Donau Radweg Cycling Tour

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Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle…~JFK

Yup it’s officially Autumn here in Germany but let me ask you, what’s the most unforgettable experience you did last summer?

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The unexpected resurgence of the bicycle

This is a late post but last summer, we did our first Donau Radweg Cycling adventure as a family! It was pretty special, because for me, that was the farthest I’ve cycled non-stop in my life! And yes, we cycled with my daughter along and she behaved so well. I haven’t written much about what have I done for the past months mainly because lack of time and I am sorry for lack of posts and updates.This Blog is still alive and I wanna say a quick Thank you for all of you who paid a visit in my page and left some sweet comments.I’ll do my best to respond shortly soon!

So anyway, last summer felt so different from last year here in Bavaria. First, the temperature was warmer than I expected and as I have seen, so many fields and plants were ‘affected’ by the heat, even our garden was not spared. It’s kind of scorching and for quite sometime uncomfortable, reminding me of 40 degree-ish we had in Kuwait.This leaves us with only few options to enjoy leisure times outside. Best option we’ve had is anything with water. Swimming here and over there, and yes, even the pool in the garden had been a constant companion for my daughter.But aside from water activities, last summer was unforgettable because we’ve made it through our first Donau Radweg tour!

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Our destination : Donau radweg tour 

So how about doing a long-distance cycling? Oh yes, to start, approximately 23 kilometers, with a normal bicycle, with a 4-year old child in an Anhänger tagged along with us!

As I’ve written before, the moment I’ve moved to Germany, I think I have cycled more than I have ever cycled in my entire life! I ride my bike in every season, even when its winter and minus temps. I have heard about the classic Donau Radweg but I am always b intimidated of doing it, first, because I thought that it could be exhilarating plus I don’t know how would my daughter deal with it. Second, am I fit enough to do it? or would I cycle back home after 10 kilometers back home?

What if I had a tire burst?

But then long distance cycling for me is something different, it’s an adventure. I wanted to do something that is new and also fun. There’s something about reaching a goal. I guess I managed to integrate in the cycling culture here. When you live in Germany, you’ll be amazed to see that cycling is a very normal lifestyle. Everyone here I think owns a bicycle and cycle at least every day. It’s healthy, easy, practical and the best of all, environment-friendly. Add to the fact that Germany , or at least here in Bavaria, they have a superb cycling paths. I have read one time in the newspaper that in our city alone, its kind of look like Amsterdam now because of  the number of bicycles that they are planning to build more bike stands.

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I think one of the most important thing in my life is when I learn how to ride a bicycle…
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Backside facade of the castle Grünau

Another thing, cycling tours in midsummer is no joke, but since we finished our first Biotope Cycling Tour last year, with almost 30 kms within 2 hours, I knew it can be done.  I was  inspired when one morning, my teacher came to our class and shared that she had cycled from Neuburg to Ingolstadt, a sweet 23 kms within an hour to go to work and back!Okay she had an E-Bike, but still, I had great respect for the adventure part. It’s what I wanted to. Cycling through the Danube is a dream come true for me.

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A beautiful fountain in front of the Rathaus (City hall) of Neuburg an der Donau

Before the Radweg tour

We planned to start early morning and prepare our way to Neuburg an der Donau. Neuburg is famous as the “Renaissance City”along the banks of the Danube.When I saw photos of this city, I knew I wanted to see it by my own eyes. So my goal is why can’t I combine a small city tour and a cycling Tour?

We searched about our cycling path and we were confident  doing one of the old-time favorite tour along the Donau river, the Ingolstadt to Neuburg, with 23 kilometers over Weichering road. The only thing that is not sure is the weather. We checked the  weather numerous times, it’s a little bit cloudy, but enjoyable enough to cycle. We brought along the  daughter but this time she sits in an Änhanger, German’s version of the Bakfiets! It goes easy for her because she can read, eat, or sleep while we cycle. We packed very  light, with only few snacks and water  in our side packets. My Dutch husband cycled with an additional 40kgs ( total weight of the Änhanger +Natalie).Of course we had an emergency kit with us, and a huge packet of determination and crazy energy!

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The bicycle is a curious vehicle, its passenger is its engine…
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Exploring the Renaissance City of Neuburg

The Radweg tour

We started off cycling very light. The path is almost flat and through green forests. This bike path runs south of the Danube through the Danube floodplains, partly on paved roads with little traffic, partly (in the woods) over well-paved dirt roads, partly asphalted separate bike paths. Lots of nature, riparian forests, avenues, meadows and even resting benches along the way.

 

The first of the three sections leads from Ingolstadt to Weichering. The second section runs on rather long-curved-curvy Weldwegen to the castle Grünau. From there it goes with a paved separate cycle path next to the road without detours directly into the center of Neuburg. I knew we are almost in our destination when we were in front of the old castle of “Grünau”.  Our journey begins at the Baggerweg and runs close to the Danube along the direction of the Baggersee, where the Danube is crossed.I find the path very enjoyable, with plenty of fields and greeneries to watch while cycling. We came across with so many cyclists, everyone is loaded up with adventure packs. Along the way I was smiling to myself because I can’t believe that I’m doing this!

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Inscription on a giant Tree in Grünau Castle
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Grünau Castle 

Reaching our destination

Of course I need to make some stops when I see something worth photographing.After the Caste Grünau I thought we were almost in the city but I was mistaken. I need to cycle for at least 8 kilometers more! My daughter keeps on shouting “why is it so far?”where is the playground? ” But then once we see the beautiful architecture and the Donau river, I was completely excited.It’s even prettier than in the photos I have seen.We parked our bikes just beside the river and off we go to explore the city.

Fascinating finds

What is fascinating about cycling tours is that you can explore a new city by foot and that gives you more windows to explore– especially the hidden gems of the city.Neuburg an der Donau is a historical city which has a lot to offer, both to locals and visitors. The city hall itself is situated above the town proper, on a hilly top so it also requires stamina add challenge of cycling on a cobble stone pavement. The Hofkirche is situated beside the Residenz Schloss ( Residence Castle)  which is quite an impressive architecture.It is quite a norm in this region to be wedded in a Castle, like a fairy tale dream. In Ingolstadt, I often watched a wedding where almost all the entourage are dressed up in a traditional Bayerische Tracht ( traditional clothing) ,with Lederhosen and Dirndls, but the atmosphere of a wedding in a castle is something different.

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Door detail at the Residenz Schloss
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Intricate ceiling detail of the castle
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Sharing adventures together in two wheels !

Enjoying summer holidays with a family doesn’t need to be expensive. I realized that when you’ve never even tried something that intimidates you then you can’t even say if you are capable of doing it or not. I am so grateful that I have the chance to explore Bavaria through a cycling activity like this. Every place we go is really unique and worth telling.You don’t need expensive equipment either. Just make sure your bikes are in great condition and you are physically fit as well. Start slowly and take your time. I always remind myself that it’s not a race and to have lots of fun along the way! If you are looking for things to do next summer then you might try  long-distance cycling as well!

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Little Explorer

 

How about you, did you spent an active Summer?

When was the last time you’ve challenged yourself to do something for the first time?

 

 

 

 

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Spring All time Favorites

I’ve tried to gather my all-time favorite photos for Spring. Each photo has a story to tell, a fragment of special, well-spent and gratified moments of solitude and self-nurturing experience captured in photos. For me, Spring is a wonderful season to cherish, a quick one, but also the most treasured of all because it signals rebirth. The first days of Frühling always bring to me much energy, excitement, renewed spirit and yes, new dreams to chase. This week’s theme is so timely, a collection of primed, all time favorites and I was excited to participate.

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Savoring life’s simple pleasures…

Last night it rained, and for me, it’s one of the few times here in Southern Bavaria where the rain really soaked up the grass. It’s followed by lightning and roars of thunders, it definitely sounds like typical Springtime! I love it because it watered all my plants in the garden and  eventually cooling down the house. Nowadays, it gets really toasty during the day and a simple retreat through the woods and green sanctuaries is quite a threat.Can’t believe that May is  already over and today we welcome the warm June breeze.

Few more weeks and its officially Summer here in Germany. Anyway, to start my all time favorites, above is a photo from Baggersee, a nature park with a beautiful lake which is only 15 minutes away by bike from our home. It’s always a great time cycling around in this place and having picnics.  In Winter, we enjoyed walking in the frozen lake  and watching the birds . The wooden bench in the photo against the golden sunshine is my perfect symbolism for a warm welcome invite, a reassurance that for  a short time to sit and appreciate the view, I can forget my worries and let nature communicate.

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Spring blooms in front of the Museum für Konkrete Kunst

On the other side, I love as well how nature can add more colors in a  dull, solitary place. Last month, I visited the Museum für Konkrete Kunst with some classmates. They had an exhibition about “Colors in Motion ” by Carlos Cruz-Diez. I love everything about Art and the color composition with Optical technology.  Colors creates an astounding  effect  same as the simple blooming spring flowers rejuvenate the drag moments from Winter, the Artist also showed the effects of colors in everyday motion.

He quoted “Do not complicate, simplify ..”

Below is one of my favorite photo from the art exhibit.

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Carlos Cruz-Diez ‘s Color in Motion Art Exhibition in Museum für Konkrete Kunst
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Fairy tale city and Cherry Blossoms

Some parts here in my town turns into  a fairy tale like setting during Spring. With the pink cherry blossoms trees surrounding the Neues Schloss  which create a postcard worthy shot. Ingolstadt has a fascinating inner city but surrounding the zentrum are  the old walls that creates a historical path in lush greens for exploration for visitors. Along the river Danube, a beautiful post-card scenery awaits for those who took time to wander around.

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Wild flower fields for your dreams

Cycling around the city is never a bore when I see fields covered with wild flowers like these. Here, there are so many of them. They are unkempt, but so wildly beautiful. I wanted to gather all these flowers and make hundreds of photos of them.Just like Dandelions and Poppy flowers, they are a sight to behold. You won’t see them all-year around, but when you saw them popping out everywhere, you know change is coming.

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My burst of sunshine in the garden!

“Gardening is like an Art, you use plants and flowers like paint, and the soil like your canvas “.

A great part of my Spring time is spent working in our garden.I am trying to squeeze my time to give way to my personal addiction : Plants!  This photo below is our Lavender shrubs blooming with gorgeous locks of purple buds! Whenever I looked at them, I am reminded that a change is essential for growth. These shrubs have withstand the long cold winters but then when the sun finally comes out, they are blooming, announcing their beauty. Their scent, their proud stems alongside with my roses exudes a character of resilience, elegance, and classic beauty. I am only using my iPhone in capturing this photo and yet, it does not need any more filter!

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My Lavender shines against the bright Spring sun

Most of the things I share here in the Blog are my personal passions. From art, traveling, expat life, and of course, nature. I love  gardening and creating an urban jungle inside our house and recreating a cozy garden. Aside from my indoor plants, this year, I planned to create a pot garden in our terrace. I combine different flowering plants to create a personal pallet of colors and life. Spring had given me the chance to nurture and grow plants that give me so much positive energy. I am not a plant expert, but I am a plant lover and I embrace the positivity it brings.

“I truly believe that when you start to learn how to grow things, you let yourself grow as well.”

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Spargelzeit is here once again

Spring time is the time for white Spargel  ( white asparagus) here in Germany. It’s lovely to see how this seasonal vegetable creates a nostalgic moment in restaurants, supermarkets and in the weekend market. Germans love them I see it almost everywhere!

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Hops, the heart of Bavarian beer

The flower Hops is the vital ingredient in beer brewing. Last month we had our Frühlingsfest and once again we recall the 1516 Beer Purity Law which is now almost 500+ years old. In fact, it is the oldest food decree in the world! Spring signals the new growth of Hops and just looking at this photo reminds me that I am living in a place where beer is a food, and not an alcoholic drink! My previous post talks more about this German culture and the ever-unforgettable beer feast!

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The secrets of Water lilies

When I took this photo from our last visit in the Mediziniches Historisches Museum last month, I am quickly transported to my childhood in the Philippines. The sister of my Grandmother had a big garden with a big fish pond where water lilies grow in abundance. I always love to spend time looking at these floating leaves with their gorgeous white and purple flowers. I love the solitary moment I spent in that pond.They remind me of the “Water Lilies paintings and  murals by Monet. To think they are the birth flower for July, seems to me that they are also present in welcoming Spring!

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Biotechnical border crossings

Also one of my favorite photos for Spring is the captured  Baroque building in front of the growing shrubs in the  Deutschen Medizinhistorischen Museum  in front the  Botanical garden. If you are following my Blog, then you must have read why this place is quite special, and definitely historical. I am not a history buff but I love stories behind a story. It’s a chain that I love to follow. It’s one of the setting of the novel of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus” . Surprisingly, she had the young Swiss Victor Frankenstein study at the Bavarian State University in Ingolstadt. Here he discovered the secret of life, and here he finally brought his own “creature” to life. Thus, “Frankenstein” became the most effective symbol of Biotechnical border crossings

I love visiting this place  I found new things for learning . Just recently, I watched the exhibition about “Radiologie im Nationalsozialismus “( Radiology in Nazi era 1933~1945 ) . This year, the Deutschen Medizinhistorische Museum is celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein with a diverse program.

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Yellow fields forever

Of course, Spring won’t be complete without the yellow fields. Be it rapeseeds or summer  yellow wood forget-me-nots, periwinkle, or milky orchids, a field full of wild yellow spring flowers are a magnet.I  must stop and enjoy the view. Full horizon is painted in yellow and it seems endless like hope. When I see a field like this, I am happy.This is what I love about taking bike rides, it gives me a way to discover and slow down.

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Fresh strawberries on a sunny day!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love strawberries and when I say strawberries, we like it hand-picked. Here in Germany, strawberry season starts from last week of May and runs up until a month. Last Sunday, we went to the strawberry fields and picked out a bucket of juicy strawberries and eat almost a kilo while picking! Every single piece is so delicious! My daughter went home with a red mouth and stains on her face because she just devoured strawberries non-stop. I love the simple pleasures in life like this, savoring and feeding your taste buds ! Whenever I look at this photo, I am reminded of the smell, the taste and of course, the whole lot of fun we had!

So, these are my Spring  all-time favorites! Spring is not over yet but within a couple of months, it has been all good and I am enjoying every singe minute of this beautiful weather!

What about you, what are your Spring time favorites?

This post was inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | All-Time Favorites

1516 Beer Purity Law (Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot)

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In Ingolstadt, we always have a reason to celebrate and say “Prost!”

Let me tell you something, I don’t know anything about beer. But since I came to Germany, I got somehow “educated” about German culture and yes, about beer drinking culture.

Here’s how Beer changed my view ;

I live in a town where not only the sleek Audi cars rule the streets, but also a town full of fun-loving Bavarians  who loves to drink beer. It’s a lifestyle here, a culture, a tradition and a LIFE. It’s like everyday, people here have a reason to always celebrate and sit in the Biergartens and of course, its not complete without  a Beer!I have written about this in so many posts here in my Blog and this one is not an exception, after all, this is a expat-lifestyle Blog!

Wilkommen in Bayern, that’s what my neighbors say.I think everyone who moves to Germany can relate to this. In Germany, beer is a F-O-O-D, and not an alcoholic drink. I learned this from my Deutsch teacher. That only means that here in Bayern, beer is considered as important as staple foods such as bread.Speaking of bread, Germans have a wonderful world of bread.It’s also another culture but I’m not going to talk more about breads since this post is intended for beer.

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Hops , And from these came the world famous Bavarian Beer

I have to agree that after almost 2 years of living  here, I am convinced that Bavarian beer is  among the best in the world. It is in fact a “No wonder”.Since 1516, for centuries now, this amber golden liquid has been brewed from nothing other than barley, hops and water of the highest quality.  Duke William IV issued a decree for the Bavarian Purity Law in 1516 at a meeting of the Bavarian Estates in Ingolstadt. The ruling was proclaimed in the spacious courtyard of the Neues Schloss and extended the existing brewing regulations to the whole of Bavaria.

And to think that I don’t know anything about Hops!
For beer brewing, hops are so important because they add spice, durability and, last but not least, lather to the drink. But in hops  is  so much more! This creeper plant  contains a resin with valuable bitter substances and essential oils. They are also used as Arnzei and help with loss of appetite, stomach weakness and restlessness. Hops generally have a calming effect but stimulate the metabolism!

Last month, I attended a private Stadt führung (an organized tour)  and our Tour Guide explained to us that in the early days, people are getting sick from drinking beer. Not only getting highly intoxicated but for longer times of drinking, its quite unhealthy. Up in the north of Germany, there are rumors that they are adding intoxicating herbs in their brew that’s why they came up with Beer Purity Law. So you see, be it consumer protection or not, Germans not only wants to enjoy drinking beer, they also take care of what they drink, making sure it does not damage the health.

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My Little Sunshine enjoying the Beer Fest last April and gamely posing beside the Bier brunnen (Beer Fountain).

In short, here’s the apex of the 1516 Beer Purity Law :

“In particular we decree that from now on, no ingredients other than barley, hops and water are to be used in all beers in all our towns and markets as well as in the country.”

Bier ist unter den Getränken das nützlichste, unter den Arzneien das schmackhafteste und unter den Nahrungsmitteln das angenehmste.” 
{Plutarch}

or in English ;

“Beer is the most useful among the drinks, the tastiest among the medicines and the most pleasant among the foods.”
{Plutarch}

What is so interesting to know that half of the world might not know this but Beer here in Bavaria is actually made from finest ingredients.Water, hops, malt and yeast. These are the ingredients prescribed in the Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot which are predominantly essentials in  brewing beer. The plus points:  these ingredients not only provide a tasty result, but also provide valuable ingredients.

Every year, we have 2 major feasts here. The Frühlingsfest and the Herbsfest. In this time we have the traditional Volksfest where Beer tents are laid for 2 weeks just like the major Oktoberfest in Munich. On a typical day, like on Weekend markets, the market square in the city center is always filled with locals enjoying this tradition.

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Yes, we have Beer Queens as well!

From April 27~29, we had our “Fest zum Reinen Bier” and we watched the reenactment or “Die Ausfuhrung des Reinheitsgebot 1516 “. What is so exciting about this historical event is that the declaration of the law was read  at exactly 15:16 hours, or 3:15 in the afternoon.The festivity started with a colorful parade and lead up to the Beer exhibition tents  near the Hohe Schule and to the Bier brunnen. On the following days, a series of “Walking Act”through the Dollstrasse, Roseneckstrasse  and Kanalstrasse was made.All tables are full of people, visitors, and families enjoying beer .

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Bavarians always parading in style.

This event was filled of many fascinating programs.I find it quite cool because they always have something for children so the parents can enjoy time while kids are playing.There’s also the Probierführung 1516 ( or the Beer Tasting) organized by the top Breweries where participants can learn more of the history of Beer brewing and sample a taste of different types of Beer.

 

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Fest zum Reinen Bier 2018, Ingolstadt, Germany

Classical performances by different bands and talented artists graced the event with their musicals and concerts.

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1516 Bayerisches Reinheitsgebot or Beer Purity Law

The Georgitag, which happens on Monday, April 23 was the actual date of announcing the most important Food Law probably in the whole world here in Ingolstadt.On this day, almost 100 Liters of Beer flows from the fountain for everyone to enjoy! FOR FREE! Two of the major breweries here in Ingolstadt, the Herrnbräu and Nordbräu sponsored this wonderful event.

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More free beer please!

I am not a heavy beer drinker, but what I like about this culture is  the “gemutlich ” or the coziness it brings. It’s always lovely to see people dressed up in Lederhose and Dirndls and having a festive mood no matter what your status in life. Germans still rides their bikes after drinking beer and I find that outstanding!

On the health side, its good to know that drinking beer also has proven to be a means of preventing osteoporosis, it reduces the risk of getting kidney stones and its blood-thinning effect affects strokes. The important thing is an “appropriate and moderate drinking pattern”. Those who consume about 0.5 to 1 liter of beer a day in connection with food achieve, on average, the greatest health-promoting effect.

So what happens when you enjoy the Beer culture? This photo of my daughter says it all.

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Fully Integrated, fully enjoyed!

When you have the chance to visit Germany, you should try it yourself and have a taste of the authentic Bavarian beer, and don’t forget, when you say “Prost!” (Cheers) , you should have an eye contact!

Until next time, Tschüss!

Twisted |Golden Skeletons and caged Angels

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Golden Skeleton with scissors and a frantic Angel

I love visiting churches. I am not a religious person but I am a lover of beautiful buildings and architecture. Be it Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance or Modern Art, a great work is timeless. Speaking of churches, I love the peace and tranquility of being inside a solemn place of worship. I also felt the same amazement when I marveled  at the beauty of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait. Here in Germany, there are so many beautiful churches, in fact, too many to mention. In every city we visit, I always find time to visit historical churches and I am always left with wonder. They kind of look all the  same, all had distinct beauty that is worth of admiration, some  have captivating details and carries a legendary tale. Even for half an hour or so, I always felt being recharged when I let the silence while being inside a church. Walking through the marbled floors, sitting and saying a little prayer, marveling at the lines of statues and gazing up through the illuminated wall decorations and stained windows can be a worthwhile experience. So is the saying that when you travel, you become silent, then it makes you a storyteller in the end.

But churches can also be exhilarating! There are so much to see and so much history. One thing, what about the famous priests of kings buried in the crypt, the artists who painted the frescoes, or the reason why it was built?

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Beautiful frescoed ceiling of the Asam Kirche in München done by Cosmas Damian

The solemn stillness of cascading lights through the Holy Altars and grand statues of saints is more than enough to feed my curiosity. A quick look of the Rococo and Stucco designs, the elaborate paintings, or the exhilarating ceiling  vault designs can be stressful, at the same time interesting. Especially on a busy day full of sightseeing in a new city, churches provides an accent which makes any trip worthwhile.This is one of the reasons why  most churches here in Germany are  full of visitors, tourists, and of  religious groups.

Last week, my parents-in-law visited us for a few days so we decided to take a day-trip to show them a bit of  München. The weather was fine and as usual, Munich is super busy. After our visit in the Dino World in Olympia Park, we strolled along Marienplatz and along the Sendlingerstrasse   to check out Asam kirche, also known as St. Johann Nepomuk church. This church had left a lasting impression to me ever since I saw it last year. But this time, I saw another fascinating, yet twisted detail.

Just below the statue of St. Nepomuk lies a captivating golden sculpture of Skeleton, with a  giant scissors and about to cut a thread that an anxious Angel holds. In most churches, sculptures and statues of angels, saints and heavenly divinities are a normal sight, but this one is something different.If you’re keen enough , the skeleton signifies Death and He holds the scissors to cut the thread , obviously the Thread of Life that a frantic angel holds.

Twisted? Creepy, or unusual?

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The Golden Skeleton can cut the Thread of Life anytime

Asam Kirche is a Baroque Church in München, in southern part of Germany.Built around 1733 to 1746 by Asam Brothers, sculpture and stucco plaster Egid  Quirin Asam  and Architect/Painter Cosmas Damian Asam. They work closely together and are considered to be one of the prolific Artists in the Late Baroque period.Their notable works spread throughout Germany, particularly in Bavaria, and in Austria. They are also responsible for the impressive church that we have here in the Old Town of Ingolstadt, the Asam Church of Maria Viktoria.

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Details inside  Asam Kirche in Munich

They built the Asam Kirche for personal place of worship, in fact, they can see the church from their private dwelling house.If you love Architecture, then this place has full of notable details for you to enjoy.The gold-accented ceiling fresco “Life of Saint Nepomuk“is one of the masterpiece from the work  Cosmas Damian Asam.

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The elaborate ceiling fresco by Cosmas Damian

 

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With all the oddities and twisted allegories, this church is worthwhile to check out if you are planning to visit Munich. I must say that  the Asam Kirche is a hidden jewel, “klein aber fein ” ( small yet beautifully done). There’s a lot of hidden surprises that awaits for those who are willing to explore it!

 

 

This post is inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge |Twisted

 

Further Reading :

Majestic Dom in Trier , the oldest city in Germany

Architecture above the Liebfrauenmünster

Frauenkirche, the Church with the Devil’s Footprint

Rediscovering the Streets of Regensburg

 

 

 

Show off Starlet Forsythia

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A total Show-Off : The Show Off Starlet Forsythia

“A Flower blossoms for its own joy”

After a long break, I am back ! Sorry for the long absence, but there has been so many things going on in my life and it’s always a struggle to find time to update my Blog. Nevertheless, I thought its great to share with you Guys some warm Spring -love , all the way from Bavaria!

I couldn’t agree no more, it’s so true in all sense. I have written in so many ways about my admiration for Tulips, Dandelions, and almost all exotic blooms. Flowers have their own language to For me, the warmest welcome for give unexplainable wonder, a stress reliever. I guess you can only relate with me if you are a plant-lover or you love flowers and yes….when its Spring!Here in Germany, it’s very obvious that Germans love flowers and when its Spring, they all go crazy working in their gardens!No matter how small their balcony , there’s always a way to hang a planter box full of Spring flowers.

Anyway, Every Spring, is a wonderful time to enjoy the bright, shiny, and golden  blooms of Show Off Starlet Forsythia in our garden. The moment I see the early buds sprouting out from its stems, then I know, sunny days are coming.Yellow is such a happy color, don’t you agree? It symbolizes fresh beginnings, optimism, energy and of course, joy.

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Show Off Starlet Forsythia in our garden!

The flowers of Forsythia always exudes a grand sight.Our gloomy garden, out from the winter slumber suddenly brightens up when the yellow flowers blooms.Alongside with the bright Daffodils and Dandelions, it is always a lovely sight to enjoy.

Don’t you feel a surge of energy when you see yellow?

In our neighborhood, Forsythia is very common. Almost all gardens from where I lived have a yellow shrub or tree during the early days of Spring. That’s a sure sign for me that Forsythia is well-loved by Germans, maybe because they are also easy to propagate.

Plant lovers like me who look forward to early spring color  absolutely love this plant. No doubt at all that Show Off Starlet Forsythia makes a great choice for an accent plant in mixed borders or foundation plantings.

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Early spring brings a bright gold profusion of 4- petalled blooms from tip to stem. Butterflies absolutely love them. On the other hand, their beauty is short-lived, the blooms only lasts for at least 2 weeks just like the Cherry Blossoms.

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Show Off Starlet Forsythia

Show Off Starlet Forsythia has a nice and tidy compact, upright habit. It matures to 2′-3′ with a spread of 3′-4′.  It has dark green lance shaped leaves that turn bronze in Autumn.

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Show Off Starlet Forsythia is air pollution tolerant, along with being deer resistant. It prefers a good, loose soil and is very adaptable. I think they are very easy to care for. Prune after flowering if needed, or if you want to boost its growth.If you wish to maintain a smaller plant, remove a few of the oldest stems at ground level.  It may be trimmed back to the ground if desired.We had pruned ours last weekend to maintain it from being so bushy. Its stems can grow so long and can be leggy as well.

What about you, do you have any Spring flower favorite?

What is the color of Spring in your side of the world?

Sending you warm greetings from Bavaria and enjoy the wonderful colors of Spring!

Tschüss!

Tour guide : My Town in Winter

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My Town : Morning after the snow in Bavaria

Mind you, I am already looking forward for Spring but then from the last few days, I woke up once again with all the streets, houses, and trees all covered in snow . I was dreaming that Winter is finally over, reminding myself once again that to love the cold and winter is a privilege. When its winter, my  own little town is transformed into a wonderland. Well, for people who work and have enormous errands to do, the sight of snow in their doorstep is never a sign of good morning, let alone for me.

Just in time for this week’s Photo Challenge | Tour Guide, let me share with you some photos of what it looks like over here in Bavaria.

As much as I have been mesmerized by the view of my town in bright sunny day on top of the Pfeifturm, seeing it from above once again covered in snow is also a great experience.

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The Danube in Winter time

The still waters of the second longest River in Europe, the Danube ,is a sight to behold, it is like a reflecting glass. Sometimes when I looked over the bridge, I’m thinking what if the river freezes? How nice it would be to be able to walk on top of it.This panoramic sight is such a splendor to see while the seasons change its course.

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Winter mood in the woods

The  morning after a night of snow gives an outstanding stillness and silence . It is so peaceful.This is a path I always pass by almost every single day.The river is sleeping, covered in icy cold fog.

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There’s still beauty even when everything is covered in snow.

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It’s like a scene from a movie that I cannot recall anymore.

Winter is like a dream. You know that soon you need to wake up and realize that reality is just around the corner. On normal days, I don’t see anything special in this place. In Winter, it’s almost like walking into a dreamland, everything is so white. The trees and its wilted branches are quiet witnesses of the cold yet they remain peaceful,  agile  as ever when the snow embrace them once again, all over again.

This path is always frequented by morning joggers and runners, but this time, the path is deserted. I was quite early. I parked my bike a bit further to capture this serene state. It amuses me that there’s not a single footprint or dog footprints yet.

Undisturbed beauty, unparalleled serenity of German long cold winters.

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I love patterns and natural accents.

Beware of walking into the streets, it can be slippery. I’ve seen many people slip and slide through the snow. It’s not a funny sight.

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Nature comes so close, no matter what the season.

One of the things that I love personally is encounters with nature. I love to photograph nature and living here gives me the access for all of it. The thing about Winter in Germany is that people go by all means what they want to do. As the saying goes “Es gibt kein schlechtes wetter, nur schlechte Kleidung” or ” There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing “. This is so true here.Winter is a season to experience, not a time to slow down the time. People still go out, walking and exploring, as they do when the sun is out.Only the type of  outdoor clothing changes.

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What weekends are made of
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Ingolstadt sewer cover : Always remember where YOU Step!

I find it truly special here in Germany that they have an impressive Manholes ( or sewerage system covers). From where I came from, I don’t see anything fascinating about looking down at these manholes. I don’t recall seeing a fascinating one in my times in Kuwait! They are often dangerous especially when its flooding, or dirty, and mostly broken. But when I came to live here, I came to appreciate the great engineering behind it. The craftmanship and history with its logo, the seal ,the coat of arms of each city that I’ve visited. Maybe for others its nonsense, but for me, they are quite extraordinary. So in Winter, of course, there’s still the Bavarian pride!

This post is inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | Tour Guide

Silence | If Statues can talk…

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Bronze statues in the Hofburg church in Innsbruck

Innsbruck has been marvelous so far, as it offers us complete diversity of things to see and explore. So far, we didn’t just marble on the magnificent snow-capped mountains , and devoured plateful  of  delectable Kaiserschmarrn, but we also found ourselves silenced and impressed by  these 28-larger than life Bronze Statues inside the Hofburg church, or formerly a Court church located in the Altstadt of Innsbruck, but now houses the cenotaph for one of the most important person in  history —Emperor Maximilian I, 22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519] the Holy Roman Emperor or also known as The King of the Germans.

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From what I’ve read and seen in this museum, He seemed to be a very  important person, just look at how grand his cenotaph is and considering the numerous tributes for him. Actually, the Hofkirche ( Court church) is built by his Grandson, Emperor Ferdinand I as a memorial for him,  and also houses the tomb of Tyrol’s  national hero, —Andreas Hofer.

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If Only statues can talk…

These large statues (200-250 cm) are really impressive. Compared to the white-washed busts we’ve seen in the Walhalla, these bronze statues are actually the ancestors, relatives, and heroes during the lifetime of Emperor Maximilian I. My daughter was delighted to see all of them. She keep on asking me who are they and what are their costumes? She is not even scared. I felt eerie for a moment especially looking at the fierce faces of the women, and the strength these figures emanates. They are even larger than I am so its really like seeing them for real!

If only  statues  can talk and tell stories by themselves…

 

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The cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian I lies in the center of the church

The great thing about visiting places like this is the experience itself. It is so much better to see this place rather than just reading about them. I know that it’s quite normal everyone that during Museum visits and the like, silence is observed, noise is forbidden most especially for religious relics like this.

Yes but how can you even make noises while visiting a cenotaph or a tomb?

The moment I stepped into this place, I was silenced by its beauty. The grandeur and  solemnity of this church, the architecture itself is a history in the making and the story behind this church. Imagine, the cenotaph itself took 80 years of construction!It is so true that when we are in awe, we are silenced.

Silence  is  golden for statues like these in Hofburg. Since only through silence that we can be able to fully appreciate the art behind it, the legacy of their existence and their part in history and in our modern times.

Silence is respect, paid in full, and observed in willingness.

It is just right that they have a place in history and we marvel in them.We should be silent. We can’t add anymore for their life story, it has been written and impregnated through their magnanimous effigy.

But then, If only statues can talk…

 

 

 

Inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Silence

National “Romantic” Tulip Day!

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Tulip picking !

Are you prepared to gather your own  FREE Tulips?

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Tulips in bloom in Keukenhof Gardens, Spring 2017

Is it Spring already? Nope, its still freezing over here in Germany, as it is still winter here in Europe, but in the Netherlands, you can catch an early glimpse of Spring! As a yearly tradition in Amsterdam, once again this year, the TULPENDAG or the National Tulip Day is set! What makes this super exciting and colorful? You can gather your own Tulips, as much as you can, and yes—all for FREE!

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Memories from Keukenhof Gardens, Spring 2017

In lieu of this year’s theme “Romance“, Tulips are such in tune with any romantic occasion. I ,myself love Tulips no matter what the occasion is. Most especially when it is given to me as a gift. Just last week, I got a bunch of Tulips and when I put it in the vase, I can’t help myself comparing the bulbs from the gorgeous Tulips I have seen back in Holland. They are totally in different genes !!

Tulips are such a nice token to give to someone you love.It has a universal symbolism of purity, love and beauty.Though it can be super expensive in other countries, in Holland, tulips has its own pride.

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On January 20, the Dam Square will once again be filled with over 200, 000 Dutch tulips ! On this day, Tulip growers will wow the world once again by creating a temporary Garden right in the touristic Dam square. From 13.00 to 16:30, so if you are in Amsterdam or you have a chance to visit this beautiful city ( like I did!), then grab everyone along with you to see this event!

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Photos are from my last year’s visit to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, in Holland!

What about you? What is your favorite flower?

Have you ever heard of a Tulip Movie? I found it very interesting and if you love Tulips, then this is something for you to learn more about the pride of Holland.

Enjoy watching!

Swarovski Crystal Worlds , A Sparkling place for everyone!

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The Giant, guarding the entrance to the Chambers of Wonders in the Swarovski Crystal World.

I think we’ve just got lucky!

New Year started off with  bright, shimmering sparkles for us, because we found ourselves in the beautiful Winter Wonderland of Crystals—-where else, but  in the Headquarters of Swarovski Crystals in Wattens, Austria! Well, not everyone would consider this place as  a Bucket-List sort of thing, but If you love Crystals and you have a thing for Arts, plus you are in the vicinity of Innsbruck, then this can be a great getaway for everyone in the family!

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Killer view of the rings of snow-capped mountains!

As for me, I love the unique sparkle of Crystals. I like the simple beauty of it whether it’s in a form of jewelry or from an art installation. I have learned that it takes talent and high-end technology to come out with these gorgeous creation. The sparkle is something magical and when you wear something that blings, plus you feel good about it ,then nobody can take away that from you, regardless of how much it costs.

 

So when we’ve learned that the Swarovski HQ is just half an hour drive from Innsbruck, we decided to give it a go. At first I was just super curious of what’s all about the face of the Giant,I’ve only seen it in photos, so I wanted to know the concept behind it. The Giant, is one-of a kind symbol, that is the face of Swarovski, same as the Swan as its current symbol.I find it fascinating how from 1899, Swarovski uses the Edelweiss flower as its logo. Edelweiss symbolizes  Alpinism and purity, for a fact that Edelweiss is one of the most beloved flowers in Austria.

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Into the Lattice Sun exhibit by Lee Bul inside the Chambers of Wonders

All my questions were lost as we stepped into the magical world of the huge Krystallwelten. My eyes feasted, and my mind marveled into the artistic creations that are on display. The company itself , which operates in roughly 2,800 stores in around 170 countries,  and employs more than 32,000 employees, and has a revenue of about 2.6 billion euros (in 2016) looks magnanimous against the azure mountains,it stands out among the hilly country side of Wattens. Now I understand why people from different parts of the world traveled half across the globe just to see what’s in this place. Swarovski is still Innsbruck’s #1 Tourist attraction! Thanks to the great mind of Daniel Swarovski, the founder of Swarovski Crystal Dynasty, a humble glass cutter, and a genius to create a Diamond for everyone!

If you are interested to know how it all started, from Daniel Swarovski’s  humble beginnings to what Swarovski is now to the world, here I found an interesting Swarovski story.

I, myself were fascinated of how crystal is being made, so it’s just fitting to share with you what I’ve found out about the art of making Crystals. The modern Crystal museum is not just a shop where you buy a piece of crystal jewelry. The whole place itself is a platform for Arts with the theme of Crystal, thus making it a top-ranking  Austrian tourist destination for its modern Architecture and facilities. Maybe not everyone loves Art or jewelry, but I must say that the Artistic installations there conveys great minds and concept, and of course  guarantees delight for everyone in the family no matter what the weather is.

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The Giant of Wattens!

Its winter time and just in time for the New Year, so  the whole place is still heavily decorated with Winter Magic Moments where the visualizations were designed by Tord Boontje. There’s a giant Christmas Tree ,carousel and many unique art installations glittering with lights can be seen in the gardens.When we arrived at the Arrival’s Hall where we got our tickets, we already have the glimpse of the grand entrance to the Chambers of Wonders, with The Giant of Wattens, slightly covered in snow and foliage, with its glistening eyes and  mouth  flowing with water.The world renowned-landmark of the World of Crystals created by the great mind of  multi-media Artist, André Heller!

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Magical Winter Moments in the  Swarovski Krystalwellten
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Shimmering bright lights in Swarovski Crystal Worlds!

 

Chambers of Wonders

Little that the world know, inside the Swarovski Crystal Worlds are 16 Chambers of Wonders.These are  special chambers designed by  world-class talented Artists showing their inspiring creations.

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A hallway full of cascading Crystal Chandeliers and Crystal art installation (Into Lattice Sun)

The Artists have one goal in their mind:

Nurturing the sense of wonder of every visitor who came to Wattens! This place offers more than the bling. So it’s not only a place to buy crystal jewelry, it is a place that displays innovative Crystal Technology and artistic minds, with crystal as the main component!

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Mechanical Theater inside the Chambers of Wonders

Some of the notable Artists and Art installations  that I personally found to be inspiring were :

Manish Arora’s “Ready to Love” is super colorful, funky, with dancing lights and a stairs full of colorful inscriptions with the theme Love.It is so fresh and luxurious that my daughter was so delighted to see this.If you are traveling with children, a place like this might be boring for them, but in the chamber of “Ready to Love”, it looks like it’s a colorful play area with interacting lights.

André Heller’s “Heroes of Peace” is an interactive stage.  Heller designed an accessible explorable theater for all the senses to inspire, amuse and fill up the audience with positive energy. We saw Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi in a hologram-filled space! Looks eerie at first, but it’s quite high-tech!

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El Sol by Fernando Romero

Fernando Romero’s ” El Sol “ is a stunning art installation which focuses on man’s relationship with the sun. This is by far my favorite since it reminds me of the stunning Winter sunsetscapes that I saw while I’m in Tyrol. El Sol is a one-of a kind, large geodesic structure,mimicking the sun made up of 2, 880 individually manufactured Swarovski crystals!

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The grandest and biggest Crystal I have ever seen in my life!

Another beautiful sight inside the Chambers of Wonders is the “The Eden” by Fredrikson Stalard . For me, it is unique, and I love the mystery. My daughter enjoyed this one too. It’s like she is walking in a maze. It’s a forest-fantasy in an archaic, primeval world. At its entrance, a waterfall, filmed in the surrounding Alps, cascades down a screen and is reflected by the walls, while the roar of the water permeates the entire Chamber of Wonder, creating a wall of background sound. Inside, the visitor follows a path that meanders through a dense wilderness of simple polished brass structures, which through mirrored walls appear to go on to infinity.

Within the depths of this dark forest, the wanderer encounters strange, hidden gems in the form of the biggest crystals Swarovski has ever produced. They emerge as beacons of light from the dark, like strange, exotic birds, reptiles, flowers, or fruit, symbolizing the magnificence of nature and the origins of life.

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Talking about Crystals…!

For the rest of the Chambers of Wonders are listed Here. Seeing them one by one is like being transported into a magical world  one after the other where Swarovski crystals shines the best.

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Shop display inside the Swarovski shop

 

Of course, inside as well  is the tempting shop of Swarovski where we’ve seen all beautiful things out of crystals! Adjacent to the Chambers of Wonders is the Swarovski Shop where you can mesmerized yourself with all the beautiful jewelry and items offered by Swarovski. They are currently having a huge Sale so visitors are really flocking and hoarding over it.

We went out to grab a bite inside Daniel’s Cafe & Restaurant which is also dynamically designed. It is very spacious and we loved the food.The price was reasonable and their service is excellent.

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Crystal Clouds and Mirror Pool

Outside, we marvel along the beautiful Crystal Clouds installations.We visited on a snowy, cloudy day but still, the sight of the Krystallwolke is something  that amazes me. It’s made up of 800,000 crystal jewels embedded in a net like structure to mimic  clouds.It is designed by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot.

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The Playtower inside the Swarovski Crystal Worlds

We continue to wander off through all the Kunst im Garten ( Art in the Garden), Labyrinth (Maze), Roman Excavations, and go inside their one-of -a kind Spielturm ( Playtower) .This is a place that my daughter loves, so do we!She needed a time to release her energy so this place really comes handy.

 

They have a state of the art indoor playground and a tower that is completely amazing! The view from inside seeing the mountains is beautiful even on a cloudy day.The façades of the tower, designed by architecture firm Snøhetta, consist of 160 crystalline facets, though no two are exactly alike. The panes are imprinted with an innovative pattern of millions of tiny animal motifs. The view from inside to outside is visible at all times and at night, the structure is a spectacular body of light.

I have seen that not only  children love this place but also their parents who played with them. There are slide tunnels, maze, puzzles and bouncing areas. Outside there is also an Outdoor playground, a Labyrinth maze and so much more.

To cap up our Swarovski experience, I could say that it has been a well-spent day. I did not expect that my husband would love this place but He said that He actually enjoyed it.We haven’t seen all the other attractions since its cold outside but then, there is always a reason to come back.

How did you start your year?

Do you like Swarovski Crystals over other type of jewelry?

Would you like to visit this place given a chance?

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you follow #myInnsbruck experience from my other posts about our New Year experience in the Alps.

Got Instagram? Follow our Expat Life experiences and my personal Artworks in our Instagram Page and If you have a time to kill, please check out my Etsy shop!

Tschüss!

 

 

 

 

Growth | El Sol and My Tyrolean sunset

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It was sunsets that taught me that beauty is fleeting…only lasts for a couple of moments,

And it was sunrises that showed me that all it takes is patience to experience it all over again…

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The little things?

These tiny moments?

They aren’t little…

They are Life’s Giant milestones.

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One of my top viewed post is “Why do you love watching Sunsets?” It didn’t surprise me at all because it’s one of my favorite post as well. I, personally loved everything about these little moments when the sun says Adieu and the peace that comes along with it.It’s a personal post for myself. This particular sunset is special. It’s one of the times I watched the sun shyly sets in between the mountains. It’s magical when all the different shades of red, oranges, and yellow and all the other hues mixed with each other creating the most original pallete I’ve ever known. It’s incredible how the sun washed away the houses in the villages , in between the hundreds of pine trees with a gentle glow.

I’m sure I am not the only one who took pictures.

It’s not because it’s a brand New Year that I am opting to have a brand new mindset, but watching a sunset definitely changes the way I look about my growth as a person.

All I knew that growth is clearly visible when your mind is set for appreciating your life for what it is and looking forward. Yes, the sun sets, but in your mind, you know that the sun will come once again…the show begins again once the morning comes.

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I’ve read many times that watching a natural beauty doing its own course like sunsets   may boost well-being, increase generosity and enhance life satisfaction. This is one activity that I never get tired of doing, anywhere, given the chance, I know that what matters is for myself to actively engage with the experience. To reap the rewards of that sunset, you need to stop whatever else you’re doing and really notice and appreciate the show in the sky.

This post is also inspired by one of the intriguing Art exhibition that I’ve seen in the amazing Chambers of Wonders  inside the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, the “El Sol”.

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“El Sol ” by Fernando Romero inside the Chambers of Wonders in Swarovski Crystal Worlds.

“El Sol” is Spanish for “The sun.” Fernando Romero’s installation, is made up of  2,880 custom-made Swarovski crystals, weighing more than 500 kgs., symbolizing the exploration of humankind’s relationship with the sun. This spherical structure is exactly one billion times smaller than the sun itself. At the heart of the artwork is a sphere of LEDs, whose light is split by the inner facets of the precisely cut crystals in such a way that it creates a dynamic surface reminiscent of the sun.

The inspiration for El Sol was the remarkable geometry of the pyramids built by the Aztec and Mayan people. Romero’s creation is thus an homage to his Mexican cultural heritage. At the same time, his structure is also based on modern technologies. Three months of design and development were needed before the drawings were ready, and it took the technicians more than 350 hours to construct the artwork. I am over grateful to see this with my own eyes and experience the kaleidoscopic effect from this.

Sans the technology and crystals, I took photos of this Tyrolean sunsets from our balcony in our rental apartment in Tyrol. What makes it unforgettable is that it definitely inspires  me and signals growth in my spirit. I’ve seen sunsets over high towers, buildings, over a lake, a volcano, across the seas, and in forests. This one is my Tyrolean sunset.

This year, I am ready for change, I am ready for growth.

I am ready for more sunsets beauty that 2018 offers!

What about you, Where’s your most memorable sunset  experience?

 

 

 

 

This post is inspired by this week’s DP Challenge |Growth