Two Duvets are better than One : Sleeping the German way

 

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Culture Shock :  Two beds, Two Duvets , no top covers.

While on our holiday in Rhineland -Palatinate and Trier last 2015, I was totally shocked to see how our beds were made. Two single mattresses in one bed frame, with two duvets on top, with two big square pillows pinched in the middle . No covers. Same as the one I observe in Austria.The Dutch husband even told me that the beds can even be folded on a height that you like. All I can say was , Why oh why?

This is not-so-Asian, no, not even middle-eastern.Scandinavian style, definitely and yes, the absolute German way of sleeping.

I ponder on this matter and thought how it originated but I couldn’t find any material. Maybe for cleanliness purposes since I notice that Germans love to hang their duvets from their window to ‘air’, a typical scene I have  also seen in Kuwait. My neighbor does this even during winter.But dirty air or wind can even make it dirtier, don’t you think?

Maybe for more comfort, and less ‘tug-of-war‘  scenarios? Could this even led why Germany has a low birth -rate? or a presumably relationship-killer? Some say it’s funny seeing you sleeping like cocooned caterpillars next to each other.

And how does the fun happens?

Or what if your partner is a night-farter? It can happen and a total mood buster.Or what if  you’re the type to stick out a foot while sleeping?

Whatever the reasons behind it, there must be something to it that clicks.To think that not only Germany have this thing, but also other countries like  Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland — they all love  having two duvets on one bed.

English and American people tend to tuck their duvets under the mattress so that you can slip in from the top. Germans would hardly acquire a taste for this nighttime covering. Germans, as I have learned and confirmed, are not accustomed to share a duvet with their Ehepartner (spouse) or Lebensgefährte (partner in life). Germans need a duvet to be twisted and turned. This can only be guaranteed when each person has got his or her own duvet for the night. Germans really have a way to make everything in life easy–with their all sorts of inventions and interventions!

When we move here in Germany, we got a new bed  and of course, my husband love this idea  so much so we opted to get 2 beds to fit in one bed frame. The most common standard size for German mattresses is 90 by 200 cm for singles and 180 by 200 cm for couples.

The English language has a variety of names to denote particular bed sizes: Cot, Single, Small Double or Three Quarter, Double, Queen, King, Super King, etc., which I find similar to the middle east. I think all the beds there is fit for a king! The German language, however, is more pragmatic in this way. They don’t have any nice-sounding words for the various bed sizes. Here, shopping for beds comes easy.For example, by using either measurements or conventional adjectives such as Klein (small) and groß (large).

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Duvets for  different season . One for Winter and one for Summer

The ordinary German Matratze (mattress) measures 90 cm (3ft) breadthways and 200 cm (6ft 6″) lengthways. This ordinary mattress is used for a single bed frame – which makes it a Einzelbett (Single). When two of these mattresses are put together they make a Doppelbett (Double) or Ehebett (marriage bed).

Some singles who don’t have to share their bed with another person opt for a bed size, which is larger than the ordinary 90 cm (3ft) by 200 cm (6ft 6″) mattress. Germans refer to this as a großes Einzelbett (large single bed). It’s measures: 140 cm (4ft 6″) by 200 cm (6ft 6″). German couples who think the common lying surface of 180 cm (5ft 9″) by 200 cm (6ft 6″) – two single mattresses put together – is still too small for a restful sleep can also opt for a mattress that measures 200 cm by 200 cm (6ft 6″) or two mattresses that measure 100 cm (3ft 3″) by 200 cm – which makes it ein großes Doppelbett (a large Double).

Does this tickle your interest? Here I find more interesting facts about sleeping and the way German prefer how their beds being done.

The Decke

Once you have your foam mattress and latenrost all set up, next come the bedlinens. Fitted sheets are easy enough. They are readily available in most shops .They are called Spannbetttüche and available is any color and several various fabrics. You match your bed size to the package and your bed is covered. So if you have 2 separate mattress, you get two pieces as well. I’m telling you, I sweat when I am making our bed with all these multiple linens.

Latenrost

There are no box springs here in Germany. The non-mattress spring support is called a Lattenrost. This is a set of bent wooden slats that are bouncy all held in a frame that goes under the mattress. The lattenrost come in different “bouncy-ness”s as well. Some are even articulated to allow sitting up in bed.

Pillows and sizes

In Germany, they use huge square pillows instead of small rectangular ones, it’s as simple as that but not really if you have your usual pillows. You can’t find pillow case that can fit to it. So if you are moving to Germany, you better bring loads of spare ones or you can always buy online.

I told you, here in Germany, it’s all about function, it’s not the new fashion fad in sleeping but there are reasons why you need to resolve into this for better sleeping. It’s good for your back as well. Take a look at Ikea tips for good sleeping options  to help you on your next bed shopping!

Also, I found some great reading why Two Duvets in one bed is really the answer for a better sleep. Check these out;

Scandinavian Style : Two Duvets on one Bed 

Our hearts beats as one when we sleep in two Duvets

 

Any thoughts? Would you love or not this style for sleeping?

What’s your own sleeping preferences?

 

 

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German sausages : Love it or Hate it

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Germany- the country who adores pig and sausages

I’m telling you, Germans have a serious love affair with their sausages. If the Netherlands have a museum for cheese, Germans have a museum dedicated to Currywurst!

Did you know that Germany have almost 1,200 types of wurst? Unbelievable.

It so happened that Germany is the biggest pork producer in Europe. Internationally, Germany is third behind China and the USA. They love pork so much that If you’re a Muslim here, you might feel’ intimidated ‘ by the amount of pork products in the grocery shop. The sausage section are bigger than the fruit section! I find it funny  for myself that after living in Kuwait for almost 8 years without pork, now I am overwhelmed with the amount of pork products, especially sausages.

I am now on my 7th month mark living here in Bavaria and Oh men, for the love of food, I think I have eaten sausages more than I have ever eaten in my whole life!!

Looking back at my first days here, everything around me now seems  familiar, especially when it comes to Kaffee und Kuchen , Biergartens and of course, the infamous  german sausages, especially Bavarian sausages. For a very long time, I only know hotdogs– the tender-juicy  red bullies I love to eat with eggs and fried rice during breakfast. I used to think that hotdogs are same with wurst but I am mistaken. They are two different thing!  Back home we have our local ‘Longganisa’ — it’s the Philippine version of  sausages, more like the  Spanish sausage (embutido) similar to a chorizo and also closely associated with the Portuguese linguiça

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Currywurst swimming in curry sauce

Then I came to know frankfurter, and chicken sausages. While living in Kuwait where there is no Pork, I indulge in delicious Arabic foods that I’ve learned to love, like  Shawerma , kebabs and chicken shish tawouk. On lazy days, I opt for chicken mini- sausages too. They are always quick to prepare and light. Little did I know that coming to Germany would introduce me to another sausage species–the German sausages or commonly known here as Wurts.

Here are some of the sausages that I came to know while living here in Bavaria. Here, the food culture is not something extravagant or complicated recipes, but what I love about Germans is how they celebrate everything with sausage, pretzel and beer. From their local Biergartens  to Volksfest, to the world-renowned Oktoberfest up to their beautiful Christkindlmarkts also known as  German Christmas Markets, these sausages bond people of all ages,always creating a cozy atmosphere, rain or shine.

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My favorite sausage – the Nüremberger. Light, small and tasty. 

Germans certainly adore pig.Unsurprisingly the pig is a good luck symbol in Germany. Also it is very cold here and they have long winters, so sausage was an excellent way to preserve the pig and use up all the trimmings ….”all but the tail and the oink” as some have put it.

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Sausages and more sausages.

Here are some of the sausages which I have found interesting and the ones I can recommend. There are so much more but I never had the chance to try them so I don’t have an idea how they taste.

Bratwurst -It is a favorite in Germany, and each region has its own version. There are over 50 kinds of bratwurst, and they all vary in size, texture and seasoning – so no wonder it’s confusing. Although Germans now associate “Brat” with “braten,” which means to fry, broil or grill, the name originally derives from Old High German: “Brät” meant finely chopped meat.

Nürnberger (Nuremberger)-Among the different varieties of Bratwurst, you can recognize the one produced in Nuremberg by its size. It’s surprisingly small, not much bigger than a pinkie finger. Historical documents already mentioned this wurst back in 1313. These sausages are traditionally grilled over flames, served six at a time, and accompanied by sauerkraut and potatoes with horseradish or mustard on the side. This is my favorite so far, also my daughter love to munch on this one.

Currywurst-A currywurst is simply a steamed bratwurst seasoned with ketchup and covered with curry powder.  This has been the very first sausage that I have tasted when I came here. I was shocked to see its size and I was open-mouthed looking at my husband how on earth am I going to devour it.

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Lunch, Dinner or just a snack- The currywurst and some fries + Beer is the German form of ‘Gezelligheid’.

In a country specialized in high-tech cars, it sounds a bit exaggerated to call this fast-food snack an “invention,” but Herta Heuwer, the Berlin cook who developed the special sauce, actually patented it in 1959. It’s since become a street food classic. The Currywurst has become an essential Berlin experience, served sliced with ketchup. Its history is celebrated at the Deutsches Currywurst Museum, not far from Checkpoint Charlie.

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The king of Bavarian breakfast- the weisswurst.

Weisswurst-This veal Bavarian sausage translates as “white sausage” for its color. It has no preservatives, nor is it smoked, which is why it’s meant to be eaten fresh the day it was made. A German saying recommends the Weisswurst should never get to hear the church bells ring at noon. To eat it, some suck out the meat from the skin, or, more discreetly, cut it in half and roll out the filling with a fork. Here in Bavaria, Weisswurst is often a morning treat. No true Bavarian dream of eating weisswurst after midday.

Blutwurst-The German Blutwurst (blood sausage) is usually made with pork blood and bacon. As it is already cooked, it does not need to be eaten hot – but some people do. Some regions include it in dishes with colorful names: the Rhineland’s “Himmel und Erde” (Sky and Earth) combines it with mashed potatoes and apple sauce. “Tote Oma” (Dead Grandma) is Berlin’s way of serving it with liverwurst and potatoes. Germans loved to eat sausages with pretzel, warm rolls and potato fries.

Salami-Salami is typically Italian, but it is just as popular in sausage-loving Germany – and it’s much more than just a pizza topping. If Italians usually stick to coffee and sweet bread rolls for breakfast, Germans will gladly serve slices of salami first thing in the morning, too. They’ll enjoy it all day, as salami shows up for the simple evening meal called “Abendbrot“. In local bakeries here, there are lots of sandwiches with salami next to the usual dense rolls and dark breads which Germans also love to eat.

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If the sausage fits…!

I am already looking forward for Spring and  for the BBQ season  to start. When its sunny and the days are longer, expect that it’s typically  German thing when the air suddenly smells like BBQ. Yes, pork, sausages and beer are all unfriendly to the belly, but Germans have a lifestyle to balance it all off with a sweat – they just cycle the cholesterol away!

 

Have you ever tried eating sausage? How was your experience?

Anticipating in Silence

“Some Days are made of Silent Anticipation “

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A lighted candle always brings anticipation and I love how it creates a “Silent moment”in any child.

Waiting for Christmas has always been exciting for both young and old ones, but here in Bavaria, it’s as big as Oktoberfest I must say. Though people look forward more to a warm mug of Glühwein instead of beer and Zimtstern  (Cinnamon Star cookies) than Pretzels. I, myself is looking forward to see all these new things in my eyes.There’s something about experiencing things for the first time–everything seems special. I can still remember my daughter’s excitement when she saw her boot was filled with goodies during St. Nicholas Day ( Nikolaustag) . All around the city and on each home, everywhere is decorated and the atmosphere of Christmas is so heavy here in Bavaria. I know that in other regions, the traditions vary and things are celebrated differently, but with same looking forward for Christmas Day.

Children have this big anticipation in their eyes, a longing for something exciting! There’s the glow in their eyes when they know that they are counting the days for the big day comes starting with the Adventkalendars. It is practically a calendar with treats or chocolates in every date with small doors.On the 1st of December children get to open the first little door, behind which they find a chocolate or some other little treat. On the 2nd of December they get to open the 2nd door, and so on and so forth up to 24 December. Now, which kid will complain? Even the adults loved this one. Enjoying every piece of chocolate in silence.

Christmas in Germany is one of the happiest and most celebrated holidays of all times here,but Christmas here comes in a long, sweet, waiting game. As early as November, the city center was transformed into a winter wonderland and place for the Christkindlmarkt. Another custom that I have observed here is their Adventkranz  or the Advent wreath. This is a truly one German cozy tradition,though the concept of Advent wreath originated from German Lutherans in the 16th century, but spread out to other denominations. German families celebrates the 4-Sundays of Advent before Christmas  with an Advent wreath  shaped into a round, flat wound of fir pine It is adorned with cinnamon sticks,orange peels and with 4 red candles.

From Hamburg, the Advent wreath started its triumphal procession out to the Christian world: In 1925 an Advent wreath with four candles was set up in a catholic church in Cologne for the first time. Since 1930 as well in Munich.

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Advent, Advent, a Little Candle is burning.

On every Sunday during Advent another candle is lit until in the end all four are burning. “Advent, Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt,” goes one children’s rhyme. “Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier, dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.” “Advent, Advent, a little candle’s burning. First one, then two, then three, then four. Then the Christ Child’s at the door.”

Children watching the candle in silence, but with eager anticipation. Looking admiringly on the packed gifts under the Christmas Tree and watching the lights flood the living room while listening to Christmas carols. One of the things that I love doing here nowadays is watching the locals decorate their houses in a very unique way, totally different from the culture that I grew up with.When I am out,I love watching people in silence as they all go around with their busy hustle and bustle during Christmas season. Busy shopping, gift wrapping, and some are just celebrating life everyday in the coziness of the German Christmas markets. With a warm mug of Glühwein and with tasty treats, or a bucket of roasted almonds or chestnuts. Some towns are famed for their Christmas markets, for example Dresden’s Striezelmarkt (named after a type of cake – now known as Stollen – traditionally sold there) and Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt (“Christ Child Market”).

Anticipation doesn’t need to be loud or grand, because  some days in Christmas season are made with silent anticipation.

 

In response to this week’s Photo Challenge :Anticipation

My Adventure on cycling with Toddler

My husband is Dutch and you would probably known why & how  Dutch are naturally born cyclists. I mean, they learn to cycle the moment they learned to walk and run. Believe me,there’s no kid in the Netherlands without a children’s bike! Maybe not everyone has a computer but really, statistically speaking, every single person has a Bike. A humble Dutch Bike.

There is no such a thing as cycling culture for Dutch, It is their #1 CULTURE! It’s no surprise that they are the  Cycling capital of the world  especially  Amsterdam. If you are a tourist, please,please think twice before you hop on to that bike. Amsterdam is one hell of a crazy hub for cyclists.They rule this city and you as a tourist is a liability in the road. Your selfie stick & bike is not just a perfect combo during rush hours. But if you wanna piss off the Dutch, go on. If you’ve visited the Netherlands, you know what I mean. For me,one thing that lingers in my memory about Amsterdam is Bikes. Millions of Bikes.

There is not a single space or place without a bicycle. There are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands and in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike. They don’t cycle for recreational purposes only–They cycle for life!

No wonder that the Dutch people are on top (3 km) in cycling kilometers per day while Germans cycle only for 800 meters average daily  compared to other European countries. The Dutch also have the least deaths (1.6) per 100 million kilometers. They don’t even wear helmets! You can check out these surprising statistics Here.

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A Family that cycle together, stays together.His, hers, and Mine.

So, being married to a Dutch, this is a major culture shock for me. The things is, I’ve never  heard about or seen  a Bakfiets before, so I was really ogling the moment I saw it. Not that I wanted to have one, but the idea of transporting another human (let alone babies & toddlers!)   with that box-type cargo thing attached on the bike looks so strange to me,so crazy,so genuine & yet very interesting.Knowing you can also put your bag of groceries and your pets, your plants etc. in there, then that made me smile.When you’re in Holland, you will cycle…because that’s how they roll.

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My new found Love-Affair with Toddler-Cycling.

Eventually, cycling is also part of our little family now. I learned to cycle when I was about 13 (or something I can’t really remember), but it was just for recreation, a time where you just want to experiment new things in your teenage life. After years & years, I have never ridden a bike.The next time I rode a bike was when I was in the Netherlands and cycle for about 25 km and my ass really hurts. It felt strange, but once again, exciting.My daughter who just turned 2 last August got her walking bike and I could see that it’s in her genes too, loving her bike for the love of it! When we moved here in Germany, I was also surprised that Cycling is also a great part of the German culture, almost similar to the Dutch. Here they have the Anhänger (or kid’s chariot) and the Kid seat (Kindersitz) attached to the bike when cycling with babies & kids.People cycle with their kids, to go to work,doing errands,even when it rains! Trust me, if you move to Germany, you will buy a bike!

My husband got me a bike as well. Hoorraayyy!  I am a trying-hard Expat Mama who wanted to integrate and fit in as much as possible so I was really thrilled when we got my new bike. Deep inside I was horrified,nervous and saying prayers. Can I really do it? Can I really ride my bike with my daughter on my back, with me? What if she fell? She sits and I cycle? I tell you, it’s no joke! It scared the hell out of me. But at the same time, challenged me.

I just got to do it, and go for it.

It’s not easy at first. But it felt good. It actually felt great. Toddler-Cycling is possible and very safe. I think it really creates a special bond between families. Responsible Cycling  as a family is one of the things I love here in Germany, and why not, it’s so much fun.

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Our bicycles- meet Helmut, Helga & my daughter’s bike-Heike

I have never realized that Cycling could be so much more than just cycling itself. When I saw how Dutch people and the Germans now go on with their life through life in two-wheels, I was really  impressed. Cycling is healthy, pollution-free, natural, and very environment-friendly form of exercise and means of transport. But more than all of these, It’s a great lifestyle. No wonder these countries have high quality of Living.

Who builds a bicycle road on a 32km-long sea dyke? One akin to a really, really long Severn Bridge, made of earthworks, tumbleweed and gulls, with a six-lane highway? Yup, only the Dutch ! To make cycling safer and more inviting the Dutch have built a vast network of cycle paths.These are clearly marked, have smooth surfaces, separate signs and lights for those on two wheels, and wide enough to allow side-by-side cycling and overtaking. As a first-timer & a tourist in the Netherlands, I find these things really delightful. Here in Germany, there are enough cycle paths for anyone to cycle until they drop. It’s a cycling paradise as well. I am so looking forward to explore so much more of this country through cycling. I am excited to cycle more with my daughter and indulge in this new lifestyle that we’re having. A lifestyle with our humble bicycles.

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Exploring Germany on a bike with a Toddler.

Germany & the Netherlands have  decent infrastructure for cyclists since there is a remarkable variety of people cycling, of all ages and from all walks of life. I saw old couples riding side by side on e-bikes on long bicycle roads between country towns. There are people in normal clothes riding in astonishing numbers in the cities at rush hour. There are parents with kids, sometimes one on the front, one on the back, even kids sitting on Bagagedrager  and holding nonchalantly on to the cycling adult’s shoulders. There are children cycling unaccompanied to and from school, and cycling and playing in the streets, even in busiest cities. Children who goes to Kindergarten (or Krippe) and Pre-schoolers are riding their Bikes. I saw ladies in skirts & heels cycling in style..so fashionable. I was really dumbfounded, why this can’t be done in the Philippines?! This could be a part of the solution of the worst traffic in Metro Manila. If only the government is willing to invest in the cycling infrastructure….If only they could also fall in love with Bikes &  have a steady love-affair with bicycles.

Do you like Cycling?

What  activities do you share as a family?

 

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Bavaria in 100 days!

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Picture perfect German childhood : Bavarian kids in Dirndl and Lederhosen

2016 was a year of changes for me and yes,today , is my 100 day-mark  living as an Expat in Germany.

Last summer,we have successfully  touched down & settled in our new ground. We have a decent place to live, a garden of which my daughter is so happy to roll over everyday,  a 5- minutes walk and we’re standing in the middle of the woods, with  lots of nearby playgrounds and finally living-out our European dreams! I call it  European-dream for myself– because this is actually my first time to  live in Europe. I tell you, it is so different from being a visiting tourist compared if you are an Expat living here. If you are an Expat -Mama relocating to Bavaria, you should read this for you know that Germany has wonderful pros for raising your kids. Here in Bavaria, it has so many playgrounds for children and the education system is of global competence. Something that I would really love my daughter to have.

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The colors of Fall 

So forgive me if I flood my Blog with things that are all new to me. Only with 2 months of preparation, we left Kuwait , sold our furnitures, sent our important stuff to Germany and moved to Bavaria.You can imagine my overwhelmed self when I saw how life is different from Kuwait compared to here. Talking about the efficient public transport system, did I mentioned that its my first time to ride in a German ICE (Deutsch Bahn high speed train ) and my daughter totally loved it?!

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German breads, dark and dense and oftentimes have seeds.There are over 1,200 varieties of Brötchen and loafs that you can see here in Germany.

Everywhere I look, it’s all new and different for  me. Almost everyone is fair & blonde, Deutsch is a strange  language in my ears, the amount of sausages, the dark breads, the overwhelming calcium in the water, and who won’t be intrigued with volk musik and festivals?  For the first time in my life, I have cycled with a tiny human behind me in two-wheels, and it felt terrifying,at the same time a total new experience for me. Yes, we managed to get home in one piece,safe and sound!

Everyday is a step to slowly integrating into German living. I even managed to learn some German in slow-phase and helping me to stay sane.

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My first taste of Volkfest…also the first time I tasted the Bavarian beer..so far,so good!

Everyone is so comfortable with cycling around as the easiest mode of getting around, to work, to do errands, or just getting active in any time of the day. Where else can you see people who shop in their wooden baskets and carries tons of bottles for recycling?Germans drink more sparkling water than tap water. Yup yup,only in Germany.

I’m happy I can stay out  for hours without the soles of my shoes burning. Finally a decent temperature, well at least for now. Ever the air that I breathe is new to me. It felt clean and friendly to my lungs. I love the German way of protecting their environment and keeping everything in order. I haven’t even heard cars honking, only rings from the cyclist! Sorry Kuwait, you’re so  fine,I missed the Baklavas and dates, but I had enough of dust storms and honking maniac drivers.

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Lederhosen  and the Volk music, It’s totally a Bavarian thing.

I can’t think of a better way to mark this day but by listing out things I have seen within 100 days of living here..but first, let me tell you first a bit of something about this place called “Bayern “.

Bavaria–  is the region in the southeast part of Germany . Close enough to Austria & Switzerland , Czech Republic & France. The largest city in Bavaria is Munich or München ( and also third among most-populated city  next to Hamburg & Berlin) and  is the center of Beer festival known as ‘Oktoberfest‘. I thought it was just a get-wasted with beer festival  but realized that  it’s more than  that. Excuse my poor mind!

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Beautiful gardens and parks

1.Bavaria is Green.

It’s always been my  dream to live in a place which have  a city vibe & modern and yet with a foremost country-living feel. This is where Bavaria falls into. Ingolstadt is a city surrounded with vast green, it is so verdant that you always have a reason to spend the day outdoors. Historical old towns surrounded with green  forests, medieval fortresses, beautiful architecture and lush gardens, you name it, it’s here. From hiking in the or cycling in the forest you can be in cobbled stones within 20 minutes. Bavarians love their nature and enjoy it relentlessly. I felt so close to nature here. I feel lucky that it’s always within my reach.

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German women in Dirndl

2.Bavarians love their National costume with pride.

How often did you wear your country’s national costume or dress?

I cannot even recall for myself. Maybe only once, at school loooong time ago!But in Bavaria, it is different. They wear it as often as they drink beer and there’s a sense of pride when they wear their ‘Tracht I’. thought I was still dreaming when I saw men in Lederhosen and pretty  women in Dirndl in the crowded streets in Munich and so much more here in Ingolstadt. Before I only saw them in internet and now I see them before my eyes. I need to pinch myself sometimes to be reminded that they were real. I am so surprised by just how strongly the locals kept to their traditions, and just how many walked around wearing traditional Lederhosen looking so comfy, with knee-high socks and alpine hats, on a daily basis. From the young kids to the old ones.

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Germans enjoying an open air classical music concert  with Toddlers, bottle of wine and everything.
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The view of the city and the majestic Cathedral, Liebfrauenmünster from the historical tower,Pfeifturm.
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A distinct Architecture  gable roof detail typical in Bavaria

3.Bavaria have Old, historical & beautiful beautiful Churches 

I love beautiful architecture and visiting old churches. It has so much history in there and always a great work of art. Here in Bavaria, they have a unique culture, more of being a conservative ones since most are Catholics ( 52%). This explains why they have so many beautiful Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance churches, all in the same place.

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Baggersee reflections in Summer

4.The best beer in the world is here. The liquid gold from Bavaria.

Even if you’re not a beer-drinker, you’ve got to love the Bavarian’s cozy way of relaxation. Enjoying a mug of beer after a hard day at work is the best form of solace. Biergartens are not only for Beer drinkers but have become an attraction for all ages.Have you heard about Biergarten having a play yard adjacent to it? It’s true.

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I am not a Beer drinker but I can say that Bavarian beer is good. Prost! { Volkfest in Ingolstadt }

Bavaria  is  regarded as a wealthy region, and people tend to take time to enjoy themselves. And the best way to enjoy is to sit in a cozy Biergarten ,to meet with friends, or just have a night out with your partner. It’s a lifestyle. The ‘Reinhetsgebot‘ (or the Bavarian Beer Purity law) which can be traced since  1516 originated in Bavaria. On average, a  typical Bavarian consumes from birth to the grave some 150 litres (40 gallons) of beer per year  so it’s no surprise that  Bavarians are at top of the beer consuming list of states in Germany.

What is the best way to show their undying love for beer? through Oktoberfest  and Volksfest of course! In our neighborhood itself, I found 3-4 Biergartens.

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A place where you can see old-gabled buildings and houses well-preserved . An architectural detail that is almost evident as you walked through the old town.

5.Bavaria is the birthplace of many innovations, famous people and events.

There is so many things that can be associated with Bavaria. Just like everyone loves a good pair of sneakers, but did you know that Adidas was founded by the Bavarian, Adolf “Adi”Dassler? while his other brother, Rudolf Dassler founded Puma. Famous Bavarians include Pope Benedict XVI, Richard Wagner, Richard Straus, Thomas Mann, Levi Strauss, and Rudolf Diesel to name a few.  If you’re a football fan I’m sure you know  Bayern Munich, which is the most successful team in the Bundesliga , and having won  European Champions League four times (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001).

Should I add having one or two of the best luxury cars in the world? 

Bavaria has the largest economy in all Germany. This Bavarian pride comes being the Headquarters of car giants BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG)   in Munich and Audi AG in Ingolstadt.  Bavaria is the  region of one of the best-selling cars around the world! Anyone visiting Bavaria should visit the BMW Welt in Munich  and the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt to see just how big these giants are. Really recommended for car-lovers!

Bavaria has a good standing when it comes to economy. So I am not surprised why this region is a magnet for Expats. Aside from having an affordable cost of living, the quality of life is high.

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Architecture in the old city of Ingolstadt

6.Best of both worlds for Expats

Bavaria offers great opportunities for Expats and their families. Even expat kids have financial allowance given by the German government and not to mention the Integration class with encouragement to learn the language for better integration to their culture. This is what Bavaria is. A place of new opportunities and culture-learning so an Expat doesn’t feel a forever Alien. My experience in the Rathaus ( City Hall) is very pleasing.The immigration process and paperwork for an immigrant like me is very tedious and yet, systematic. The locals are very friendly and  accomodating. Contrary to what they say that Germans are cold, I find them rather open and very kind.

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A wurst in a bun! 

Ah yes,lastly, after contemplating about living in Bavaria for the last 100 days, who can’t be intrigued with their food? A sausage in a bun for snack,lunch or dinner. Indeed, welcome to Germany!

 

Are you an Expat too? What part of another culture is hard for you to get used to?

 

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O’zapft is ! my first Volksfest experience

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My first Volksfest experience as an Expat

Finally, I had my first taste of Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest is the largest of Volksfest celebrated in the whole of Germany ( and of the world) along with travelling carnival and fun fair. For the neighboring cities around Munich,each one has their unique Volksfest. Since 1946,  Ingolstadt had its first festival after  WW II, and from then on ,there are two major festival to celebrate. One in Spring and one in Fall. I had always been curious what is all about Oktoberfest and all these hustle and bustle about beer.  I am not a beer drinker but having been able to see how this beautiful festival is celebrated is probably one of the highlights of my days living as an Expat in Germany.

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Parade highlights -there are 93 group delegations who joined the parade.

If you are visiting Germany, you’ve gotta love this! The whole place is so alive and  flooded with colorful people wearing their traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls waslking in the festive vibe of Volk musik.

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Highlight of this year’s festivities is 500 years of the Bavarian Beer Purity Law!

Last Friday, September 23, the Volksfest in Ingolstadt started and will last until 3rd of October. As the renowned legendary and traditional ritual of tapping the first barrel of Oktoberfest-beer is one of the things that I really looked forward to see, by my own eyes.There is something great about seeing it for real compared to the ones that I only saw in internet. Since 1972, Volksfest in Ingolstadt  is held in Volksfestplatz just beside the ZOB.

Volksfest with a toddler? No problem!

Aside from no entrance fee,Volksfest is for the entire family. I was having doubts how would  my daughter would behave during this time because of the crowds  and the volk-musik was continously played by the stage band. I was quite surprised that  Volksfest is kid-friendly. There is something about a father & daughter sharing food, and old couple happily enjoying lunch, and of course, sharing a mug of beer. Volksfest is defintely a disabled-accessible,most especially with people with disabilities and in wheelchairs.

We managed to find the big tent where the tapping of the first barrel of beer would be held. This is known as  the “Schottenhamel” beer tent. I found a very nice place directly in front of the beer kegs but my daughter started to get bored and whining. But even if I had to change my position after my husband take her, I still managed to get an arm’s length from the spot were the barrel will be tapped.Soon, the Mayor Dr. Christian Lösel and his entourage arrived and  began the ceremony.

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Inside the tent filled with happy Germans drinking and enjoying a nice,cold Beer.
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O’zapft is!!!

As usual, the first thing He spoke into the microphone was “O’zapft is!” ( “It is tapped!”) and wished everyone a peaceful celebration of Volksfest. As protocol demands, the first mug of beer was passed on  and with that all the other beer tents could start selling beer as well.

Volksfest has officially started!

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Our first mug of Bavarian Beer! Prost!

Volksfest star of the festivities is the Beer. And oh, the famous Bavarian beer. They’ll serve it to you in a size smaller than a Maß (which is one liter, same as the one in above photo) but if you order anything smaller you’ll be mocked, so don’t. You can also get Radler (half-beer, half-lemonade), water, and soda, but drinking those things is what all the other days of the year are for. Unless you’re a recovering alcoholic! In which case the water and soda are great and Oktoberfest is probably not that fun for you! Waitresses your grandmother’s age will be carrying eight or ten Maß at a time, which is impressive.

 

Talking about food?  You will drool at the sight of food during Volksfest. Order Münchener Weißwurst immediately! Since we are in Bavaria, we soothed our taste buds with threats that is definitely the food for the gods at this time.

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My favorite so far is the simple Bratwurst ,fries, and of course,my daughter’s Bretzel! The size of the Pretzel is so huge that we only share a piece. From the cheeses,breads,sausages, roasted chicken, pork slices and grilled meats were also among the favourites. The smell of the food stalls are just heavenly!

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Old time favorite. Curry wurst with pommes. A perfect combination with Beer.

Outside was a place of colorful Carnival. One of the highlight was the  daring roller coasters, giant Ferris wheel which goes high as 40 meters  and gives you rare views of the whole city, children’s carousel, and so much more.  I’ve heard that this year, a number of rides were new such as  the “Spinning Coaster”, Rollercoaster Crazy Mouse, the rapid jungle giant swing Konga with an altitude of 45 meters and a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour, also 4G gravity. All not my kind of fun and not for the faint-hearted! Just looking at it makes me sick, but for others, it is sure a thrill-filled ride.Me and my daughter enjoyed our very first train ride and it was absolutely fun!

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Train ride for kids!
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Pretty ladies in Dirndl.

The whole fair ground was a full of  families, young & adults enjoyed a week-long festivities. It’s not just about drinking beer. It’s a whole more than that. A true legacy that defines German character and culture. Through the years, beer culture of Germany have been attracting so many tourists and now I know why.

I was even more impressed that the security was heightened by checking the bags,the strollers and there are always roaming guards to ensures public safety.Inside the tent was a no-smoking policy is observed and everything is in order even the public bathrooms. Animals are also  not allowed inside the Volksfestplatz.

 

Have you had a taste of Oktoberfest?

How was your experience?

Have you enjoyed reading this post? If so, make sure to follow the button below to read more on my Expat life . Let’s get friends, are you on Twitter? If you’ve enjoyed this post then make sure to follow my Twitter page and my Instagram page for updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria.

 

 

Servus! How to say Hello in Bavaria

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It’s  everyone’s instinct to say Hello or Hi to try to interact with others. But how to say it?Whether you are just a visiting tourist, paying visits to relatives or an Expat trying to fit in,these welcome greetings are great revelations of their culture.

I’m a new Expat here in Bavaria, and sure thing, from the first day, I faced the dilemma of how do I greet someone , either out of politeness or being friendly. Living in the Middle East for 8 years, I am used to greeting people with ‘Salam’ almost all the time and that’s it.  Aren’t Germans  cold, reserve and not-so-friendly, top of it that they seldom initiate a small talk? Absolutely not!

One morning while walking around our neighborhood,I was greeted by a man working on his garden in a rather friendly voice “Servus!”Of course I looked back at him and I replied in my timid voice “Hello!”Sure thing He knows that I’m a foreigner because I don’t look like German. A bit further, some cyclist passed ahead of me and said “ Grüss Gott!” While entering grocery shops, I was greeted by fellow shoppers “Grüss Gott!” and while checking out, the cashier repeated these phrase once again. Slowly it sinked into me, Welcome to Bavarian hospitality.

So how does anyone say Hello in Bavaria? Although Germans have a universal way of Saying “Hallo” as greetings, Here in Bavaria, it’s different.Don’t ask me why, they are just different.

Here are typical Bavarian greeting to know and when to use it on appropriate situations.

Grüss Gott:   Knowing that Bavaria is a rather conservative region compared to other parts of Germany, you will hear these words more often as you walked into the streets or just doing errands and close encounters with locals. Grüss Gott is the favourite of catholic housewives aged 40 and above, of which there are many in Bavaria. Very formal. Use it when greeting people you don’t know, or ones that you are meeting for the first time, such as your new landlord or boss. Laughed at by northern Germans, who don’t seem to like Bavarians very much. That feeling is mutual.

Servus: Say it to friends – or to someone you don’t know at your own peril. Informal. Servus is most often used between people who know each other well enough to say “Du” to each other. Servus is also widely used in Austria.

Hallo: This is the German way of saying hello. Don’t force your slang English way or American accent , just say it the Germans way. Therefore, it is not strictly Bavarian. Bavarians don’t really do German. If you really want to be one of the locals, then see above.

I noticed that Bavarians seldom say Guten Tag (good day) in Bavaria too. Instead they just shout from their lungs “Morgen” ( Morning)  or ” Schön Tag” ( Nice day !)

If you say Hi, you will just be greeted back with blank stare since this is the quickest way to annoy Germans. I’m not kidding, only foreigners used this word.

As I told you, it’s different here in Bavaria. 🙂

 

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Surprising things that German parents do

 

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This is a typical sight in Germany. Mama on the bike and baby on board in bike seat. Photo credit to : Young Germany / Michael Reichel

The first time I saw in Amsterdam a mother cycling with her 2 kids inside a rather impressive ‘ BakfietsBakfiets‘ and’ Kinderzitje’ ( Kid’s seat attached on the rear end of a bike)  I almost shrieked and laughed! How could this be,  in Philippines, Bakfiets or the modern SUV in Holland could resemble much like the Kariton  dragged by an animal ( mostly carabao)  with the harvest from the farm, mostly sacks of rice. In the fields, kids play  while riding it, but purely for fun. In Holland, it’s functional. Bakfiets are attached to a bike and in it, is your child, along with bag of  groceries, plants, toys, you name it, it’s all in there! Such a surprising part of Dutch culture that Dutch are known for.

Here in Germany, I saw something else. As I roamed the streets getting to know our neighborhood, I saw and witnessed more and more surprising things about Parenthood that only German parents do with their kids.  To tell you frankly, before coming to Europe, I thought  Germans are strict, cold, and severe people, let alone being parents, but I was completely mistaken. Here are the reasons why ignorance doesn’t pay and why I love just how  German Parents doing it, the German way.

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Why ‘ free play’ is important in German kids.

Play comes first (until 6 years old!)

I saw from my friend’s feed that their toddlers & pre- schoolers are already being taught how to scribble, write, draw, count and do the academic side of learning. Do you know what German  Kindergarten kids do ?

They play, play & play.

As I was applying for a space for my daughter in a Krippe  & Kindergartens , we were invited to visit and have a look at their school and this is where I got the whole picture of playing as the best form of learning for toddlers until 6 yrs. of age here. Kindergartens  in Germany are based on the concept that  learning is a game of mind (or  lernen ist ein spiel der sinne).

While Kindergarten normally starts at the age of 3, most parents who are urged to go back to work immediately can already put their child ( from 6 mos) in a Krippe or Kita. I saw that the kindergarten is full of different play-areas, fun games and interactive media for kids to just play while learning. Learning to  read, write and count is not being pushed. I was shocked at same time  totally impressed to see a tiny 2-year-old toddler struggle to put on her socks and jacket in the corridor, all by herself. All kindergartens have a spacious outdoor playground with sand pits, climbing areas, ball pits, slides and natural maze that kids can enjoy free-play,while having fun! When they get tired, they have a nap room.

Most kindergarten kids are taken out for a walk touring around the city or just a walk in the woods for an outdoor learning. They also visit nearby playgrounds to play, outside their classrooms. They really give a whole new meaning for playing while learning.

As they say, You are only 3 once in your life, so I find this whole thing of “unstructured playing” very beneficial. Seriously, being a kid is more fun in Germany!

Take their kids Outside-Everyday!

Germans just love the outdoors so they take the kids outside everyday. According to a German saying “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” which sounds logical to me. The value of outside time is promoted in the schools, hence the “garten” in Kindergarten. It’s also obvious in Germany’s numerous playgrounds. In our neighborhood alone, you can go to 3 different playgrounds within 2 hours!  No matter how cold and grey it gets, parents still bundle their kids up and take them to the park, or send them out on their own. I see babies napping in the forest, parks and in the busy streets. Kids are taught subconsciously the value of nature to overall well-being. Walking and strolling everyday is part of every family’s routine.

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Enjoying outdoors

Freedom and Independency is encouraged as early as age of 2

Along the streets you see mothers walking with their kids on their walking bike at a very young age. Almost still toddling and yet learning how to balance and to pedal the bike. It’s not unusual to see toddlers already cycling at the age of 2.5 y/o and preschoolers cycling going to school. When they eventually learned to cycle, they took them cycling almost everywhere. German parents instill in the minds of their kids to be independent by equipping them with skills to explore by themselves,alone & unsupervised. As research have proved that walking around without parental supervision, or “independent mobility”  is good for kids. Nobody follows a kid in the playground. If you see a mother following wherever her kids go, then she’s a foreigner! I tell you, this is what surprised me the most, I am the only mother who runs after my daughter while all the other mothers are just sitting in the bench.

In the parks & playground, mothers are often drinking tea, coffee and chatting with their friends while they let their kids climb and play. They are so lax in parenting because the safety measures and security is highly efficient. They already removed all the risks even before a child touches what’s in the play areas. Playgrounds are very safe for kids, mostly made with wood, with sand and plastics are mostly omnipresent.

Giving them Bikes instead of iPad or Playstation

German parents give less regard on tech gadgets to entertain kids such as iPad or Playstation or XBox , psp etc. I seldom see kids playing with iPad or computer games. This is because of great emphasis on playing outdoors. Almost everyone owns a  Bike carrier, kid’s seat and a big part of toddler life is owning a kid’s bike. Why? because it promotes being active, functional & again, independency.

If the Dutch  have Bakfiets, then Germans have  their carriers. Of course, take it on German efficiency. I  observed that  kids are brought into an early exposure to be part of the society. The kids are tucked into their carrier, in a kid’s seat at the back of the bike or in a stroller and off they go in everyday life. There is no excuse for German parents for not bringing their kids along. I love the fact that having a kid in Germany shows that a child is not an excess baggage that you bring along with your chores or errands. Add up the efficient transport system then parents doesn’t need to worry about bringing along a baby in a stroller. Even if public transportation isn’t your thing, Germany is a very bike-friendly country.  Even if with kids.  Especially with kids.

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My daughter enjoys the limitless fun in one of the Wasserspielplatz in Germany.

Bringing their kids to Biergarten

German parents knows how to enjoy  before and after the baby comes. We all know that they love (adore)  beer and Oktoberfest. I was shocked to see locals bring along their kids while they socialize, drink beer and relax.In our place alone, you can find Biergartens almost in every corner. Nowadays they are transformed  into a great family destination. Who doesn’t want to do things as a family on a Friday night?

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German kids are exposed to responsible drinking at an early stage since Beer is a big part of their culture. Parents don’t get wasted just because they go to a Biergarten. (Photo credit to ExtraPrimaGood)

Biergartens have become a go-to destination for family outings, play dates and toddler birthdays. On weekend afternoons, many transform into Gymboree-like spaces with multiple brews on tap. If beer is not your thing, then don’t worry, there are juices, lemonades and hearty bites for you. The great thing is, having a kid doesn’t hinder your social life.

What do you think of German parenting?

Do you think you can raise your own child the German way?

 

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Only in Kuwait!

 

 

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Only in Kuwait | by Justbluedutch

Why Kuwait is such a controversial country? It’s a tiny oil-rich magnet in the Gulf and yet  holds a profound mystery for some who haven’t been there, and a nonchalant charm for Expats who have toiled there every single day.The other day I was reading the recent study by Internations citing that Kuwait (along with Nigeria & Greece )  is still on the bottom sink for “Worst Country for Expats “. I dunno how to feel about this but somehow, I knew, stats are based on facts too. I , for example, how is it to live there day after day.

Being an Expat allows you to see things in both ways. More of a culture shock for some but normally it is how you  see things, accepting it  and adapting to a new culture. Integration happens when you began to pick it up and live with it , and not for the sake of  comparison to your own roots. I have seen strange things in Kuwait. Some that is so odd that makes me crazy.Who doesn’t? For locals, it all seems normal for them.Nothing to argue about. As simple as : If you don’t like it here –pack your bags & Leave!

I think anybody comes to the Netherlands , or in Germany, even in Philippines would also have something to say about the “not so ordinary “in their eyes as an Expat. Looking back at the 8 years I spent in Kuwait, for some things I don’t really get why and How on earth they are doing it. I have written the Guide to Expating in Kuwait and for those who are new to this country’s arid climate “How to beat the heat in Kuwait “ you might as well chuckle with me as you know exactly how is it .

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Shuno Hada! No Parking , both in Arabic & English signages. What are these cars doing in here?

1.Only in Kuwait that the Handicapped parking spaces are seized by ordinary people.Even the ones with a clear signage.Only in Kuwait that you could be beaten by a mob because of a dispute in a parking lot. Why do I get the feeling that pedestrians never felt safe along roads in Kuwait. Sure thing, SUV rules!

2. I love coffee, absolutely but I don’t get it why they drink tea almost every hour and drink coffee or Arabic coffee {gahwah}  in small cups 3 rounds in one sitting. Why not just get a mug? Did you know that only in Kuwait that a tea boy is called “Office Boy”?

Did you know that in the Avenues alone, ( the largest super mall there) there are 6 Starbucks , in all over Kuwait there are 76 branches! I am sure this list will be updated soon. I tell you, people there always need  a caffeine fix. What about Costa Coffee, Coffee Bean & Leaf, Caribou, Second Cup,Tim Hortons etc., the lists go on.

Coffee and Tea in Kuwait will never get boring. So as the sweets, cakes & pastry shops!

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I swear this is a typical scenario in the streets of Kuwait!

3.I don’t understand why  maniacal drivers  put up their feet on the dashboard and let babies do the steering. Is it the new toy?  In 120-140 km/h.In the Gulf road, and some things that this speed is still so lame!

Yes, without seat belt.

Wearing seat belt seems like more of an offensive rather than defensive. Taxi drivers have 2-3 phones being used simultaneously WHILE Driving! It’s a bonus if you found one having Skype calls to any point in the world. You have the whole story all throughout your ride.

4.Seriously it’s only in Kuwait where I saw camels, sheep, lamb & goats being transported and paraded in the highway. Especially in the busy roads of Al- Ghazali  road going to Shuwaikh, in front of a shopping mall Centerpoint.  I know the Friday market is out there but still, it is an odd sight for me. It’s a thing when you see these poor animals paraded to slaughterhouse. Right there, in front of your car. You can even smell the camels from your window.Way to the desert area, you see camels strutting their stuff in the roads going to Wafra /Kabd /Khiran/Abdali area and yet you don’t see any road sign for you to watch out for animals.

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Sabah al kheir Kuwait! Camel herd in Wafra farms.

5.People don’t mind incorrect spelling of signage of shops, menus of the restaurant and even directions. You’re so smart if you figure it out yourself. Well as for food, you need to eat like a local for you to know where is the best Shawerma or best done kebab & grilled stuff. With burgers, people seems to know where it is no matter what the hour is.

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Only in Kuwait. laundry shop in Abraq Khaitan.

6.The make up Oh God. Talk about make-up and Loads of it. I have never seen that much heavily make-up women here in Europe, but only in Kuwait that women wears make up even going to a Bakala in 50 degrees .

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One Authority of the Soft small / big please?

7.Only in Kuwait that the sky changes from bluish to grey to orange to brown to almost pitch black due to sandstorms. But sometimes, this mighty M is always visible.

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Watching the sandstorm looms over McDonald’s.

 

How are things over there? Do you also  find ‘Strange’ things such as these?

How do you deal with it? I would love to hear your comments .

Be it from food, behavior of people, how locals interact with you, customs and traditional way of life, at work, even just the country itself.You really see diversity at large. Kuwait is one small country but booming with Expats you it’s no wonder that you can find an Asian store right next to the block next to an Indian restaurant and opposite to a Turkish pastry shop and just a few meters away to an American boutique. A Kaleidoscope indeed.

For the new Expats in Kuwait, welcome and enjoy your stay.

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My daughter’s Love-Affair with Pretzel

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Lekker..pretzel – new Toddler addiction | by Justbluedutch

Toddlers are notorious picky eaters. My daughter is one. But recently, we found something. We’ve just moved to Germany, and surprisingly, my daughter fell in love with this dark brown, crispy, salty crust, and inside a soft dough bread. It has a plump “body”, and thin, crispy  crossed “arms.” Locally known as ‘Pretzel’or here in Bavaria, it is known as “Brezn, Brez’n, or Brezen“. Well who doesn’t? It’s delicious, especially when its fresh & warm.Typically German thing and its so good. Breze are part of a typical snack German culture and even on any meals.Additionally it is irreplaceable as side dish with Weißwurst and Leberkäse.

Maybe she’s fascinated by its unique shape and color. But one thing for sure, she loved its taste. This has been part of our morning walks and whenever we are out in the park. We go to the nearby Backerie {Bakery}, our favorite was one from Backhaus Hackner ,   and we’re all set! She can finish one big Pretzel in one sitting and could asked for more.

I noticed  that even from one bakery to the other, there are slight variations of the pretzel shapes, and of course, taste. For example, in Bavaria, the arms are shorter and attached closer to the top (thin part) of the pretzel. In Swabian the arms of the pretzel sit very low on the body.

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A Pretzel a day makes one fine Toddler’s tantrums away. | by Justbluedutch

Pretzels today continues to be formed by hand as has been done throughout history. Bakers spend years perfecting the pretzel-forming technique. First, the dough needs to be rolled out. Both ends of the strand are held up, and through a quick swing, the center of the strand is twisted. The ends are then pressed onto the body of the pretzel. This process, when perfected, takes only seconds, but it needs a lot of practice to get it right.

I personally also liked it. The first time I have tasted it is when we are on holiday in Trier and I was curious to know how does it taste. In Philippines, I can only remember that Pretzels are very tiny, chocolate-coated crispy biscuit and not as bread like this. Here, I have seen both young and old eating Pretzel daily. With beer, White sausages and often with herb butter on it.

Germany is a land of Breads and as part of getting to know its rich varieties here, I was surprised to learned that Pretzels were invented by mistake! { A great story!}  Now it’s not a new thing  that many dishes  were created out of a mistake but indeed, pretzels has been one of the traditional German food for ages and until now.

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Freshly baked Bavarian Pretzels

If you are curious like me, you can read about Pretzels and its history and although in other regions of Germany have their stories of how it was invented, the Laugenbrezel is accredited to the Bavarians. The story goes that one fine morning of February 11, 1839, Anton Nepomuk Pfanenbrenner, the baker for the Munich Royal Café, was preparing some sweet pretzels for his guests. He wanted to brush the pretzels with sugar-water, but accidentally used the Natronlauge, the sodium hydroxide solution being used to clean and disinfect the bakery kitchen countertops. The baker decided to bake the pretzels anyway.

Lye can be toxic in high concentrations, but is also commonly used for curing foods like lutefisk. Most bakers use food-grade lye, which is the chemical equivalent of drain cleaner, but is produced and packaged in a clean, regulated way.Since the lye dip is heavily diluted and the pretzel is baked after dipping, it won’t kill you.

The pretzels came out of the oven with a unique brown crust, soft center, and delicious taste. His guests were very pleased and he became the “pretzel hero.”That’s where it all began.

There are so many varieties of Pretzels that we are excited to try. There’s the New Year’s pretzels, sweet pretzels, Oktoberfest Pretzels {Wiesnbrezn }   which are baked larger than the original size,and lighter in shade and the special Lent Pretzel (Fastenbrezeln)  which are baked during the 40 days of Lent. For sure I’ll be writing about these things soon.

Have you ever tried German Pretzels? How was your experience?

I would love to hear your  story in comments below.

If you like this story, then you might also love to read about fascinating facts about Arabic foods we like when we are living in Kuwait or follow our Expat Life stories Here.