Ruhetag Sonntag | Silent Sunday

Another beautiful morning with the sun just about to burst along the Danube River

There is something like “Ruhetag Sonntag” ( or Quiet Sunday) we have here in Germany. While in other parts of the world, Sunday is more like normal weekend day, it is not so here in Germany. It was quite a shock for me when I first came here because I’ve got used to having Sundays as a time where I can enjoy the shops and do shopping since it’s a normal rest day from work.

Ruhe Sonntag in Deutschland means “Ruhe”or rest, quiet, silent, and it is actually a law here. Don’t mess up with this tradition especially if you are in Southern Bavaria. You can’t even make too much noise like vacuuming because it will disturb your neighbor. One time, my husband mow the lawn and our neighbor raised their eyebrows and informed us that it’s better to do it on other days. If you plan to drill or play loud music, then you need to think twice again.

If you forgot to do your groceries then good luck to you.Don’t get me wrong, Germans loves to shop. But it really makes sense that they always do their groceries with their lovely wooden baskets on week-days. I find it really interesting to see their baskets in their bicycles filled with daily groceries. I spotted many old people visiting a shop buying a bottle of something, fruits or the recent “Angebot” of a local supermarket. On Sunday, supermarkets are closed and you can’t find anywhere to buy your chicken or fruits. It is very rare that shops are open on Sundays, only on few festivals and night fairs.

Train-spotting in Mittenwald on a Sunday Ruhetag

Every Sunday, everything is closed, that includes shops, mall, offices and almost everything. Only bakeries, restaurants, gas stations and of course, Beer gardens are open for business. Train stations are open so as the train operations so you can still take your train and go wherever you want to go.Bus service are also available during Sundays but they run on fewer schedules. Normally you need to wait almost an hour for the interval of the trips.

So what do Germans normally do on this day?

I live in Ingolstadt, a budding town here in Bavaria ( or Bayern) where people greets you with Servus instead of Hello. A place where people wear Dirndl and Lederhosen on almost every occasion, even on weddings! Bavarians are very traditional and Catholicism is seen into everyday life. And while the practice is based on faith, it’s also a law.

Article 139 of the German constitution states, “Sunday and holidays recognized by the state shall remain protected by law as days of rest from work and of spiritual improvement.”

I have been observing what’s going on here in my neighborhood during Sundays. Normally people sleep in during weekends so if you are an early riser like me, you can enjoy nature all by yourself. Many Germans ( or I dunno exactly where they came from!) loved doing some kind of sport during Sundays. They love to run, jog and walk no matter what the weather is. Sundays are also perfect for cycling especially if the weather is fine.

The silent beauty and calm waters of the Danube River

One of the frequent place to visit on a lazy Ruhetag Sonntag is this view of the river Donau ( Danube) from the Glacis Brücke ( or Glacis Bridge /Bruckenkopft). Here you can have a beautiful view of the foliage and colorful trees especially in Autumn. I often visited this bridge for a morning walk and here I discovered the beauty behind the mist.

A dewy Autumn morning on a silent Sunday in Germany

In the other places where I’ve lived, we lost our wallets for shopping, especially if there are so many Sales.Not so here in Germany. Sunday is a sacred day for the Germans. Germany and many of its European counterparts held a long resistance to Sunday shopping, despite that they have a good economy. I lived in Bavaria, a very conservative region, and most of the smaller Bavarian towns, Sunday is a time for reflection.

Take a seat, relax and enjoy the view.
The day belongs to those who wakes up early on Sundays!

People here also go to church on Sundays. But I notice that this practice of faith is not the same as in Philippines where there are really massive church goers. Same goes in Kuwait where Muslim people visits the mosque on Fridays, I tell you, the crowd going to pray in Mosques is big. Here, it’s also very quiet in the church, on many days, its empty. but I admit that they have beautiful churches. I find it quite funny that there are more people going to Oktoberfest or in Volksfest, or just sit in their favorite Beer garden on Sundays, rather than the number of people going to church .

Sunday is a day of rest, so everyone deserves to have a rest from work as well. Common people visits their Oma and Opa, having family lunches and taking a walk together. On Summer, you will noticed that most Spielplatz ( or playgrounds) are full of children with their parents having a morning play time together. Many mothers are having a playgroup meet up in parks and having a picnic. Staying indoors is really a second option only when the weather is not good.I have the feeling that after living here for almost three years, it is like a sin if you don’t go out. People here just love enjoying open places, fresh air and healthy options.

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How do you spend your Sundays?

Do you also observe special traditions in your town?

Until next time, Get out, relax, spend time with your love ones. Drink beer and sit in the Beer garden if you like, after all…. it’s Silent Sunday!

Tschüss!

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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!

 

 

Celebrating Christmas, the German way!

Ever wonder what makes Christmas or Weihnachten in Germany different from the rest of the world? Every country has its own traditions, but have you ever wondered how Germans celebrate Christmas?

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Life in Germany : Skating in ice while waiting for Advent and Christmas !

There’s no stopping time now, few more weeks and November is over and here comes the end of 2017. And yes, Christmas is really just around the corner. Snow came early to Germany and winter-feel is definitely in the air. As the fire in the sky continue to pull the days closer to the merriest time of the year, also the darkest time, Christmas  or Weihnachten is heavily anticipated not only here in Germany, but also in the rest of the world. If you are planning to have a white Christmas or visiting Germany in the summer, you can now have the chance to learn about the unique and surprising  German Christmas traditions in the Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town, also here in Bavaria.

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Local sightings in Christkindlmarkt : Beautiful hand crafted Christmas figurines

It’s almost a decade now that I don’t celebrate Christmas in my home country, the Philippines. Time really flies,and it feels even surreal. I totally missed the way we do it as a family, just like in the old times. It’s quite the norm from where I grew up that once the calendar months ends in-ber, say from September, it signals the start of Christmas frenzy!We start to hear Christmas songs played in the radio, the shops are flooded already with Christmas decorations, and yes, office Christmas parties are planned. The raffles, the never- ending exchange gifts, and yes—the most awaited Christmas bonus! I will never forget the evening mass and “Noche Buena“, the Kris Kringle madness, the jaw-dropping Christmas foods, and the crazy traffic during Christmas shopping! Everything is just so festive!

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Only in Germany : Angel or what??? This is the Christkind , the star of German Christmas markets

For the past years, I have seen so many differences in the way that other culture celebrate the most colorful time of the year, and for Catholics, it’s probably the most festive. When I was still living in Kuwait, although it’s a Muslim country, the spirit of Christmas can still be felt, unfortunately only in the confines of private accommodation and flat. At work, we were also granted with a holiday from work during Christmas Day. I even attended the midnight mass once. I noticed that more and more shopping malls have their Christmas decor and it is being talked about. The large number of expats in the Middle East is the reason, why  even miles away from home, you can still celebrate Christmas with friends and families. I had my first German Christmas last year here in Bavaria , with full anticipation (since I am very curious). I found many interesting German Christmas traditions that is worthy to document here in my Blog as part of my Expat life.

If you want to know how Germans celebrate Christmas the German way, then you might find this post helpful. So keep on reading and stay with me.

Here I wanna share with you  the surprising German traditions for Christmas that I personally love!

Christmas in Germany is beautiful, unique, homey and very warm!  

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Adventzeit : Light it up…!

The Advent Wreath or Der Adventskranz

The moment I saw these wreaths and candles, I know that Christmas is near. Back in my home country, I see these decorated wreaths as purely decorational, of course, minus the lighted candles.They are used to adorn the doors, and add to the already overwhelming Christmas decorations together with all the garlands in the walls, stairs etc. Not so here in Germany, because  Advent  time is important for Germans.

The German Christmas season officially starts at the first Sunday of Advent, roughly 3rd of December. The Advent wreath (or Adventskranz) is adorned with four candles, one of which is lit on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The first Advent wreath, which appeared in the mid-19th century, had 4 larger candles and 19 smaller ones. Each day, one additional candle was lit to help the children count the days until Christmas. Today only the four larger candles remain. Many Germans love to decorate their Adventskranz up to their own taste but there are also so many different designs of ready-made ones sold in almost every shop.

Adventskalendar —the sweet way of Christmas countdown.

During Advent season, you will never miss the sight of tons of Adventskalendar , (literally a Calendar with small boxes) almost overwhelming  in many designs, colors, and yes, all with yummy goodness chocolates or sweet goodies. This is one of the obvious signs that Christmas is coming. This is a delight for children and the child at heart. In the Adventskalendar, there are 24 “windows” that reveal a picture, poem or even part of a story – often the story of the Nativity – each day through December right up to Christmas Eve when the secret behind the largest window is revealed. Seeing Germans do  panic-buying of Adventskalendars especially when they are on Sale is a typical sight as early as 2nd week of November! This is totally German thing!

Weichnachtsplätzchen or German Christmas Cookies 

You know it’s the Advent season here in Germany when your nose is filled with heavenly delicious German Christmas cookies. Germans are very into home- made baking. They really appreciate if  you made the plätzchen  yourself and not  store-brought. They are great bakers of cookies and other treats.There are lots of baked treats that will surely keep your mouth-watering. My favorites are vanillekipferl (vanilla crescent cookies) Lebkuchen, Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), Linzer cookies and Spekulaas as well.Germans love to use lots of almonds, hazelnuts, butter flavored marzipan and cinnamon in baking. Believe me, German cookies  are too beautiful and heavily decorated to eat!

Weihnachtsmann Schokolade or Chocolate Santa Claus

Its only here in Germany that Chocolate Santa Claus  ( or Weihnachtsmann) floods the shelf of all supermarkets here in Germany. Prior to Christmas, St. Nikolaus is celebrated on the 5th of December and so most Germans get this yummy figures in many sizes. If you have a child, I am sure you will get this one as well.

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Christmas in Germany

Christmas Tree or  Der Tannenbaum

With over 400 years in history, the Tannenbaum or the Christmas Tree is the real thing in Germany! The German Tannenbaum is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve, though some families opt to put up their tree during the Advent season. Please don’t tell anyone, but we already put up our Christmas Tree! Maybe my neighbors are shaking their heads when they see our lighted tree from our windows! I also see my neighbors starts to decorate their windows and garden with white lights. Who doesn’t? For us, Weihnachtsfreude  (Christmas Joy) comes early! In Philippines, this is also the norm.

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German Christmas markets

I grew up in adoration of Christmas Tree. Traditionally, I think it’s not complete when we don’t have a tree. Recently, on my research of German inventions, I found out that Christmas trees or Tannenbaum, actually originates here in Germany. I saw the biggest tree that I have ever seen in my  life, to top it all— a  REAL Evergreen Conifer , decorated with glass baubles, covered in real snow. Although there are lots of varieties for the plastic ones, most Germans still opt to put up the traditional real tree. During Christmas season, almost all town put up a giant tree in the city center adjacent to the place of Christmas market.Decorated with beautiful, handmade balls, and usually adorned with white lights.Compared to the Philippines, here I noticed that they only use white lights instead of colorful, blinking Christmas lights. And NO— they don’t decorate their whole house with lights!It’s also fascinating to know that it was German immigrants who brought the Christmas tree to America.

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Christmas Baubles, authentic German Christmas ornaments

In Germany, Christmas balls are not just an ordinary tree ornament. Where most of the  modern Christmas ornaments and plastic balls  nowadays are made in China, USA or Mexico, the origin of these “baubles” or Glaskugeln came from Germany. The old town of Lauscha in German Thuringia is said to be the place of the handmade, glass-blown Christmas bauble.

Below is the photo of  the family Weschenfelder work on Christmas balls in their combined living room and work space in the small village of Lauscha.

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Image Source   

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These are some of the pretty Baubles I saw in the Christmas market

Christmas Markets  or Christkindlmarkt

In Germany, despite the freezing temperatures, almost all towns are converted into one colorful, festive, unique Christmas wonderland during few weeks before Christmas day. Our local Christkindlmarkt  is open since November 23 up to Dec. 23.  Every place has its own attraction and each one has their own special features that draws attraction to everyone. If you want to have a glimpse of what is Christmas market all about, check this and it will bring you to a winter wonderland!

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O Tannenbaum!

Today there are over 2,500 Christmas markets across Germany. One of my dream came true when I experience Christkindlmarkt last year. Famous ones  are in Nuremberg, Munich and Rothenburg. Most markets are open also on Sundays and draws lots of visitors from neighboring places.This is the best time to see Germany in its most colorful and unique display of celebrating Christmas with the highlights of the Christkindl —the German equivalent for the world-renowned Santa Claus and depicted as an angelic figure with blond hair & wings. It’s really not time of the year without a Christkindlmarkt here in Germany.

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Heart-shaped Lebkuchen or German Gingerbread  cookies.

St. Nikolaus and the Christkind

Santa Claus originated as a Catholic figure. The Christkind was created by Protestants. Christkind transformed from a suggestion of Baby Jesus into a blonde, female angel. In Nürnberg, each year a teenage girl is chosen to represent the Christkind in the weeks leading up to Christmas. She is known as the Nürnberger Christkind and, much like with Santa, children take pictures with her and tell her what gifts they would like for Christmas. The highlight of each Christmas markets is the German’s famous mulled wine or “Glühwein” or hot spiced wine, the Krippenweg, the beautiful craft stalls, and lots of traditional German Christmas food. There are so many attractions for kids like carousel, trains, carousel and the ice skating rink. One thing worth mentioning is the efficiency of  Germans in their way of setting up the whole place into a big arena  winter wonderland within weeks or so.

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Only in Germany : Forget Santa, meet the Christkindl and Saint Nicholas

 Sankt Nikolaustag ( Dec. 5 or 6)

I grew up believing the magical tale of  Santa Claus as someone who is a bearded old man, with a big belly, dressed in red outfit riding the sleigh with sacks of gifts. All the way from the North pole giving gifts to children. But in Philippines, we don’t have snow neither reindeer or chimneys, so this makes me cringe now.  For many children, sitting in the lap of Santa Claus while being photographed is one of the most unforgettable time during Christmas. They either scream in anguish or shriek in delight! Here in Germany, there is no such thing as Santa Claus, only the Weichnachtsmann who is a favorite among children during St. Nicholas Day! My daughter will be celebrating her 2nd St. Nicholas in their Kindergarten this year.

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My daughter’s first Nikolaustag ( St. Nicholas )

In Germany,  December 5th is a very special night. Many children put their cleaned boots and shoes outside the front door on the night of 5 December. They believe that St. Nicholas fills the boot with nuts, oranges, gifts and sweets overnight. Sometimes the Nikolaus also visits the children at the Kindergarden or in the school and asks them if they have been good.My daughter already hung her sock in their Kita for the upcoming St. Nicholas. In Holland, as similar to this celebration, Sinterklaas is also a big celebration before Christmas.

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Frohe Weichnachten!

Christmas Eve – Heiliger Abend (also Heiligabend)

December 24 is still a regular working day here in Germany. But around 2:00 pm, often even earlier, businesses, and most shops are close in preparation for the holiday celebration, a large part of which occurs on Christmas Eve in Germany. The traditional evening meal includes carp and potato salad, but nowadays it varies from what each family loves to prepare. Families sing Christmas carols together and may read the story of Christ’s birth aloud.This is the counterpart of our traditional “Noche Buena” without the roasted pig, Christmas ham and Queso de Bola ( Cheese ball)! Compared to the Philippines and other countries, I don’t see  Christmas Carollers here either that goes from house to house, at least not in our neighborhood.Probably because its hard to sing and be out at night when its freezing cold at night.

Family members exchange gifts and children are typically the focal point of the gift exchange. Here in Germany,  opening gifts on Heiliger Abend is the normal way, compared to other countries who opens the gifts on the morning of December 25th.

I grew up attending Midnight Christmas mass or Simbang Gabi. We usually attend evening mass on a 9-day series of mass up to the” Misa de Gallo “or ( Christmas eve mass) . Here in Bavaria, I only went to the mass on Christmas Day, German families – whether Protestant or Catholic and even those who are not regular church-goers – often attend mass or a church service. While the mass traditionally takes place at midnight, in recent times the services have moved into the earlier evening hours. It is terribly cold around midnight or in early morning so the schedule of the mass usually happens around 9 in the morning. The mass is in German and it was a great experience for a first timer like me who listens to Christmas songs in German.

Second day of Christmas ( or St. Stephen Day)

Here in Germany, you have an excuse to sleep in after the big party from Christmas. Yes, Germans and other countries in Europe including the Netherlands have 2 days of Christmas, both are legal and widely celebrated holidays! This is a mellow day, a quiet day to recover from the hustle of  everything. Depending on the weather, people are still very active, running, jogging and doing sports during the 2nd day of Christmas. For typical Germans, they spend the second day of Christmas with their families, visiting Grandparents, enjoying seasonal threats and of course–ruhe or enjoying some peace & contemplation.

Also, do you know what else Germans do after Christmas?

Christmas won’t be complete without shopping!

They go shopping to grab the year-end clearance sales and buy everything on a decent price! Yes, Germans are practical, and spend their money wisely! Last year, we got our 7- foot Christmas Tree on sale for half of its original price!And we will be on the lookout once again for great things to buy this year!

How about you, do you also have unique Christmas traditions?

How do you prepare for Christmas for your family?

 

Sending you some warm cheers for the coming holidays!

 

Tschüss!

 

 

Made in Germany, Ordinary yet ingenious!

As a normal consumer, I am always keen on checking where does a certain product is made from or manufactured. Who doesn’t like good quality? Back then at my work  as a Quality Controller and in-charge of the Laboratory, my Boss would always tell our visitors that our Lab is being assessed by a German Lab. It may sound as a cliché but then it always brings the thumbs up.No further explanations needed.

There is something about things that are labelled with “Made in Germany” , or designed and of German origin. It is recognized worldwide as a label of highest standards, value and quality. And talking about German efficiency, It sounds right, and sells right. As an Expat here I value these things very much. I came from a third world country and the mention of “European made, or made in Germany”always gives me an assurance that its a great product. This is my personal opinion.

The other day, me and my sister were talking online when she shared to me that one of their sub- contractors  is Viega Deutschland (Viega Press Systems). She asked me if I knew of their products since they mentioned that they are made from Germany .The moment they knew that its German-made, they have greater faith.

I have been living here in Bavaria for over a year now, and I am telling you, living with German efficiency has a tremendous impact in my life. Germany’s famous stereotype things are way more than their Beer, Cars and Sausages. Yes, the world-famous Oktoberfest (Beer Festival) is one big magnet from Munich, but have you ever wondered what other ORDINARY things you are using everyday,  that actually originates from Germany?

or invented by Germans or Americans of German origin?

I was totally amazed that there are so many things which I discovered to be authentic German inventions. Keep on reading , you might realize that  these are quite ordinary, so common, and that we can’t live without these things anymore.

Made in Germany, Ordinary yet Ingenious!

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Frohe Ostern !

EASTER BUNNY (or Osterhase)

The Easter Bunny, at least as we know it today, first appeared in 16th century writings in Germany. In the 1700s, Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) settlers brought the tradition of the Easter Bunny with them to the new world. Their children believed that if they were good, the Easter bunny would come and lay eggs and treats into nests the children made out of upturned hats and bonnets!

PAPER SIZES

Yes,  the Envelops, office paper, printers, notebooks, filling cabinets,  they are all made in Germany (or at least their size has been established in Germany).

If you are familiar with ISO, EN, and other Quality Standards, I am sure you know DIN. The DIN is the acronym for “Deutsches Institut für Normung”, which is the German national institution for standardization (=ISO). The DIN created the DIN standard that specifies the paper size (DIN A3, DIN A4, DIN A5, etc.) that is used all over the world, with the exception of US and Canada.

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Adidas : The shoes with Three lines

ADIDAS AND PUMA

Even if you are not a sneaker fan or into sports, I am sure these top of the line brand of sneakers always rings a bell. You know that when you got Adidas or Puma shoes under your feet, you feel great. Adidas (the shoes with the three stripes) is the second largest sportswear manufacturer worldwide and was named after its founder, Adolf (Adi) Dassler. Adolf started producing shoes in the 1920s in Herzogenaurach near Nuremberg with the help of his brother Rudolf, who later formed the rival shoe company Puma.

Do you own a pair? What’s your favorite design?

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Proudly German-made : Staedtler pencils , Tradition breeds Innovation

STAEDTLER

I have been using this brand of drawing and writing materials from mechanical pencils to technical pens for years! With HQ in Nuremberg,Germany, Staedtler Mars GmbH & Co. KG is a German fine writing instrument company and a manufacturer and supplier of writing, artist, and engineering drawing instruments. The firm was founded by J.S. Staedtler in 1835 and produces a large variety of writing instruments, including drafting pencils, propelling pencils, professional pens and standard wooden pencils.

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Perfected by Germans : Automobile safety

AIRBAG

I live in the city where the HQ of Audi is located. Audi is the big thing here in Bavaria and of world-renowned top of the line car. Germans are crazy (in a good way) about their Autos, and cars are a big deal here. I understand why Germany is on top when it comes to cars. Name it, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, and Porsche to name a few. German car makers make a very good reputation worldwide. But safety is also something that goes with German-made brand, the AIRBAG.

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German pride : Automobiles

Originated in Germany and the first time in 1981 as optional equipment for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the airbag has now become standard. We all know that it has been helping to save lives ever since.

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ASPIRIN : Developed in Germany, and even taken to space!

ASPIRIN

Have you ever had a headache? Everybody does and so this medication is known worldwide.In 1897, the company Bayer developed the first pain remedy with minimal side effects. Aspirin is one of the world’s most-favored medications for pain, fever and inflammation. About 12,000 of the 50,000 tons of Aspirin produced annually still come from Bayer. Aspirin was even taken on the first moon landing in 1969: there was a box of the effective pain-killer on board when Neil Armstrong flew in the Apollo 11.

BACTERIOLOGY

A total milestone in the micro world! When livestock was stricken by a dangerous disease throughout Europe in 1870, Robert Koch discovered that bacteria were the cause of the disease. He was also able to isolate the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. With these discoveries, Koch founded a new branch of science: Bacteriology.

Gutenberg Printing Press

BOOK PRINTING

Johannes Gutenberg was a German craftsman and printer who invented the first printing press with movable type in 1450. This invention revolutionized printing, making it simpler and more affordable. Printed materials were made available to the masses for the first time in history.

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Your personal identity in one small chip card.

CHIP CARD

How many card/ID’s you have in your wallet which has a chip card on it? Today, everyday life is inconceivable without the chip card: SIM (phone card) , credit card, patient card – all important data are packaged neatly in plastic. Your whole personal identity in  one small chip. Even my Aufenhaltstitel ( my German residence card) has a chip!The chip card was developed by Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup in 1969. In 1977, Dethloff applied for a patent for the microprocessor card, the so-called smart card, that can be freely programmed thus providing high functionality.

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The giant tree is 45 metres tall and is actually made of 1,700 smaller trees put together. The branches are decorated by 48,000 lights! The organisers of Dortmund’s Christmas market say the tree is the largest “real” Christmas tree in the world!

CHRISTMAS TREE (Tannenbaum)

Finland may claim Santa Claus but Christmas Tree came from Germany!

When I had my first German Christmas here last year, I was so curious and delighted even more of the magical tales of Christmas, especially White Christmas, with real snow and real Christmas tree. I never expected that Christmas tree tradition during Christmas originated in Germany. When I saw all the festivities in an authentic German Christkindlmarkt, and how Germans celebrate Christmas, I fell more in love with this tradition. A REAL tree glittering with shimmering lights in the snow is a dream come true.

In 1419, a Christmas tree was mentioned in a written document for the first time. This tree was decorated with candy and pastry and set up by bakers in Germany’s Southwest. The tradition to set up such a decorated tree at Christmas time spread throughout Germany and the whole world. Emigrants brought the Christmas tree to America, and in 1889 the first Christmas tree was set up in the White House.

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PREGNANCY TEST and the PILL

In 1928 two German gynecologists:  Selmar Aschheim and Bernhard Zondek created the first reliable pregnancy test in the history. All women dying to have a baby kisses this small pen-like invention once they found out they are pregnant!

On 1961 from Schering AG, With 50 micrograms of estrogen, Schering succeeded  in simulating a pregnancy in the female body. The market launch of the first pill in Germany had far-reaching consequences: sexual lust no longer needed to result in the blessing of children.

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CONTACT LENS

Do you wear one?Contact lenses were invented and made in 1887 by the German physiologist Adolf Eugen Fick. He first fitted animals with the lenses, and later made them for people. These lenses were made from heavy brown glass and were 18-21mm in diameter.

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FANTA

In Philippines, people are crazy about Coke, while in Kuwait, they only know Pepsi. But did you know that  the second largest brand of the Coca Cola Group originated in Germany in the early 40’s?  And this is not a rumor, the official site tells the story:

“During the World War II: Germany suffered from shortage of resources, including the ingredients used in the Coca Cola formula. The German factory however made the most of those difficult times and managed to create a new soft drink, made of the available ingredients during war. Once the drink was formulated, the factory organized a contest and invited the employees to look for a name for the new drink. And they found one: the new drink was “fantastisch” and “fantasievoll” (adjectives in German that mean fantastic and imaginative) and so the new drink was called Fanta.”

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The mother of all creams!

NIVEA

I love and  use this product for a long time up until now. It was another surprise to me knowing they are German-made! I literally grew up with this product. My mother loves this as well.

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The very first Nivea cream in tin can.

This round blue tin of creme can be found in  every beauty section of leading supermarkets worldwide. It’s a classic  skin care. However very few of us knew that it’s a German brand. Beiersdorf is Nivea’s parent company, which was funded in the 19th century in a chemistry shop in Hamburg. These days they still have their HQ in Hamburg.

Here’s a great brand history about this cream. It’s a worthwhile read!

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Gummy Bears from Germany

GUMMY BEAR ( Gummi bär)

This one is a lifesaver. I love Gummy Bears and my daughter is addicted to this. Here in Germany, they give this to children in the Doctor’s office, in the bakery, in the shops. When you live here in Germany, you will be surprised with the large aisle in the supermarkets allotted only for this product. So many types and flavors.

A sweet, colorful, tiny little bear in the palm of your hand. You pick it up to your mouth, and bite its little head off. The gummy bear. One of Germany’s most popular sweets was created in 1922 by Hans Riegel. He was born in Bonn, and opened a candy company called HARIBO, an acronym based on the letters of his name: HAns RIegel of BOnn. So next time your relatives asks for a souvenir from Germany, let them have a taste of this Gummy Bears!

Curious about how they manufacture Haribo Gummy bears? watch this!

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Blue Jeans history!

JEANS AND YOUR LEVI STRAUSS!

Everybody loves wearing Jeans, and when you are wearing blue , you are absolutely IN. Jeans are forever, but did you know that they are born out from a German mind?

Levi Strauss was trained as a tailor in Bavaria before joining the California gold rush. Here he ran into prospectors and miners who complained about easily torn pants. In 1873, Strauss patented his idea of using copper rivets at the stress points of sturdy work pants. The Levi’s Jeans were born.

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Little Big Steps of a Third Culture Kid in German Kindergarten.

KINDERGARTEN ( German Pre-School)

Friedrich Froebel was a German educational reformer who invented the kindergarten (“garden of children”). He opened the first kindergarten in 1837 to protect children from misery at the beginning of industrialization. His kindergartens included pleasant surroundings, self-motivated activity, play, music, and the physical training of the child.

Here in Germany, we call this “Kita” and my daughter started recently in one of the local Kita in our neighborhood. Contrary to the American based system , here, Kindergarten kids are on “Play Based”  system of learning and academics are not introduced up until the age of 6.

 TOOTHPASTE

The person responsible for healthy teeth is the pharmacist Ottomar von Mayenburg. He experimented in 1907 with tooth powder, mouthwash and ethereal oils. What he came up with was a toothpaste he named Chlorodont. With a little peppermint added for good taste, he filled the paste directly into pliable metal tubes. And we’ve been brushing our teeth regularly after breakfast and before bedtime ever since.

TWIN ELEVATORS

Wherever in the world, New York, Singapore or Middle East, without safe elevator systems, the skyline of many metropolises would look different today. The TWIN elevator developed by ThyssenKrupp in 2002 represents a milestone in the history of elevator technology. The new system has two cabins in each shaft, arranged one on the top of the other, which can move to the individual floors independent of one another using the same guide rails.

 I am running out of time and I don’t want this post to be a novel , I’m afraid its gone quite long .These things are all ordinary but come to think of it, what would be our lives today without them?

Bonus info: Other things such as the  mayonnaise, Helicopter, motorcycle,MP3 format,refrigerator,Ritter Sport Chocolate,Steinway piano, tape recorder,telephone,television,Theory of Relativity (by Albert Einstein), Thermos flask, X-ray, Hugo Boss, Escada, Faber-Castell (from Bavaria),  and the Scanner (Klitschograph).All these are genuine “MADE IN GERMANY” Contributions to the world!

More clever things you didn’t know but of  German inventions are listed Here.

Thank you for reading my friends! Hope this helps you know more about the ordinary yet ingenious German contributions to the world! And if you are an Expat living in Germany, I am sure you live with these things, ingenously !

If you enjoyed this post, please don’t hesitate to leave some love and comments which one is your favorite! Until next time!

Tschüss!

How to find a Kita for your child in Germany | Expat Guide

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Tender beginnings for the  little ones 

Guys, after almost 9 months of waiting, finally, we got a spot for my daughter in a Kita here in Germany!!! 

I know, I know, I heard you, you might say that this is such a normal thing,no big deal, but hey NO! not here in Germany. Believe me, once you got a spot in the Kindergarten or Kita for your child here, you’ve got to be jumping for joy and saying thanks all over again. Because I am telling you, It’s not EASY. It was never EASY.

Okay, maybe I am overreacting, but yes, it is quite a relief when we got the letter from the municipality informing us that my daughter was selected to join a Kita this coming September.It was a long wait and therefore we loooove this  news. A new chapter for my child’s life, and as well as for us parents. Finally,an end to long days and months of waiting.Of course, as a disclaimer, this is purely based on my experience. Maybe someone got so lucky that they immediately find a place for their child in Kita, a case to case basis. But I observed this phenomenon for long months now and therefore have established my opinion about the complicated system for childcare and Kindergarten schools especially here in our area in Bavaria, southern part of Germany.

So how did we got the spot? What techniques did we do?

If you are an Expat parent like me, I am so sure that the moment you moved into a new country and you’ve started to explore your new neighborhood for parks and playgrounds, the next thing you want to establish is joining a playgroup, Nursery, childcare or a Kita /Kindergarten for your little ones especially if you are a working Mama. It is very important to get a support group for your children. This is one of the natural ways in “re-potting the uprooted child”.

“So here’s the truth: Getting a spot in the Kita/Kindergarten for your child here in Germany REALLY ONLY depends on LUCK, or in logical terms-written in the stars, destiny, or some may call it fate, or your blessing!”

What you need to do as a parent ? Here are practical ways ( which I did!) on the course of our application for Kita in a span of almost 9 months;

  1. Do your research. –  I don’t speak German yet but I did a lot of research even prior to arriving here in Bavaria. I made a list from the schools which I saw online even while I was still in Kuwait and then mapped their location once we got here. Depending on the area where you live, find as many Kita that you can in your vicinity. If you apply for 2, the chance is almost zero, but if you apply for at least 8-10, then at least you can have a chance. For complete listings of Kita per area, you can always refer to the information provided online by your local municipality or ask from the Rathaus. For residents in Ingolstadt, there are so many information provided by Stadt Ingolstadt and there is a department who is really in charge of finding a space for every child to be put into a Kita/Kindergarten.There are persons there which main job is this; helping you get that slot for your child ( Freie Plätze in Kindertageseinrichtungen).

 

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My Pre-schooler tiny Goblin

2. Explore and visit the Kita/ Kindergarten in your Area – You need to be out and find the location of the school. As soon as we have the list, we started walking and exploring and visiting the school one by one. It is always good to personally inquire from the staff for any vacancy.

3. Write a formal “Anmeldebogen” ( Application) in Deutsch ( German) and send by post or email– This one is very effective, at least it works for me. Most of the staff I’ve talked via phone always told me that they don’t speak much English so when they read my letter and my inquiry written in Deutsch, I got concrete answers, even quick replies.

4. Follow Up. Every single Month. If you are forceful like me-make phonecalls  to ask for progress. Take time to follow-up. Sometimes, there might be a chance that someone left the Kita or moved away so a vacant space is available. The Kita that we’ve got is the one we’ve got on the opening day and not the first one we’ve applied or visited.Also, take note that depending on your area, you are most likely to get a spot on the place where your local address is linked to.

5.Attend the Opening Day – All Kitas and Kindergartens have an opening day held during the month of January where you can write the application once again for your child at the same time take a tour of the facilities of the school and their profile. This is very important. They have an announcement on this on their websites so pay attention for updates and changes of dates.

In the Kita, it compose normally of 2-3 groups, with around 25 children.During the opening day, I have asked the teachers what are their criteria in choosing a child to be in their Kita and here’s the information I’ve got :

  1. Parent’s status – If both parents are working, single mother/father .
  2. Location of residence, and if you work on certain companies ( like Audi , Schanzer etc.) then you can have some benefits or privileges.
  3. Language of the child/ spoken at home and the age of the child.
  4. Decision by the Municipality ( Department for Children and Families – Kitaplatzkoordinator)

With all these, all you can do is wait for a confirmation from any one of the school that you’ve applied, and nobody knows when will it be.They will give out confirmation around March and have the meeting with parents of the children who were chosen by month of June to prepare them for the  start of semester in September.

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Repotting the Uprooted child

So what are your options if you can’t find a place for your child?

Today, kindergartens here in Germany are an integral, yet voluntary, part of the early education system: Over 80% of all children between three and six years attend a kindergarten in Germany. The state supports parents with monetary incentives, such as tax reductions and child allowance (Kindergeld). The basic concept of Kitas and Kindergarten here are all “play based”, which is totally opposite from the American and English system which has more emphasis on academics. Now, I have written before how kid-friendly Germany is and how it is more AWESOME to be a kid living here. But then have a shortage of Kita really sucks!

Generally, in every area, there’s plenty of Kindergarten to choose from but it seems that it’s still not enough to accommodate the number of children who needs to be enrolled, add the fact the number of migrant’s children and the booming Expat population, especially in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg or in Munich.The staff have always told us that the waiting list is too much and “kein frei platz “( or no vacant space) .Even if there are many options for parents on where to put their child, the competition is still tight.

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Eager to learn..

Here are the childcare options for children ( 3 months up to 6 years old) here in Germany ;

Tagesmutter  ( or Day mother) – yes, you can hire a “Mother“in Germany. The Tagesmutter takes care of 3-5 children in her home, like a small daycare. Tagesmutter take care of your child in their home while you go to work. In most cases they care for additional children as well, so your child is guaranteed to have contact with peers.A Tagesmutter needs to be certified by the youth welfare office and most of them have a Pedagogy background and have a great experience with children.

Nannies-  are also an option in Germany. In contrast to in-home daycare providers, nannies come to your home to care for your child. In-home daycare providers and nannies are not required to be trained early childhood educators.  For a 20-hour week, in-home daycare providers charge an average of 300 to 600 euros per month.

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The long wait is over…

Here in Ingolstadt, in South Germany ( Bavaria) , you can contact the Mobile Familie e.V if you are interested for alternative options. There are equivalent of these services depending in the area where you live.They have the following services available all throughout Germany:

  1. Tagespflege (Daycare)
  2.  Kibeno ( Childcare Emergency Call)- supports parents in emergency situations where a caregiver is needed for the child / child at short notice.
  3. Kinderfrau – ( Childminder) -A childminder regularly takes care of the children in the parents’ household over a longer period of time. The Kinderfrau is employed by the parents.
  4. Au-Pair ( Nanny/Governess) – An au pair lives with a family, supports them mainly with the care of the children and helps in the household.
  5. Notmutter – (Emergency Mother) -An emergency mother takes care of the children of a family in emergency situations, especially when the mother is ill.
  6. Babysitters 

I hope the above information have helped you in a way to have an idea how it goes here when it comes to applying for a Kita/ Kindergarten for your child.

If you have more questions, please feel free to give comments or share your own experience for your child.

For Expat Mamas and Papas who are in this stage, good luck with your application !

 

Osterbrunnen in Ingolstadt

 

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“Impressive work found in Ostermarkt where around 10,000 handpainted eggs adorn the King Ludwig fountain  for this year’s Osterbrunnen. “

In our neighborhood alone,the sight of pink, white and eager cherry blossom trees (or  Kirschbaum ) are now blossoming with beautiful pink and white flowers, signaling the spring days ahead. The sight of the white Spargels ( white Asparagus)  in the wet market this morning assures me that beautiful days of Spring ( Frühling) here in Germany have indeed arrived! The past days the temperatures soars high,a good 10-15 degrees, sunny and bright, and I can’t believe that we can finally stroll outside without our bulky jackets. Weather is perfect, every where I see, I see growth of greens from the trees and yes, a time to celebrate Easter soon.

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Here in Ingolstadt, Easter vibes  is so alive and arrives right on the 1st day of April,in the Osterbrunnen fest right along the Paradeplatz in the old town.The event started with a parade of music, opening speech from our city mayor, Christian Lösel, and the tapping of the beer keg or O’zapft is! If you want a free mug of beer, all you have to do is be there!

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The Ostermarkt will run from 1st of April until 17th 2017 from 10.00 ~19.00 Uhr. Around the Paradeplatz, there are food stalls which serves the local delicacies, a Karussel (Carousel) for children, and quaint shops selling Easter goods.My daughter was too excited to see the carousel but always afraid to ride it!

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Tell you frankly, Easter here in Germany is a big thing since aside from its religious significance, it also signal the arrival of Spring, the season of renewal. About 3 weeks ago, the shops were packed with all the decorations and different types of  decorations for Easter such as eggs, Easter bunny ( Osternhase) and so much more. I have never seen such frenzy as these in the Philippines! There are Easter Chocolate eggs as big as a basketball! Today I got 6 pieces of Easter eggs given away during the opening ceremony and we are literally walking in a red-carpet cobbled streets of Ludwigstrasse. There are so many freebies along the street, I even had a glass of white wine! There are face painting for kids and there is such a happy ‘vibe”, even the Biergartens are in full swing once again! Ingolstadt is a small city and yet with so many festivals to celebrate, you can never get boring.

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Since April 15, 2000, the first Ostermarkt was inaugurated by Mayor Hans Amler and was solemnized by Moritzpfarrer Leo Pöll and since then, this event has become one of the highlights of Spring.

Right in the middle of Paradeplatz in front of the Neues Schloss stands the decorated fountain, with the monument of the mighty King Ludwig of Bavaria. During the first festival, around 3,000 ( three thousand)  painted easter eggs in white and blue colors ( Grösster weiss/blauer Osterbrunnen Bayerns) adorns the fountain, but each year they are increasing in number. The whole fountain is filled with spring flowers and Easter decorations arranged in a  steel crown like specially made by trainees of Audi AG.Now, around 10, 000 hand painted Easter eggs are on display for everyone to see. Such a lovely sight and a heritage that Ingolstädter are all proud of.

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To decorate the fountain, it requires 500 hours to do the creative work of painting the eggs and arranging the steel crown and finally set up the fountain.Looking at all the eggs, it is intricately painted and crafted.Imagine 10,000 pieces!

What an impressive work and creativity!

 

Have you ever seen a fountain decorated with thousands of Easter eggs? How is Easter celebrated in your area?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

Mobile lifestyle in Kuwait

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Umbrella and mobile phone : A good match to survive the heat

Expats outnumbered the locals in Kuwait, with 70% of its  population is composed of expatriates. So expat life is rather diversified compared here in Germany. One typical street sight in Kuwait is summed up in the photo above. It doesn’t matter where you are and who you are and what you do in life. An office janitor can have the latest gadget phones same as his Modir ( Boss) as well as anybody.  Everyone seemed to be glued in their mobile phones anytime of the day. It seems like if you don’t own a smart phone, you are left out and isolated. It becomes a necessity and at the same time a hazard especially for reckless drivers who are pinned to their phones while driving. Taxi drivers,mostly Egyptians, Indians, Bangladeshi or Syrians, have 2-3 phones to manage while they go on their work. Crazy, right? but its true. They are talking to their families and friends while driving around. Insane as it may sound but Kuwait becomes fanatic to smartphones and internet calls. Before I was in wonder, but now, no more, horrific and fatal  car accidents  happens everyday, especially in the Gulf road and 5th ring road where drivers drive like maniac. Everyday life revolves around internet, social media and chatting. You should take a look at this article to see how far it goes. If you’re living in Kuwait, I know how it feels, it sucks!

If you’re an expat, having a smart phone with internet is a must. It’s a  materialistic symbolism too. One can easily  get an internet line provided that they have a civil ID to present when they purchase. One’s number is linked to your personal data in the country’s ID system. Another particular sight in  is how Kuwait evolved into mobile parenting.While out in the mall or park, you can see that children have iPads and tablet to keep the child occupied in their buggies while busy parents do their errands. Kuwait has become a symbol for parenting in the iPhone stage. When you move to Kuwait, a way to combat homesickness, your mobile lifestyle becomes elevated and your life revolves in your phone.

Hungry? just log in and check into Talabat or call for delivery from Canary for mushakel and  kebab. Even if the  Matam ( restaurant ) is just around the corner of your flat.I am writing this because I have never seen such incidents like this here in Germany. A total culture clash I must say. Or maybe not yet…

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Hala February Festival and National Day in Kuwait

Oh well, Happy National Day Kuwait!

For expats out there, enjoy the long weekend with the Hala February festivities and stay away from the Gulf road or you’ll end up harassed by the water gun fanatics!

Want to know more about Expat life in  the Gulf? Here are some related further reading :

Hala February Festival in Kuwait

Only in Kuwait : National Spraying gun day!

Kuwait : National Identity symbol

 

Are you on Twitter?  follow me on my  Twitter  and my Instagram  for more Expat stories like this . Thanks!

 

 

via Photo Challenge: A Good Match

How to get the eAT for Non-EU Spouses (Aufenthaltstitel) in Germany

 

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Expat Guide : Aufenhaltstitel for Non-EU Spouses (Third World Country Nationals)

 

Finally, last Thursday, I got my Residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel ) to live legally in Germany. It feels so different knowing that I’m not a visiting tourist anymore. I live here now, so to speak. My paperwork is done. As an Expat,paper work always come with every move and you know that feeling that you don’t really feel at home unless your papers are done, right?

So, as I shared in some of my posts that from the last 4 months, I was a trying-hard Expat wanting to fit-in as much as possible in my new German routines & lifestyle. It took exactly four months of processing, but it was a very neat wait and I think I have done a lot during those months! I started my application last June 27 and I received it last October 27, even falling on the same date. The Bureaucracy in Germany might be a shock to you if you are unfamiliar with German ways but comparing it with my observations from Gulf countries vs. Philippine Bureaucracy, I must say that Germany is rather structured when it comes to Immigration.

Are you planning to live in Germany to join your spouse?

I want to share with you my experience with Auslandbehörde for processing my residence permit. This is especially for  Non-EU Spouses (Third World Country national ) who wants planning to reside in Germany . To be able to join your EU/EEA/Switzerland Spouse/partner,these general conditions should be met and supported with proof of evidence ;

  1. Have a resident permit
  2. Have enough room for you (as judged by the German Auslandbehörde or Immigration’s office)
  3. Have sufficient & secure finances (again assessed by the Auslandbehörde)

My Application for German Residence Permit as a Non-EU Spouse (Third World Country National)

  1. Secure a valid Visa (depending on your nationality)

I came to Germany under a Schengen Visa valid for 90 days. Since my husband is an EU national, I entered Germany through the Right of Free Movement for EU/EEA/Switzerland  nationals.This privilege is basically for Spouses & Family members of EU/EEA Nationals to live & reside in any Schengen country excluding their home country. I don’t have to submit a proof of German Language proficiency since this is not mandatory on my case, although in some cases, a Language proficiency certificate is required such as in  Family Reunion Visa applications. Since I am holding a Philippine passport (Third World Country national), I needed only a valid Visa to enter Europe. I arranged my Schengen visa from the Dutch Embassy in Kuwait ,and arranged all German translations/ Attestation for our documents in the German Embassy in Kuwait. Another option is the Family Reunion Visa but this is a complicated & a tedious process for me.I am still holding a residence  in Kuwait and we only have 2 months to prepare to move to Germany. If you will be coming from the Philippines, you need to check with the German Embassy for different requirements. You can choose which one work best for you.

2. Register in the local Town Hall (Rathaus) upon your arrival in Germany

Upon arrival in Germany, it is important to register in the Alien’s Office or the Auslandbehörde  in your local  City Town Hall or Rathaus. Look for the Registry Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) that is responsible for your community or your city neighborhood. Registering is a simple matter of going there and filling out a form.Your personal appearance is a must.

The following listed documents are required by the Auslandbehörde throughout the whole process of application of residence permit.

 

  • Valid Passport
  • 1 current biometric photo ( They may require another recent biometric photos in the latter part of application)
    Photo properties : 35mm x 45mm, frontal shot with neutral facial expression and closed mouth, looking straight into the camera, light background. This is available  in most Photo studios.
  • Filled out form “Angaben zur Ausstellung einer Aufenthaltskarte” . (Note: All forms are in German) 
  • Proof of relationship (Original copy of Marriage certificate) with German translations and attested by the German Embassy, for us it’s in Kuwait.
  • Proof of registered residence of the EU/ EEA /Switzerland national ( Passport & the Anmeldebestätigung)
  • Proof of the right to free movement of the EU/EEA citizen

    In individual cases, proof of the right of freedom of movement of the EU/EEA citizen may be required. You also need to bring the following documents of your Spouse;

    • for employees: confirmation from the employer of the appointment or employment or his Bestätigung über Arbeitsverhältnis
    • Health Insurance – ( You need a copy of your Anmeldebestätigung for you to apply for a Health Insurance) This is a mandatory requirement for all residents & Expats in Germany.
    • Lease Contract  or Mitvertrag –Proof of residence in Germany.
  • Original copy of 3 months recent Pay slip ( of your Spouse)
  • Sicherheitsbefragung für ausländer – you need to arrange an appointment for this and bring your Passport, & your Spouse or Interpreter’s passport & 1 biometric photo. This personal interview normally lasts about 45 minutes. In this security interview, it is very important to give accurate information since false statements could nullify your application and getting banned from EU.

3. Getting your Bescheinigung – This is a proof that you started the request for an Aufenhaltstitel (Residence permit) . All the documents needed for the application needs to be submitted within 6 months. If your visa expires within the processing period, this document gives you the right to stay in Germany , but not in other Schengen countries. My visa expired while my application was still in process so this documents gave me the right to stay in Germany until it was done.

Legal basis : Section 5 para.1 Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU-FreizügG/EU

Note : If you leave Germany before receiving your Aufenthaltstitel,it would complicate your application so its best to stay and complete your residence application first til its done.

4.Reporting to  Auslandbehörde to finalize & paying the Fees.-The following fees are assessed based on the actual technical effort:

  • Up to the age of 24: 8.00 to 22.80 Euros
  • Over the age of 24: 28.80 Euros
  • Signing of the legal document attesting that you live together as married couple and living in the address that you declared.

5. Your eAT (Electronic residence permit/ Aufenthaltstitel )

Since 1st September 2011, the electronic residence permit is issued as a separate document in a credit card format.All Third country nationals will be issued with their own card.This card has an electronic ID function for business/activity conducted on the internet and machines. This card also supports electronic signatures for legally binding signing of digital documents. The eAT is only valid as long as you possess a valid passport or alternative document so keeping your passport in its validity period is very important. The validity of the eAT is determined by the kind of residence issued by the Auslandbehörde. In my case, I was granted for 5 years. After 5 years, I am eligible to apply for permanent residence if I wish to. I am also allowed to work, attend the Integration course and learn the language at my own pace. This allows me as well to open a bank account etc. I can travel across Europe & Schengen countries without needing a visa.

It is very important to become responsible Expats and be aware of our responsibilities as residents in a foreign country. Respecting their culture & abiding their laws is the least that we can do to become worthy of the privilege that was given to us to live and enjoy life with our families. My whole experience with the Auslandbehörde  here in Bavaria is very  professional & efficient. I must say that not all the things that I’ve read in the internet before was true but I ma sure its depending on case to case basis. Almost all the information is found  online and you can inquire personally in the local Rathaus (City Town Hall).

Now its time to learn the German language seriously!

 

How was your experience doing your paperwork in your new country?

For those of you who are working on your residence permits, Goodluck!

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Parks & Playgrounds in Ingolstadt

To tell you frankly, I didn’t appreciate parks & playgrounds until I had a child of my own!

If you have an active toddler like mine, I am so sure that playgrounds have become your best friends. Either indoor play yard or an outdoor sandpit, it always saves your day. It’s one happy place where your kids just let go of their  steam and for a moment, you’ve got the chance to inhale and breathe. I know I’m not alone in this,but when your child is happy, you are happy too!

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Sandpit, play area & wasserspielplatz in Baggersee

There are play areas for Kids..Everywhere!

As a new Expat, you search for grocery shops or bakeries, but for me, one of my early priorities is to look for playgrounds for my daughter to play. Well, Germany is famous for its abundance of outdoor activities and play areas for kids & toddlers. I must say that being a kid here is awesome and has a lot to offer. I was really surprised to find that in almost every neighborhood, there are Spielplatz or play areas for kids. Isn’t that amazing? In the Bike shop, supermarkets and groceries, in Biergartens and restaurants, they always have a  play area where kids can play. There are trampolines & rockers along the busiest shopping streets . Some even have a changing area where you can breastfeed, feed or change the diapers for free!

The one in dm-drogerie is our favorite because you can shop while your kids play. Great thing about dm is it’s absolutely free and very convenient. Did I mention that even in the Rathaus ( or the Town Hall) they have kid toys placed in the walls along the corridor. Very kid-friendly especially during waiting time.

It’s beautiful, natural, safe ,full of creative spaces, and best of all, it’s all FREE!

 

Life being an Expat is challenging. You’ve got no friends yet,you barely speak the language, you don’t even know your neighbors, but your child is screaming out for tiny humans company. A bored child is a whining child so the best thing to do is take her out! Searching for parks & playground is also a perfect chance to get acquainted with the new neighborhood and making new friends.It is actually easy to make friends when you have a kid,it’s less intimidating. The moment kids starting to play with each other, it’s easy to start a conversation. This works well for me so I’m sure it can work with you too.

So here in Ingolstadt, we have discovered quite a number of  parks and playgrounds which has helped us a lot in trying to integrate in this new culture. Here’s our list for our favourites ;

Klenze Park

Klenzepark is a huge oasis for kids (and for adults too). This place has a large field and beautiful park I must say, with trees surrounding it and has luscious  rose gardens with fountains. It is the site for the 1992 Bavarian Garden Festival and has a unique open air museum of German fortification architecture. It will host the 2020  State Flower Show so that’s something to look forward if you love nature & flowers.  Ideally located along the  Donau river, it’s a scenic place where you can take your kids for a lazy stroll, cycling or play in the playground.With the view of the historical Neues Schloss and with the love-lock bridge, this is our favorite spot so far.There is a fountain  (Wasserspieltplatz) with huge rocks where children can enjoy playing in the water especially in Summer.The whole field is also surrounded with small water canals where children (and adults!) splash their feet in Summer.

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Wood basics playground – Eliminating all plastics .

Just beside the Wasserspieltplatz is the Natural Playground. It has  wooden slides, climbing areas, rockers, swings and fun activities for kids. In the center is a sand pit where toddlers & kids  playing in the sand. .It’s very accessible by bike,by walking or by bus. There is an ample underground parking and comfort rooms.Inside the park are Biergartens, cafes, and museums.

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Wasserspieltplatz & Fountain in Klenze park

Luitpoldpark

Luitpoldpark is ideal for all ages and the entire family as  well. There is a forest where you can take your kids to have a short trek, stroll and have quiet walks with all the towering trees above you. This is a secluded place to jog, run and or just taking your dog for a walk. In the center was a playground with slide, rockers, and sand pit where your child can play while parents can have a picnic. I have seen many families having their birthday parties here and meet-ups.Adjacent was a football field where bigger kids can enjoy a football game as well. There is a small hill that is great for toddlers to climb up and run.

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Sun rays peeking in the trees

 

Further down Luitpoldpark is the Biotoperlebnisfad and the Nazi victims memorial park. The paths are ideal for skate boarding, cycling plus  exploring through the woods can let you learn more about the trees and its history &  age. If you like Forestry & Foliage, then this is a great place for you.

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Learning about the Trees in Luitpoldpark

 

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Playtime in a windy day!

Fort Haslang Parks and Playground

We discovered this playground by chance. While we are looking for a Pediatrician for my daughter, we decided to let her play a bit and we found this play ground nearby. It has a scenic field full of short shrubs and flowers, a cycling path with apple trees and forest flowers and in its center is a play ground with sand pit, slides, rockers & plenty of space for children to run around. A bit further is a place for bigger kids where they have ramps for bicycles, ziplines, and table tennis areas. This playground has benches for parents too. Surprisingly, almost all parks & playground in Germany always have an area for parents to sit, drink their coffee and a trash bin. You won’t even need to worry about where to throw the soiled diapers.

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Picking summer flowers in the field of Fort Haslang Parks & playground

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Fort Haslang playground

Wildpark am BaggerseeOberschüttweg

This beautiful wildlife escape is just 15 minutes away from our home. Ideally situated near the Dam and you will have  scenic views of the River Danube and lush forest, a lake, and a Lakehouse with lots of Biergarten & cafes. Discovering the beauty of Baggersee last Summer was one of the highlights of our first Summer here. This place is best for campers during summer, and ideal for cycling. It has 54km stretch for you to cycle til you drop. If you have a kid’s seat attached to your bike like most Germans does or an Anhänger ( Child chariot), then you can easily explore this place thru cycling while having panoramic views of the Auswaldsee.  The Wildpark & Baggersee play area are absolutely free. The wasserspielplatz for kids is one of my daughter’s favorite and I like that it has an active water pumps where parents can do some activity and exercise.

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Wildpark 

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Building sandcastles and playing with sand 

Biergarten Künettegrabenalong Jahnstraße

This Playground is adjacent to a Biergarten. Yes, in Germany, there are Biergartens which has a playground beside it. It has lovely views of the winding bridges, old fortifications, and the ponds filled with ducks.  Go here early in the morning and you can enjoy the peace & quiet. Perfect for nap times too.The playground itself is frequented by pre- schoolers  on their outdoor walks & play times because it is surrounded with trees, and has lots of creative games areas. There is a sand pit, water pipes, slides, swings, turntables, see-saws and table tennis & basket ball courts. They have swings made of old tires.While your kids play, parents can have a happy hour in the Biergarten as well or just feed the ducks!

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Up close with the wild deers in Wildpark

Zoo WassersternGerolfinger Str. / Aloisiweg 19

This small Zoo is a one of a kind attraction for kids. It is a non-profit zoo which houses different animals which look more like a private collection. The place is a combination of a Botanical Garden and a zoo. There are reptiles and birds on the ground floor, an Aquarium and sea animals in the basement and wild birds, monkeys, and birds like parrots, owl and other birds located in the garden. It is frequently visited by Kindergarten students, visitors, and people with disabilities. Ideal for a family getaway on weekends. There are tables & chairs for parents to rest and a changing room for babies.

 

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Climb steps in St.Anton Spielplatz

St. Anton play ground & Park-Münchnerstr.

This playground is very close to the Haupbanhof and just across the St.Anton Church . It is in front of a Pet Zoo shop and has a shady park & play area for the little ones. We love to walk going here. It has a huge field where people do yoga, train their dogs, or just have a lazy weekend picnic. It has a pebble & sand pit, rockers, slides, and a wooden climb & maze paths. It is one of our favorite playground because it is shady and quiet. It is surrounded with ample trees as well.

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Close to nature

I am so thankful that we live in a place where these playgrounds and parks are accessible. As a parent,there’s a lot more to write about playgrounds here in Bavaria, they are really something to be proud of. We keep on discovering new ones each day. Play areas doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. In Germany, the approach for more green, natural, simple & safe play outweighs farther the confines of an indoor play areas.

How ‘s it been Expat Mamas? How was your move so far?

 

If you enjoyed this post,  Make sure to hit the Follow button for more Expat stories on this Blog, and Hey, if you are an Expat Mama, you might want to be featured in this Blog for our series on Expat Mamas around the World! Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com.

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