Monthly Archives: September 2015

Time to Travel!

As many people know, Germans love to travel. Living in Germany is perfect for it! In fact, the country itself borders on NINE other countries! No other country in the world spends as much money on international travel as Germans do!

So where do they go?

Spanien (Spain)

Germans love Spain! Whilst major cities like Barcelona and Madrid are popular tourist destinations for all travellers, Germans particularly love the Spanish islands, such as Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, if you want to meet a German just head to Mallorca – with so many German tourists, Mallorca is sometimes jokingly referred to as the ‘17th state of Germany.’ Mallorca is a big hit with Germans of all ages – they enjoy the beach and hotel pool, go sightseeing and enjoy the many restaurants and buzzing nightlife. There are also countless activities available for all, such as mini golf, karting, paintball, cave exploration and much more, to ensure that everyone has a fantastic time!

SpainTürkei (Turkey)

Turkey is another extremely popular tourist destination for Germans, as it is close by, cheap and filled with friendly people! Whilst some tourists head to the larger cities, such as Ankara and Istanbul, many head to the Turkish Riviera in the southwest of the country. Tourists flock to the Riviera for the warm weather, fascinating archaeological sites and over a thousand kilometres of beaches.


Italien (Italy)

Whether it’s Venice, Florence or Rome – Italy offers its tourists gorgeous cities filled with history! With plenty to do and see around 5% of Germans head to Italy for their holiday. In addition to the sights, Germans adore the easy-going Italian lifestyle and the Italian cuisine; with delicious food on every corner who wouldn’t want to spend their holiday in Italy?

ItalyKroatien (Croatia)

Many Germans have described Croatia as “a cheaper Italy.” The country’s popularity as a holiday destination has increased substantially over the past few years. Tourists love to go yachting, relax at the beach and snorkelers and divers enjoy the clear seawater. The country also offers its tourists activities such as horse riding, golfing, paragliding, rafting, kayaking, hiking, fishing, cycling and much more. So whether it’s a holiday with friends or family – there is something for everyone!

CroatiaÖsterreich (Austria)

Austria may not offer any beaches, but 2% of Germans still head there for their holidays. There are many benefits of travelling to Austria. Austria neighbours on Germany and Austrians speak German, or a dialect thereof. Thus, especially some older Germans who never learned English in school, often prefer Austria as a holiday destination. Germans love to visit the beautiful Austrian cities, such as Salzburg, and enjoy hiking in the Alps.

AustriaFrankreich (France)

There’s no surprise that Germans love France! A country filled with culture, cuisine and coastline! Many tourists decide to brave the crowds and head to Paris and travel to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visit the Arc de Triomphe, stroll along the Seine and visit Disneyland, whilst others prefer the coast or southern regions of France. Many Germans decide to hire a campervan and spend their holiday travelling down the coast, sometimes even driving all of the way down to Spain. Wherever they travel, they are sure to enjoy the French cuisine from macaroons and croissants to snails and frog legs (and yes, we’ve tried frog legs before – they’re delicious!).


 Skandinavien (Scandinavia)

The never-ending summer days attract many Germany tourists each year – it would attract even more if it wasn’t so expensive! However, many still think that the incredibly beautiful nature in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland is worth the money. The countries have much to offer, including magnificent lakes, spectacular fjords and gorgeous forests far away from masses of tourists.

NorwayGriechenland (Greece)

Picking a destination in Greece is no easy choice with over 1,000 beautiful Greek islands to choose from. The up side is – whichever island you choose, there is sure to be sunshine, beautiful beaches and delicious food! Whilst many Germans still head to Greece for vacation, fewer tourists than ever have been heading to Greece due to the country’s damaged reputation since the economic crisis.

greeceFurther Away

Whilst many Germans decide to spend their holidays within Germany or Europe, others are more adventurous and head to distant countries. Whether it’s a safari in Africa, exploring the South American Rainforest, visiting the Great Wall of China, bear-watching in Canada or even enjoying the many sights in Australia!


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Our third Infosheet is about one of our favourite topics – games! Not the ones that require a CD or a gaming console (we’ll get to that later on!), but rather, board and card games!

Germans LOVE their games! Especially during the winter months when it gets very cold outside and the sun goes down early, many Germans will spend hours sitting around a table with their friends and family playing games.

German card and board games are quite unique; they are often based on strategy or logic, rather than luck, they are often simple, yet very clever, they are designed to have a minimum amount of down-time and a maximum amount of player interaction. Whilst many people stick to Games that they know, Germans love to find new games and you’ll often find that popular magazines contain a game review along with their movie and music reviews. Germans love games so much that they even have an annual prestigious award – the ‘Spiel des Jahres.’ The ‘Spiel des Jahres’ award is so highly regarded that a nomination will increase a typical game’s sales from approximately 500-3,000 copies to around 10,000, whilst the winner of the award can expect to sell around 300,000-500,000 copies!

Spiel-des-JahresSome of the most popular games include:

Die Siedler von Catan (The Settlerss of Cattan): a board game where players attempt to establish cities and settlements on the island of Catan. The Settlers of Catan has been referred to as “the board game of our time”, has been translated into 30 languages and has sold over 18 million copies worldwide. It was first awarded the Spiel des Jahres in 1995 and has since won 7 other major game awards around the world. It may be 20 years old, but it is still loved by the young and young-at-heart!

Die-Siedler-von-CatanCarcassonne – a tile-based board game named after the medieval fortified town Carcassonne in France. Players can build cities, fields, roads and cloisters, place figures on their tiles for extra points and, in the end, the player with the most points wins! The game is so popular that there is even an annual international Carcassonne tournament held in Germany.

CarcassonneCaesar & Cleopatra – a 2-player card game where Caesar and Cleopatra (i.e. the 2 players) battle it out for the most points. Both Caesar and Cleopatra ultimately want full power over Rome, but they’ll have to gain the vote of the people (i.e. points) to win. It’s not as simple as that though, be aware of the spies and the many action cards that may force you to reveal your points!

Caesar_Cleo_card_game_dBohnanza: a card game for 3-5 players. The playing cards feature images of beans with different personalities (Bohne is the German word for bean). The game involves card-trading and the building of bean-fields – the more beans of one type, the more points you get! Seems simple enough, right? Wrong! Chances are you’ll be looking for the same type of bean as another player, so you’ll have to make an important choice – to hope for the best or get rid of the bean field and build a new one!

BohnanzaLigretto – a card game for 2 to 12 players where the aim of the game is to get rid of all cards as quickly as possible. The game isn’t made up of turns, but rather, it’s every player at once and every player for themselves! Cards are red, green, yellow and blue and range from numbers 1 to 10. Cards must be discarded in numerical order and according to colour – it’s an extremely fast-paced game and once a player has discarded all cards, he or she yells “Ligretto Stop!” and the game is over. Each game usually lasts between 5-10 minutes, so it is common to play 10 or 20 games in a row!


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Christmas Markets: The Origins

As you may have noticed, we, at the Oktoberfest for Teens, absolutely love the German Christmas Markets. We’ve talked a lot about what they are and where to find the best ones, but, in running with the winter-activity theme of this week’s Infosheet, we thought we would tell you a little bit about how Christmas Markets came to be.

Did someone wake up one morning and decide that having stalls with food and presents before Christmas was a profitable business opportunity, map out a business plan and get to work? Not quite…

The history of Christmas Markets dates back to the late Middle Ages in Germany. Back in these times it was common to have seasonal markets throughout the year and particularly the markets in the winter months were welcomed among the villagers, as it added some light to the long winter nights. The first Christmas Markets were not much more than the seasonal markets and only lasted a couple of days. Instead of the gorgeous huts and stands which line the modern Christmas Markets, traders would lay out their goods in the street.

Xmas Market1Throughout the years the markets grew, however, only local tradesmen were allowed to sell their goods at the Christmas Markets, which made each market unique as they were filled with local delicacies and traditional products. Although some products are found at all Christmas Markets throughout Germany, this tradition is still upheld and each region’s Christmas Markets have a distinctive character.

Many people have argued that Christmas has only recently become heavily commercialised, and, although this is true to some extent, the main pre-Christmas activity has been gift-buying at Christmas markets since the early 17th century! Initially all Christmas Markets were held around a town or city’s church to attract churchgoers, however, they became so popular that a priest in Nürnberg in 1616 complained that no one attended his afternoon service on Christmas Eve as they were all outside the church enjoying the Christmas Market!

Although the common German name for Christmas Markets is Weihnachtsmarkt, in some regions, particularly in the south, they are referred to as a Christkindlsmarkt (Christ child’s market). This tradition dates back to Martin Luther who suggested that children should receive presents from “the Christ child.”

Xmas Market2Whilst Christmas Markets have come a long way from laying goods out in the streets, the core functions of socialising, eating and drinking and purchasing Christmas presents still remain. Most traditional German handicrafts can be found at all Christmas Markets in the weeks before Christmas, including nutcrackers, wooden figurines and tree ornaments, straw stars, toys and glass ornaments.

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City Spotlight: Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe - PanoramaKarlsruhe is located in the southwest of Germany, in Baden-Württemberg. The city was founded in 1715 by Charles William and is currently the seat of the two highest courts in Germany: the Federal Constitutional Court and the Federal Court of Justice. In addition to this, Germany’s largest oil refinery is found in Karlsruhe and 20% of jobs in the region are in research and development. The Karlsruhe University is the oldest technical university in Germany and home to the Karlsruhe Research Centre, where engineering and scientific research is conducted in the areas of health, earth and environmental science. Karlsruhe also hosts one of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities which focus on sustainable energy.

Karlsruhe - Panorama2Top 3 Tourist Attractions:

Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (Centre for Art and Media Technology) – The Centre for Art and Media Technology is a unique cultural institution – the only one of its kind in the world! It’s a house filled with traditional art, such as paintings, sculptures and photography, as well as film, media art, music, dance, theatre and performances. The museum was founded in 1989 with the mission to perpetuate classic arts in the digital age. Recent exhibits have included performances by the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, a lecture series about evolution and a conference about the hidden beauty carried by light, information, symmetries and structures in Maxwell’s equations (equations describing the physical phenomenon of light).

Karlsruhe - ZKMSchloss Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe Palace) – The Karlsruhe Palace was erected in 1715 by Charles III William of Baden-Durlach (yes, the same Charles William who founded the city!) and the city of Karlsruhe has since grown around it. For almost 200 years it served as the residence and seat of government of the margraves, the electoral princes and grand dukes of Baden. It has been home to the Baden State museum since 1921, one of the most active cultural history museums in Germany. The museum contains art and historical living environments from pre- and early history, ancient cultures, the Middle Ages, the baroque period and into the 21st century.

Karlsruhe - SchlossLive Escape Games Karlsruhe – Live Escape Games have become a trend around the world, but just in case anyone isn’t familiar with them, we thought we’d include it in this blog! How does it work? Simple! A group of people enter a room, generally 2-6 individuals, and they have a set amount of time, generally 60 minutes, to follow hidden clues in an attempt to find the key to exit the room before the time runs out! There’s strategy and logic involved, as well as a large amount of team work. In Karlsruhe there are currently two different scenarios available: Project Vakium (see iamge below), where a highly unstable element poses a threat to the whole inner city, and Crazy Office Room – an abandoned office by a journalist filled with crazy objects.

Karlsruhe - Live Escape GameFamous People

  • Automobile inventor Karl Benz was born in Karlsruhe
  • Karl Drais, inventor of the early bicycle, key typewriter and steno-graph was born and died in Karlsruhe
  • Heinrich Rudolf Hertz discovered electromagnetic waves at the University of Karlsruhe
  • Friedrich Hund, a physicist of the pioneering generation of quantum mechanics was born in the city
  • Hedwig Kettler founded Germany’s first girls’ high-school (Mädchengymnasium) in Karlsruhe
  • Gustav Landauer, one of the leading theorists of anarchy in Germany, was born in Karlsruhe
  • Richard Wilstätter, 1915 Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner, was born here
  • Oliver Kahn, Bayern Munich and Germany’s retired goalkeeper, was born in Karlsruhe
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Spaghetti-Eis Rezept

To make your very own Spaghetti Eis (because, let’s face it, vanilla ice cream will always taste better in the form of spaghetti!) you will require a potato ricer (any cheap one will do!), an electric mixer, and, if you are making your own strawberry sauce, a food processor or hand blender.

You’ll also require the following ingredients (makes 4 portions):

  • 900g of vanilla ice cream
  • 2tbsp white chocolate flakes, slivered almonds or desiccated coconut
  • 100g thickened cream
  • 200g fresh strawberries
  • 2tbsp icing sugar
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Note: strawberries and icing sugar may be replaced by store-bought strawberry sauce (although it will always taste better if the sauce is fresh!).

Spaghetti Eis2Before you start, we suggest placing 4 plates and the potato ricer into the freezer for 15-20 minutes, to ensure that the ice cream does not melt immediately. For the sauce, roughly chop up the strawberries and blend them with the icing sugar until they form a sauce-like consistency, cover up and place into the fridge.

Next, beat the cream until it forms a stiff peak. Pipe or spoon and even amount of cream onto the centre of each plate. Then, press the vanilla ice cream onto the plate, fully covering the cream. Finally, spoon an even amount of strawberry sauce on top of the ‘spaghetti’ and garnish with white chocolate flakes, slivered almonds or desiccated coconut and mint leaves (optional). Guten Appetit!

Note: some like to add finely diced strawberries into the strawberry sauce after it has been pureed to imitate tomato chunks.

Spaghetti Eis

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