Word of the Week: Balkonien

Aug 2, 2013

Every Friday, Germany.info and The Week in Germany highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers


© dpa - Report Enlarge image (© dpa - Report) Kroatien, Indonesien, Balkonien – where are you spending the summer?

If you are looking for a relaxed vacation at the beach in Europe, you could go to Croatia (Kroatien). If you are willing to cross the ocean for an adventure, why not travel to Indonesia (Indonesien)? But where is this famous Balkonien?

Some people might say “Balkonien” is just an euphemism for staying at home during the summer; in America you would probably translate it to “staycation.” Just as in “Balconia,” “Balkonien” is a combination of the German word “Balkon” (“balcony”) and the ending “-ien,” which appears in many country names like Spanien, Italien, Argentinien, and many more. But why should relaxing on your own balcony be less recreative than taking a plane, checking in a hotel, being maybe even lost in a new place?

© ZB-Special Enlarge image (© ZB-Special) Balconies are highly coveted from Hamburg to Munich and from Frankfurt to Berlin. Whether they are big or small, they are usually decorated with flowers, some might even grow vegetables on them. The Comedian Harmonists, a close harmony ensemble of the 1920s and early 1930s in Berlin, famously paid homage to a small green cactus on their balcony, singing “Mein kleiner grüner Kaktus / steht draußen am Balkon / holeri, holeri, holero.” In the big cities, balconies provide an outdoors space for all sorts of activities from sunbathing to people watching to barbecuing, and you don’t even have to take the metro to get there. Summer is right outside your balcony door! “Zuhause ist’s bekanntlich am schönsten” is an old German saying that corresponds to “home, sweet home” (literally translated “everybody knows that nothing is as cosy as your own home”). But what if you have to spend your summer in “Balkonien” without a balcony? No problem, in cities like Berlin you can easily have a sundowner while digging your feet in the sand. When you spend your day or night (or both) in one of its famous beach bars, you might not be looking at the ocean, but when it comes to meeting interesting people from all over the world or just relaxing and sunbathing: the river Spree is just as nice!

© Germany.info

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