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Posts Tagged ‘cultural differences’

It’s the weekend!

1200px-Cologne_-_Panoramic_Image_of_the_old_town_at_dusk

By Ahgee – Own work

 

And you’re spoilt for choice! A quick look at the event calendar for Saturday the 4th of June shows a good range of events lined up.

If your heart is set on checking out one or two of the amazing museums, you will have to discuss that with your guides, as most museums close on a Saturday at 5 or 6pm. Have a look at this overview – in English! – and get lost in modern and classical art, architecture, science, history, Carnival and everything else that has been part of our culture.

After the guided tour you will have a pretty good idea of the colourful history of the city and will look forward to discovering what the locals do after work. Depending on what your local guide has in mind, you might be able to check out some of the other activities as well.

 

Cologne Guitar Night

cologne guitar nightThe Cologne Guitar Night is held at the Rheinische Musikschule Köln which was founded in 1845 after the example of the Conservatoire de Paris. The school takes pride in delivering a great foundation in all traditional aspects of music appreciation as well as encouraging pushing boundaries and creating exciting and stimulating modern music. A perfect example for that is the guitar night, breaking down boundaries between old, classical guitar playing and juxtaposing or re-interpreting it within modern compositions. The five acts for Saturday night cover Latin Jazz Classic, Baroque and New music, World music with Sitar and piano, Venezuelan guitar and electric rock guitar and more from Belarus!

 

Being Refugee

being refugee2

Photos by hartmutschneider.de

This photographic exhibition is at the Mediapark and open til 6pm and is a chance to see how refugees in Germany see and record their lives and conditions in the refugee camps. While we are more than conscious of the often heart-breaking images in the main stream media of the refugees, one rarely gets to see into the inside of the camps and their minds. How do they see themselves in their new environment? How do they find a sense of belonging and understanding in a country whose language most have to learn from scratch? The initiative to let them document their lives has led to further projects, all aiming for greater understanding and support of each other. For current updates on all activities go and check their Facebook page out.

 

 

Echoes of Utopia – dance and politics

Das Echo der UtopienA different kind of exhibition that is open for viewing til 7pm, also at the Mediapark and curated by the Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln. The German Dancearchive was conceived in 1873 in Berlin. After its destruction during WWII a new beginning was made in 1948 and in 1985 the archives were purchased by an arts trust of the Cologne municipal savings bank.  Today the archives do more than just document the history of dance, they are also a center for information exchange and research into classical and modern dance. In that capacity, this exhibition explores the connection between dance and politics, demonstrating that dance is more than ‘just’ for fun and pleasure. Through photographs, choreography drawings and videos you will be able to understand how dance is created, perceived and used as a physical tool to communicate a range of messages throughout time.

Hope you enjoy your time in my home town and do tell me what impressed you most!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

 

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Quips and quirky celebrations…

Bleigiessen-Vorgang… abound in Germany on the last day of the year. From do’s and don’ts pertaining to your share of health and fortune in the coming year to predicting your lot through lead-pouring and finally sitting down to watch an old time favourite TV sketch before counting down and chasing away the ghosts with huge fireworks. Germans have indeed developed a huge range of ways of ending the old and starting the New Year. One of them you’re not likely to have heard about unless you have a Germanophile in your circle of friends is the ritual of watching a skit called “Dinner For One”!

Dinner for who?

A Birthday dinner for a dear old lady called Sophie. In this 18 minute clip you will see Miss Sophie celebrating her 90th birthday with her dearly departed four friends and her man-servant James. The four course meal involves rounds of congratulatory toasts and the repetition of the well-known punch lines: “Same procedure as last year?” “Same procedure as VERY year!” Well-known all over central Europe, but not in any English speaking country. One might wonder why.

History

dinner-for-oneThe sketch was written by the English writer Lauri Wylie in the 1920’s and performed in cabarets in the 40’s. It consists of ‘classic’ British slapstick comedy, the likes of Mr.Bean and Charlie Chaplin, transcending the barriers of language through physical comedy. Even though it was frequently performed throughout Britain, it never garned much attention, until in 1962 a German entertainer saw a performance in Blackpool and was so enamoured with it, that he asked the original actors to give a performance on his live show and record a session in a theatre. They did two recordings and the rest is history. In fact it became such an integral part of German NYE culture that nowadays throughout the German channel maze it will get screened up to 18 times in the hours leading up to the countdown! A time slot for every family/party situation.

Why oh why is it SO popular?

I’m sure many TV producers would love to know the answer to this question, as it would make it a lot easier creating future classics. In the past decades many have tried to understand the phenomenon and failed. Some claim the slap-stick comedy appeals to mankinds’ basic understanding of humour. Others that it taps into our yearnings for the “good old days” when life was simply, predictable and safe in its repetitions.

These explanations, as logical as they may seem, do not explain though, why this kind of humour polarizes people though. If you ask, you will find that people either LOVE it or HATE it with a passion. The same goes for the Mr.Bean series or other equally notorious British comedy series ( Blackadder, Fawlty Towers just to name some of my favourites). If the perception of the comedy were that basic, it should appeal to everyone? Or not?! Either way, you should have a look at the clip and decide for yourself if you will indulge in it next NYE.

Same procedure as last year? Same procedure as EVERY year!

Happy New Year and lots of health, fortune and fun from the Sidetracks team.

 

 

 

 

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Seasonal idiosyncrasy

StrausswirtschaftAs Kiwis we all recognise the PYO signs on the side of the road and know what the term honesty box implies. But did you know that in some parts of Germany one can buy wine and something to eat in a not-licensed premise?! Like the pop-up shops in cities, during summertime a range of signs pop up at the side of the road, indicating that HERE you can consume locally produced and made wine and other regional delicacies. Depending on the region it can be a broom, a brightly coloured flower bouquet or a stylised hedge. Which are all regional terms for this particular enterprise: a Strauss– (Bouquet), Besen– (Broom) or Heckenwirtschaft (Hedge inn).1280px-Heckenwirtschaft-01

Open for business: part time only

Each state in Germany has its own detailed regulations regarding this particular trade, but they all have a few points in common: only during 4 months of the year, you can have two opening times during the day, minimum of hygiene, no other alcohol to be sold – except home-made spirits(!) – and only very basic simple food. Like the Flammkuchen for example, a delicious Alsatian kind of pizza.1280px-Tarte_flambée_alsacienne_514471722

Due to its seasonal character, the range of locations where the wine is sold vary greatly. In the olden days it was quite common for the winemaker to just clear part of his house to accommodate the paying guests or just add a few hay bales to the courtyard! Others built little stalls with walls that would open to serve the general public. Either way, they are an interesting display of the commercial habits of the wine growers in Germany’s wine growing regions. And a unique way to sample local wines and cuisine!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Historic warehouses and offices in Hamburg protected

"Chilehaus Hamburg 2013" by Sebastian Warneke - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chilehaus_Hamburg_2013.jpg#/media/File:Chilehaus_Hamburg_2013.jpg

Chilehaus Hamburg 2013 by Sebastian Warneke

We are proud to announce that another destination on our tour ‘Cosmopolitan North’ has been declared worth protecting and became a UNESCO world heritage site. The distinct brick warehouses and offices along the canals and inner city of Hamburg’s ‘Speicherstadt’, ‘Kontorhausviertel’ and ‘Chilehaus’ have been deemed relevant as symbols of the rapid international growth of trade of the 19th and 20th century. In earlier articles we have already introduced other items of interest in Hamburg, here’s a bit more about the ‘Speicherstadt’ now.

Money talks, even then!

Unicode

To be able to accommodate the need for more storage and processing space in the harbour, over 20.000 people had to be relocated and over a 1000 buildings levelled before building on the new warehouses and office blocks could begin in 1883. Workers and labourers found new homes in the new high rises in Barmbek and Hammerbrook, while other home owners converted their summer batches along the Alster or Elbe into the main family homes.

Bricks, bricks and some more bricks

"Chilehaus (Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb" by Bild: © Ajepbah / Wikimedia Commons /. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chilehaus_(Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb.jpg#/media/File:Chilehaus_(Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb.jpg

Chilehaus (Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5 by Ajepbah

From a New Zealand perspective these buildings must seem utterly incongruous: as far as the eye can see beautiful dark red brick buildings with ornate fronts and highly detailed and decorated rooflines. An earthquake conscious engineers’ nightmare! Their designs are classic examples of Gothic Revival architecture and as such represent the revived mercantile attitudes of the entrepreneurial Middle Ages. Show of wealth was in, so bigger, taller and prettier was the motto of the day for the architects. Photos can give you only a limited impression of these distinct buildings, so come and join us on our two tours discovering the mercantile and architectural history of Germany’s northern cities.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

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More Lifeswap culture news

It’s been over a year since we introduced you to the lovely guys from Lifeswap: ‘Jörg’ and ‘Duncan’. From explaining the German obsession for recycling to giving tips on how to deal with confrontations in a kiwi flat they have moved onto explaining more intriguing details of living in Germany and New Zealand. They have now six episodes on their Vimeo channel and if you’re not following them on Facebook you should keep an eye on their web page. Not only will you find out about the latest short films regarding the boys’ adventures, but also discover their other projects.Augsburger-Puppenkiste-feiert-60-Jahre-im-Fernsehen_ArtikelQuer

Last year for example they were working on a theatre production in Wellington’s Circa theatre, using old fashioned string puppets. Looking at the photos I immediately felt a nostalgia wave rushing over me, as the marionettes heavily resembled the ones I used to watch on TV as a young child in Germany: Augsburger Puppenkiste. I am very pleased to see these old story-telling techniques used again and a new audience gained and wonder what they’ll be doing this year.

Enjoy their third video, appropriate for this time of the year:

The Winter Deniers

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

 

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Living on the other side of the world!

From whose point of view? Kiwi and German of course!

In 2007 Steffen Kreft came to New Zealand to do his Masters in Digital Design and this involved making a film about the fears and transformations experienced by a traveller arriving in a foreign land. He stayed on and now is busy making short films for DoC and the Ministry for the Environment. On top of that he’s quite active in the Wairarapa art scene and now has started another project. In co-operation with the Goethe Institute in Wellington and his partner William Connor (on a fact finding mission in Berlin at the moment) he has started making a series of stop-motion films that highlight each nationality’s behaviourisms in a light-hearted and teasing manner.

Lifeswap

While we know that in the wife swap and house swap reality shows on TV only one person or house gets changed, in lifeswap the complete cultural background is exchanged. For a whole year the German Jörg and the Kiwi Duncan trade places in their respective flatting arrangements und discuss their experiences. The short films explain each nations’ idiosyncrasies by gently making fun of them. While the first episode shows Duncan receiving a lesson in rubbish separation and recycling, the second one demonstrates how Kiwis deal with conflicts and gives Jörg some clues how to fit in better.

Communication – all over the world

As you might remember, Sidetracks now offers guided tours throughout Germany and we thought this might be an interesting way of introducing and explaining a little bit of our home country’s quips and quirks before letting you loose there! Hopefully the fun way will get you interested in experiencing it first hand and we can welcome you in the next year to good old Germania.

As an ex-pat of 19 years I thoroughly enjoyed the clips and look forward to more!

Enjoy!

Here’s the first episode:

and here’s the second:

 

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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