ChocoShop and finally, enjoy some hot chocolate in the ChocoLateria.

Ritter Sport - SchokoweltRitter Sport can be found in some specialty stores in Australia, so if you see them, give them a try!

 “True strength is when you can break a bar of chocolate into four pieces with your bare hands – then just eat one.”

– Unknown

 Ritter Sport - Chocolates2

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City Spotlight: Leipzig

Leipzig - PanoramaLeipzig is a located approximately 150km south of Berlin, in the state of Saxony. The city received its original name from the Slavic word ‘Lipsk’ which means ‘settlement where the linden trees stand.’ It was first documented in 1015 in the chronicles of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg, but has come a long way since those early days! Leipzig is very famous for its long fair trade tradition, however, it is also largely known for its cultural and music scene. The city has a very special relationship with music and is home to the St Thomas choir, one of the world’s oldest boys’ choirs (but more about that later…). In addition to the famous choir, Leipzig has been home to many famous musicians. The composer Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach lived in Leipzig for 27 years and Gustav Mahler worked in Leipzig for 2 years. The historic part of Leipzig features renaissance style buildings from the 16th century, whereas the newer parts of town were only built in the 1990s after many buildings were destroyed during or demolished after the war. The city holds many annual events which are attended by people from throughout Europe, such the Auto Mobil International auto show, the Bach-Fest (Johann Sebastian Bach festival), Dok Leipzig (one of the oldest documentary festivals in the world – now featuring documentaries and animated films), the Wave-Gotik-Treffen (world’s largest goth, or ‘dark culture’, festival) and the Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) which has been held since 1767.

Leipzig - Panorama2Top 3 Tourist Attractions:

St Thomas Kirche (Church) Leipzig – The St Thomas Kirche is where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as choir director from 1723 until his death in 1750. The Thomanerchor (St Thomas Choir of Leipzig) was founded in 1212 and consists of 93 boys from the ages of 9 to 18. Some boys go to schools focusing on athletics, others on academics – these boys go to school to focus on their singing (many famous opera singers, composers and even pop stars started off as Thomaner)! The boys live together in a boarding school where each room is home to boys from different year levels: the older students are responsible for looking after the younger students and ensuring that they behave. The choir’s main repertoire is made up of the works by Bach, but has started to include other works from the renaissance period up until now. The choir tours Germany at least two times a year and also performs overseas, however, when the choir is in Leipzig, it is required to perform in the St Thomas Kirche three times a week.

Listen to one of the choir’s most famous Christmas performances at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVewzMm1uts

Leipzig - ThomanerchorLeipzig Zoo – The Leipzig Zoological Garden was opened on the 9th of June 1878 and was taken over by the city in 1920 after World War I. The Zoo is also known as ‘Zoo of the future’ due to its efforts in animal welfare and husbandry, species conservation, education and exploration tours. The zoo is home to approximately 850 different animal species which live in state-of-the-art enclosures. Rather than using concrete and steel to create these enclosures, they have been built to resemble the animals’ natural habitats by creating enclosures surrounded by tree borders and bodies of water. The zoo is split up into 6 main areas: Founder’s Garden, Gondwanaland, Asia, Pongoland, Africa and South America. The Founder’s Garden is the historical area of the zoo where the office and zoo school are located in the original Wilhelminian-style buildings which are now under preservation order. Gondwanaland is a giant building (larger than 2 football fields) which allows visitors to come into close contact with the tropical rainforests of Africa, Asia and South America – there are almost 100 exotic animal species and approximately 500 different plant species present in the enclosure. Asia includes many different species, from sloths to elephants, tigers to herons and buffalos to warthogs. Next, Pongoland is the most unique ape enclosure in the world. It includes everything from chimpanzees to gorillas and orang-utans, as well as being home to a Research Centre – it even features discovery stations where you can do your own research! Africa is a spacious landscape where zebras, giraffes and ostriches live together right next to the lions and hyenas – only a ditch separates the predators from their prey! Finally, South America only contains a few animals, such as maned wolves, flamingos and lamas, however, this area is currently expanding and is set to be completed by 2018. In addition to its incredible exhibitions, the zoo has bred more than 2,000 lions, 250 rare Siberian tigers, as well as many other carnivores, such as the brown bear. The zoo has not only helped breed may endangered species, but its participation in reintroduction programs has also ensured that the Eagle Owl, the Little Owl, the Przewalski’s Horse and Oryx dammah can now all be found again in their natural habitat.

Leipzig - zooLeipzig Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) – in most cities you’ll arrive at the central station and then explore the sights, in Leipzig the central station is a sight in itself! The building dates back to 1915 and is the world’s largest railway station measured by floor area. In addition to being a transport centre, the Hauptbahnhof is also the city’s largest shopping centre with over 200 stores and services. In Germany shops are always closed on a Sunday, however, transport hubs are an exception to this rule, so whilst the centre is always busy, Sundays are its busiest days! The Leipzig Hauptbahnhof really has it all – whether you’re just after a coffee, a new pair of shoes, a haircut or a washing machine, you’ll find everything you need at the train station!

Leipzig - HauptbahnhofExtra Lipsiam vivere est miserrime vivere. (To live outside Leipzig is to live miserably.) – Benedikt Carpzov the Younger

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City Spotlight: Dresden

Dresden - Panorama

Dresden is the capital city of the state of Saxony and is located on the river Elbe, close to the Czech border. The area where Dresden stands today was settled in the Neolithic area, approximately 7,500BC! Dresden officially became a city in 1206 and recently celebrated its 800th birthday. The city became the seat for the dukes of Saxony in 1485 (the last king of Saxony abdicated in 1918) and in the 1700s it started to make a name for itself as a leading European city in technology and art. Dresden suffered severe damage by Allied bombing in 1945; 75% of the city’s historical centre was destroyed. Since then the city has been rebuilt and has become a very popular tourist destination, as visitors often stop in Dresden between their trip from Berlin to Prague (or vice versa). The city is filled with beautiful sights, particularly in spring and summer when all of the flowers are in bloom or in winter when everything is covered in a blanket of white snow.

Dresden panorama2

Top 3 Tourist Attractions:

Dresdner Zwinger (Zwinger Palace) – The Zwinger is one of Germany’s most impressive baroque palaces. The palace features many pavilions and galleries and is surrounded by stunning gardens. The palace also contains a courtyard where many festivals and special events are held. The gallery is home to one of the most famous paintings in the world – Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Whilst many are unfamiliar with the whole artwork, the two angels featured at the bottom are recognised by most.

Dresden - Sistine Madonna
Semperoper (Semper Opera House) –
The Semperopera is the opera house of the Saxon State Opera and the concert hall of the Saxon State Orchestra, as well as home to the Semperoper ballet. The opera house is located in the historical centre of Dresden and was originally built in 1841 by Gottfried Semper, however, a large fire in 1869 destroyed the building and the reconstruction was completed in 1878. The opera has been home to the premier of many famous operas, including three by Wagner, nine by Richard Strauss and many more! Aside from viewing concerts of ballet performances, the opera gives daily tours in both English and German.

Dresden - Semperoper

Filmnächte am Elbufer – In Summer the grassed area by the Elbe turns into Germany’s largest outdoor cinema, now attracting around 150,000 visitors each year. Every night approximately 5,000 visitors bring out their picnic blankets and watch a movie on the large screen. Whilst the main attraction are the movies, each year there are one or two concerts which take place at this venue, which have included R.E.M. and Nelly Furtado, as well as German bands Die Ärzte and Die Fantastischen Vier. Since 2004 the film nights at the Elbe has had the largest movie screen in the world – a whopping 448 metres squared (32m by 14m)!

Dresden - Filmnacht Elbufer

Did you know… that toothpaste was invented in Dresden? European porcelain was also invented in Dresden (find out more at http://www.meissen.com/en/world-meissen-couture/maison-meissen-couture/300-years-heritage).

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