Frankfurt’s Dialogue Museum Celebrates Its Fifth Birthday

Frankfurt is known around the world for its wealth of museums.  The cultural metropolis on the Main is home to an excellent variety of exhibition venues, including the world-famous Städel Museum, Schirn Kunsthalle, and also the Museum of Modern Art, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.  While at the Frankfurt Dialogue Museum, which celebrates a more modest five years of existence this year, there’s nothing to see at all…

Frankfurt Dialogue Museum

The main exhibition, entitled “Dialogue in the Dark”, takes visitors through a pitch-black museum with the help of guides and white canes.  The highly unusual tour is guaranteed to leave an impression on the mind.  The museum also features a blacked-out restaurant, named “Taste of Darkness”, and a “Casino for Communication”, which raises awareness by way of various team-games.  As a result of the museum’s unique concept, it received a 2010 Frankfurt Tourism Award.

For more information visit www.dialogmuseum.de ; or www.kultur.frankfurt.de

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This Winter Sample Bavarian & Bohemian Christmas Markets

German Christmas markets have become almost a cliché, especially seeing the crowds at Munich, Nuernberg and Cologne. However, Bavarian Forest Holidays has come up with a different angle: a long weekend on any of the four advent weekends before Christmas, with accommodation in a five star village apartment, giving visitors the opportunity to see Christmas Markets in the big cities of Passau and Regensburg, as well as the smaller towns and villages of Bavaria and Bohemia.

Bavaria

Each weekend can be tailored to suit the preferences of a family or group and most of the markets can be visited by great value German public transport – so there are no restrictions on testing the Gluehwein! Accommodation is in the pretty Bavarian Forest village of Bayerisch Eisenstein, directly on the border with Czech Republic. Prices for three nights in five star accommodation (excluding travel and meals) range from €200 for a couple in a one bedroom apartment, up to €425 for 6 people in a 3 bedroom, all ensuite apartment. A welcoming glass of Gluehwein will help to get you in the mood. And, of course, award-winning Bavarian Forest Holidays can advise on travel by rail to and from the UK as well as to and from the Christmas Markets.

For more information visit www.bavarian-forest-holidays.com

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Bavarian Forest National Park Celebrates 40th Birthday

The Bavarian Forest National Park, the oldest National Park in Germany, will celebrate its 40th birthday this year with a range of events and the active support of its National Park Partners. The 76 Partners – hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and self catering accommodation providers – work with the Bavarian Forest National Park to provide holidays in harmony with nature right through the year. One of these is ‘Bavarian Forest Holidays’ in Bayerisch Eisenstein, whose English owners came to the Bavarian Forest from England in 2004.

More and more English speaking international visitors are making their way to the Bavarian Forest – thanks to the marketing activities of Margaret Leach and Martin Holborow who have also designed their 9 holiday apartments
(8 with 5 stars and 1 with 4 stars, awarded by the German Tourism Association) to specifically meet the needs of international guests.

Bavarian Forest

The National Park, which includes the largest area of forested wilderness between the Atlantic and the Urals, offers opportunities for peaceful walking and cycling as well as seeing rare indigenous wildlife such as lynx, wolves, brown bears and capercaillie in vast enclosures in the forest. The National Park visitor centres also provide education and
entertainment related to the National Park. The Bavarian Forest National Park also directly borders the Sumava National Park in Czech Republic, providing access to nearly 100,000 hectares of protected nature.

The National Park Partners offer quality accommodation and comprehensive information on the area to their visitors. They make an important contribution to sustainable tourism and exceed the usual criteria for eco-friendliness and quality. All are passionate supporters of the motto of the National Park ‘Let nature be nature’. Once they have qualified to become
Partners they are obliged to attend regular briefing sessions and hikes in the National Park in order to keep their knowledge up to date.

This year the Bavarian Forest National park celebrates its 40th birthday with many events during the year and a major celebration on 9th-10th October in the Lusen National Park Centre.

For more information on Bavarian Forest Holidays visit Forest Holidays.

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The Cannstatt Beer Festival in Stuttgart

From the 24th of September to the 10th of October, Stuttgart will attract millions of enthusiastic visitors to the 165th Cannstatt Beer Festival where candy floss, grilled sausages, chicken and most of all, beer will be enjoyed by all.  Originally founded in the year 1818 as a celebration of thanksgiving, the festival is now firmly established as one of the biggest and best of its kind in the world.

Stuttgart

Following the official opening ceremony with the traditional tapping of the first barrel of beer by the Mayor of Stuttgart, Dr. Wolfgang Schuster, the action starts on the Wasen fairground; the fairground rides begin to move and the beer tents open for business. The big wheel, the roller coaster, the chairoplanes, the “Wild Mouse” switchback.  With more than 300 providers and new attractions each year plenty of variety is guaranteed. In the beer tents, which hold up to 5000 guests, you can be sure of a fabulous atmosphere where celebrations continue late into the night. The beer flows more or less non-stop, and Swabian specialities such as Kässpätzle (cheesy noodles), Maultaschen (stuffed pasta), Rostbraten (roast) or Schupfnudeln (potato noodles) with sauerkraut make sure no-one need go hungry.  The thought of all that food and beer is making me salivate as we speak. I think this is my must-take trip of the year!

For more information about Stuttgart visit www.stuttgart-tourist.de.

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Order A Free Germany Brochure & Win Prizes!

Want to cruise down the Rhine, stand on top of the Reichstag in Berlin or have a cold beer at the Oktoberfest? Then order the new Discover Germany brochure!  Just make sure to fill in the survey and you could be in it to win a trip to your favourite German destination. Plus, the brochure will enable you to learn more about the many facets of Germany’s towns, natural scenery and cultural attractions.  And if you don’t win the ultimate prize then there is still a chance to win one of 20 rucksacks with lots of German goodies!  Visit FreeGermanyGuide to find out more.

Prizes will be drawn from all questionnaires completed before the 15th of August 2010.

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The New Westin Hotel in Hamburg

Starwood Hotels & Resorts will introduce its wellness brand, Westin Hotels & Resorts to Hamburg, Germany’s vibrant cultural centre with the new Westin Hamburg Hotel, scheduled to open in 2010.  Westin Hamburg will be part of a landmark development, including the highly-anticipated Elbe Philharmonic Hall.  The hotel will be designed by world-renowned Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as part of the highly anticipated Elbe Philharmonic complex, Europe’s most ambitious development projects.

Expected to become a cultural and architectural landmark, this urban development will also include luxury residences and a multitude of culinary, cultural and nightlife options all set in the heart of upscale HafenCity.  Tailored to both business and leisure travelers, the ultra-modern 10-storey Westin Hamburg Hotel will feature 244 guest rooms including 39 suites, all with the iconic Westin Heavenly Bed, a restaurant, a cafe, destination bar, lounge and a spa including a Westin WorkOut fitness centre and an indoor swimming pool. The hotel will comprise close to 9,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and event space equipped with cutting-edge technology, including eight meeting rooms and a ballroom.

With over 1.8 million inhabitants, Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city. It is one of the most popular leisure destinations in Europe and recognised as a cultural and commercial centre, with stunning architecture and a vast array of entertainment and shopping options. Through a joint venture with Arabella Hospitality Group, Starwood currently operates more than 30 hotels in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Mallorca and South Africa under its Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and Four Points by Sheraton brands.

Westin is currently represented by five hotels in Germany, including The Westin Grand Frankfurt, The Westin Grand Munich Arabellapark, The Westin Grand Hotel in Berlin, The Westin Bellevue in Dresden and The Westin Leipzig.

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Gardens, Not Walls! Frankfurt Celebrates Birth Of Green City

Last week Frankfurt’s former city walls celebrated an historic birthday. Two hundred years ago, the City of Frankfurt enacted the so-called Wallservitut, an easement with which they moved to protect the parklands along the course of the former mediaeval city fortifications from destruction. This edict also helped to lay the foundation for further natural development within the city. Today, Frankfurt is one of Germany’s “greenest” urban centres, featuring over 50 parks and gardens within its city districts.

Palmengarten, Frankfurt, Germany
Palmengarten (Botanical Gardens) Frankfurt

Today, the Anlagenring, a section of the former city walls now landscaped, forms a five-kilometre-long semicircle around the city centre. Visitors taking a walk along this green ring will come across fountains, ponds, ancient trees, modern sculptures, monuments and memorials, many of which serve as reminders of Frankfurt’s colourful history. The demolition of the former city walls had helped to bring about the establishment of English-style landscape gardens, which were continuously expanded over time. The former course of the star-shaped city fortifications is still recognisable upon closer examination of a city map.

Starting at the massive euro symbol situated in front of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt’s green ring takes visitors past the Beethoven Memorial and Heinrich Heine Memorial to one of the city’s most beautiful locations: Opera Square and Alte Oper, Frankfurt’s grand old opera house and one of the city’s premier landmarks. A few hundred metres further on, one comes across the Nebbiensche Gartenhaus. This oasis of green, built in classicistic style in 1810, was one of the first glasshouses to be erected along the green pathway. Today, it is available for special-event hire. From here, it is not far to the Eschenheimer Tor, the only remaining city gate of the former mediaeval walls. Continuing on, one arrives at the Odeon, a popular dance club. Originally, this classicistic-styled structure was built by order of the Bethmanns, a famous Frankfurt banking family. For many years, it served as the home of the Museum of Sculptures. Taking a few steps away from the beaten track, walkers will arrive at the nearby Bethmann Park and its Chinese Garden, which was designed according to the principles of Feng Shui. Having returned to the green lane, one comes across Frankfurt’s most beautiful “outhouse”. Nowadays, these monument-listed former public toilets with their chapel-like dimensions are home to a cocktail bar named Lala Mamoona. The gabled roof and half-timbered framework provide an excellent background for the lounge music and relaxed atmosphere of this popular location.

The end of the green ring is now only 750 metres away. The former municipal library, rebuilt in 2005 and now the home of the Frankfurt House of Literature, today presents itself as a beautiful café with an attached beer garden, inviting visitors to a refreshing respite. Those fit enough are urged to continue on down Frankfurt’s unique and very natural riverside promenade, which runs along both sides of the River Main. From here, beautiful views of the city’s skyline and surrounding area are guaranteed; in fact, they are best enjoyed from one of the riverside establishments while drinking a glass of Frankfurt apple wine.

Frankfurt’s Anlagenring, the first such landscaped parklands to partially encircle a city centre in Germany, raised many eyebrows throughout Europe at the time of its creation. This green ring was instrumental in commencing the establishment of a series of parks and gardens that helped to transform Frankfurt am Main into a truly green city – a fact that often escapes attention due to the many other highlights found in the Main metropolis.

With such an impressive skyline, it is hard to believe that the business and banking city of Frankfurt is also home to several nature reserves, such as Enkheim Moor in the city’s northeast, Schwanheim Forest in the southwest and Fechenheim Forest to the east.

Two hundred years after the creation of the the green ring, Frankfurt’s “GreenBelt” has established itself as the city’s premier place of rest and recreation. Fully completed in 1991, it now encircles the city at a length of some 80 kilometres and consists of hiking and cycling paths as well as countless other recreational opportunities. During summer, the GreenBelt’s many public gardens attract visitors with their impressive variety of flora – be it Mediterranean, like at the Gardens of Niece at the banks of the River Main, baroque-style as at the Bolongaro Gardens, or spacious as the English landscaped parks of old, such as Grüneburgpark and Ostpark.

One location that’s particularly attractive all year round is the Palmengarten. Founded in 1868 with the kind donations of Frankfurt’s citizenry, these magnificent botanical gardens are home to some 3,000-odd species and varieties of plant. Here, visitors have the unique opportunity of experiencing plant life representing the most diverse climate zones.

Frankfurt is also home to Germany’s largest city forest, a 5,000-hectare wood that extends from the airport to the city districts of Oberrad, Sachsenhausen and Niederrad. Recently, during Whitsuntide, Frankfurt locals once again headed to the city forest to celebrate their national holiday, the Wäldchestag, or “Forest Day”. This festival is unique to Frankfurt and has been taking place since 1792.

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5-star Sound for Luxury German Hotel Kameha Grand in Bonn

The new Kameha Grand hotel in Bonn, defines new standards in luxury hotel architecture and boasts an installed sound system to match.

Kameha Grand Bonn Germany

Nestling discretely into its site by the Rhine, the recently opened Grand Kameha Bonn is a stunning example of the classic ‘Grand Hotel’ concept re-interpreted for the modern era, with cutting edge architectural design by Bonn-based architect Karl Heinz Schommer and acclaimed designer Marcel Wanders. Within its softly curved glass envelope, the Grand Kameha has a total of 254 rooms, including 63 suites, and a multi-functional 2,500 capacity event space, making it well placed to attract both private travellers as well as the high end corporate/business market. As a direct result of both the building’s unique modern design, with the acoustic challenges that this often presents, and the hotel’s objective of meeting the most demanding business and conference needs, the A/V facilities required special attention – with the resulting system setting new standards for this type of project.

At the centre of the new building is the huge 1,800 sq. metre multi-function hall – covered by a glass roof canopy up to 21 metres high at the highest point of its arc. Large halls such as this, with their vast expanses of highly reflective surfaces including the tiled floor and extensively glazed envelope, suffer from the disadvantage of very high reverberation times – often this can often render a space impractical to use for large events due to horrendous intelligibility, and give people the impression of being in a train station or airport. Consequently, the audio solution required to deal with such a challenging acoustic problem, would naturally be quite complex and as such the client brought a consultant onboard to address this at an early stage in the development.

Kameha Grand Hotel Bonn Germany

ThomNet Media Engineering were appointed to consult on the design and specification of the audio system covering all public spaces within the Kameha, including the huge hall (called the Kameha Dome) which posed the most difficult problems. After a competitive comparison test between 3 manufacturer’s products, Tannoy’s QFlex digitally steerable loudspeaker system was found to deliver the best performance in the huge event space, with the minimum impact on the building’s aesthetics – all critical to its status as a 5-star luxury hotel. A pair of QFlex48 columns were all that was required to provide even and controlled coverage of the full hall, mounted discretely on the steel frame of the building envelope – high above the main entrance, aimed back across the hall floor. This is where QFlex’s ability to steer multiple beams of acoustic energy across several planes, and at quite extreme angles if necessary, really proved to be invaluable. It allows audio to be focused on a specific area of the hall, without worrying too much about indirect sound reaching other areas (such as when the hall is divided into multiple uses) and ensuring very high intelligibility in the desired listening areas. The ability to maintain effective beam control at much higher steering angles than alternative systems allows for much more discrete (higher) location of the loudspeakers – up and out of sight, but still able to fire right down as well as out across the hall depending on specific uses of the space.

Away from the main hall, in the restaurant, brasserie and bar areas, the brief for the audio system was just as demanding. The designers specified a need for a system that provided zonable coverage, with uniform BGM coverage throughout the various zones and a system capable of delivering first class clarity and intelligibility while also being suitable for higher volume applications such as a New Year’s party or large corporate entertainment event. All of these requirements were met with in-ceiling systems. In total, over 100 Tannoy CMS 801DC Dual Concentric(tm) driver equipped loudspeakers were installed, delivering premium audio quality with the minimum of impact to the design aesthetics of the themed bars and restaurants as well as throughout the various corporate, meeting rooms and the spa and sauna facilities.

The entire in-ceiling audio system was powered by a rack of Lab.gruppen’s C Series installation-dedicated amplifiers. Chosen for their flexibility and ultra-reliability in fixed installation applications like this, a mix of the Swedish manufacturer’s 4-channel C10:4X and 8-channel C10:8X were specified at Grand Kameha. With the ability to make individual adjustments to maximum voltage peak output and gain per channel, as well as bridge-mode operation selectable per channel pair and advanced NomadLink® networking with remote monitoring and control facilities, the choice was a straight-forward one. No other amplifier platform delivers this level of control and continuous peace of mind where fixed installation is concerned, and with superb sound quality to boot.

Completing the 450,000 euro A/V installation, Biamp Audioflex provided DSP control, while Panasonic and Crestron video products were specified throughout the conferencing and meeting rooms, making Grand Kameha a stunning example of true A/V integration within the hotel market. Bonn-based CEE Media handled the installation of both audio and video throughout the new hotel.

www.kamehagrand.com

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Restaurant Review: Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners, South London

Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners, LondonZeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners near Vauxhall in South London is the first German gastro pub in the city.  Here one can enjoy traditional and hearty German fare (schnitzel, sausages, sauerkraut) while sipping on a delicate German wine or glugging a generous German beer.

The pub has maintained its rather British character, the decor is a mixture of black and dark red, giving the ambience a particularly gothic feel.  However, the pub also boasts a small, intimate patio area (not particularly chic but definitely an added bonus for spring and summer days).

As expected football is a big deal here and this is the destination for local Germans to congregate to watch the Bundesliga, as well as the imminent World Cup matches.

The staff are particularly good natured, friendly and incredibly laid-back, which can prove a tad irritating at times!  Nevertheless, what the pub lacks in speed is by far made up with the food and drinks on offer.  There are no less than nine types of schnitzel on the menu (this is at first perhaps a little misleading as the majority are a basic schnitzel simply with a different sauce).  The pieces may not be particularly large but the meat is tender, tasty and the mushroom sauce is not to be missed!  As anticipated sausages are also a big feature on the menu with an incredible 8 different sausage dishes on offer.  In addition, there are several other German classics such as meatloaf, roast pork, käsespätzle (German noodles with cheese and onions), a variety of soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches.

Although bottled beers are available, the draught options are the best with the menu boasting: Rothaus Tannenzapfle, Veltins, Bitburger, Krombacher Pils, Warsteiner, Flensburger Lager, Gaffel Kölsch, DAB, Köstritzer Schwarzbier, Das Schwarze, Meister Pils, Sanwald Weizen, Paulaner Lager, Paulaner Hefe, Weihenstephan Hell and Weihenstephan Dunkel. (Price for a pint £3.95.) I was also impressed to find the bar offers not only one or two German wines but in fact excludes wine from any other nation, most unusual even in traditional German establishments.

It’s offers ahoy at Zeitgeist at the moment with deals for lunch, happy hours and World Cup lunch specials so check out the website for any upcoming events and plan a trip to this charming gastropub now!

Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners, 49-51 Black Prince Road, London SE11 6AB

zeitgeist-london.com

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First German White Asparagus of the Season

White AsparagusA little while ago I came across London’s German Deli, based in Borough Market. The deli now boasts a stall in the new Covent Garden Food Market, in addition to its neat little website on which customers can order their favourite German fare.

And there is even greater reason to be excited, as the first German white asparagus has now arrived! Unfortunately, there is only a small quantity at present this time, but as the season continues the deli will be getting more and more in every week. Hopefully the price will drop a bit later in the season as well, but that really depends on supply and demand!

German Deli, Borough Market shop at 3 Park Street, London SE1 9AB

www.germandeli.co.uk

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