In the Swabian Mountains in southern Germany is a spring so blue that it attracts countless visitors. Known as the Blautopf (“blue pot”), this strange mountainous spring forms the drain for the Blau (River Blue) cave system. What makes this spring particularly strange and unique is its deep blue color – a result of the physical properties of the nanoscale limestone present in the water.
According to scientists, that is.
Legends tell a different story.
One local myth claims that someone pours a vat of ink into the Blautopf every day to maintain its color. Another strange myth claims that it is impossible to measure the Blautopf’s depth since a water nix steals the leaden sounding line (a thin rope with a plummet) every time it is submerged. There is even a story about the Schöne Lau, a beautiful mermaid trapped in the Blautopf. Today, a life-size statue of the mermaid stands near the Blautopf.
Experienced cave divers are known to explore the Blautopf and its underground corridors (which are many miles long with enormous chambers). This, however, is restricted to well-trained divers, since it is dangerous and has led to fatalities in the past. But for most people, viewing the Blautopf from the outside is satisfying enough! The majestic blue color makes for spectacular photos year-round.
Germany is filled with creations from the days when castles and knights were the norm. One such creation is the Rakotzbrücke — the Devil’s Bridge.
Located in Kromlauer Park near Gablenz in eastern Germany, this unique bridge is shaped as a semi-circle. From a distance, the reflection in the water creates the image of a perfect sphere. Photographers and travelers love visiting this bridge, and you may have seen already seen fantastic images of the Devil’s Bridge on Instagram!
The bridge was commissioned by a local knight in 1860 and built with a diversity of local stones. It was called the “Devil’s Bridge” because its structure made it so dangerous that it must have been built by Satan, people said. Similar bridges exist throughout Europe and many of them are considered the work of the devil due to their “impossible” design.
This bridge (and the surrounding park) are a must-see for travelers in the area, but take note that crossing the bridge is strictly prohibited! There are great views of the bridge from the park, and you can always Photoshop yourself into the pictures you take!
Excitement is running high as we head into the final days of the Winter Olympics. Today, Germany beat Canada 4-3 in the men’s ice hockey semi-finals. Many were surprised by the result, since Canada has been a nine-time Olympic Champion in the sport and rarely settles for a bronze. Germany will play against Russia in the finals on Sunday – you can be sure that we’ll be watching!
If you’re looking for a travel destination with jaw-dropping views, add The Bastei to your list. This rock formation stands 636 feet above the Elbe River in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, southeast of Dresden.
What makes this majestic rock formation even more spectacular is a wooden bridge that connects several of these rocks together. Visitors have been walking across the bridge since it was constructed in 1824 (and replaced by a sandstone version in 1851).
From the 12th to the 15th century, a fortress known as the Felsenburg Neurathen stood by the rock formations. This fortress, however, was burned down by an opposing army in 1484 and there is little left of it to see.
In 1801, tour guide Carl Heinrich Nicolai perfectly described the rock formation from one of its lookout points:
“What depth of feeling it pours into the soul! You can stand here for a long time without being finished with it (…) it is so difficult to tear yourself away from this spot.”
The rock formations have impressed so many people that The Bastei was even the location for Germany’s very first landscape photographs, taken by photographer Hermann Krone in 1853.
The Bastei continues to draw in tourists today, as it has done for centuries!
Nordic-combined skier Eric Frenzel has been chosen as Germany’s flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday.
Frenzel was selected for the honor by the German Olympic Sports Association, which held a poll on its website. When Frenzel found out he was nominated to be in the top 5, he said “I feel honored and it is a certain recognition for our sport and me individually.” (Source: DPA)
The 29-year-old athlete won the Olympic gold medal in the 10km individual normal hill at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He also won a bronze medal in the 2010 Olympics and a silver medal in the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
The German Embassy endorsed e-mobility with its very own stand at the Washington Auto Show this winter. The German government supports the use of electric cars, offering incentives for consumers and investing in infrastructure and R&D.
This year, we are proud to announce that the German Embassy will be converting its entire fleet of cars to electric or hybrid cars and install charging stations on Embassy grounds. This switch will create an environmentally friendly transportation option for diplomats and staff that avoids emissions and protects public health.
German companies have long stated their plans to switch over to electric vehicle production. Car manufacturers like Volkswagen, BMW, Smart and Daimler are working to produce many new models of e-cars. Some of these were on display at the Washington Auto Show. By the year 2025, VW and Daimler expect that 25 percent of their sales will consist of e-cars alone, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last year.
This fast progression of the transition to e-cars is aided by the tax incentives put forth by the German government. In 2015, the German government dedicated 600 million Euros for e-car subsidies. In Germany, those who buy an electric car receive a 4,000 Euro subsidy, while those who buy a hybrid car receive 3,000 Euros. The car owners are also exempt from car ownership taxes for 10 years.
To make e-car ownership easier, the German government also plans to install at least 7,000 fast-charging points throughout the country, mostly along the Autobahn, by 2020.
With more than 129,246 plug-in electric cars registered in Germany between 2010 and 2017, the future looks electric!
German companies with facilities in the USA are applying the German apprenticeship system to train workers for long-term careers, often partnering with community colleges and other training providers. You might catch this video on the German Embassy’s Skills Initiative on local DC channels WUSA9 and WJLA. What do you think about the dual work education system?
We hope you all had a wonderful transition to 2018!
Looking back at 2017, it is clear that Germany again made strides in its production of renewable energy – and this is bound only to rise even more. A whopping 33.1 percent of Germany’s electricity generation came from renewable energy sources last year according to preliminary data. In fact, Germany experienced many days in which its supply was greater than its demand, causing some German companies to get paid, in a sense, to use it.
In Germany, there are some days where the supply of renewable energy produced is actually greater than needed, usually due to the weather. Examples includes particularly warm or sunny days, some weekends (when businesses and large factories are closed) and days with strong breezes. On such days, large energy consumers (such as factory owners) are occasionally paid to take the power, when the excess power cannot be stored. (This “payment” usually comes in the form of a reduction on a future electricity bill.)
During days when Germany had excess power in 2017, it also often exported this power to neighboring countries.
Throughout last year, Germany broke several renewable energy records. On April 30, for example, 85 percent of its electricity came from renewables, thanks to windy, sunny and warm weather. In the first half of 2017, Germany had generated 37.6 percent of its electricity from renewable energy.
Of course, the fact that Germany produced so much renewable energy is good news. It also highlights the challenges that we face as we make the transition to renewable energy. The extension and adaptation of the power grid to the needs of larger shares of intermittent renewable energy such as sun and wind as well as more storage options are solutions for the future power system.
After two years of construction, a world record-breaking cableway has opened in the Bavarian Alps: the new Zugspitze cable car.
This cable car takes passengers up Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze, located near the quaint Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Although there was already a cable car in place before its completion, the new cable car is much more efficient, bringing up to 580 people per hour up the mountain, 30 minutes faster than before. The cable car system has the tallest steel tower in the world, the longest cableway span and the highest elevation difference. It’s no wonder that this cablecar system even made its way into US news this week!
For those who have visited southern Germany for skiing or snowboarding, you’ve surely heard about the Zugspitze – Germany’s tallest mountain at 9,718 feet. The mountain is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in the wintertime. For the more adventurous types, it is even home to its very own igloo village, consisting of 20 hotel snow houses in the winter. A true winter wonderland!
But whether you’re skiing on the Zugspitze or celebrating the holidays with family in the US, we would like to take a moment to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday weekend!
Some Americans think of apprenticeships as something of the past. Visions come to mind of medieval scenes of tanners, shoemakers, or cobblers. Instead, they may be more acquainted with the phrase “to learn a trade”. Regardless of terminology, choosing to bypass a traditional four year degree for a job-specific training is far less common in the United States than in Germany.
In Germany, half of graduates of high schools and junior high schools chose a track that combines training on the job with further education at a public vocational institution. This apprenticeship model is one reason why Germany has the lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe and has been able to keep manufacturing jobs in the country.
To pull the veil from vocational education and to put a voice to the process, we interviewed an American living in Berlin who is currently in his second year as an apprentice at a German car company.
What kind of apprenticeship are you doing?
I applied at the car company to do a Mechatroniker Ausbildung (Mechanic/Electric apprenticeship). Mechatroniker is a combination of two words: Mechaniker and Elektroniker (Mechanic and Electronic technician). Since most of the vehicles in today’s market have so much technology involved, and with more and more electric vehicles on the streets, they combined both of the fields together, into the one apprenticeship.