German Music: Austria’s Granada

October 17, 2016
German Music, Learn German


There is a German language music revolution happening but it isn’t in Germany. Just south of the border in Austria, the pop bands performing music in the German language just keep coming. Graz based Granada are one of the newer bands in the Austrian music scene. The five-piece have only just released their self-titled debut album. Get in on the ground floor, so to speak. This month’s featured German language music recommendation is Granada!

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Olivia de Havilland’s “Every Frenchman Has One”

October 12, 2016
reviews, Travel

olivia de havilland every frenchman has one book

Seemingly every fifth article published on the internet is a vague account of how “easy” it is to live your dream and move abroad. You know: quit your job, cash in your retirement savings, sell all your belongings. Then move abroad to live in varying degrees of comfort depending upon the location and your skill set. But long before these hipsters started blogs to detail their travels abroad, there was Olivia de Havilland. The actress has won two Academy Awards with an impressive five nominations in all. You might remember her as the mild mannered, big-hearted Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind. But in 1962 the actress published a book titled Every Frenchman Has One, detailing all about her adventures of living in Paris, France as an American.

To celebrate de Havilland’s 100th birthday, publishers re-released the book.

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German Films: Armin Mueller-Stahl

October 10, 2016
German Films, Learn German

armin mueller-stahl

Armin Mueller-Stahl is a man who has repeatedly had to reestablish himself. First, as an actor of the film and stage in East Germany. Then, in the mid-1970s he was blacklisted along with others for protesting when singer-songwriter Karl Wolf Biermann was stripped of his East German citizenship while on tour in West Germany. Mueller-Stahl himself emigrated to West Germany in 1980. He again found work in film. The actor then set his sights on Hollywood. There, he proved himself yet again with a transition to English language films. In 1996, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film Shine.

Get to know Armin Mueller-Stahl and practice your German skills with three of his films from both sides of the German-German border: Her Third, Lola, and Die Manns – Ein Jahrhundertroman.
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Brewing Tea with a French Press

October 6, 2016

el gato malo french press

When you think of a French press, your first thought is probably to think of coffee, right? It would make perfect sense as French pressed coffee seems more popular than ever. Everyone is looking to get that perfect cup of coffee without venturing out to pay someone else to do it. But have you ever considered brewing tea with a French press?

One of the reasons to opt for loose leaf tea over bagged tea is the way the leaves are processed. If you were to open a typical tea bag, you’d likely find finely chopped tea leaves. Loose tea is different. It is usually sold as large pieces of tea leaves even whole tea leaves. This can depend on the brand or even the style of tea. Because loose tea leaves are larger, when brewed they will expand. Having this extra room allows the leaves to release more flavor. In Asia it isn’t uncommon to put the tea leaves right into a pot. But this method, usually, doesn’t include any kind of mesh so leaves can get into your cup. Tea ball infusers, which is my normal brewing method, don’t give the leaves much room to unfurl. That brings us to brewing tea with a French press.
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My Must See: Charming & Historic Görlitz, Germany

October 3, 2016

Görlitzer Altstadt im Winter /// Foto: Nikolai Schmidt Görlitz

If it weren’t for those famous scenes in the movie Rocky of Sylvester Stallone running up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the world might never have known about this fantastic landmark. Not really. But for some smaller towns and sights this is definitely the case. Take for example Görlitz, Germany. After seeing the town used as the filming location for Wes Anderson’s whimsical The Grand Budapest Hotel and doing some research into the town’s beautiful architecture, Görlitz has been on my Must See list.
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Forget Driving or the Train! Sail to NYC with NY Ferry

September 26, 2016

view of manhattan upper west side from ny ferry
If you’re not flying into New York City, the question is: how do you get there? I recently took a daytrip to the Big Apple and that was the million dollar question question. Nobody in their right mind wants to battle the traffic and then search for parking. You have to have plenty of time, money and, most importantly: patience. That leaves a couple of public transit options: Amtrak train, park & ride train or park & ride ferry. Without a doubt, taking the NY ferry is my new favorite way to reach Manhattan!
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German Music: Schlager Singer Heino

September 19, 2016
German Music, Learn German

Squeaky-clean, conservative and religious, American singer Pat Boone left more than a few scratching their heads in 1997 when he released In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. The album saw Boone covering hard rock and metal hits like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and Deep Purple. As if that wasn’t enough, the conservative and religious singer made appearances to promote the album in all-leather outfits, including a dog collar choker necklace. He was 63 years old.

Compare this with German Schlager and traditional singer Heino‘s appeal to a younger audience. In 2013, the then 75 year old Heino released Mit freundlichen Grüßen, a covers album that saw him doing versions of Sportfreunde Stiller, Rammstein and Die Fantastischen Vier, among others. The album went to number one in the German charts. Despite being one of Germany’s best selling singers for nearly five decades, this was his first number one album that went platinum.

Admittedly, Heino’s traditional tastes in music might not appeal to everyone. But, for German learners his style of clearly enunciated vocals is ideal. That’s why this month’s featured German language music recommendation is Heino.
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German Book Review: Stuckrad-Barre’s “Panikherz”

September 14, 2016
Learn German

benjamin von stuckrad-barre panikherz
Earlier this year, it was announced that German journalist/author/television moderator Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre was be publishing a new book. I instantly became excited. The author had seemingly disappeared from the public eye, at least from my point of view. After his RBB television series Stuckrads Homestory finished airing in 2014, things seemed to get quiet. And it had been nearly six years since he published his last book, Auch Deutsche unter den Opfern, a collection of previously published newspaper articles. It was that book that had originally brought Stuckrad to my attention when he was on Deutsche Welle promoting it. You could, of course, count co-writing the script to 2012’s Zettl with director Helmut Dietl. Regardless, Panikherz is a new book from my favorite German author. I quickly pre-ordered it from

Titled Panikherz, Stuckrad’s latest publication is a memoir. The book is written from the present with flashbacks interspersed. During that time out of the public eye, he left Berlin. Instead he moves to a guesthouse at the famed Chateau Maurmont in Los Angeles. There he spent a year to reflect and regather himself. In Panikherz, he recounts his struggles with drugs, alcohol, an eating disorder and his own insecurities.

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German Films: Actor Florian Lukas

September 12, 2016
German Films, Learn German

florian lukas
If this month’s featured German actor looks familiar you may not be mistaken. When hipster art-house director Wes Anderson made The Grand Budapest Hotel, it made sense for him to cast European actors in a very European flavored film. One of those cast is Florian Lukas. The Berlin-based actor portrayed Pinky, one of the prisoners that Monsieur Gustave (played by Ralph Fiennes) befriends.

But Lukas can’t be accused of going Hollywood. The actor has a long list of credits in German language films and television. This month’s German language film recommendations for German language learners features Florian Lukas’ Nordwand, Die Fremde, and Good Bye, Lenin!
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Must See: Picturesque Hallstatt, Austria

September 5, 2016

hallstatt, austria

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, it might be difficult to convince the Austrian lake town of Hallstatt. A Chinese mining company built an exact copy of the town in Guangdong. But you really can’t blame the Chinese. Many consider the village to be the most beautiful town in the world. It’s easy to see why Hallstatt, Austria is this month’s featured location on My Must See List.

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