Old School Beer Education in Bad Staffelstein, Germany

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Teaching English here in Germany affords me a lot of information about the local dialect and traditions that tourists wouldn’t normally discover. And that’s why I’m here.

Here’s a good example. Two of the groups I’ve taught consisted of IT team managers at Deutsche Telekom, the German equivalent of AT&T or Verizon. I came to know them a couple of years ago and met with them almost every week on Thursday at their office building. We all grew to be friends. In the course of teaching them English, I was privileged to learn about their families, hobbies, projects and opinions. And last June they invited me and my husband for a “short walk” to a well-known local landmark, Staffelberg. I included quote marks in the previous sentence because a German’s idea of a short walk is vastly different from an American’s idea of one. However, they took it easy on us and we had a grand time. I made a slideshow out of some of the photos I took that day. Peep it:


Excursion to Staffelberg Germany with ESL Group from Karren Tolliver on Vimeo.

The first song in the slideshow is called the Frankenlied, or the Franconian Anthem, which sings the praises of the glorious local land. The second song is called Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii, or “There is No Beer in Hawaii,” in which the singer says his fiance wants to go to Hawaii for her honeymoon and he doesn’t want to go because there is no (German) beer there. So that’s why they are not married yet, after 12 years of engagement! One of the lines in the chorus is “Hula hula doesn’t make your thirst go away.” They taught me about these songs at dinner after our walk. read more

(Almost) Albrecht Dürer Exhibit in Nuremberg

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Despite the fact that my trip to Kassel for the dOCUMENTA art exhibit was a downer, I set my sights on the Albrecht Dürer exhibit in Nuremberg. Nuremberg is easily daytrippable from where I live in Bamberg, so the logistics were quite simple. Albrecht Dürer is a son of Nuremberg, born there during the Renaissance in 1471. You can tour his house, which is preserved in the Old Town section. Although you might not know his name, I’m betting you have seen some of his artwork here and there along the line. He’s famous for a lot of images, but among them are a painting of a rabbit, a rendition of Adam and Eve, and the praying hands image that is popular among your grandmother’s set. You can see photos of all his work here. The most interesting thing about Dürer for me is that he was so famous during his own lifetime – about the first German artist to achieve that. He was excellent at self-marketing and had the genius notion of making prints of his original artworks to sell. Painters had not done this before Dürer. Therefore, not only was he a good painter, he was also a very rich man. Dürer’s artworks are distributed all over the world, and I’d seen many of them in places like the Louvre in Paris. However, this exhibit had gathered all his works from around the globe into the German National Museum in his hometown for a big, once-in-a-lifetime show wherein you could see his work altogether. So, on a Sunday in August, I hopped a train and was soon in N-town. I hoofed the small distance from the station to the museum, congratulating myself on living so close and being there as the museum opened to beat the crowds. Then I rounded the corner to the museum and saw this: Well, ok. I can stand in line for an opportunity to see this exhibit. No problem. So I stood there. And stood there. And stood there. The line barely moved. After about an hour the couple in front of me asked a passing museum staffer how long the wait might be. The answer: another hour. Because of the preservation standards for the artworks, they can only allow a certain number of people into the exhibit rooms at a time. A little while later, the husband of said couple went inside for a bathroom break. When he returned he reported another line inside that was two or three times longer than the one we were in! That couple bailed and decided to just go see Old Town because they were on a tight schedule. After another 15 minutes or so, I decided to bail as well. I figured I could come back on a weekday and it wouldn’t be as crowded. Since it was almost lunchtime, I headed to a good German restaurant I knew about that has some of the best schnitzel I’ve ever eaten (right, Cheryl?). Along the way I saw this: No wonder Europeans think our country
is full of guns. The American stores in Europe are gun stores! Or fast food
restaurants! Along the way I was also treated with this view of St. Lorenz
church in the morning sun:

Nuremberg’s old town is quite large
compared to many German cities and it has a few different squares. The square I
was headed to is ostensibly the main one and where they hold the famous Christmas Market and in which the Schöner Brunnen

resides. This name translates literally as “Beautiful Fountain.” As
opposed to the ugly ones, I guess. But it really is beautiful. It was built in the 1300’s and is about 62 feet tall.

Its figures depict the
world view of the Holy Roman Empire, with philosophers, popes, etc.
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