The Art of Handwritten Mails

When was the last time you’ve received a handwritten mail or a card? or a postcard with a distinct handwriting of the one who send it to you? Doesn’t it feels great, your eyes are wide with wonder as you gaze to an envelop addressed with your own name on it, a mix of wonder and surprise…

You deserved to feel special once in a while
We all could use a little bit of Snail Mails

Few days before Christmas I received a surprise mail (snail mail) from a dear friend from Finland.One of my favorite Blogger, thesnowmeltssomewhere sent me a little surprise which turned out to have a “big love” inside it, she shared her traditional Finnish “Little Christmas” with us. I was feeling ecstatic and grateful that I felt special. It feels good to be thought of, especially from a person who lives across the miles. We haven’t met personally but we shared thousands of messages about life, babies, worries, and laughs! Last year, my other good friend ,Ann, from Grubbs n’Critters sent me handwritten mail together with a box of different spices, which up to now lies in my kitchen and is a daily addition to my cooking!It’s hard not to remember her whenever I cook something with cardamon or fennels! We seemed to be modern-day-Penpals or Penfriends, minus the videocalling.

Handmade and self-crafted cards for all occasions!

Personally, I am a huge fan of snail mail and I totally love it! In High School, i remembered that our class have this Penfriends around the World and we’ve got the chance to have a Penfriend from different countries. It was totally snail mail long time ago. I think I received a mail once a month. I had Penpal from Germany and Finland. Through time I lost in touch because I moved to different places but then the whole experience lingered.

Last year I have also shared about my project to make Handmade Christmas cards to be sent to friends and families during the holidays. This year, I think I’ve sent 40+ cars to 3 different continents and approximately 10 different countries! I worked on this project normally 3 weeks before Christmas. I dedicate 2 weekends to paint and to craft the cards and personally sealed them and post. That is how far I’ve remembered the process. I painted them one by one, and write on each of them personally. I write to each one of them personal message and it really boost my creativity. A simple card becomes so meaningful, so treasured. here’s a snap of the cards and letters we received by post this Christmas. Totally a whole lotta love!

Love in an envelop: Schneckenpost or snail mail

I think that when we write things personally by hand, and not by typing, we retain the original information better. It boost our self-worth and creativity. I even got a new calligraphy pen to enhance my handwriting skills! Just like holding a brush (Pinsel) while painting, you give something from yourself out of what you’ve written.Nowadays that we often used our fingers to tip and swipe on our smartphones, writing manually becomes a whole new experience! I am always impressed with a person who has a unique handwriting. It’s a distinguished character and totally unforgettable.

It’s a whole lotta LOVE!

I am sharing this post to tell you about my personal experience about snail mails. Schneckenpost as we called it here in Germany or snail mail (Post) has totally become vintage compared to the high technology gadgets that we are having now especially with smartphones, iPads and computers. The young people today maybe are totally oblivious of using it or people only knew Post because of Online shopping.I read an interesting article about this and if you have time to kill, you can read it Here.

I have no problem having all these instant technology that we have.In fact, this new millenium of E-commerce and its benefits are one of the technological advances we all enjoy. I value its benefits since I live so far away from my family in Philippines and I’ve lived almost a decade as a “foreigner”in other lands. Emails, money transfers, voice mail recordings, chats via Whatsapp, Kakao and Viber are such a convenient way to get in touch! But there’s something totally different from snail mail. It’s more on the sentiments and personal feelings. From the time that you write your letter, lick the envelop , put stamps and go to Post Office to send it—it’s both a tedious but an exciting journey! The thrill of opening your mailbox and finding a square envelop with stamps and you search where it came from is like opening a present. A journey of wonder.It’s more fun!

From the Little One with Love

When we write to someone, I must say that it increases our levels of happiness and feelings of gratitude. When we think about a person, we search in our memory , the link that bonds us and the gratefulness that we want to rekindle, or to give with this process. Just imagine the same feeling you have the very first time you’ve ever received a “Love letter”from your sweetheart or a letter from your partner that is far away from you, or a surprise letter from someone you’ve never seen for a long time. Snailmail letters bridges the distance!The connection and meaning is far deeper than any mbps from Internet! Handwritten letters and cards spreads love and definitely makes you smile.If you want to let someone know you care—send them a handwritten card, letter or even a simple note.

Give it a thought, don’t you think that simple gestures—done randomly–adds more excitement to a dull moments? Last month, as I was rushing to go to work I found out that our basement storage had a pipe leak and I hurried up to inform my husband to call and inform the “Hausverwaltung/meister” who will fix the leak. By the time I got home, I found a handwritten note from my next door neighbor writing and informing me that he also had seen the leak and called the Hausmeister. His simple gesture really showed that He cares. Aside from the random gifts for the little one which he left on our door, I find his gesture a very valuable one.

It’s the care that comes out from our actions that signals love.

One day we received a handwritten letter from my 4-year old daughter! Yes, she already sent us a letter with a stamp! In the Kindergarten, they make small trips and one of it is to visit the Postal Office. The children are asked to draw and write something to their parents and sent the letter by post. I kept this letter up to this day. When my daughter was born in Kuwait, where we don’t have any relatives, we were totally on our own. My parents-in-law collected handwritten cards from relatives in Holland and sent all the letters to us in Kuwait ( not to mention all their loving gifts for the baby). I was totally speechless.My mother-in-law makes very beautiful handcrafted cards for all occasions, stenciled and crafted by hand. I think that’s beyond hobby—it is a way to show her love. I think she is successful in her craft because she transmit this through her cards!

Crafting for Mother’s Day

We all feel the rush and we have all the excuse to say we are busy. Our schedules are packed, full and noted. Just like when we rushed to checked all our emails everyday and check Facebook, Instagram and chats. We spend time, we decide on how to spend it actually, the way we want it. We all have our errands to do and time flies when we are on the go. I know it’s not that easy to sit and gather our thoughts to write something, compose a letter or to even create something for a special person. I have this stress to create a letter in German ( a challenge in fact!). I try to find the right words.But come to think of it—isn’t it awesome to discover how someone thought of every single detail, just to make someone feel good.The more frequent you do it, the less you think it’s hard, it only takes a little effort.

So how am I doing it?

If it’s not your hobby or you think that “I don’t have the talent to do it!” then you don’t need to panic. Snail mail writing should not come as a stress. For me, I avoid buying the overpriced ready made cards that are really overpriced. I look for craft materials, nude and classic papers, stamps, unique decorating materials that I usually find it art shops, or in flea markets. I even used traditional materials as recycled papers, dried leaves, pins and clippers etc to add more personal touch. I love motif papers or paperDeco that can easily folded into your base for a card. I invested in a good calligraphy pen of different shades and some trendy stickers.Getting started is not as hard as you think!

I have a challenge for you:

Do you want to start and participate in a “Gratitude project”?

Think of someone you want to give a surprise. Someone that you love, or someone that you really thought of. You can start to gather their mailing addresses and create your handmade, handwritten letters, cards or just a simple thank you note and send it. It doesn’t even need a special occasion to send a letter to someone you missed, loved or to a new friend . You will see by your own eyes the result and impact of your action.A snail mail is slow, ( maybe if it crosses continents!) or slower than a click and swoosh from electronic mails, but you must know that it is more memorable than other things.

Once you’ve done this, tell me how does it made you feel.

We are on the countdown to Silvester, few more hours and we approach New Year’s Eve. It’s time to reflect on doing something radical or out from ordinary in 2019. Happy New Year everyone!

Until then, Tschüss!

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Frostbite and Silvester

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Frozen Beauty in Winter

One more day and its finally Silvester ! We are on the last stretch of 2018 and soon a brand new year comes. Silvester happens on December 31st,  the last day of the year and day before New Year. This day is observed and widely celebrated here in Germany. I don’t know why but whenever I think of Silvester, I think of something sparkling, something flashy, loud and silver or gold. In real life, this day doesn’t come as flashy and loud as it seems to be. Believe me, after New Year’s eve, the streets are quiet and people are sleeping-in, most of us are staying indoors ( or if we’re not on the road) because its cold outside and nothing much is going on. It’s also the time where frost comes and covered  the decaying branches with blanket of snow and turns everything into something nice..to look at!  It’s a beautiful sight to watch but the inner side of me screams! I don’t even feel merry and bright  anymore when I think about snow and the freezing temperatures. I don’t like the cold much and everyday I am already dreaming of Spring. Can anyone relate?

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In the mood for some Outdoor ice skating

This is  gonna be our 3rd Silvester , time flies remembering our first Silvester here,  and last year while we celebrated New Year in Austria, in the mountains where we enjoyed the views of snow-capped Alps and ogling the crystals in Swarovski in Wattens.

There’s nothing new to tell about cold German Winter weather, it’s been cold, grey, cloudy and rainy almost everyday.We have minus temps but we haven’t had a white carpet of snow that we can officially called White Christmasor Winter Wonderland. This new tradition came like a surprise to me because normally, I haven’t even heard of this, it doesn’t exist in the East, especially in South East Asia.

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Frost came into town

For the past days after celebrating not only 1 but TWO— days of Christmas,  (December 25 and 26), days went lazy, slow, unhurried and just a series of eat, sleep, make a mess days for the little one. Meeting up with friends, eating and drinking on repeat and series of brunches outside and some year-end shopping spree  keep us motivated to wait for the new year.With almost 1.5 weeks of vacation, we had to think of something to do everyday, especially to entertain the little one.I personally needed this break but with a super active 4 year old  who wakes up early and play  Lego , Cashier and shopping, we can never sleep-in for so long!

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Throwback to really sparkling crystal world of Swarovski

Anyway, if you’ve missed my post about last year’s Silvester, here’s some tiny bits of info about it. The tradition of Silvester comes from a 4th century Roman saint: Pope Silvester I (before I thought it spelled Sylvester). Besides the fact that he served as pope from 314 to 335, there’s very little information in internet about Silvester, though several legends have sprung up around his name.  One, sown in a forged account called “Donation of Constantine,” claimed that he had been miraculously cured of leprosy.

The feast of St. Sylvester—that is to say, his burial ceremony—took place on December 31, 335. When the Gregorian calendar was reformed in 1582, the last day of the year was placed on December 31st, combining Silvester’s feast day with what we now call New Year’s Eve.  Despite the shared date, most German Silvester traditions actually stem from a far older pagan celebration called Rauhnächte.

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All white and frozen
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A Silvester kind of day in Germany

Here, just after Christmas, fireworks flooded supermarkets and each one has a special offers and sale! Fireworks is legal here in Germany but it is not so frequent to see large fireworks display. I suddenly remember the Guinness World Record Fireworks display in Kuwait where my neck cramped from almost an hour of unbelievable fireworks, all for the sake of Pyromania! Here on the other hand, fireworks are enjoyed in every backyard on New Year’s eve and  really just for personal satisfaction. You don’t feel like in a competition with your neighbor of who has the loudest, grandest and probably the eardrum breaking noise.Here I observed, some are not even bothered by it because the roller shutters of the windows are already down.

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It’s not too late to enjoy the remaining Plätzchen (little Christmas cookies ) while having movie-marathons!

Large fireworks display are happening mostly in  Berlin, where most of street parties for the countdown is also held, right in front of Brandenburg Tor, or in other key cities like Hamburg or Munich. What is interesting thing about Silvester here in Germany, right after the loud noises and firecrackers, people tidy up their  own mess, they don’t leave the streets swamped with fireworks litter. But definitely no people drive their cars with dangling cans and making noises! I saw in the news that there’s even a call to lessen the fireworks display in New Year’s eve to lessen the injuries caused by it and the issue of environment protection where approx. 4,500 fine dust is bound to be released in the air in welcoming 2019.

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Take your pick— Raclette, German’s favourite way to dig in during Silvester

Many restaurants also offers  many Silvester parties. If you are guilty of all the calories you’ve been gaining from all the christmas foods, then you can just opt for Silvester snacks, which is also a norm here.  Young people who party like an animal till dawn and dance the new year away. Another common  tradition for families as well is eating a la Carté “Raclette”! I love this way of dining together with  stove range or hot-grill stove in the center of the table and every one has each own pans and  the chance to “cooked”their own meal based on their choices. This reminds me as well of Korea’s Shabu-Shabu and Fondue which is also a favourite New Year’s choice.My first Raclette experience was in Netherlands this year with my Dutch family where we have  different  cut cheeses, meat cuts, chicken shawarma  slices, würsts (sausages) , champignons ( mushroom), omelette, bacon,salads, and veggies. It is super “Gezellig” (Dutch) and “Gemütlich” (German) . These are two foreign words means “coziness, homey , warm and fulfilling” of dining or eating. As much as I want to do Raclette  when I want, I just can’t because we are only 3 in the family! Raclette though applies to big families, or if you host dinner parties or brunches during holiday season!

Another common New Year threat in Silvester and New Year is Doughnuts (Krafpen) filled up with sweet marmalade or if you’ve got lucky, you have it in mustard sauce. My wish is that Krispy Creme opens up here in Ingolstadt then we are happy! Last but not the least, if it happens that you visit Germany in Silvester or during New Year, don’t panic when people greets you with these infamous yet really unique greetings:

Wir wünschen einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr”! (We wish you a happy new year.)

” Ich wünsche einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr ! “(I wish you a happy new year.)

So , how was your year so far? Are you ready to have a good slide in 2019?

What are your unique New Year traditions in your country?

Happy New Year everyone!

Until then , Tschüss!

Breakfast with Harley-Davidsons and Ferraris

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Ogling for a Ferrari

I’m not so much of a car-fanatic but there’s something I’ve discovered lately this year. I told you, my town is so small and yet so full of hidden facts that are just waiting to be discovered. And yes, not too late to share but—I found a place where you can have a thrilling one-of-a kind experience of having a breakfast with Rolls-Royce, Harley Davidson, and crazy beautiful sleek fast luxury branded sports cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini. All set in one great ambiance in the business Hotel called Classic Old Timer Hotel! Germans are crazy about their cars but here in Ingolstadt, with the giant Audi HQ set within few kilometers away , everyone is just crazy about cars.There’s no doubt that anyone who visits the old town will probably head to Audi Forum!

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Big bikes are on display!

For car enthusiasts, this is something appealing. Even if cars is not your thing, seeing the showroom from a glance is quite an experience, best of all, its free and open to the public.The showroom is actually a private collection of Mayer Classic cars and it is adjacent to the Hotel premises of Old Timer Classic hotel.

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Mayer Classic cars

Few of the worthwhile collection includes a Ferrari F488 GTB, Lamborghini Aventador, Porsche GT2 RS,F458, and so many more luxury branded cars. If you fancy anything and you’ve got the money, you can even buy it because some pieces are for sale.Unlike the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt, this collection is private and more on classic and luxury branded cars.

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Vintage Wall art 

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Located in front of the Saturn Arena, with just few meters away from the lush Klenzepark and the old town . With its premium location, it also holds  various Rock concerts, fashion shows, and other events .The hotel itself offers a conference room and most of the clients are car-related business as well.

The architecture and design are typical of Hotel standards and the concept of combining the Automobile charisma with the business hospitality of a modern hotel is something new and an absolute win. Not only this place ideal for car lovers, but also for adventure seeking and someone who loves the one above the ordinary.

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The grand showroom of Mayer Classic cars

As I’ve written before in many of my posts, Ingolstadt is a small town here in Bavaria,( approx. 80 km)  away from Munich where the Audi Headquarters is  located.Known for the ancient tales of the secret group Illuminati and the birthplace of the fictional Horror character “Frankenstein“, it offers a lot of diversity and cultural highlights that makes it worthwhile to visit. I can say that for almost 2.5 years of living here, I must say that it does not have the big city vibes like Berlin or Munich, but we feel at home here. It’s safe, clean and we feel at home!

I’ve also visited the Audi Forum  and I am totally immersed to this Automobile culture. This hotel  and the Mayer Classic cars is no exception because even the rooms are designed with car decors. Whether you’re a classic car collector or enthusiast, or simple car lover-admirer, then you should not miss this place.Some regards it only as an additional amenity. The important thing is you got the value of your stay from what you’ve paid for!

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Breakfast with a view!

Hotel guests can enjoy  their breakfast in grand buffet with a view because its free. It’s also a nice place to meet friends and enjoy coffee, or beer in  the Lobby or Reception area.The Reception area  as well shows a lot of car collectibles and vintage decors.

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Bright colorful lamps in the Reception area of the Hotel

There’s something for the stomach and there’s something also to please the eyes. Both senses are fulfilled ,visually and gastronomical. I can tell from my own experience that the breakfast experience is also commendable and worth all the cost. The buffet offers a wide range of choices, from traditional Bavarian breakfast of Kaisersmarrn and weisswursts, Brezen  to american or continental breakfast choices of  cold cuts, muesli, cheeses, salmon fillets (Lachs)  breads and assorted salads. The hot drinks includes numerous Tea variations and coffee, and fruit juices.

When was the last time you’ve experienced something unique and out of the ordinary?

Wishing you all a happy weekend and until then!

 

Tschüss!

One of a kind: Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt

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Falling in love with the Glühwein tradition in German Christmas Markets

One of my wishes came true this year and that is to visit the world-famous Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt, or probably the best Christmas market in the world, as far as Christmas markets are concerned. It’s one of the oldest, grandest and also the biggest ! Yes, I am saying it’s of world-class— and simply one of a kind, unforgettable and extraordinary Christmas market-fair-trade-fest rolled into one!

I cannot use too many more adjective for it but it is really worth a visit.From an Asian like me, I love everything about Christmas Markets! As an Expat, its one of the culture that I have fully integrated and loved. Despite the cold weather, everyone should try to experience this if they have a chance. I say this because I am totally thrilled and pleased with the experience of seeing everything that I’ve read in internet in full life and colors. Just like Oktoberfest—another magnet here in Bavaria, Nuremberg set a world record of number of visitors during Adventzeit. The crowd is simply overwhelming!

It’s a shame not to write about it since it’s really on my Bucket List–something that I never expected to be. I can’t get enough of the nostalgia from the Bitter-Sweet  Marriage Carousel so we end up exploring the Christmas Market and we were really blown away!

 

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Once in a lifetime experience in Germany’s Christmas Market

Maybe its a mistake when we decided to visit Nuremberg on the second week of Advent because it was packed, crowded, beautiful,charming and definitely exhausting! The crowd was something that I never expected to be. Despite of the grey , cold, windy, storm-ish winter weather, people, old and young, on different ages flocked to the streets of the central Hauptmarkt  square to witness the grand and only one Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt!

We arrived at around 11:30 am but we were lucky to find a table for lunch only around 2pm! Everything was packed, but the atmosphere is really something different. People are smiling, the vendors in the stalls are courteous and everyone is just in jolly mood.

 

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Not a Winter Wonderland, but still beautiful

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Creating memories in Nuremberg

We visited Nüremberg before  but the atmosphere in Winter is something different. The surrounding is filled with Christmas decors- in fact, what’s make it unique it its very traditional decors made of copper, wood and one-of a kind materials! Bright lights and the colors of Christmas is seen everywhere. Every shop compete with its own unique charming decors. The smell?— Oh your senses will be filled with the aroma of cinnamon, pastries, fruit cakes, Bratwurts, Nuremberg sausages and Glühwein. The taste of Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt!

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Aniseed, cinnamon, Lebkuchen and more Lebkuchen!

As a child, I can’t recall a Christmas market experience. I remember, we attended the midnight mass during Advent and there are few stalls of vendors selling traditional “Puto bungbong and Bibingka” ( sticky rice cakes) outside the church and nearby is a Carnival where we play and had fun rides. But nothing like the Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt in Nüremberg. For little ones, the rides, the grand carousel and the overwhelming threats for children is so tempting. From chocolate covered fruits to kinder punches and tasty threats that are beautifully displayed in every stall.

The first time I’ve ever tasted Lebkuchen from Nürnberg is when my husband brought some when he had a trip in Germany while we are still living in Kuwait. The taste of Spekulatius, cinnamon and Lebkuchen is unforgettable. I have tasted different Lebkuchen and Ginger breads here in Germany but I must say that I would always come back to Lebkuchen Schmidt.Highly recommended and worthy to bring as a gift to your love ones. Only be wary of the long lines especially during peak seasons! It’s not only their Lebkuchen but their cakes and Pastries are mouth-watering too!

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I’ve visited Nuremberg in Summer and my neck was cramped looking at beautiful old architecture, and the old city has always something to offers. The streets of Nuremberg during Christmas season are endless, chaotic,but really unforgettable. There’s always something to explore, to see and even if your feet already aches from walking, then just take a break and melt into the crowd.

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Christmas decors, balls and other Traditional Christmas ornaments made from different materials.

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Crowds in Nuremberg Christmas market

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Frohe Weihnachten

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Time to rekindle your childhood in the Kinder Weihnachtmarkt.The fairground is beautifully decorated with Nativity stalls, snowmen, sleighs and a winter wonderland for children. It offers lots of food stalls as well as toys stalls so it’s a perfect timing for gift buying too. I went to this Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt when the Christkindlesmarkt is too crowded for my daughter and I am even afraid to get lost!

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Happy writing— Giant pencils as a gift for the Little ones.

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Mistletoe!

Or kiss your Honey while taking a quick stop on this Mistletoe bundle!

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The world is your Oyster when it comes to food while you are in the Market. You find every type of food depends on your taste. The only downside is if you get a place to sit! On our visit we tried dome Balkan food and despite that its quite expensive, we were not disappointed with the taste.

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Tropical dried Fruits ! Yumm…

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Take the Carousel ride rain or shine!

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One happy little visitor!

There are thousands of Christmas Markets all over Germany and you can never have enough or shortage of it. Even our local Ingolstädter Christkindlemarkt can never be ignored but then if you have the chance to visit a Christmas Market, then go to something that worth the travel–and that is the Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt! I’ve just read that it’s almost 400 years old since the earliest writing about it was since 1628!

Nürnberg left me an impression and continue to do so… I wish it does the same to you. Maybe on my next visit, I’ll discover something else. From the mystical Kaiserburg Old Castle up to the overwhelming Tiergarten, I’ll leave you with endless options. My writing is not enough , you should be able to experience it with your own eyes.If there’s a market that I would like to bring my family in Philippines to see–then it is here.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What do you think of German Christmas Markets?

Here in Germany we have 2nd day of Christmas so here’s wishing you all Happy 2nd Day of Christmas and a Happy New Year! Until next time.

Tschüss!

 

 

The beauty of Manholes [Part 2]

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Holiday greetings from Mayen near Koblenz!

It’s been a while and I apologize for lack of posts in this Blog. It’s been a busy, horribly busy year for me. But anyway, this Christmas break I have the chance to sit down and reflect and write once again. So many things had happened for the past months and I guess I just need to move on. Thank you for those who continue to comment, write and visit my Blog. Hopefully I could personally catch up on all my followers and readers!

How are you guys doing? I hope that everyone is doing well and had a wonderful holidays with your love ones.

For those who celebrates Christmas —Merry Christmas and as Germans say “Einen guten Rutsch or a wish for a great slide in the coming New Year!This is one of the great things that I did this year—to learn and speak German!

But the Dutch and Germans do it well since they have the second day of Christmas ( Boxing Day) that is December 26 to celebrate. What’s not to love about this extra day of holiday but to eat more, drink more and be merry?!

How did you guys kept yourselves busy this holiday season? As for me, here’s another sequel for my collection of Manholes—also known as drain covers!

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I am not so looking forward to snow but to seeing more creative art down on the streets

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Holiday greetings from the Mosel valley

If you read my post about “The beauty of Manholes“then you must know my fascination for water drainage. I have this  thing for looking down and set a goal to collect different images of manholes in different places and as I find it very interesting, Germany is a great place to start. These images  showed uniqueness of each place and area. Some are really distinctly creative, some are just plainly functional. But I tell you, for me, It is  always great to look down into something nice, whether its covered with snow, dirt, or leaves, mud or wet with rain.It adds a sentiment while walking on cobbled streets. For these second part of my series, I want to thank my father-in-law for capturing all the new manholes.

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Memories from the Rhein cruise tour

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Greetings from Paderborn in North Rhine, Westphalia in Germany

Soon it will be another year, how time flies. A brand new year for all of us to start new beginnings. Have you already thought about what do you want to accomplish in 2019?

What about starting a “Looking down series“?

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Looking down in Andernach, Germany

I know its human nature to look up. Gazing up on a tall building, or on a clear blue skies is something that we all do especially when we are “visitors”in a foreign land. It only takes a few seconds to look up and appreciate all the new and beautiful things that surrounds us.Same goes with looking down. You see shadow paths from yesterday, footprints and marks that tells a million stories.

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Reading about History and looking down in Koblenz, Germany

Do you also have a habit of looking down while walking?

How does the manholes in your area looks like?

Want to participate in my global project?

If you ever seen an interesting Manhole in your area, please feel free to send me a photo of it or a link so I can include it here in my list.

My goal is to collect as many as possible depending where my path leads me to.

Send me some photos in : justbluedutch@gmail.com.

I hope you find my story interesting and something to ponder about. Over here in Bavaria in Germany, sending you the best wishes for the coming Silvester and New Year!

Happy New Year to all!

Wishing you all a happy weekend…Tschüss!

Iconic Animals in Colors

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Buddy Bears in Berlin,Germany

Big, colorful, funny, artistic, and definitely for a worthy cause! Iconic animals in colors are animals that made an impact through Artistic exhibition. They are a sure hit and big  magnet for kids, and adults as well! Have you heard about the Cow Parade in Zurich and New York? For long time ago, Animals have been used as a symbol or an Art subject exposition and is always fascinating to ponder. Whatever the meaning, the use of animal in order to bring art into the streets for public awareness and viewing is both informative and entertaining. I’m not talking about famous icons such as Mickey mouse, Donald Duck or Peppa pig-— I am talking of something that goes more than copyright and sales. The Artist behind them had a vision and they express their own talent .Each piece is definitely unique. That is why I believe the stories behind them are really worth telling!

In our travels, I found some great examples of Artistic exhibitions with painted animals as the subject. The artistry, the cause, symbolism and the creativity itself is exemplary! Here are some of my favorites ;

Buddy Bears in Berlin

One of the fascinating conquests we’ve done from our last visit to Berlin was looking for the Buddy Bears ( or United Bears)  Don’t get me wrong, but for my daughter this is exciting. She is very keen and always on the look out for it. We’ve spent our days most of the time walking through the streets and the moment that she spotted one Buddy Bear, it always brings a smile on our face.Buddy bears are definitely becomes a majot tourist attraction in Berlin.IMG_0441 (1)

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Buddy Bears in Berlin

Bears are very unique symbol for Berlin. It is also the national figure in Berlin flag. The bear , with all its imposing figure , is a heraldic animal with a high level of public appeal . It was envisaged to capture the hearts of Berliners and their guests in various different designs. Initiated by Klaus and Eva Herlitz, with cooperation of sculptor Roman Strobl, the first Buddy Bears appeared in Berlin since 2001 and the rest was history.The project was a great success and goes global! The Buddy Bears is a collection of  fantastic artists who gave each individual bear a unique identity. The bears were visible all over Berlin, attracting thousands of delighted looks.

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My daughter is super hooked on these Buddy Bears that she needs to hug each one she sees. I don’t know exactly the exact location of each Bears in Berlin but if you pay close attention when you navigate the streets of Berlin, I am sure you’ll never miss them.

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Here’s a helpful guide if you are planning to see them all in Berlin. I highly recommend for you to try this experience.

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“We have to get to know each other better, it makes us understand one another better, trust each other more, and live together more peacefully!”

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The United Bears Exhibition travel around the world promoting “peace, international understanding and tolerance among the nations, cultures and religions around the world!

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In addition to the Classic Buddy Bears presented far beyond Berlin’s city limits, the circle of United Buddy Bears came into being in 2002. Each bear in the circle represents a country acknowledged by the United Nations. The United Buddy Bears travel around the world promoting tolerance and international understanding – always standing together hand in hand. I have never seen an actual Bear up really close in my whole life. The ones from the zoo are always hiding, or sluggish to even move and show off. But looking at these Buddy beers give me a better understanding of the many facets of this animal.Teddy bears are always loved and part of childhood, but Buddy Bears are also unforgettable.

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Tierisch-GUT !

Artistic Oversized Piggy banks in Pffafenhofen , Bavaria

Another iconic animal is the pig or Schwein .Pig is the 12th  in the 12 cycle of the Chinese zodiac sign and 2019 will be a Year of the Pig and starts in February 5, 2019. Chinese regarded pigs unfavorably while its known to be  eaters and often sleeping so it denotes laziness,clumsiness and becoming fat.On the other side, its regarded as wealth.

We all know that a piggy bank is always a good start to teach a child about saving money. Why it’s the pig and not a horse is I don’t know. In my home country where I grew up, raising pigs as a household business is very common,in fact, it’s a very stable source of livelihood. Here in Germany  pigs are normally raised in farms (Bauernhof). I had never seen pigs here, only the wild boars in the zoo but people here loves pork , in fact they adore it as they are crazy about würsts  , schnitzel, & schweinshaxe ! As a child, a sight of baby pigs for me is so fascinating, I find them so cute and their chubby form  when they wiggle their tiny tail is really amusing, but not their smell. Yes, they can be  very loud and stinky. On the other side, if you have a pig, you are bound to have an investment because pig means money!

“Sparkasse Bank  let the pigs out, now they can make a mess, A big mess in the bank!” 

 An initiative by Sparkasse Bank in Pffafenhofen, “Tierisch GUT “, they launched an Art Auction where 20 oversized Piggy banks were to be decorated and painted for a cause and a prize! Professional and amateur artists are invited to design and paint their own Piggy banks. The winner by online voting awaits a cash prize.

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Piggy banks fascination

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Piggy bank dressed in Bayerische Lederhosen

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Colorful Piggy bank in Bavaria, Germany

The concept of combining  money matters and art is a great way to make an impact and that is why these oversized piggy banks are great example of iconic animals with a cause!

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It was so nice to meet you …

Miffy and her Art Parade, Netherlands

When my daughter was born, she was gifted with lots of Miffy stuff from our  Dutch relatives. That was the first time I  was acquainted with this charming little rabbit. I never knew that it was even of Dutch origin. As my daughter grows, she had a fair share of Miffy stories, books and even saw the Miffy /Nijntje Parade in Amsterdam! That was her first close -up encounter with life-size Miffy statues displayed in Museumplein . Every dutch kid grows up with Miffy and that’s a fact.

Miffy  is called  Nijntje in Dutch  and  is a wonderful rabbit animation originating in the Netherlands.   Miffy is featured world-wide as a small female rabbit in a series of picture books drawn personally by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. The original Dutch name, “Nijntje”, is a shortening of the diminutive konijntje, “little rabbit“. She’s the inspiration behind “Hello Kitty ” and holds millions of fans around the world. Dick Bruna also created stories for characters such as Lottie, Farmer John, and Hettie Hedgehog

Unlike the Buddy Bears which was only created from 2001, Miffy was born in 1955 in Egmond aan Zee, the place where Dick Bruna drawn Miffy for the first time.Dick Bruna lives in Utrecht and that’s where the Nijntje Museum is located.

We had the chance to witness the Miffy Art Parade last 2015 in Amsterdam that honors Miffy, her creator Dick Bruna and the world-wide fans.The Miffy Art Parade  had a goal to unite, inspire and helps to create a better future in partnership with UNICEF. Madelon Bruna, the daughter of Dick Bruna is also one of the Artist who participate in this Art project. In total, there are 60 artists decorated a life-size statue of Miffy, of which 45 are on exhibition on various locations in the Netherlands and 15 are on tour in Japan.

When we went to Keukenhof last year, we got the one made by Mies van Hout. It is a reminder for us that Miffy has a special place in our home.

Have you already heard about the Blue Flock Art project?

These animals surely inspires in their own ways, their artistic impact is a way to connect us into a magical world of animation, art and useful cause.

I am bent on discovering more and more iconic animals in colors.

What about you, are you fascinated with such things? What is your favorite iconic animal ?

Berlin …as I see it!

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One of the green sites inside the Hackesher Markt in Berlin

After 2 years of living in Germany, I finally have the chance to see Berlin! 

Why it took it so long I also don’t know. Perhaps because, we never had the chance or there are wayyyy to many beautiful cities and places in Germany , including Berlin of course to see and visit. I am living in the Southern part of Germany (Bayern) and Berlin is up in the north. People greets you with “Hello ” or Moin Moin up there, something that is totally not a norm in Bavaria. The Bavarian culture is definitely so much different from Berlin I realized that now. One thing for sure, I couldn’t find a decent Bretzel like our favorite, there’s no one wearing Tracht–Lederhosen and Dirndls and nobody greets you “Servus!

Yes, with so many things to do, life can be busy, so we are taking our time, sometimes unplanned things leads to bigger adventures. This gives me opportunity to look for fascinating Manholes and of course, some of  Berlin secrets!

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The Reichstag in Berlin ( or Deutscher Bundestag)

Coincidentally  that I am doing my Orientierungskurs ( Leben In Deutschland ) , it heightened more my curiosity about Berlin.Everyday we learned about the country’s  political system, history and  everyday living. Imagine my excitement seeing the things from the books I am reading and now with my own eyes. Over the days, I become so engrossed with  World War II history and related events so I busied myself reading a lot and watching German movies. It’s unbelievable for myself that I can now watch German movies with comprehension! I’ve read about horrific stories and I can’t even imagine it happened. I just realized how little I know about Germany. As someone who grew up in Asia, I had zero knowledge about Holocaust and what happened to Berlin during the war, totally out of touch & not having a grip on world History. I think if I didn’t live here then I wouldn’t be able to learn so much about this country like this. Integration in a foreign culture is really the key.

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Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

 

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Little hands, little traveler

 Another thing, it also happened that my cousins from 2 different side of the world arranged to meet with me for the very first time here in Europe and our meeting point is Berlin. My daughter and her second-generation cousin met also for the first time! Both Expat children! There’s no other better place of course to meet up, because they had participated in the Berlin42 Marathon  and that’s what makes it even more exciting. I haven’t seen them for almost 3 decades so imagine our excitement!

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Out and about into Berlin’s colorful streets

So here’s how I find Berlin as a first time visitor!

Berlin is BERLIN !

Berlin is one of the famous city in Europe and beside the capital of Germany, you should visit Berlin because–it is BERLIN. Something about this place stands out from the rest. I also don’t know why. You need to personally experience it!  Maybe because of the vibes, its alive, free-spirited, artistic aura and world-class travel destination it became over the years. I think you can’t be in Berlin without thinking about the past, the Cold Warthe Nazi and Hitler WW II and the Berlin Mauer (or wall). Germany has a fair share of dark past and it plays a great deal of what is Germany now and its people.It’s an appendage of the city’s history. But in fact, Berlin is not a typical, traditional “German” city. When I say, “traditional”, then it must be “Bavaria“! Apart from the utilitarian “Box- type” buildings which influenced by the Communist time and cold-war era, I learned that Berlin is still on continuous repairs. It was severely bombed during WW II so almost all of the city’s relics were restored or rather renovated. During the time of our visit, the other section of the Berliner Dom is still undergoing some repairs .Berlin is still repainting, rebuilding, restoring and its history is just yesterday’s news!

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Colorful art Grafitti in the streets of Berlin

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UNESCO World Heritage Site,Museum Insel in Berlin

Berlin is very International

Well, Berlin absolutely left an impression on me apart from it being a busy metropolis. I love this wonderful, international city! It is a home for all people around the world. For a minute, I was shocked to hear so many people are speaking English, which totally surprised me because in Bavaria, I barely hear people speaking in English. So when I heard it, I was really jolted. “Wow, I feel at home! “. Berlin is so diversified, relax, busy, multi-cultural and naturally very touristy.  Over the weekend, Berlin was flocked with tourists because of the Marathon so it’s really not surprising to see lots of people visiting.

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Inside the Cupola Dome of the Reichstag /Parliament Building in Berlin

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The magnet for visitors : The Reichstag Dome where the Bundestag (Parliament) sits in Berlin

People of different skin flooded the streets. Tourists from all over the world flocked over the Brandenburg Tor  and the Reichstag Building. People are super carefree and very welcoming. You can wear whatever you want and dress up to whatever style you like.  While taking the  U-Bahn and S-Bahn, I observed people.People from different walks of life come in and out of the train and chasing every second. People are kind and one time in a busy S-Bahn,  someone even gave us a seat.

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The Berliner Dom (Cathedral)

Berlin is Green

Berlin is often called Green metropolis. I can imagine that in summer, parks and green spaces are full of people relaxing under the sun. Another thing is that it’s  bicycle-friendly . I was surprise to see rental bikes all around but I don’t really know how does it works. Although Berlin has an excellent public transportation,tourist can explore the city by renting a bike as well. Berlin has another  unique Green feature as well–it’s Green Ampelmännchen, or the  pedestrian crossing traffic lights. In 1924, the first traffic lights in Berlin were ceremonially put into service on Potsdamer Platz.It was a surreal experience to saw the old traffic lights that still operates up until now.

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Fascinated with the Ampelmännchen in Berlin

Berlin is a home for Artists 

Berlin is very artsy, the graffitti Artwork is unbelievable! Art  is in every  corner and that’s what makes it so unique. With so many beautiful Architecture all around to ponder, you are left with many choices.It’s not the lack of high rise buildings, but the sense of modernity that blends with lots of historical artifacts. From the Berlin’s classic S-Bahn from Friedrichstrasse Station to the modern Aqua Dom in Radisson Blu hotel up to the Fernsehen Tower (TV Tower), Berlin has the mixture of both the past and the present.

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Graffitti Art, the more , the merrier

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Call me please…

A Walk through  History

If you wanna explore Berlin, then you need to do a lot of walking.Berlin is like a big treasure hunt place. If you are in search of something without knowing where it is, then you are into a threat, maybe you’ll stumble upon a great secret! That’s how we did it.Walking through the paths of historical sites, starting from the Brandenburg Tor,and tracing the marks of the traces of the Berlin wall, up to the Postdamer Platz and the Holocaust Memorial, you feel some kind of significance. You will be grateful about the life you are having considering the tragic stories behind these memorials. After a quite morning at the Museum Insel where we saw the Berliner Dom, Alte Museum and Pergamon, we walked straight to the Bebelplatz, and wondering why people are flocking there. It took time for me to realized what they are staring down to the ground–a squared-looking glass directly showing the   empty bookcases. Bebelplatz is the place directly in front of Humbolt University, the oldest university in Berlin and which has had famous professors, including  Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, and the Brothers Grimm. The same place where the Nazi burned the writings and all the books of the Jews about Jewish faith occurred in 1933.It was not a grand memorial, it was in fact a void.If you don’t see it closely and reflect, then you are just wasting your time. It was considered a voided memorial because the books burned that night in 1933 can’t be replaced, but the void for them can be, hence the empty rows of bookshelves.

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Bebelplatz Book Burning Memorial in Berlin

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Walking can lead you to details of History

You feel invincible knowing that great men and women have walked there, also people lost their lives on these memorable places, just like the story of the Kindertransport. I have learned much about German history just by walking through the city. Walking through a new city can be life changing as well.

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A Nostalgic shop in Heckesher Markt

Berlin is cheap…or rather affordable.

For budget travelers like me, I find Berlin affordable.In Berlin, you can do many stuff without spending much money. With almost all of the key landmarks which are situated close to each other, from Museums to clubs, to tourist spots and tours, you can easily find whatever suits your tastes. I find it easy to navigate on its busy streets.We had a nice hotel along Tiergarten with a very good buffet breakfast for only 8 Euros  and we can’t complain anymore! Because it’s very international, food is  no problem. I find it actually hard to choose what to eat because there are so many choices to choose from. From well-known fast foods,to dominating Turkish döners, Lebanese Koftas, Indian currys, Thai, Korean, Arabic dishes and of course, the native German delicacies served in Biergartens and restaurants, you can never get hungry in Berlin, never! Almost every corner has a Currywürst mit Pommes as well. If you want to spend some quiet time, then head to the line of restaurants on the banks of the Spree river and watch the boats passed by! The only thing that will bother you is the sound of street musicians trying to amuse you. One thing through, beer is cheaper than water in Berlin !

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Art mania or what?

Berlin has a place in  world history and always a special place in Germany.There are places being known because of its natural beauty or something that originates from it, or it’s just cheap to visit. For me, Berlin is a place to remember, either you visited it for leisure, business, or visiting a family or just plain navigation.

It has something that can never be bought from the souvenir shops–it’s enigma and it is really priceless!

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Watching shadow cast in Berlin

I could write so much more about this experience but I guess its all up to you to make your own experience and story about Berlin.This is a small part of how I saw Berlin.We are already looking forward for our next visit in Spring and see the city turns into pink paradise from the cherry blossoms! I am sure I will have another versions of how I see this city!

How about you, have you ever been to Berlin? How was your experience?

 

 

 

 

Berlin secrets : Trains to life ,Trains to death

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Kindertransport | Frank Meisler

One station, two destination

October 3 is the German Unification Day or the Tag der Deutschen Einheit , the day that commemorates the unification of East and West Germany. In line of this holiday, I wanted to write something about  Berlin and how it reminds me of a fascinating, and yet sad “secret”I have found from our last trip in Berlin. The story itself is not a secret, it’s not on the top 10 tourist destination in Berlin, but rather, a must-see for anyone who wants to deviate from stereotype Berlin, or dvelve unto something different.

Personally,whenever I am in a new place, I try to discover some off-beaten tracks or beyond the usual-touristy spots, at least if I have the chance.Sometimes, what appears to look  ordinary, plain, and insignificant held quite a mystery, a profound story behind it. But only the keen eyes sees it.

Last time when we were in Berlin, we don’t have an itinerary. We want to make it spontaneous and explore it like a local. Surprisingly,  I don’t feel like a tourist anymore. I felt like I can blend more easily , since I finally got a hold of  my German  and I can understand what’s going on around me. I find it easy now to navigate and read the signs which happened to be all in German, not like a year ago that I basically don’t have an idea what does it mean.I got to ask my friend Google translate for a help!

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Berlin’s secrets : Trains to Life, Trains to Death

One of the Berlin secrets that I discovered is found just outside  the busy station of –Friedrichstraße–the known entertainment center in Berlin. It’s located in the Mitte of Berlin and adjacent to the street that crosses the Spree river.  It’s an important station in Berlin because of many reasons. First, this station was the station used during the Nazi regime to transport the Jews to many deportation camps, or to worst, to their death camps. In the same location can be found is the “Tränenpalast” or the Palace of Tears where East Germans said goodbye to family and friends going back to West Germany. From 1962 to 1989 it was the border crossing for travellers by S-bahn, U-bahn and train between East and West Germany.It is a place of tears, and woeful goodbyes!

Secondly, for all visitors in Berlin, this station is known to  tourists to famous destinations such as Unter den Linden, Brandenburg, and the Reichstag or the Deutscher Parliament.During the cold war, Friedrichstraße station belongs to East Germany and the major border crossing between the East and the West.

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One Station , Two destinations

While waiting for my cousins, we get on to Friedrichstraße  and kill our time. I didn’t expect to find some fascinating discovery—The monument of “The Trains to Life, Trains to Death” built by  Israeli Architect and Sculptor Frank Meisler in November 2008. Meisler himself travelled with a 1939  children’s transport from Berlin-Friedrichstraße to England called “Kindertransport” ( Refugee Children’s Movement ). Imagine, out of 1.6 million children murdered during Holocaust, only approx. 10,000 of them had a luck to escape and saved their lives through the help of Great Britain. The children traveled in a sealed trains, sometimes children carried babies as well.After arriving in Great Britain, they were transferred to Foster homes or reception camps and most of them never see their parents again.

 

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Kindertransport monument by Frank Meisler, Berlin,Germany

It’s  easy to miss this memorial monument especially when you don’t pay attention to details around you. It bears inscriptions both in English and Deutsch and mentions “In gratitude to the people of Great Britain” .When we are out from the station, I was trying to look around to look for landmarks but what I notice is a plain wall with this inscription in the information panels ( Stiftung Denkmal) –” Züge in das Leben, Züge in den Tod ” ( Trains to Life, Trains to Death), upon reading this, I was really struck, moved and my mind fixated on the inscription and was trying to read the rest for me to understand what’s the story behind it. This time, I happened not to look at the Bronze sculpture yet. There was a lady sitting on the side of it, she probably waiting for someone. I noticed that few people were photographing in front of us and I was telling my daughter to clear the spot. I found the story of the Kindertransport very intriguing, it is not your ordinary memorial. This memorial is for children. It’s hard to accept the fact that innocent little children were victims of the horrific Holocaust. Whether you are a parent or not, this piece of story is disturbing.

Then my daughter walked on the other side and decided to climb the statues. It consists of 2 groups, with seven figures of children. On their coats they wear yellow stars. The bronze colored statues , a boy and a girl facing the Spree river symbolise the lucky ones who escaped and were transported to Great Britain. The greyish-bronze group had another destination–they represent the unlucky ones who were transported to the Death camps in the East. What caught my attention was the empty suitcase with a broken doll inside it. The doll has is abandoned and there was a withering violet flower lying beside it. My daughter was saying “Mama, die Puppen ist schon kaputt!” was is passiert?!  ( the doll is already broken, Mama! what happened?!)

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Empty suitcase

I couldn’t find words to explain to my daughter…it is hard to explain.

This is probably the most disturbing memorial, and yet the most moving monument that I have ever seen in my whole life. It really touches you,provokes you, unless you are immune to human feelings. I am not born yet on this dark times in Germany but reading about the stories and seeing all the memorial sites for all the victims of Holocaust made me appreciate life even better, and understand it. Never again, it should never happen again.

My visit to Berlin is not only filled with photographs, or busy tourist spots, it was also full of valuable lessons. This is one of the Berlin secrets that is worth to explore and find. Frank Meisler remind us with this monument that life may lead you  in different destinations, some path leading us to life,the route to safety, or sadly some path leads to death.

This experience encouraged me to see the other “Kindertransport”works of Frank Meisler–one in his hometown in Danzig, Poland, “Kindertransport the Arrival” in Liverpool Station in London and the “Channel of Life “at the hook of  Holland , in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

How’s your travelogues lately? Have you discovered anything sort of “secret” ?

Have you heard about the Stolpersteine or stumbling stones?

If you happen to visit Berlin, make sure you drop by in Friedrichstraße Station, you’ll not regret the experience. If you’re interested about Kindertransport story, here’s an interesting read about it.You’ll find as well some of the famous Jews children who told their stories about their experience.

 

 

The Beauty of Manholes

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Manhole cover in Amsterdam,Netherlands

The title says it all, this post is all about my fascination of Manholes or drainage covers.

Well, since I came to live here in Germany I got hooked into looking down , staring for a couple of minutes and just marveling at these drains.I find it  interesting to look down and taking photos ( if I have the chance to do so…) of unique water drain designs and the way every city has its own pride, normally it shows the city’s  name and the official seal.

But the big question is why?

In my home country and way back in Kuwait, it is quite different.Manholes are usually plain, dull or somewhat far from sight of the pedestrian or I’m just oblivious then. From the time I remember, I heard about accidents involving people falling off crazy in these filthy holes.With traffic crazy streets in Kuwait, no one stays longer in the streets or you’ll be ran-over ! Ok, maybe I sound a bit dramatic but the thing is, the culture says it all. For me, in Philippines, manholes never appeals to me because I grew up never having the “liking”into it or it sounds dangerous  and traumatic experience especially during rainy season and heavy flooding. People falling into a manhole may sound funny but actually it is NOT. It’s a serious accident.

I guess it shows how different each country value the water drainage system and its covers here in Europe especially in big cities. In a very touristic areas here in Germany, most inner cities observed car-free , therefore encouraging more people to walk, rather than drive into the city. So it means, we have more means to explore by foot at our own pace.

I must say that here in Germany, I have seen quite few interesting manholes. I haven’t had the chance to photograph them all , or I forget about it but this post will be updated from time to time once new updates are available. For starters, here are some of the fascinating manholes I’ve discovered.

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Manhole in Münich , Germany

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Welcome the Dutch  Royalty, Manhole from the Netherlands

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Manhole image from  Nürnberg, Germany

Sometimes it’s easy to spot them on but sometimes it’s also hard , especially when we are walking in a hurry or traveling by car.I know it’s not  everyone’s fancy , but one thing I noticed, in social media, I see so many photos of feet selfies, or shoe selfies . They all show a sort of individuality and personal choices.For photography, It’s all about our choice of subject and we have all the right to take photos of anything we want as long as it is rightful and doesn’t harm others. But here in Germany, public photography has some limitations as well.

So, why manholes?

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Looking down on a manhole in Berlin, capital city of Germany

First I got this habit of looking down where I walked into the streets when I ventured into exploring all the Stolpersteine or stumbling blocks or stones— those artistic stones for the victims of Holocaust and murdered Jews. I am living in Germany and I have learned these things in my class and everyday, as I explore the historical places, It is impossible not to be aware of the dark past of German history including the stumbling stones. It made a great impact on me to stop for a minute and think ..“Oh, there’s a victim of Holocaust who lived here…” I think its a very decent way of paying respect to their story and being grateful that war is finally over and hoping “Never again...”

So, back to my old habit, whenever I walk around into a new place, I took particular notice of where I’m stepping into. There’s so many landmarks, engravings, plaques of memorials, grave stones, or some sort of legendary marks which is imprinted into the ground for the sake of  history  and remembrance . One thing for sure,  you can learn so much from it.

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Caught a glimpse of the Manhole in Regensburg, Germany

Just like standing over a precious stone or a border mark, it has a profound effect, like “I’m walking over where a great war happened ,where heroes dies and fought for somethingor “I’m standing where the  wall of Berlin before stands “. So just like taking a minute to appreciate manholes, I also took time to admire an important city’s  landmark. I realized that what they do underground is as much as important as what they do over it. The street’s quality are also differ from place to place and the way they build it. Normally, these manholes are built with high-end steel, painted or engraved, or just personalised to city’s parameters.

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Walking through the cobble stone pavement in our little town of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany here shows the official seal .

There’s also something nice about looking at manholes through each season. Here in our old town, summer time is the time where road maintenance is being done and road works are really important especially the “Fußgängerzone” or walking path. Manholes or drain covers withstand the never-ending change of weather and seasons.

I therefore conclude that It takes a good government to pay attention of where the normal people drive, cycle, walk, and run into. So it goes with drain covers. 

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Looking down on a Manhole in Ingolstadt during first layer of snow last year’s Winter

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While exploring the oldest city in Germany, Trier

Do you also have a habit of looking down while walking?

How does the manholes in your area looks like?

Want to participate in a global project?

If you ever seen an interesting Manhole in your area, please feel free to send me a photo of it or a link so I can include it here in my list. My goal is to collect as many as possible depending where my feet leads me to.

Send me some photos in my Email : justbluedutch@gmail.com.

I hope you find my story interesting and something to ponder about. Over here, Autumn season has begun here in Bavaria and I am excited to wander off in the streets and continue exploring!

Wishing you all a happy weekend…Tschüss!

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?