High up in the German Alps is a lake so eerie that it’s known as the Schrecksee (“fright lake”). With an elevation of 5,949 feet, the Schrecksee is Germany’s highest alpine lake – and it’s often covered in fog.
While some might consider it spooky, others would call it beautiful: the Schrecksee has a mystical feel to it.
Located in the Swabian region of Allgäu, the natural lake lies in the Alps — but getting there is no easy feat. Hiking up to the Schrecksee takes about seven to eight hours round-trip, on average. The views, however, are worth the effort: the Austrian border is located only about 1,000 feet away and hikers can peer over to Germany’s neighbor from the Schrecksee.
Those wanting to cool off can swim in the lake — but with temperatures around 55 degrees in the summer, few find the desire to do so.
Today, the Schrecksee remains a lesser-known travel destination in Germany, perhaps due to the difficulty in reaching it. But for those with a sense of adventure and motivation for a long hike, the Schrecksee is well worth a visit! Just make sure to start your hike early enough to make it back down before sunset.
You probably know that Germans love gathering for Kaffee und Kuchen (“coffee and cake”), traditionally in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. But did you know there’s a name for this type of social gathering? Germans call their afternoon coffee-and-cake sessions a Kaffeeklatsch (“coffee gossip”).
Like the name implies, a Kaffeeklatsch presents the opportunity for coffee (or tea) and conversation. It can be held in someone’s house, at the office or even at a cafe. Traditionally, however, a Kaffeeklatsch is held in someone’s home – often on Sundays. Many Germans use Kaffee und Kuchen as an opportunity to invite friends or family to catch up. And they’ll sometimes make quite an event out of it, bringing out a pretty tablecloth and their best tableware. In addition to coffee, Germans will usually serve some sort of pastry, whether it’s homemade cheesecake or something sweet from the bakery.
Let’s take a look at 12 influential German women whose names have gone down in history. Who would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!
Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard von Bingen (also known as Saint Hildegard) is the oldest person on our list. This influential German woman is largely considered the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. She was a Benedictine nun who was also an abbess, artist, author, composer, pharmacist, poet, preacher, mystic and theologian! It seems there is nothing that von Bingen couldn’t do! In 2012, she was named a Doctor of the Church, a rare title only given to saints who contributed heavily with their theological writings. Only three other women in history have received this title.
“Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world – everything is hidden in you.”
Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria („Sissi“)
Many of you may have watched or heard about a royal Austrian woman nicknamed “Sisi”. Elisabeth of Bavaria was born into a royal family in Munich, Germany, which was part of the Kingdom of Bavaria at the time. At the age of 16, she married Emperor Franz Joseph I and became the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. Her biggest achievement was helping to create the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867. She was killed during an anarchist assassination while in Geneva in 1898.
Although the invention of the first practical automobile is credited to Karl Benz, his wife also had an enormous impact on the industry. Bertha Benz, a German woman from Pforzheim, was Karl’s business partner. She financed the manufacturing of his first horseless carriage with her dowry. In 1888, she took her two sons and drove the Patent Motorwagen Model III 120 miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim without telling her husband. This was the first time someone drove an automobile over a long distance, fixing all technological complications on the way. Bertha made history; her drive alleviated fears that people had about automobiles, bringing the Benz Patent-Motorwagen its first sales.
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.
Germans have a vast selection of winter sports available to them, ranging from skiing to snowboarding to ski jumping to bobsledding. In fact, Germans are highly talented in bobsleigh. This weekend marks the final races of the 2017-2018 Bobsleigh World Cup in Königssee, Germany. Top bobsleigh and skeleton sled athletes will go on to represent their countries in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The top forty sleds qualify for the Olympics!
Bobsleigh is a sport in which two or four teammates race down an icy track in a sled, with the goal of getting down the fastest. Skeleton is a similar sport, but it only involves a single rider on a small sled. The reported world record speed for bobsledding is 125 mph!
So far this season, Germans have already won 11 gold medals in bobsleigh and 27 total medals – more than any other country. Canada is currently in second place with five gold medals and 14 total. The United States is listed third with three gold medals and 14 total.
The German Embassy in Washington is proud to announce the launch of our blog! This blog will provide information about Germany and the German-American relationship, ranging from news to cultural topics to science, business and events.
If you would like to contribute to the blog, send an e-mail with your pitch to germanyinusa (at) gmail.com.
Our colleagues at the German Embassy in Washington would like to take a moment to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays in several different languages! Frohe Weihnachten! Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Feliz Natal! Vrolijk Kerstfeest! Eid milad saeid! God jul! Srećan Božić!