New Ulm, Minnesota

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What constitutes a German town in the United States? What architectural features should it have, in order for the town to be “German”? How much of the German language should the town possess? Does the town have to be settled by German immigrants in order for it to be typically German, or does it take one or more persons from a non-German country to take a German name and adopt it? How does heritage play a role in creating a community- what German festivals exists or used to exist in a community? And can a German town survive the changes occuring inside American society by keeping its identity or must the town shed its culture in order to integrate into the melting pot that is predominantly British, Irish, Italian and eastern European (at least in the regions of the Midwest and east of the Mississippi River)?

In my visit to the German villages in Minnesota, I learned that despite the establishments of villages named after German towns, like the usual likes of Hamburg, Cologne, New Munich and Fulda, there is not much German heritage left, for they even disappeared before 1920 because of either the campaign to eliminate German-American culture thanks to American involvement in World War I, the poor logistical locations- many of them didn’t even have a railroad line or had one that had existed for only a short period- or there were either a few German settlers who left for better job possibilities, only for the village to be taken over by settlers of other origins. One can see this with the typical American street and architectural settings, especially in the business district, as seen with New Germany for example:

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While most towns are built on street grids, what is expected from a German community in America is architecture and artistry created by local people either originating from Germany or whose first generation were immigrants. They should have cultural events that are typical of their German heritage, and lastly, there should be traces of German language and literature in schools, at public events and even at home. Even having German classes in school classifies as an example of efforts being undertaken to keep the German heritage in the community. :-)

And this is why we are looking at the city of New Ulm in the southern part of Minnesota. A little history to go along with the city of 13,300 inhabitants that also is the county seat of Brown County (County is the same as Landkreis, which makes county seat the Kreisstadt in German):

In 1851, a treaty at Traverse des Sioux was signed between the Sioux Indians and the white settlers, allowing the lands south and west of the Minnesota River to be given to the white settlers, and the native Americans were given plots of land north of the Minnesota to live. Three years later, a group of scouts from the Chicago Land Society explored and claimed the region where the Minnesota and Cottonwood Rivers met, and considered the area home. These were German settlers, consisting of Alois Palmer, Frank Massopust, Frederick Beinhorn, Athanesius Henle and Christian Ludwig Meyer. On October 7th, 1854, the name New Ulm was given to the land. The name was decided upon because many settlers who (later) followed the scouts to the region were from the cities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm in Baden Wurttemberg and Bavaria, respectively. Among the numbers of settlers coming to New Ulm were members of the liberal political group, the Turner Society, who were banished from Europe after the Revolution of 1848. By 1860, over 600 people had settled in New Ulm- almost all of them along the area north of the Cottonwood River and west of the Minnesota River.

TO READ MORE ON NEW ULM, CLICK HERE! A QUIZ ON NEW ULM CAN BE FOUND HERE AND THE ANSWERS HERE! 

 

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Author’s note: The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles released two articles on the bridges of New Ulm and Ulm. Click on the names and have a look at their history. Both of them are candidates of the 2015 Ammann Awards, which are being voted on now. 

Christmas Market Tour 2015: Gotha

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Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). Photos taken in December 2015

The last stop on this year’s Christmas market tour takes us 70 kilometers east through the heart of the German state of Thuringia to the small town of Gotha. With a population of 44,000 inhabitants, the city, located between Erfurt and Eisenach may look appalling at first when getting off the train at the station.

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Gotha Railway Station with its bland modernized facade and dilapidated columns at Bahnhofsplatz

 

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Inside Gotha Railway Station with scenes from the 1980s.

 

Plus a quarter of the buildings in the city may appear run down, like this former publishing house:

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The Printing and Publishing House on Lutherstrasse.

Don’t let that scare you. 😉  Speaking from experience with other German cities, you cannot judge one just by the train station alone. One has to go further to see what it really looks like from the inside. :-)  When walking or even biking towards the city center, you can see that  Gotha’s architecture, much of which originated from the days of the Renaissance and the Reformation have been intact. Only a small fraction of the buildings were damaged or destroyed in World War II, including the railway station. Another small fraction was neglected by the East German Socialist government during the Cold War, most of which have been restored since 1990.

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Belini im Ratskellar at Hauptmarkt/Rathaus

 

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Friedenstein Palace Complex

Gotha’s cityscape features not only a mixture of old and new buildings, but also seven- count them- SEVEN palaces located in and around the city center! :-O  The most notable ones are the Friedenstein Castle and the Friedenstein Towers, located on the hill overlooking the city to the north. Built in 1643, the palace was part of the duchy of Saxe-Gotha (later annexing Coburg) which ruled Gotha until Germany’s defeat in World War I. Ernest Pios of Saxe-Gotha founded the duchy three years earlier.  But apart from that, many of the historic buildings in Gotha that are still standing come from this time period, including the Historic Town Hall (built in 1574 and has still been used since 1665), the Ekhof Theater (built in the 17th Century and is the lone theater left that uses the original stage machinery), St. Margaret’s Church at Neumarkt (built in 1543) and one of the youngest from the era, the Insurance Museum at Bahnhofstrasse (built in 1820 and was the site of the Gothaer Insurance Company. Now a combination museum and labor court).

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Insurance Museum (1820)- site of the Gothaer Insurance Company

 

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St. Margaret’s Church at Neumarkt (1543)

But beyond the history, the insurance and even the distillery Gotano, which produces wermouth for the region, Gotha’s Christmas market provides tourists with a bunch of surprises that will keep them in the city for longer than planned.  When looking at the market itself, consisting of three different markets at Butterplatz, Neumarkt and Hauptmarkt/Rathaus, and by viewing the shopping areas in the background, one could say that the markets are nothing spectacular. Just typical small-town markets that come and go every weekend.

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Guess again! :-)

Each of the markets has at least one unique feature that one should visit while visiting Gotha. For instance, looking at Butterplatz, the place is flanked with two pubs but its main attraction is the Medieval theater, where plays and concerts are performed every evening and people can enjoy food directly from that period. It does serve as competition to the pubs, especially the Irish Pub, which is behind the stage, however people staying there can still enjoy the music and other performances while drinking their Snake Eyes and Newcastle Ale.

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Gothaer Schwibbogen at Hauptmarkt

The Hauptmarkt has their display of items in front of the historic town hall. The first impression of the market is that only small rows of red huts with eateries and mulled wine (Glühwein) make this a pure open-air restaurant. However, there is more to it than just that. This open-air site features the largest Schwibbogen in the world, as seen in the picture above, where visitors can walk in and enjoy a hot drink and a meal in the glass covered facility. The Schwibbogen is eight meters high, 13 meters long and 5 meters wide, providing 65 places for visitors to eat and drink. Opposite the place is the stage where cooking contests with prominent celebrities take place on weekends, competing with various German TV cooking shows that are broadcasted on frequent occasion. Adjacent to the Schwipbogen is a piece of artwork worth seeing. A manger set was created by Rüdiger Noldin and his friends depicts life-size figures of Baby Jesus, his parents Joseph and Mary and the animal figures, all woodcarved using chainsaws. The artwork is remarkable as the details are carved out, lookig like the real scene.

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And if you are tired of seeing the red-colored huts with the eateries, you can also purchase souvenirs typical of the town and region at the  Gotha Adelt. While not part of the market scene, it is highly recommended if you are looking for items for your loved ones that don’t represent the typical items found in a grocery store or bookshop, like mustard, local beer, Gotano wermouth, liquour, oil and spices, books on the history of Gotha and/or its palaces, refrigerator magnets and the like.

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Despite what the Hauptmarkt offered on the north side of town hall, I wished that there were more huts and small shops featured on the south side. Between the town hall and the Friedenstein palace along the former Leina Canal, there is a vast amount of space that is open and could potentially be filled for the holiday occasion. Why this space was not utilised is unknown but the area where the Leina Fountain in front of the Palace is located provides a splendid view of the buildings alongside the streets, leading directly up to the town hall. Looking at the picture below, could you imagine what the area woould look like if the Christmas market extended to here and not stopped in front of the town hall on the north side? :-)

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Thinking about that while leaving Hauptmarkt, we head to the last market square, which is Neumarkt. Surrounded by a mix of historic and modern buildings, the market features a backdrop in the St. Margaret’s Church, which looks splendid at night. However the largest of the huts at the Christmas market are located here. This includes the bumper car  hut and this interesting place- a two-story hut that is a restaurant serving local specialties of venecin and wild boar and many varieties of hot drinks. At 7.5 meters high, 15 meters long and eight meters wide, Weisheit’s Schlossmühle, which is the only one known to the German Christmas market scene, can house up to 200 guest.

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Weisheit’s Schlossmühle

 

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Bumper car rink with the church in the background

But what stands out the most at this market place are the various foods that a person can try. It is a well-known fact that the Christmas market in Gotha is laden with stands serving Thuringian Bratwurst and its various sorts. The origin of the bratwurst and why they are very popular all over Europe is one to be written at another time. However another meat product worth trying is the Grillschinken, known as the grilled ham slices. The pork products are grilled on a rotating spit, similar to the one used for döner kebaps, which is typical in Germany. Slices are taken off and with the fixings (onions, barbeque sauce and cheese), become a tasty sandwich. 😀

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Having that together with the Erdbeerkönigin, a hot drink mix consisting of strawberry liquour and honey met liquour, it is very hearty and one that puts a crown on a couple hours exploring the market and purchasing last-minute items before Christmas. By the way, the Erdbeerkönigen drink can be bought at the honey stand, where other honey liquours and other honey products (spreads, candles, candies and bars) are available for purchase at the corner of the church.

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Honey stand. 

Given its location in the flat agricultural landscape, the Christmas market in Gotha is best described as one that features unique huts with a historic background, offering local goods coming from local farms which can attract the visitors, providing them with a chance to taste everything. And while everyone is familiar with the Thuringian Bratwurst, Gotha’s products, which one can rarely find, clearly depicts what the town has to offer to the people, when visiting the town. And it is a good thing too, after going through seven palaces and dozens of Renaisance-style buildings, one can use a break by trying something that is not typical for Germany but one for Gotha.

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As observed in my visit, Gotha has a lot to offer with the Christmas market, especially given its setting, and it definitely plays down the firsthand impressions of the city, as mentioned at the beginning. There are towns that deserve to be ignored because they are too modern or too dilapidated and unappealing. Then there are towns like Gotha, where going beyond the run-down train station, one can see some jewels of the town just by going 100 meters away from the station. When you see that, keep going. Chances are very likely that more will be found, and with that, more information on the history and culture of the town. So keep looking and start exploring.  A lesson learned for the trip home by train……

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Heading home on the ICE-Train from Gotha Railway Station.

 

Author’s note: This sums up this year’s tour of the Christmas markets in Germany. If you want to view the other Christmas markets, please click here and you will find a list of Christmas markets visited since 2011. If you know of a Christmas market the author should visit next year or in the future, please use the contact form and mention this. Chances are, the author will have a look at it and take whatever suggestion you give him. Many thanks and wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 😀

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Christmas Market Tour 2015: Pella, Iowa

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Author’s Note: This stop was taken last year during the tour through the United States. Due to illness on the part of the author upon his return to Germany, the decision was made to include it into this year’s tour.  Sincere apologies for the inconvenience. 

The next stop on the Christmas tour in the US is Pella, in south central Iowa. Located 45 miles southeast of Des Moines, the city with 10,400 inhabitants was established in 1847, when 800 settlers, led by dominee Henry Scholte moved to the area to make a living. The name Pella was derived from the village Perea, where Christians found refuge during the Roman-Jewish War of 70 A.D.  Today, Pella maintains its Dutch heritage in many ways than one. One can see that with the architecture, when driving past the town square and its Dutch-style facade and its double-leaf bascule bridge spanning an artificial canal. The Vermeer Mill is the largest Dutch-style windmill in North America. The Dutch “S”, a pastry with marzipan filling that is typical in the Netherlands, can be found at the Vander Ploeg Bakery, along with other Dutch-style pastries. And when visiting the city’s two meat markets (Ulrich and Veld), one can find imported cheese and meat products from the Benelux Region (Benelux consists of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg).

And while the city is located north of Red Rock Lake, an artificial lake created in 1969 that is laden with recreational activities all year round, Pella has two important holidays that the people celerbate: Tulip Days in May and Christmas. Tulip Festival is a typical Dutch festival where tens of thousands convene for a weekend of celebrations and the crowning of the Tulip Queen.  Christmas in a Dutch setting, like Pella, on the other hand, is typically American- Christmas lights display in the city center as well as the countryside, as well as a display of Christmas trees in one house. There’s no Sinterklaas coming into the harbor by ship- how could they if the ship meets the Red Rock Dam and he has to take a truck up the road past Wal-mart and into the city? Even with his Black Peters as his helpers? 😉  A look at how Sinterklaas is celebrated (naturally on the day before St. Nicholas Day in Germany) can be found via link (here) and in the video below:

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But just because the Christmas season is more or less Americanized and makes Pella un-Dutch, does not mean a person should stay away from the city because it is not European enough nor has some European flair in the holiday season. There are many reasons to spend a few hours in this Dutch community which is anchored by three different Dutch institutes- Vermeer Manufacturing, Pella Windows and Central College, along with other Dutch-style stores. The Files has the top five places to visit during the holiday season that are worth visiting:

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  1. Vermeer Mill: Built by the Vermeer Corporation in 2002, the Vermeer Mill is the largest functioning flour mill in North America. Tours of the mill and demonstrations on how the mill works are available, but this place is a keeper for one can see how the mill works. Furthermore, as you can see in the picture above, the mill has a viewing platform where you can see all of Pella’s city center, including its famous Market Square. The Mill is part of the Museum Complex, which also features a miniature display of towns in a Dutch setting in the Interpretive Center section of the Mill. The model has existed for over 30 years, and one needs an hour to look at the details of the display.
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Grinding geers in the mill

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Winter scenery at the Interpretive Section of the Vermeer Mill

2. Historic Village: Inside the Museum Complex is a must-see attraction in the Historic Village. The Village consists of 24 buildings, many of them have existed since the founding of Pella in 1848, including the church, blacksmith shop and shoemaker. Others, such as the log cabin, one of the first built in Marion County, were brought in and restored. Even the street lamps at the complex originates from the bygone ear. Most likely gas-powered, the bulbs displayed are from the 1930s.

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One of the first log cabins in Marion County

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Vintage street light with 30s era light bulbs

Each building features a display or a demonstration, pending on which building has what. For instance, the shoemaker shop produces and displays wooden shoes, which are typical of Dutch culture. Examples and displays of these shoes, including a jumbo pair at the museum shop, can be see everywhere. Some places have displays with mannequins dressed in their Dutch apparel. The bakery offers a display and a plate full of cookies to try. And even a gallery with the displays of all the Tulip Festival dresses and a hall of fame of all the queens are a treat to see. We were welcomed with Christmas trees in the majority of the houses and buildings on display

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Dutch-style shoes after being wood-carved

3. Scholte House and Gardens: Located on Washington Street, the house is the first in Pella, being built by Hendrik Scholte in 1848 for his wife. One can see the rooms and exhibits pertaining to their lives and the history of Pella. While the house and the gardens are best seen in the spring time during the Tulip Festival as well as during the summer, the house itself has a wide display of 15 Christmas trees to see, each one has its own taste and history. While we saw the house but not the display because it was closed, a columnist visiting the house at Christmas time found the displays very impressive. Yet with the holiday season one should look at expanding their opening hours to include weekends and 2-3 more days in the week instead of only one day a week. But in either case, the house has maintained its original form and is impressive even from the business district.

4. Jaarsma Bakery and Smokey Row Café: Both located along Franklin Street, the shops are literally a block apart, but each one serves the finest pastries, bars and coffee products. The Jaarsma Bakery, located across the street from the Public Gardens, offers a wide variety of Dutch pastries, including the Dutch apple cake, almond bars and the Dutch “S”. They are excellent to take home for the holidays to share with family and friends, as we did just that.  The Smokey Row Café provides travellers and tourists alike with a wide selection of coffee with pastries to eat in a historic coffeehouse setting, as you can see in the pic below. The café is also a great meeting place for the young and old alike and has a family setting that makes a person stop there again and again.

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5. Market Square: Behind the Jaarsma Bakery is the Market Square, one of the most modern places in Iowa and one that mimics a Dutch setting, with its famous red brick buildings and Dutch facade . The square is the central point of entertainment, as the Opera House, the Cinnema, The Amsterdam Hotel and Conference Center and the Pella Showroom are all located in one block, divided by a man-made canal that is crossed by a double-leaf bascule bridge, typical of the bridges in the Netherlands. While the square is laden with flowers and other floral decorations, it would be a perfect place for a Christmas market, if city officials are willing to at least experiment with it. As Christmas markets are popular in Germany, France and the Netherlands, the city can benefit from having one at least for a couple week(end)s during the holiday season.

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After a few hours in Pella, it was time for us to move on, but not before collecting some thoughts and recollections on the city and its settings around Christmas time. Although Pella does have a lot to offer for Christmas events and places to visit during the holiday season, it is clear that the Dutch community is more focused on the Tulip Festival and other events in the summer months, which means the holiday events are like the ones in an American town: light festivals, music concerts in churches and shopping. But can you imagine what Pella would look like if they had a Christmas market in the Market Square and Public Gardens and events similar to what the Dutch have at home in the Netherlands? Could you imagine how Pella would stand out among the rest of the communities in Iowa during the holiday season? And can you imagine how it would be a big of a magnet for tourists?

Check out the photos and think about it. :-) <3

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Author’s Note:  Sister column the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a series on the historic bridges in Marion County, including the bascule bridge in Pella, as well as historic bridges that existed over the Des Moines River before the Red Rock Lake was created in the 1960s. More on the bridges here:

Horn’s Ferry Bridge

Bridges at Red Rock Lake

Old Hwy. 14 Bridge near Cordova State Park

Pella Bascule Bridge

Fast Fact:  Pella was the birthplace of Wyatt Earp, famous US marshal. All his brothers except Virgil were  raised near Pella.

Christmas Market Tour 2015: Leipzig

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How long does a person take to walk from a major train station to the nearest Christmas market? Let alone bike there? And if you had a long waiting period for the next train, would the Christmas market be worth the visit?  In the case of the Christmas market in Leipzig, located in western Saxony near the border to Saxony-Anhalt, it would not take long at all: five minutes by foot, not even two minutes by bike, and the visit is worth the layover! :-)  While having a layover at Leipzig Central Station awaiting a train connection, I figured an hour or two at the Christmas market would kill the time needed before moving onto my final destination. Sure, one can see some booths and stores in the station shopping mall, let alone look at seven generations of trains arriving and departing the station platforms…..

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Station Shopping Mall at Leipzig Hbf.

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Two vintage trains- a locomotive and a passenger train- from two different generations on Platform 24 at Leipzig Hbf.

…..the question is would you make haste and see something new from the market or twittle your thumbs for an hour? I wouldn’t. So I left the historic Central Station building- well decorated, even at night, and decided to take a look.

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Leipzig Hbf. (Central Station) at night.

Two minutes later, thanks to my bike companion Galloping Gertie, I was at the first stop at the market: Nikolaikirchhof, where two rows of huts and lots of space to explore can be found next to the church. While rows of huts have mainly eateries and some items traditional of the German Christmas markets, such as candles, Christmas pyramids, hand-made clothing, etc., the setting takes a person back 25 years. The St. Nicholas Church, built in 1165 but rebuilt in the 17th and 18th Centuries, was the site of the famous Monday demonstrations, which took place from 1988, until the Wall fell on 9 November, 1989. The demonstrations continued beyond that until the two Germanys were reunited on 3 October, 1990.  Markers indicating events that occurred during that time can be found throughout much of Leipzig’s City Center near the church as well as along some of the major streets.

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St.Nicholas Church with the huts in the foreground.

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Nikolaikirchhof

Before going further, the Leipzig Christmas market is perhaps one of the most centrally located markets in Germany. It features five markets located inside the ring that surrounds the city center. A map of the market provides you with a background on how centralized the market is (click here).  One will find the markets at Nikolaiplatz, Augustusplatz, Salzgässchen, Grimmaische Strasse and Petersstrasse- all of them  are interconnected. If one was to walk through all of the markets from north to south, or even east to west, without even stopping at any of the stands, one would need at the very most an hour.

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Huss incense cones/oven stand at Petersstrasse

But when you see booths, like this one- an original incense oven where the incense cone in a pan is warmed up with a tea light, coming from the Ore Mountain region- it would be a sin to not visit them.  While one may find them at smaller Christmas markets in the Ore Mountain regions, the Huss stand on Peterstrasse, which sells incense ovens and candles, is one that is a must-see. Located in Sehmatal-Neudorf, the company, founded by Jürgen Huss, has been producing incense cones and ovens for over 85 years and has many commercials on how to have an enjoyable Christmas, like this one:

 

You can find more episodes here.

But of course, it is along the same street where one can find the St. Marienthal booth, where one can purchase a local microbrew and other local goods, with proceeds going to the church and its activities. The microbrew comes in regular and dark, both having a rather herbal taste. A fruit mulled wine (Glühwein) stand is also located a couple huts away towards the Market Place where one can try various flavored mulled wine, locally made.  And while the row of huts along the street end after 300 meters, one should marvel at the architecture of the city center, as countless restored buildings can be found not only along this street, but in many areas of Leipzig’s city center. This includes the Deutsche Bank building, which was built at about the same time as the bank’s founding in 1872.

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Going north, to the market at Marktplatz, one can assume that with the setting: a Christmas tree with a manger set with rows of huts with unifor colors of acorn brown in front of the town hall, the scenery is typical of the Christmas market in Germany.

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Guess again!

This part of the market in Leipzig is not only the fanciest in terms of design but also the most multi-cultural and perhaps the healthiest and most natural of the markets in the city. Fanciest because of the huts being decorated with garland, connected with green arch settings making it look like a person was walking through a green tunnel looking at finest products.

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But the multi-cultural part comes from the various stands selling goods originating from France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Ukraine, Iceland, Scandanavia and parts of Africa. Much of which has to do with food, such as fudge, licorice or even the Galette- a cross between La Croque Madame and Crepes. Made of buckwheat dough, one can choose his topping, such as eggs, rucola, cheese or other vegetables, before folding the crepes dough into four corners as seen below:

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The French saleswoman, knowing that I was American by my accent and that I was a writer, convinced me to try it.  All I can say is, healthy and highly recommended if one digs French specialties and healthy foods. :-) <3

And while the market is also the hub for various types of hand-bread and stollen, mostly made from Dresden (although based on the popular recipe and not that of Naumburg’s), one section of the market that is a must-see are the healthy natural products…..

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….and they do not necessarily refer to the corn on the cob, as I saw entering the Markt from Grimmaische Strasse. Nor odes it only refer to the fruit and vegetable stand. It refers to the organic and home-grown products. This is where Fairgourmet comes in. Located on the northwest side of the market, Fairgourmet has its headquarters in the western suburb of Leipzig, but its main focus is selling only products produced locally. This includes a wide selection of spices and beverages. However their specialty is selling the unknown products that one normally does not see at other markets. This includes stollen in a glass jar, jams with bergamot and quitten flavors, and even bread spreads with various vegetables, such as red beet, orange and pepper, shalotte, pumpkin and ginger, or even parsley, apple and mustard. One will not see these spreads on the table during a traditional German cold-plate dinner, but they are worth a try- and a perfect gift idea. <3 <3

The lone caveat with this market is its narrowness of the rows going between the huts, thus making it difficult to look at the places at night because of the mass of people. This is speaking from experience visiting the market both in the afternoon as well as the evening of the same day. Therefore, it is recommended to see the market and shop for the product in the daytime to keep the flow going. If compared with the other sections, especially the one at Augustusplatz, the one at Markt is probably the crowdest at night, except at the eastern entrance where the tree and manger set are located. There one can find a nearly life-size set made of metal, with the depiction of the birth of Jesus Christ, all under the Christmas. It is a site to see, even among the children.

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Moving away from the market along Grimmaische Strasse, one will see a row of huts dividing the street into two parts, allowing for passage  in either direction. There one will find mostly goods from the region in Saxony and Thuringia, including the bratwurst, Glühwein, Glühbier (mulled beer) and Baumkuchen, a cylinder layer cake resembling a tree trunk. One stand in particular that sells this is one located in Zschopau, where local Baumkuchen of many types and size can be found there.

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One can also see a similar setting along Salzgässchen, where many stands selling local pastries, roasted nuts and the like can be found, together with a double-decker carousel and a Ferris Wheel- and this in addition to the cafès and restaurants found along this stretch.  Finally, there is the largest of the five markets- Augustusplatz, where a combination of amusement, fairy tales from the Grimm Brothers, and Finnish folklore meet, providing entertainment for visitors of all ages. Featuring the largest Ferris Wheel at the market, Augustusplatz has a great background setting, as the market is in front of the Opera House. One can see the market from the opposite end of the market along Grimmaische Strasse. It may take 10 minutes by foot, but the stay is well worth it. :-)l24

Inspite of the maze of historic architecture the city center features, the Christmas market in Leipzig combines localities, history, culture and delicious delicacies, into one, placing them all inside the ring and making them really accessible. It is a market that is pleasing to the tourists because of rows of huts against the backdrop of historic buildings, and from my visit, very convenient to get to. Everything that is typical of the city is inside the ring encircling the city center, thus making the market the place to see. A word of advice to the next traveler passing through Leipzig having a long layover: If you have an hour to spare, visit the city and its historic city center. Especially during Christmas one should take the time to visit the city’s Christmas markets. Believe me, an hour layover in Leipzig exploring the city center is better than waiting at the train station. That is, unless you want to see ICE’s arriving and leaving on the Neubaustrecke Leipzig-Erfurt, that is…. 😉

Information on the new line can be found in the Newsflyer here.

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The author would like to thank the crew at the newspaper Leipziger Glocal for providing some further tips regarding places to visit at the Leipzig Christmas market. To subscribe to the Glocal for further news coverage in and around Leipzig in the English language, click here.

Also useful is a website on Leipzig’s food culture, the Leipziger Lebensmittelpunkt. While much of the article has to do with Leipzig’s local specialties and other foods from different countries, this blog provides you with a look at that plus many current event themes affecting Leipzig, all of which in German. More here and you can subscribe as well.

Apart from the architectural scene, one can look at the art scene in Leipzig by clicking here.

And lastly, there are more photos of the Christmas market taken by the author, which you can see on the Files’ facebook page. Click here to have a look. :-)

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Christmas Market Tour 2015: Naumburg (Saale)

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Naumburg (Saale), located in the southern part of Saxony-Anhalt between Leipzig and Weimar, has many unique features that are overlooked many times by tourists travelling thriough Germany. The town of 22,000 inhabitants has a cathedral (Naumburger Dom) destined to become a UNESCO site. Its historic city center, laden with houses dating back to the Baroque period, is located in the river valley where the Saale and Unstrut Rivers meet. It is in that region where one can find a pair of castles and one of the largest vineyards in Germany. The brand of its sect is named after Little Red Ridinghood (Rotkäppchen). Going west to Bad Kösen, a health spa and museum dedicated to Käthe Kruse dolls will attract a tourist wanting a quiet two weeks off, in addition to biking the Saale and Unstrut bike trails. Until most recently, it was a major junction for Fernverkehr (long distance trains) on the East-West axis Dresden/Leipzig- Frankfurt and the North-South axis Berlin-Munich.

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The Regio-Train arriving at Naumburg Station: Now almost exclusively the Regio-bahn Station after its main meeting point for Fernverkehr was shifted to Erfurt.

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Then there is the Christmas market.  Small and located in one place, the Marktplatz, one needs 10 minutes by bike (as the author tried) or by bus, getting there is a maze, and when arriving there, one would only see this and be disappointed…..

If you are a typical Glühwein drinker, this would be the place to try the local specialties and the mulled wine, ride the carousel, have your kids do artwork at the Gingerbread House and then leave after an hour.

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Some of you are probably asking the author: “Mr. Smith, what caused you to stop at Naumburg instead of visiting the markets in Leipzig, Erfurt, Eisenach or even at bigger more popular towns.”  As Piggeldy and Frederick would say: “Nichts leichter als das…..”

CONTINUE READING BY CLICKING HERE. IF YOU THINK THE DRESDNER STOLLEN IS THE OLDEST KNOWN STOLLEN ON RECORD, BE PREPARED FOR A BIG TIME SURPRISE!!! :-)

 

Flensburg Files logo France 15

Christmas Market Tour 2015: Chemnitz

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Christmas market at Alte Markt next to City Hall. Photos taken in Dec. 2015

The first place on the 2015 tour we’ll have a look at is Chemnitz. Located in western Saxony near the Ore Mountains between Dresden, Hof, Leipzig, Zwickau and Glauchau- in other words, smack in the middle of all the action, Chemnitz was first recorded in the 12th Century when Kaiser Lothar III established the Church of St. Benedict. The city plan of the town was presented over a century later. The city’s origin comes from the river running through it, whose name was derived from a Sorbian name meaning stone. The city was substantially destroyed in World War II and the people suffered a great deal afterwards, as it became part of the Soviet Zone, and the city was subsequentially renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1953, named after the founder of Socialism. Like many cities in the former East Germany (German Democratic Republic), the cityscape was transformed rapidly over the next 30 years, as architects placed high rise after high rise wherever the Socialist Party (SED) pleased. That is the reason why the city center and its churches surrounding them are flooded with more high rise buildings than necessary. Can you imagine looking at the city without these concrete slabs just for a second?

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Chemnitz Central Station: looks like an East German gym for sporting events. One needs to subtract the tracks and the platforms.

1990 and the people, fed up with the importance of Marxism and Leninism, were granted their wish, and the name Karl Marx Stadt was converted back to Chemnitz. Yet much of the architecture from the East German period remains today, and people can see them while driving past, especially the statue of Karl Marx at the corner of Brückenstrasse und Street of Nations. Even the Central Railway Station, despite its lounge looking more modern than 25 years ago, looks like a hangar gleaming with yellow sodium lighting. If one takes away all the platforms, it would resemble a sports center, with a wrestling ring and matches featuring the likes of Velvet McIntyre and Mathilda the Hun, two of the many professional wrestling stars during the 1980s. Yet it could also look like an ice skating rink, featuring the likes of Katarina Witt, Germany’s beloved figure skater who was born in the city.

However more modern architecture is popping up in an attempt to drown out the  architecture the SED wanted there at any cost. This includes the expansion of the Technical University in Chemnitz, where because of the increase in students, the campus has expanded to the south, thus leaving the former main campus next to the train station with a purpose of having extra space for classes.  Check your Googlemaps app if you have an appointment at the TU, to ensure you are at the right campus, please, or you will certainly get lost.

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The 1884 Chemnitz Viaduct serving the rail line connecting Dresden and Nuremberg via Hof

Yet despite the concrete settings, which resembles the scenes from the dystopian film The Cement Garden, Chemnitz has several features that standout. The city has the Opera House, Roter Turm at Neumarkt, historic buildings at Schillerplatz and several museums focusing on technology, archeology and art, as well as churches and castles. Even the river Chemnitz features many parks and historic bridges, namely the Railroad Viaduct built in 1884.

And lastly, the city is famous for its Christmas market. Located in the city center at Neumarkt, the market is laid out in three areas: Between the apartments along Am Neumarkt, between the Old and New City Halls and at Roter Turm.  Yet, getting there from the train station or other parts of the city, thanks to the maze of concrete one has to go through, takes lots of navigating, regardless of what kind of Verkehrsmittel a person uses. In my case, despite having my bike companion Galloping Gertie, which always gets me from point A to point B, my sense of orientation was lost in the concrete. So to the city council officials who want a word of advice from me: signpost the directions to the market next time, please!

Barring the author’s critique, I was told that the city had won the prize for the best Christmas market in Saxony. Given the architecture that drowns out the historic nature of the city center- at least the ones that were built before 1914, it was hard to believe at first glance. But then again, learning from my visit in Halle (Saale) and its Christmas market in 2012, one cannot judge the book by its cover but should read the first few pages before making the first judgements. This was why I wanted to take an hour to look through the place.

To read more about what the Christmas Market in Chemnitz has to offer, click onto the picture below, and you will be directed to the website. There, you will find more photos, history, delicacies and experiences the author had during his stay in Chemnitz:

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Flensburg Files logo France 15

(New) Ulm: The Guessing Quiz

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After a long hiatus, the Files is taking you back to Minnesota and the German-named villages. Just like with the villages of Bergen and New Trier, the next stop will look at the largest of the 12 villages in Minnesota that carries a name that is common in Germany, comparing the US town with the one straddling the Danube River at the borders between Baden Wurrtemberg and Bavaria.

New Ulm was one of the first villages established after the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux was signed in 1851, which allowed the settlers to claim lands in the southern half of the state of Minnesota. The town was established in 1854, four years before the state entered the Union.  The German equivalent, Ulm, dates back to the time of the Germanic tribes of the 11th Century. Yet thanks to the Napoleon Conquest combined with the rise of King Ludwig II, the city was subsequentially split along river lines in 1810. On the BW side, there is Ulm, on the Bavarian side, Neu-Ulm. Yet both the German communities and the one in Minnesota have parallel lives.

Before looking at the two communities further, here’s a Guessing Quiz for you to try out. One of which features a Mystery Building question. Without further ado, here are a few questions for you to try, with the answers to be given once the article is published:

Mark which cities has what for a place of interest, either with NU-G (Ulm/Neu Ulm, Germany), NU-US (New Ulm, US) or both.

  1. Cathedral

  2. Fort

  3. University

  4. Railway Station

  5. German-Bohemian Monument

  6. Hermann the German Monument

  7. Professional soccer team

  8. Brewery

  9. American-style street patterns

  10. Streets named after American celebrities

  11. Oktoberfest

  12. Christmas market

  13. Fachwerkhäuser (as seen in the picture)

  14. Canals that merge with a major river.

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MYSTERY BUILDING:  This building, features a water tower with a red-white checkerboard pattern located next to a shed. While the building is being used for residential purposes, the water tower is out uf use at the present time. The question is when this water tower was built and what was its original purpose? One clue to help: This is located near the Institute of Technology of Neu Ulm, in an area where the US Army was once stationed until 1991. What else do we know about this?

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GUESSING QUIZ:  This tower is located at the north end of New Ulm’s business district. What is its purpose? What is the name of the tower and who built it?

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Both cities had their share of conflicts and celebrities. Can you name at least one conflict that each town faced? Can you identify two people from each town that became celebrities and in what way?

Good luck with the guessing attempts. The answers will follow. :-)

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Note: The bridges from both towns will appear in separate articles in the sister column, The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Each place has its share of history with these crossings.

The Fight to Save Fehmarn Island from Progress

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Co-produced with sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles

FEHMARN, GERMANY-   Last fall, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a segment on the preservation of the Fehmarn Bridge, the first bridge in the world that carries the now popular basket-handle tied arch bridge span. The battle is part of the series where residents of Fehmarn Island are fighting with both the German and Danish governments to stop a project where the Migratory Bird Route, connecting Hamburg and Copenhagen, would be widened- both the highway and the railway. This includes new bridges to replace the Fehmarn Bridge and a tunnel on the opposite end connecting Puttgarden (D) and Rodby (DK). And lastly an industrial areal was planned for the island.  Unfortunately, despite the Areal being blocked earlier this year, the European Union, according to reports from the BBC, has given Denmark the green light to start the construction of the tunnel, by providing 589 million Euros in the next four years for the project.

Yet while the Danes are prepared to start work beginning this fall, residents of the island and the surrounding area along the Baltic Sea coast are up in arms against the project and have started their own initiative to stop the project.

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Tourists and locals have seen the blue X’es popping up in neighborhoods, along highways and beaches and even in the skies between Hamburg and Lübeck and the island itself. The Blue-X Initiative was adopted by the group Beltretter, with the purpose of showing support for preserving the island and stopping the project from taking place. Almost one in every three households have this on their lawns as a way of demonstrating solidarity against the project. And there are many reasons for this initiative:

  1. The construction of the tunnel would coincide with the expansion of the highway and rail line going through the island as well as the construction of the new Fehmarn Bridge, resulting in the island becoming a construction site. As small as the island is, and with the economy being dependent almost solely on tourism, analysts predict a loss of up to 800 million Euros (or close to $1 billion) in revenue during the time of the construction because of loss of tourism and commerce, plus additional money to improve the island’s imagery once the project was completed, which could take years to complete.

  2. The project would involve a loss of sensitive vegetation and marine life that would be immense and possible irreplaceable. This includes the plan to scrap the underground tunnel similar to the Euro-Tunnel connecting France and Great Britain in favor of one above the sea floor, similar to the Oresund Bridge and Tunnel between Copenhagen and Malmö (Sweden), which could be devastating to marine life alone. The width of the construction area between Puttgarden and Fehmarn Bridge would average approximately five kilometers. The maximum width of the island is only 21.8 kilometers- and this given the size of the land to be 185 squared kilometers!

  3. Some discreptancies in the environmental and economic impact surveys conducted by Denmark have resulted in rechecking the figures. Alone with the economic impact survey released in January 2015 led to a debate on the credibility of both the Danish government, the conglomerate spearheading the tunnel initiative Fehmarn A/S, and even the European Union. While both Denmark and the EU claim that the new crossings would produce a revenue of 4-5% of the gross domestic product in the region or approximately 3.48 billion Euros ($5.5 billion), other surveys indicate that the loss of revenue through construction combined with years of recovery, the new crossing would net an annual loss of 6.7 billion Euros ($8.2 billion). For the residents on the island, the risk would be too high to take.

  4. While there is a one-track rail line that is suitable for transport between Hamburg and Copenhagen including the time needed to cross via ferry, there is another border crossing at Flensburg and Padborg, where they feature a freeway and a two-track rail line connecting Hamburg with Aarhus with a arm going to Copenhagen via Odense. At the present time, improvements are being made in the Flensburg area to make the crossing more attractive. While the logic behind expanding the line through Fehmarn is there, little do government authorities realize that Fehmarn is a vacation and natural area whose need for a freeway/ two-track crossing on both ends of the island would devastate the natural habitat and impact tourism negatively. In other words, better to go through Flensburg if you wish to stay on the freeway going to Denmark and not stop to go swimming.

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While officials in Denmark are preparing to start building the tunnel from the Rodby end, officials in Germany are in the process of discussing the project with many parties involved. This after the application for the construction of the new Fehmarn Bridge, new freeway and tunnel was submitted to the state ministry of transport. The communities affected will have a meeting in September, followed by the environmental groups, including BeltRetter in November and residents affected by the construction afterwards. The ministry will then review the opinions and information provided by those affected before making their decision- a process that could take up to a year.  Proponents of the project have already received a backing from The German Railways (The Bahn) and German Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt, the former wanting to expand and electrify its rail line to run more ICE-Trains on there.

But with the opposition towards the project crystalizing and spreading beyond the region, problems will most likely excaberbate over the course of two years, especially when the blue X’es sprout up everywhere making the area as blue as possible. Since blue is the sign of clear water, the water people deserve to swim in and marine life to inhabit, it also is a sign of preserving things as they are. With more initiatives coming up and more support pouring in, there is a chance that the project could be stalled further or even scrapped. If this is the case, then there will still be some work to be done with its current infrastructure to keep it up to date, but residents will breathe a sign of relief, for having a mega-highway for the sake of expanding commerce is not necessarily what they want. In fact with all of information on the negative impacts, combined with questions involving the credibility of the sources, this project in the end will do more harm to the region than good. This is something no one is willing to gamble on.

The Flensburg Files and the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles are proud to support the initiative to preserve Fehmarn Island and its places of interest. Both columns will provide you with further updates on the latest involving the project. If you wish to take part in the initiative and want to donate for the right cause, please click on the following links. There you have information on how you can help.

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Bewahrt Fehmarn (Preserve Fehmarn)

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Special thanks to Mirko Kaminski for the use of the photos, as well as Karin Neumann and Hendrick Kerlen for their help in contributing some valuable information for this story.   

Germany Quiz Nr. 6: What you need to know about Brandenburg

View of the city of Brandenburg from above. Photo courtesy of Nancy Grimm

View of the city of Brandenburg from above. Photo courtesy of Nancy Grimm

After a brief hiatus, the Files takes you back to the Quiz series on the 16 German States and to the next candidate: the state of Brandenburg. Located in the eastern part of Germany, where Potsdam and Berlin are located, Brandenburg is perhaps one of the greenest states in Germany, joining the ranks of Mecklenburg Pommerania, Hesse, Thuringia and Saxony. This is in part because of the combination of forests, natural landscapes and wildlife that cover about half the state, mostly in the northern and western parts. The state also has the largest mass of water in the country, with over 33,000 kilometers of river and canals plus 3000 bodies of water, including 860 lakes. Both account for almost a fourth of the number of lakes found in Minnesota, the author’s homestate, where 11,800 lakes and over 111,000 km of rivers and streams exist. Yet while Minnesota can pride itself with its Winter Palace, the state of Brandenburg can also pride itself with its share of palaces and churches . Yet there is more to the state than just that, especially as it is the main attraction of this year’s German Garden and Horticulture Show (short: BUGA). For those wanting to visit Brandenburg for that purpose or for a vacation, perhaps a small Guessing Quiz will both test your knowledge of the state as of now, but also get you more interested and acquainted with the state. Without further ado, here is the challenge for you to take:

1. Which city is the capital of Brandenburg?

a. Potsdam    b. Burg      c. Brandenburg/Havel     d. Neubrandenburg    e. Frankfurt

2. Rank the following cities from most populated to least populated. 

Bernau     Rathenow   Prenzlau   Neuruppin   Frankfurt   Cottbus   Werder    Senftenberg    Brandenburg/Havel     Eberswald   Falkensee   Potsdam   Görlitz   Oranienburg     Schwedt

3. Apart from German, which language is also spoken in Brandenburg? (Hint: Cottbus is known as Chosébuz; Lausitz means Luzyca)

a. Czech     b. Polish     c. Hungarian     d. Danish     e. Sorbian    f. Slovakian

4. Which states border Brandenburg? Mark all that apply.

Lower Saxony      Mecklenburg-Pommerania     Thuringia    Saxony    Hesse      Saxony-Anhalt    Schleswig-Holstein    Berlin     Hamburg

5. How many districts and independent cities exist in Brandenburg?

6. Which rivers are NOT found in Brandenburg? Mark all that apply.

Elbe    Elster    Spree   Havel    Saale    Ucker     Trave     Oder     Neisse

7. Before 1947, the state of Brandenburg was once known as the Margraviate, going by the name of   ___________ Brandenburg.

a. Marge    b. Jim    c. Marcus    d. Ulla    e. Mark    f. Maik   g. Mork   h. Paul

8. In reference to this Margraviate, the kingdom goes as far back as which century?

a. 10th   b. 12th   c. 16th   d. 18th   e. 19th

9. Berlin is part of the state of Brandenburg. True or False?

10. A German women’s soccer team is the only team from Brandenburg that is in the premier league of a sport. True or False?

11. The origin of Frankfurt is Vrankenforde and applies to this city on the Oder River as well as the city on the River Main in Hesse. True or false?

12. Jim Brandenburg, a world-renowned nature photographer from Minnesota, once visited and photographed the flora and fauna in the state of Brandenburg. True or false?

13. The German motion picture studios, where most of the films are made, can be found in Brandenburg. True or false? Name the city where you will find most of the action.

14. The annual Festival of Lights, where the castle and the grounds are lit up and musical concerts draw in a crowd of 40,000 visitors, is held at the Sanssouci Palace, which is located in this city?

15. The Brandenburger Klostersommer festival, which takes place every June and July, features music, art exhibits and other events taking place in which churches in Brandenburg? Name two of them.

16. Which of the local beers will you find in Brandenburg?

a. Beck’s     b. Wusterhausen    c. Kneipe Pur   d. Potsdamer Weise   e. Red Elephant

17. Brandenburg is famous for its pickles, which can be found in this region? (Hint, this region has been declared a biosphere and listed by UNESCO since 1990).

18. During the days of Communism, Brandenburg was dependent on two key commodities, one of which is still in use today.  Choose from the list below:

Mining   Tobacco   Agriculture   Fishing   Nuclear Power   Tourism

19. Which of the lakes in Brandenburg is the largest and where is it located?

20. There are 82 castles and palaces in the state of Brandenburg. Identify the following below:

a. Altogether (2 of them)

b. Potsdam (3 of them but NOT counting Sanssouci)

c. Spreewald (1)

d. Elbe/Elster District (2 of them)

21. How many churches will you find in Brandenburg with the exception of Potsdam and Cottbus?  Estimate your numbers in tens. 

22. Which bridge in Brandenburg is famous for its spy exchange during the Cold War? (Note: It is one of many that existed along the Berlin Wall before 1989 and is still in use today).

23. Which city has the highest number of bridges?

a. Potsdam  b. Brandenburg  c. Cottbus   d. Frankfurt   e. Görlitz   f. Prenzlau

24. The Glienicke Bridge in Potsdam and the Seegarten Bridge in Brandenburg/Havel are the only two cantilever bridges left in the state that carry the same truss design. True or False?

25. Name two existing bridges along the Oder that are older than 75 years.

Have fun taking the challenge. An answer sheet with some interesting facts will follow. Good luck! :-)

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Germany Quiz Nr. 4: The Answers to the Questions about Lower Saxony

Can you guess what this building is? It's located in Brunswick in Lower Saxony. Photo taken in February 2015

There was a request by one of the readers asking for just some interesting facts about Germany and some of the states instead of the Q & A that has been posted to date. My response is by taking the Q & A away, it will take the art out of finding out the most interesting facts about states, like this one: Lower Saxony.   😉   Admittedly there is so much to write about that even some questions had to be left out of this Quiz on Germany. But admittedly, the questions are a challenge and for those wanting the answers to the facts about this rather populous northern German state and their people, here they are below. Please note, the highlighted names contains links with additional information for you to click on and look at:

:-)

Variety Pack Questions:

  1. Eight German States and the Baltic Sea border Lower Saxony, making it the most bordered state in Germany. True of False?

False. Counting the enclavement of Bremen, Lower Saxony is bordered by NINE states (Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Pommerania, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Hesse, Bremen, and North-Rhine Westphalia), plus the NORTH Sea. It also shares a border with The Netherlands to the west. Now that’s a LOT of states. 

2a. Lower Saxony was officially established after World War II in 1946 and consisted of the mergers of four former kingdoms. Name two of the four kingdoms.  Hanover, Schaumburg-Lippe, Brunswick and Oldenburg

2b. Of the four kingdoms, which one was the largest? Hanover  

Note: It was suggested that a state of Hanover was created through the British Zone, but inspite of debates and protests, all four of the former kingdoms merged to become the state and was subsequentially renamed Lower Saxony. Today the names exists but as part of the 38 districts that exist in the state.

  1. Put the following cities in order based on population from largest to smallest:

Oldenburg    Brunswick (Braunschweig)   Stade    Wolfsburg    Hannover   Lüneburg   Uelzen   Emden  Osnabrück

ANS:  1. Hanover (518,386); 2. Brunswick (247,227); 3. Oldenburg (159,610); 4. Osnabrück (156,315); 5. Wolfsburg (122,457); 6. Lüneburg (73,581) 7. Emden (49,790); 8. Stade (45,317); 9. Uelzen (33,269)

  1. Lower Saxony is ranked SECOND in size behind Bavaria and FOURTH in population behind Bavaria, North Rhine Westphalia and Hesse, but is the state that is the most dense population of Germany.  True or False (just the points in cursive and bold print)

Lower Saxony is ranked fourth in population behind Bavaria, NRW and BADEN-WURTTEMBERG (ans. for 1st part is false)

But the state is the most densely populated in all of Germany. (True)

  1. Which rivers flow through and/or in Lower Saxony? Name three of them.

ANS: Elbe, Oker, Ems, Weser, Aller, Seeve, Aue, and others

  1. Braunkohl is a German vegetable that is well known in Lower Saxony and can be served with a local sausage. True or false?

TRUE: Never mistake this term with Braunkohle (brown coal) that you can find in the Ruhr River region and near Zittau in the Black Triangle Region. Both this rare cabbage type and the local (curry) sausage are a tasty combination.

  1. At Steinhuder Lake,located west of Osnabrück, you will find eels. True or false?

FALSE: True there is a Steinhuder Lake and the eels are easy to find (and delicious when eating them), BUT the lake is northwest of Hanover. 

  1. Das Alte Land, located in the vicinity of the Elbe River north and west of Hamburg is Germany’s fruit garden. Name three fruits that grow there annually.  Apples, Pears, Cherries, Berries, and other fruits. 

Multiple Choice:  Choose the correct city to answer the questions.

  1. Which city is home of one of the three automobile manufacturers in Germany. Choose the city and fill in the blank regarding the car brand. (Hint: Fahrvergnügend is still the most popular car brand in the world.)

a. Wilhelmshaven          b. Wolfsburg         c. Celle       d. Lüneburg      e. Hannover

The car brand?  If you don’t know the car brand VOLKSWAGEN, Das Auto, then there’s something seriously wrong with you. 😉 

  1. Which city in Lower Saxony does not have a college or university?  How many colleges and universities does the state have?  ANS HERE: 26; six of them are in Hanover.

a. Hildesheim     b. Göttingen     c. Hannover    d. Cuxhaven     e. Emden

f. Vechta      g. Bremervörde

  1. In this town (A), you can try a drink with a spoon (B), but don’t forget to say your blessings first. 😉

A:

a. Bad Zwischenahn          b. Bad Brahmburg      c. Leer        d. Norden

e. Bad Oldesloe     f. Brunswick

B:

a. Braunschweiger Mumme      b. Löffeltee      c. Ammerländer Löffeltrunk

d. Angler Muck     e. Toter Bruder

LINK: AMMERLÄNDER LÖFFELTRUNK

  1. Which city in Lower Saxony is not located in the Harz Mountains? (!: There are two different answers)

a. Goslar           b. Clausthal        c. Wenigerode        d. Osterode      e. Salzgitter       f. Braunlage

  1. Which city does not have a premier league sports team?

a. Buxtehude     b. Hannover      c. Brunswick      d. Emden       e. Oldenburg

  1. The New York Lions in the German American Football League is actually located in which city?

a. Hannover     b. Bremen        c. Brunswick       d. Göttingen     e. Celle

  1. Germany has the only true transporter bridge in left the country. It is located in Lower Saxony in which community?

a. Ostende      b. Hannover     c. Wilhelmshaven     d. Stade     e. Brunswick

LINK: TRANSPORTER BRIDGE AT OSTENDE

  1. The only combination cantilever-suspension-swing bridge left in Germany (and perhaps on European soil) is located in Lower Saxony. Where exactly is this bridge?

a. Göttingen    b. Wilhelmshaven    c. Lauenburg    d. Stadland   e. Hannover         f. Wattenscheid

LINK: WILHELMSHAVEN SWING BRIDGE

  1. Which town in Lower Saxony will you most likely find in the US?

a. Emden    b. Bergen     c. Hanover     d. Oldenburg    e. Berne    f. Uelzen

FACT: There are 19 towns in the US that carry the name Hanover, as well as 23 townships. The largest of them is Hanover, New Hampshire, where the state university is located. That one has 11,800 inhabitants.

Celebrities and Birth Places: Determine whether these statements are true or false. If false, correct the statements

  1. Maria Furtwängler, an actress who plays Charlotte Lindholm in the Tatort-Hannover series originates from Hanover.

ANS: False. She was born in Munich and belongs to one of the most powerful dynasties that still exist in Germany today. 

  1. Heiner Brand, head coach of the German National Handball Team, was born and raised in Brunswick.

ANS: False. Brand was born in Gummersbach in North Rhine Westphalia. He is the only German handball player and coach to have won the World Championship both as a player (1978) and a coach (2007). He was coach of the German National Handball Team from 1997 until his resignation in 2011, taking the team all the way to the World Cup Championship in 2007.

  1. In the film the Inglorious Bastards by Quentin Tarrantino, there were no German actors/actresses.

ANS: It would not be typical of the well-cultured producer and director to not have native-born German actors/actresses in a film, whose setting was in Nazi Germany. At least 25 people, including Daniel Brühl and Til Schweiger were casted alongside Brad Pitt in this film. This included Diane Kruger, who was born in Hildesheim (near Hanover) and played Bridget von Hammersmark in the film. A well-thought film produced by a well-known name, but the answer to this question is clearly FALSE!

  1. Gerhard Schröder, the successor of Chancellor Angela Merkel, was born in Mecklenburg-Pommerania but grew up in Lower Saxony.

ANS: False. He was born and raised in Lower Saxony and even started his career in politics during his university days in Göttingen, thus paving a path to chancellorship, which he ruled Germany from 1998 until his landslide defeat in early elections in 2005, into the hands of the country’s current chancellor, Angela Merkel.

  1. Herbert Grönemeyer calls Göttingen home. No wonder because he was born there.

ANS: True. Yet he was born there because his mother brought him into the world through a specialist in a very unusual way (read more here). He however was raised in Bochum in North Rhine Westphalia.

  1. The band The Scorpions was established in Hanover with the lead singer originating from there.

ANS: True. Klause Meine originated from Hanover. Together with Rudolf Schenker (who was born in Hildesheim), the band was founded in Hanover. It is the longest running band in Germany and second longest in the world behind the Rolling Stones, having been in business for over 50 years.

  1. The Creator of English for Runaways originally came from Emden.

ANS: False. Heinz Heygen was born in Frankfurt/Main.

  1.  Chris Barrie, a Hannoverer  who starred in the Tomb Raider movie, grew up in Northern Ireland.

ANS: True

  1. Prince Ernst Augustus of Hanover was born in Hanover.

ANS: It is logical that the Prince, who is married to Princess Caroline of Monaco, and has his residence in Hanover, must be naturally-born Hannoverer. Hence, True. :-)

BONUS QUESTION: Can you guess what that building in Brunswick is?

The building is the site of the Tauch Center, located across the Oker River from the campus of the Technical University. When it was built and other details is unknown, but you are free to add some information in the comment section if you wish to do that.

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