Sep
2
2014

Holiday Destination: The Unspoilt Islands of Germany.

DSCF0015

Rügen Island, Germany. Photo by matthewblack on Flickr.com

As I am going on holiday this week I am in great spirits, and so I felt inspired to write this holiday-themed post for all of you who want to escape the cold weather (remember: It’s still summer somewhere in the world!).

When people think of beach holidays in Europe, they think of places like Portugal, Spain, Croatia and France, to name a few. Hardly anyone would think of adding Germany to that list. But did you know that Germany, too, has several beautiful beaches to call its own?

Germany is mostly a landlocked country, bordering with nine other European countries (Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Poland, Switzerland, Netherlands and Luxembourg), so it is easy to see why people assume it has no coastline. However, it does: In norddeutschland (northern Germany).

"Germany location map" by NordNordWest - Own work, using United States National Imagery and Mapping Agency data. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Germany_location_map.svg#mediaviewer/File:Germany_location_map.svg

“Germany location map” by NordNordWest – Own work. Via Wikimedia commons.

OK. So you probably knew that already. But many people still don’t imagine Germany to be a destination for a beach holiday. But the German coastline, believe it or not, is a hidden treasure amongst European beach destinations!

The Baltic Coast (Ostseeküste) is located to the north-east of Germany, in the federal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and is a popular holiday destination both for tourists and natives who want to get away from the stress of city life. The seaside town of Heiligendamm, for example, dates back to 1793, and is nicknamed Die weiße Stadt am Meer (‘The white town by the sea’), due to its beautiful white buildings. This is Germany’s oldest beach town, and it was first developed for use by the aristocracy. Over the years it has had several influential visitors including George W. Bush – I guess you could call it the St. Tropez of Germany (!).

But as well as a coastline, Germany has numerous offshore islands to call its own. These are scattered between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, and are serene little hideaways guaranteed to make you forget about the daily grind.

Baltic Sea Islands

Rügen Island
This is Germany’s largest island and is apparently excellent for surfers. The town of Suhrendorf is an especially prominent surfing town. There is even a “Surfhostel” you can stay at!

Hiddensee Island
As well as having beautiful, sandy beaches, this “sweet little isle”, as its known by its inhabitants, is part of the Boddenlandschaft National Park, and is a protected breeding ground for many species of bird. If it’s unspoilt nature you’re after, this is the German island for you.

"Hiddensee Dornbusch" by Manfred Betschinger - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hiddensee_Dornbusch.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Hiddensee_Dornbusch.jpg

“Hiddensee Dornbusch” by Manfred Betschinger – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Fehmarn Island
Nicknamed “the sunshine isle”, this sunny island has it all: beaches, cliffs, meadows, spa retreats – even kite-surfing! Fehmarn Island is a nature enthusiast’s dream.

Other German islands in the Baltic Sea: Vilm, Poel, Ummanz, Usedom, There are other Baltic islands (Greifswalder Oie, Walfisch Island, Langenwerder, Ruden) which are used as nature reserves, and are uninhabited.

North Sea Islands

Norderney Island
A spa resort island with 14km of white, sandy beaches and plenty of cycling and walking trails. Home to the annual White Sands Festival.

Sylt Island
Nicknamed “Queen of the North Sea”, this little island is great if you love sailing, kiteboarding, surfing and other water sports. It is famous for hosting the annual Windsurf World Cup, and for its expensive houses with quaint thatched rooves. It apparently has a good nightlife, too, with a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants including the 2-starred Sol’Ring Hof Restaurant at the Dorin Hotel.

"Dünenstrand auf Sylt" by temporalata - Beach with grassUploaded by ZH2010. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:D%C3%BCnenstrand_auf_Sylt.jpg#mediaviewer/File:D%C3%BCnenstrand_auf_Sylt.jpg

“Dünenstrand auf Sylt” by temporalata – Beach with grass Uploaded by ZH2010. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Other German islands in the North Sea: Amrum, Baltrum, Borkum, Föhr, Hallig islands, Heligoland, Juist, Langeoog, Pellworm, Spiekeroog, Wangerooge.

Here is an aerial view of Spiekeroog:

"Luftaufnahme Spiekeroog" by User:Huebi - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Luftaufnahme_Spiekeroog.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Luftaufnahme_Spiekeroog.jpg

“Luftaufnahme Spiekeroog” by User:Huebi – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The overriding characteristic of these little deutsche Inseln (German islands) is that they promote wellbeing and the great outdoors, and have a great respect for nature. So be it a relaxing beach holiday, an active water-sports holiday, a hiking trip through unspoilt scenery, or a rejuvenating spa break, you’ll find it on one of these German islands.

So next time you’re thinking of booking a relaxing mini-break, why not consider Germany?

Sep
2
2014

Holiday Destination: The Unspoilt Islands of Germany.

DSCF0015

Rügen Island, Germany. Photo by matthewblack on Flickr.com

As I am going on holiday this week I am in great spirits, and so I felt inspired to write this holiday-themed post for all of you who want to escape the cold weather (remember: It’s still summer somewhere in the world!).

When people think of beach holidays in Europe, they think of places like Portugal, Spain, Croatia and France, to name a few. Hardly anyone would think of adding Germany to that list. But did you know that Germany, too, has several beautiful beaches to call its own?

Germany is mostly a landlocked country, bordering with nine other European countries (Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Poland, Switzerland, Netherlands and Luxembourg), so it is easy to see why people assume it has no coastline. However, it does: In norddeutschland (northern Germany).

"Germany location map" by NordNordWest - Own work, using United States National Imagery and Mapping Agency data. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Germany_location_map.svg#mediaviewer/File:Germany_location_map.svg

“Germany location map” by NordNordWest – Own work. Via Wikimedia commons.

OK. So you probably knew that already. But many people still don’t imagine Germany to be a destination for a beach holiday. But the German coastline, believe it or not, is a hidden treasure amongst European beach destinations!

The Baltic Coast (Ostseeküste) is located to the north-east of Germany, in the federal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and is a popular holiday destination both for tourists and natives who want to get away from the stress of city life. The seaside town of Heiligendamm, for example, dates back to 1793, and is nicknamed Die weiße Stadt am Meer (‘The white town by the sea’), due to its beautiful white buildings. This is Germany’s oldest beach town, and it was first developed for use by the aristocracy. Over the years it has had several influential visitors including George W. Bush – I guess you could call it the St. Tropez of Germany (!).

But as well as a coastline, Germany has numerous offshore islands to call its own. These are scattered between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, and are serene little hideaways guaranteed to make you forget about the daily grind.

Baltic Sea Islands

Rügen Island
This is Germany’s largest island and is apparently excellent for surfers. The town of Suhrendorf is an especially prominent surfing town. There is even a “Surfhostel” you can stay at!

Hiddensee Island
As well as having beautiful, sandy beaches, this “sweet little isle”, as its known by its inhabitants, is part of the Boddenlandschaft National Park, and is a protected breeding ground for many species of bird. If it’s unspoilt nature you’re after, this is the German island for you.

"Hiddensee Dornbusch" by Manfred Betschinger - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hiddensee_Dornbusch.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Hiddensee_Dornbusch.jpg

“Hiddensee Dornbusch” by Manfred Betschinger – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Fehmarn Island
Nicknamed “the sunshine isle”, this sunny island has it all: beaches, cliffs, meadows, spa retreats – even kite-surfing! Fehmarn Island is a nature enthusiast’s dream.

Other German islands in the Baltic Sea: Vilm, Poel, Ummanz, Usedom, There are other Baltic islands (Greifswalder Oie, Walfisch Island, Langenwerder, Ruden) which are used as nature reserves, and are uninhabited.

North Sea Islands

Norderney Island
A spa resort island with 14km of white, sandy beaches and plenty of cycling and walking trails. Home to the annual White Sands Festival.

Sylt Island
Nicknamed “Queen of the North Sea”, this little island is great if you love sailing, kiteboarding, surfing and other water sports. It is famous for hosting the annual Windsurf World Cup, and for its expensive houses with quaint thatched rooves. It apparently has a good nightlife, too, with a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants including the 2-starred Sol’Ring Hof Restaurant at the Dorin Hotel.

"Dünenstrand auf Sylt" by temporalata - Beach with grassUploaded by ZH2010. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:D%C3%BCnenstrand_auf_Sylt.jpg#mediaviewer/File:D%C3%BCnenstrand_auf_Sylt.jpg

“Dünenstrand auf Sylt” by temporalata – Beach with grass Uploaded by ZH2010. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Other German islands in the North Sea: Amrum, Baltrum, Borkum, Föhr, Hallig islands, Heligoland, Juist, Langeoog, Pellworm, Spiekeroog, Wangerooge.

Here is an aerial view of Spiekeroog:

"Luftaufnahme Spiekeroog" by User:Huebi - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Luftaufnahme_Spiekeroog.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Luftaufnahme_Spiekeroog.jpg

“Luftaufnahme Spiekeroog” by User:Huebi – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The overriding characteristic of these little deutsche Inseln (German islands) is that they promote wellbeing and the great outdoors, and have a great respect for nature. So be it a relaxing beach holiday, an active water-sports holiday, a hiking trip through unspoilt scenery, or a rejuvenating spa break, you’ll find it on one of these German islands.

So next time you’re thinking of booking a relaxing mini-break, why not consider Germany?

Aug
31
2014

Using Essere and Stare in the Past Tense

Recently I received a comment from a reader asking about the correct use of the imperfect and present perfect of essere and stare. Here is my reply:

Firstly, if you want to revise the difference between essere and stare, you can read THIS BLOG. Now let’s have a look at their use in the imperfetto (imperfect tense) and the passato prossimo (present perfect). Allora, we’ll start with the verb stare:

1. To talk about somebody’s health we use stare followed by the adverbs bene (well), male (bad), meglio (better), peggio (worse), and so on.

Here’s a short conversation  which uses the imperfect tense (stava):
Maria: ”Ciao Laura, sai come sta Giorgio?” (Maria: “Hi Laura, do you know how Giorgio is?”)
Laura: “l’ultima volta che l’ho visto non stava tanto bene” (Laura: “the last time I saw him he wasn’t very well”. Imperfect)

Now here’s an example of the passato prossimo (è stato):
Maria: ”Ciao Laura, sai come sta Giorgio?” (Maria: “Hi Laura, do you know how Giorgio is?”)
Laura: “Sì, so che è stato male, ma mi hanno detto che ora sta meglio” (Laura: “Yes, I know he has been unwell, but I’ve heard that he’s feeling better now”. Present perfect)

2. To explain where we used to stay/stayed we use stare followed by the location:

da bambina l’estate stavo dai miei nonni (when I was a child I used to stay at my grandparents in the summer. Imperfect)
quando siamo andati a Ravenna siamo stati all’Ostello della Gioventù (when we went to Ravenna we stayed at the Youth Hostel. Present perfect)

Now let’s look at the use of the verb essere:

3. To describe people, places and situations we use the imperfect tense of essere:

mio padre era figlio unico (my father was an only child.)
la casa dove sono nata era molto grande e intorno c’erano molti alberi (the house where I was born was very big and around it there were many trees.)
era una notte buia e tempestosa … (it was a dark and stormy night …)

Snoopy_It_Was_Dark_And_Stormy_Night
Listen to: era una notte buia e tempestosa … (it was a dark and stormy night …)

4. To talk about an event that is now over we use the present perfect of essere:

è stata una bella festa (it was a lovely party)
lo scorso inverno è stato molto mite (last winter was very mild)

P.S. As you may have noticed, a main source of confusion is the fact that the verbs stare and essere use the same passato prossimo (present perfect), for example, sono stato/a  can mean either ‘I was’ or ‘I stayed’, and siamo stati/e can mean either ‘we were’ or ‘we stayed’. In most cases the meaning is clear from the context:
Quando Giorgio era a Napoli è stato a casa di sua zia (When Giorgio was in Naples he stayed at his aunt’s house Present perfect of the verb stare)
è stato un pomeriggio molto caldo (it was a very hot afternoon. Present perfect of the verb essere)
In other cases the two verbs are more or less interchangeable:
siamo stati a Ravenna tre giorni (we were/stayed in Ravenna for three days)
sono stata tutto il pomeriggio in casa (I was/stayed in all afternoon).

Aug
31
2014

Using Essere and Stare in the Past Tense

Recently I received a comment from a reader asking about the correct use of the imperfect and present perfect of essere and stare. Here is my reply:

Firstly, if you want to revise the difference between essere and stare, you can read THIS BLOG. Now let’s have a look at their use in the imperfetto (imperfect tense) and the passato prossimo (present perfect). Allora, we’ll start with the verb stare:

1. To talk about somebody’s health we use stare followed by the adverbs bene (well), male (bad), meglio (better), peggio (worse), and so on.

Here’s a short conversation  which uses the imperfect tense (stava):
Maria: ”Ciao Laura, sai come sta Giorgio?” (Maria: “Hi Laura, do you know how Giorgio is?”)
Laura: “l’ultima volta che l’ho visto non stava tanto bene” (Laura: “the last time I saw him he wasn’t very well”. Imperfect)

Now here’s an example of the passato prossimo (è stato):
Maria: ”Ciao Laura, sai come sta Giorgio?” (Maria: “Hi Laura, do you know how Giorgio is?”)
Laura: “Sì, so che è stato male, ma mi hanno detto che ora sta meglio” (Laura: “Yes, I know he has been unwell, but I’ve heard that he’s feeling better now”. Present perfect)

2. To explain where we used to stay/stayed we use stare followed by the location:

da bambina l’estate stavo dai miei nonni (when I was a child I used to stay at my grandparents in the summer. Imperfect)
quando siamo andati a Ravenna siamo stati all’Ostello della Gioventù (when we went to Ravenna we stayed at the Youth Hostel. Present perfect)

Now let’s look at the use of the verb essere:

3. To describe people, places and situations we use the imperfect tense of essere:

mio padre era figlio unico (my father was an only child.)
la casa dove sono nata era molto grande e intorno c’erano molti alberi (the house where I was born was very big and around it there were many trees.)
era una notte buia e tempestosa … (it was a dark and stormy night …)

Snoopy_It_Was_Dark_And_Stormy_Night
Listen to: era una notte buia e tempestosa … (it was a dark and stormy night …)

4. To talk about an event that is now over we use the present perfect of essere:

è stata una bella festa (it was a lovely party)
lo scorso inverno è stato molto mite (last winter was very mild)

P.S. As you may have noticed, a main source of confusion is the fact that the verbs stare and essere use the same passato prossimo (present perfect), for example, sono stato/a  can mean either ‘I was’ or ‘I stayed’, and siamo stati/e can mean either ‘we were’ or ‘we stayed’. In most cases the meaning is clear from the context:
Quando Giorgio era a Napoli è stato a casa di sua zia (When Giorgio was in Naples he stayed at his aunt’s house Present perfect of the verb stare)
è stato un pomeriggio molto caldo (it was a very hot afternoon. Present perfect of the verb essere)
In other cases the two verbs are more or less interchangeable:
siamo stati a Ravenna tre giorni (we were/stayed in Ravenna for three days)
sono stata tutto il pomeriggio in casa (I was/stayed in all afternoon).

Aug
31
2014

Working with Passive Verbs in Japanese

This morning, one of my boys opened our refrigerator and said, “Oh no, someone ate my cake!” He was devastated as he wanted to save his cake for later.

cake

photo from Stevie Spiers (Photography) on flickr.com

In Japanese, when something is stolen or taken away from you, we often use “passive verb” in our expression rather than “active” verb.  In the scenario above, you can also say: “My cake was eaten up by someone! ”  In Japanese, it is more common to express using passive verbs than just saying, “Someone ate my cake!”.  Using passive verb, it will be, ” Boku(watashi) no ke-ki ga darekani taberareta! ” – (僕の(わたしの)ケーキが誰かに食べられた! ぼくの(わたしの)ケーキが だれかに たべられた!)

In this article, let me show you how you can use passive verbs in Japanese conversation.

==> My watch was stolen yesterday. – Tokei ga kinou nusumareta.

(時計が昨日、盗まれた。とけいが きのう ぬすまれた。)

==> I was scolded by my mother this morning. – Kesa watashi wa haha ni shikarareta.

(今朝、私は 母に しかられた。けさ、わたしは ははに しかられた。)

==> My comic book was taken away by my teacher because I was reading it during the class. – Jyugyo chu ni yondeitanode, bokuno manga wa sensei ni bosshu sareta.

(授業中に読んでいたので、ぼくの漫画は没収された。じゅぎょうちゅうに よんでいたので、ぼくの まんがは ぼっしゅう された。)

Note here: Take away is often expressed in Japanese as “Bosshu suru(没収する, ぼっしゅう する)”

Taken away will be “Bosshu sareru (ぼっしゅうされる)”

As you might have noticed, “~sareru (される) or ~rareru (られる) ” is a passive expression in Japanese.

Let’s convert the following verbs into passive forms.

 

Eat ==>

Taberu 食べる、たべる ==> Taberareru 食べられる、たべられる

Hit == >

Tataku 叩く、たたく==> Tatakareru 叩かれる、たたかれる

Steal==>

Nusumu 盗む、ぬすむ ==> Nusumareru 盗まれる、ぬすまれる

Break ==>

Kowasu 壊す、こわす ==> Kowasareru 壊される、こわされる

Scold==>

Shikaru 叱る、しかる ==> Shikarareru 叱られる、しかられる

Use ==>

Tsukau 使う、つかう ==> Tsukawareru 使われる、つかわれる

Praise==>

Homeru 褒める、ほめる==> Homerareru 褒められる、ほめられる

 

Paying close attention to how each verb changes as it is converted into passive form.  Let’s try making the sentence: I was scolded by my father. How would you say this in Japanese? Share your answers in the comment section. Answer will be posted tomorrow. :)