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GermanyisWunderbar May 2012

The 2012 Olympics: could we beat the Germans again?


Germany is habitually in the top five Olympic nations. Great Britain is usually in the top ten. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, however, GB excelled, jumping up to fourth, just ahead of the Germans. So what about London? Can we do it again?

I think we can, and so, apparently, do they. Germany is hoping to win as many medals as in Beijing, but currently has fewer athletes (244) qualified than in recent history, and there is some concern about whether they’ll meet that target.

Strong suits for team Germany are canoeing, rowing, hockey and horse-riding. In the show-jumping, Michael Jung is the man to watch, with Nadine Capellmann (four times world champion) in dressage, and in the rowing the German Eight has been undefeated for two seasons. 

Track events are usually best left to the Africans and Americans (although Stefan Schumacher has good medal prospects in the cycling time trial), but the Germans are good at chucking things. Mathias de Zordo is currently world champion at the javelin, a suitable activity for a man with a Zorro-like name, and Betty Heidler holds the world record for the hammer. 

There’s another good name in the shooting line-up. Sonja Pfeilschifter is a rifle-woman of some pedigree, with three world championship golds, while Ralf Schumann (pistols) is Germany’s ‘shooter of the century’, having been Olympic champion three times already.

In the pool, names to watch out for are Paul Biedermann in the 200m freestyle, currently the world record holder. And Britta Steffen, also a freestyler, who holds the world records in both 50m and 100m.

All in all, it’s an impressive line-up, and it’s hard to imagine that, Germans being Germans, they’ll under-achieve. Bring it on!


Webcam springwatch: chicks, blossom and beaches


Sitting at your desk and shuffling spreadsheets, as you undoubtedly are, take a moment to have a brief squiz around Germany, now that spring has sprung.

Have a look, for example, at this set of cams in the Moselle Valley, a whole collection of them ranged up and down some of the most scenic bits of the river, including the Uerzig cam which shows the vines growing fast.  These cams are controllable (click on the numbers), so if you’re a serial adulterer in Bernkastel, or Traben-Trarbach, you need to be aware that Big Brother could be watching you.

One of the features of spring in Germany is the nesting of storks. This one is in Bornheim, just outside Bonn, with a good overall view. For a close-up where the chicks are already out, try this one from Dinkesbühl.

So far there’s pretty much only dog-walkers on the beaches of the Baltic (here Wustrow, near Rostock). However you might catch a few swimmers in outdoor pools of some of the hot water spas, such as this one down in Bad Endorf in Chiemgau, the bottom right hand corner of Bavaria.

Meanwhile up in the mountains, the skiing areas are in transition to summer grazing. Cows are starting to do their business on the piste, and the wildflowers are loving it. Germany's Alpine peaks have their own weather systems, of course. And while we're in the area, there's always Neuschwanstein, which looks good whatever the weather.

Our final recommendation is for a cam on another mountain, this time on the Brocken, where if you're lucky, you could catch the arrival, or departure, of the Harz steam train.


And finally, we have been spring cleaning, too.


Here at schloss Wunderbar we've been doing some tinkering with our home page, and a bit of reorganisation internally, which will allow for the arrival of new sections. We’ll reveal more about those when they’re ready to run, but it in the meantime, if you haven't visited GermanyisWunderbar recently, now is the time to do so again.


Picture credits

Masthead left to right, T top, B bottom: Black Forest gone blue, Achim Mende. Brandenburger Hof hotel. Schloss Lübbenau (T). Bundesliga, GNTB (B). Ski lift at Fichtelberg, Oberwiesenthal Tourism (T). Martin Luther (B). Chilled gnome, DZT (T). Rügen cliffs, GNTB (B). Cherry cake, pa (B). Berlin S-Bahn.

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