The Blue Flock Art project

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Der Blauschäfer by Rainer Bonk ( Blaue Friedensherde )

I know the nursery rhyme ‘ Baba Black Sheep’ but Blue Sheep ???!!

While I was living in Kuwait, I knew Sheep because of Ramadan and Eid Al- Adha. If you must know, they are prime element of Islamic celebrations.I saw them from the same “Camel farms” I’ve visited and they don’t  normally “graze“in Kuwait city but they are being ushered to the animal market especially during the Muslim festivities of sheep ritual slaughtering.

But here in Germany I’ve seen something different.

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Blaue Schafe!

Why Blue?

Today we’ve seen a flock of ‘Blue Sheep ‘ grazing right in front of our Altes Rathaus ( or City town Hall ). Totally eye-catching and one-of a kind. In the middle of the square, there are approximately 150 pieces of Blue  sheep sculptures, erected as a symbolic art project which promotes mutual tolerance and peace.

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Someone is feeling ecstatic watching and counting all these Blue Sheep.

From the artistic minds of German artists Rainer Bonk and Bertamaria Reetz from the design series ‘Blue Sheep’, the Blue Flock Art Project  was first exhibited to public in Lido, Venice in 2009 as Germany’s contribution to the “OPEN 12” , an international sculpture and art exhibition. Since then, they continue to roam around all over Europe to promote their advocacy for peace , tolerance and equality. They normally “graze“in historical places, landmarks and iconic cities to create an artistic juxtaposition.

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Where Art and Culture meets

I live in Bavaria and our region is celebrating now the world-renowned Oktoberfest and the sight of overwhelming men in Lederhosen and lots of cleavage sight for women in Dirndls in beer tents downing mugs of beer has now been a  typical sight for me. But seeing these blue sheep for a change is really refreshing, especially for kids. You can imagine how delighted my daughter is when she saw the sheep, and she explained how many are they!

Why they are painted Blue?

They  come in bright Ultramarine Blue color, which is the color of the Earth, ocean and the sky. I recognized this color since I have these in my paints. Blue is a primary color, a powerful base of the color spectrum. It symbolizes peace, unity, freedom and space. It embodies all good moral aspects.

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Grazing in Bavaria !

What makes the Blue Sheep special?

Every blue sheep is  painted and crafted in the workshop for mentally disabled people  ( Duisburger Werkstatt für Menschen mit Behinderung GmbH) , SBK Gmbh in Cologne,Germany. If you are interested to get a collector’s item ,you can learn more about this project here.They have a special offer for schools and hotels.

 

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Blaue Schafe ( The Blue Sheep Art Project)

The Blue Flock of Peace Art Project have been to key places around Europe like Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Köln, Bozen, Dresden, Heilbronn,Dessau, Berlin, Hannover and Strasbourg among others.

 

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( Alles sind gleigh Jeder ist wichtig ) Ambassadors of Peace, Tolerance and Equality

I must say that my Wandertag with my daughter today has been a fascinating one. It’s definitely Fall here now in Germany and I am so looking forward to wander and discover nature’s best, its vibrant colors and festivities.

How about you, have you ever seen this type of sculpture?

Are you fond of sheep?

 

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Ooh Shiny: What summer means to me, the Sunflower fields

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What summer really means to me : Sunflower fields!

Ohhhh Sunflowers! 

William Blake – 
“Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime,
Where the traveller’s journey is done.
Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire,
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

I have never seen sunflowers in my life for I think more than 8 years and seeing them once again brings back summer memories. Back then in my home country,  I saw them quite often but not in Kuwait. Yes, I saw some bulbs in flower shops, but not really the same wild sunflower fields that I knew.

The last few weeks here in Bavaria have been pretty toasty weather. Great time to stay outdoors, more water fun, and when its sunny, the sight of summer flowers can be refreshing. Fields of  blooming sunflower is what summer means to me here in Germany! These golden-yellow shiny beauties are my favorite summer flowers and here in the southern part where we are rewarded with more sunshine, they grew beautifully wild in many fields. I’m telling you, it’s such a beautiful sight. They are a complete distraction when we cycle along the countryside. I don’t know with you but the sight of them makes me happy, makes me somehow excited. Something about them  gives sunshine to my soul.

Standing in front of them, while you can hear the  sounds of nature, crisp winds,  buzzing of the bees, swaying of the golden glow of strong, fresh sunflowers against the blue sky is to die for. I love the peace and serenity it brings. So simple, so raw, a pure nature’s delight. They are the brightest replica image of the sun. They simply brings warmth!

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Sunflower fields in Bavaria on a bright sunny day

For me summer is no summer without the bright, shiny , golden sunflower fields! Remember how I shared with you how I bursts out in excitement when I saw the tulip fields in Keukenhof, and gazing at those gazillions of multi-colored tulips?

Or my delight when we visited the Rapeseeds? almost as golden-yellow of goodness as the hundreds of sunflowers looking up through the sun. I actually cycled for many times going through the same fields, I can’t get enough  of them. I need to indulge in them before Fall comes and turn these fields into grey, empty and dullness of hibernating earth.

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Summer goodness

I guess this summer we explored so many fields, not only of summer blooms, but also of many different crops. Just beside every sunflower fields we drowned into the acres of sweet corns too. I noticed by now the certain crops that grow in each season. This sunflower fields is the same Rape seed fields that we’ve been ogling for months last Springtime!

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My sunshine

You can see that my daughter was quite enamored of the big yellow sunflower. But hey, she is just as crazy as the wasps who flutters around it! She’s bent on chasing them! Brought her in many sunflower fields many times and she knows how to bring the sunshine home.

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Cycling with my most favorite travel Buddy along the Sunflower fields

A bike ride with this Little One makes it even more special and I can’t complain for anything. Visiting sunflower fields on hot,summer months gives us that holiday feeling for an ordinary day .Here in Bavaria, we have plentiful of these and you can pick them up by yourself and self-pay. The flower fields also have so many different kinds of lilies, and other summer flowers.

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Wandering in the sunflower fields

Sunflowers become one of my painting inspiration. Their image is left in my mind so I decided to paint and make some cards out of it, of course, I didn’t forget to get some bulbs to brighten up our living room.Wild sunflowers are often photographed with their tall stalks and bright petals stretched towards the sun. This interesting behavior, known as phototropism, inspired a motif that has appeared in many ancient works.

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Flower art therapy

Though they are a crop planted with a purpose, their bright colours spread an instant happiness and positive energies. They look pretty, they give us healthy seeds to eat and oil for our cars.  Sunflowers are the ultimate sign of summer and I love their simplicity and versatility.

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Some of the cards I’ve made  inspired by sunflower

Do you also have a sunflower story? I think for a flower that reflects so many of the sun’s positive characteristics, it isn’t surprising that people enjoy basking in the sunflower’s warming glow so much, just like I do.

How about you? How are you spending your summer?

What’s your favorite summer flower?

This post is inspired by this weeks’ photo Challenge |Ooh, Shiny!

Strawberry Fields forever

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Long wait is over, Summer is finally here!

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Fresh strawberry bunches sold in the erdbeeren Punck-Bayern, Unserherren Fields, Germany

Did you know that Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each Spring?

We can’t even get over with the ‘Spargelzeit’ (White Asparagus season) yet and now here comes the season of one of my favorite summer fruit : Strawberries  ( or Erdbeeren)! Since we had a sunny Spring, strawberries came earlier here in Bavaria. In Germany, it is very easy to distinguish what time of the year it is, just look at the seasonal fruits displayed in the shops and you’ll know. Strawberries and Raspberries are flooding the grocery shops, as cheap as 2.99 Euros for 500 grams! Last time, I bought a bunch of strawberries for only 1.99 Euros!

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A walk in the strawberry fields with a Toddler
So last Sunday, we decided to spend quality family time on a sunny Ruhetag by visiting the Strawberry fields and pick strawberries by ourselves. It was our first time to go in the fields so we are all excited!  I am so thrilled by this idea since I wanted to explore the strawberry fields here in Bavaria and for my daughter to pick strawberries by herself. All over Bavaria, from the start of Strawberry season,  there are so many fields are open, for locals and hungry-pickers to enjoy!  These yummy goodness fresh- tasting strawberries can be harvested over six or seven weeks. In the second week of May strawberries grown in tunnels in the open field reach the market, followed by strawberries grown under plastic by mid-May. And the season reaches its peak with regular open-field strawberries from the beginning of June. In July the greenhouses are prepared for the next season that can be harvested from the end of September to Christmas.

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On Repeat : Tasting , Eating, Playing 

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The best strawberries in town, fresh from the fields
We checked out the site of the strawberry Fields in Bayern and we discovered that there are so many nearby fields that are opened for public picking. There are also remnants of the White asparagus being sold in the stalls, but a wide supply of  raspberries, honey, Bio-eggs, and ice cream  are also available for purchase in the same fields. It was such a lovely experience and the weather is just right to pick them.Families with small children ran around the fields, old people with their buckets, picking with smiles on their faces, eating and just enjoying the early summer sunshine. What a delightful way to spend a Sunday morning!

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One of our handful picks, half were already eaten along the way!
Strawberries belong to the favorite fruit group in Germany; the 3.4 kilos of strawberries consumed per person last year are proof of that. They follow apples, bananas and sweet citrus fruits in the ranking of most successful fruit. And a representative survey showed that strawberries are a proud favorite of consumers between the ages of 10 to 25.

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Toddlers and Strawberries are always a perfect combo!

Stop and smell the strawberries! They are considered members of the rose family, they give off a sweet fragrance as they grow on bushes.

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Father and daughter bonding time!
We got more than 2 kgs. of fresh, juicy and super delicious strawberries and we headed home to have a Strawberry -coma weekend!

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Toddler life: Eating hay, rolling in the hay
You bet someone really had a great time in the strawberry fields. Going home covered in hay, smelled like grass and mouth-smothered with strawberries are a perfect way to end our trip! While cycling back home, I can’t help but to hum the song “Strawberry fields forever by the Beatles… ”

Will definitely check out the other fields next time so stay tuned for more of our Summer escapades!

What are your summer plans?

How do you enjoy the warm sunshine? Don’t be shy to share in the comments!

 

Art created out of Mess | Order

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“ORDNUNG” ( The German’s  love for Ordnung or Order)

I love anything about Arts and in any form. If you are following my Blog, you knew that one of my personal interests are finding beautiful arts along the way, anywhere. Being an Expat here in Germany, I am very curious to see works of local artists and explore the German art in general. It’s a global trademark that Germans are known for their “Ordnung “( or order), in their lives. Their love for rules ( and obeying it!) and rigid lifestyle are bound to be effortlessly organized and everything should be in order. I’m telling you, Rules here are serious affair and obeyed. Having lived here now for almost a year, I have seen this by my own eyes and witness how they do it for real.The Economist magazine suggested recently that Germany remains one of the most rule-bound economies in the world. No wonder. It  really pays off.

To name a few examples, take their Recycling system.No Jaywalking.No Littering.Ruhetag (or  Sunday Quiet times).German’s respect on personal privacy. Punctuality. On time buses & trains.Falling in Line. Discipline and so much more.

All of these shows “Alles in ordnung“( All in Order).

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Artwork created out of a mess by following an orderly form.

But what can you say about an artwork  out of making things to be in order?

To be able to see and appreciate the beauty of an artwork created with an imposition of “order “ from the mess or clutter is something unique and interesting, something worthy of admiration. For me, this is one essential way of creating an original art. Take a look at these photos where you can see that the Artist have used “normal office (or  büro) materials ” to become a representation of artistic conceptual artwork.

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Normal colored office folders stamped together to create a giant collage.

” You needed chaos to create order and by this, give a definition to beauty “

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Normal Garbage bins arranged in synchronized manner creates a  3-Dimensional work of Art.
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Sets of neon rulers hung vertically to create an original artwork.

Visiting the Museum of Concrete Art came as a surprise to me and I was glad that I was able to see this exhibit. This museum is the only museum in Germany specializing exclusively in the presentation of concrete ( non- representational ) art.

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The Museum of Concrete Art ( Museum für Konkrete Kunst Ingolstadt, Bavaria )

“Chaos was the law of nature, order is the dream of man ..”

In an unusual architectural setting, right beside the banks of the river Danube, some 1,000 square meters of exhibition area illustrate the development of this artistic style,displaying various exhibits from local and international artists with its important components.

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Black and white plant photos used as Office ornaments

This  exhibit themed ” Office Art ( or Office in the Museum )  of Büro-Kunst oder Das Büro im Museum ” which will run from April 1 ~September 10, 2017. This exhibition is in cooperation with the Foundation of Concrete Art Design and the exhibition presents works and installations of the Concrete and Conceptual Art, which address the office as a symbol of modern society and its organizational principles.

Have you enjoyed this post? How do you explore a foreign culture?

What is your opinion about the artwork of the artist ? Let me know by writing your comments below.

 

 

 

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

How to fall in love with your Bicycle this Spring

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Cycling through the golden fields in Bavaria

I want to share with you how I developed a new-found love-affair with my bicycle this Spring time.

No, it’s not the current trend here in Germany, nor a health fad, but yes, it’s the number one outdoor sport choice! Fortunately, I am married to a Dutchman, from The Netherlands, the land of cyclists. The land where Bicycles and people are like Bread and Hagelslag  or sprinkles (totally inseparable!).

For the record, Dutch people revolved their lives in Fiets ( Bicycle) and from the country with much more Bicycles than inhabitants, so yes, they have a serious affair with bicycles. Add the fact that I am  living in a country where cycling is ingrained in everyone’s mind. Cycling is a big part of German culture. If you will move to Germany, it is likely that you will buy a bike! It is very rare to find an adult German who did not grow up riding a bike and whose children, parents, and even grandparents probably still ride bikes. My neighbor who is almost 80 years old,  still rides her bike gracefully, twice a week doing her groceries by bike and doesn’t mind cycling during winter.Amazing, right?

So, I am inspired by this.

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I am not in the lowlands but I am cycling under a carpet of Cumulus clouds.

The weather nowadays is at its best here in Bavaria.Thinking that for the past 8 years I got used to 50+ degrees C temperatures outside, here on the other hand, a mild 10-25 degrees in a bright sunny day is absolutely amazing! Not too hot, not too windy and the chill is just right.

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16- Kilometers of cycling with a toddler rewards us some photo-ops in the Stables with lots of horses so shy from the camera.

My little old town, Ingolstadt,  can be explored extremely well on a bicycle.The cycling tours will take you through a typical Bavarian agricultural landscapes, Asparagus fields, and hop gardens scenic views to the south, up to the foothills of the Altmühltal nature park to the north. Pretty villages with public houses and Biergartens ( Beer garden) line the route.

We are joining our first Bike tour ( Biotopradwandertag 2017) this coming Sunday, with my toddler of course, so stay tuned for my stories later about it!

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Toddler and adventures kind of day!

However, much more than one day is needed to discover everything that Bavaria has to offer.If you are a tourist, a trip to the historical sites in the pedestrianized Old Town is a must.The easy-to-follow- biotop adventure path, with a total of 11km in length is also another option.The path consists of 18 stages. At each stage you can find out about the habitats of animals and plants and why do we need to protect them.This is an interesting cycling path for the nature lovers and for active cyclists.

Do you live in seasons? What’s the best way for you to enjoy Spring?

For me, soaking up under the sun, cycling til my ass hurts,BBQ and picnic outdoors, admiring the golden rapeseed fields, and chilling’ in beautiful gardens full of spring blooms! Sure thing I do miss the beach back then in Kuwait and the island-hopping in the tropical islands back home in Ph, but then, spring time in Europe is not that bad. It is actually a whole new experience for me.

These are the moments in Spring that feels like summer–like having BBQ with friends in our garden, grilling the Bratwurst ,indulging in fresh green salads, eating ice cream almost every day (OMG! burn the calories through cycling! ) and finally, wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts!

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Always looking forward to the next cycling adventure!

I have a 2.5 year old toddler, and it’s absolutely not a problem! We bundled her up in the kindersitze and she also can have fresh air and outdoor times. Packed with lots of snacks and bag full of patience, off we go! Last week, we did a 15km ride to the East side of the city with my daughter and it was great. The great thing about cycling is that you get active, relax, meditate, at the same time enjoying some quality family time. I never imagined in my life that cycling could be this good, it will leave you craving for more and more. Once you learned to create adventures with your Bike, you’ll be cycling for life. Also,this is what I love about Germany–spending outdoors with family is a matter of priority!

Through our bicycle trips, we discovered many playgrounds. A pit stop to a nearby Spielplatz (playground) always makes the day and erase boredom from sitting in the bike.We always make it a point to explore nature, local sightings, and fun kid-friendly activities.

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Along the way, finding beauty in everything comes naturally. No filter needed even if I only uses my iPhone to capture photos because its handy.

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Orange poppies can be so lovely!

A pit stop in another lake on the other side of the city was totally worth the hours of cycling. The lake, surrounded with trees, boats sailing, swans swimming, and a cheerful crowd busy having BBQ’s, picnic and just lazing around the lake. The waters still too cold for a swim but I can see so many people put up their tents, camping and fishing. This place is a picture of a simple, serene escape from the busy-ness of the roads in the city.

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Old ladies chatting up with each other, under the tree, beside the lake.

Watching the time goes by while cycling and Wandertag with nature is the perfect Spring past time.

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Having some quiet time along the river

Cycling through the river Danube is one famous bike trails in Europe.The Danube cycle path is one of the best- known and passes through the unique,natural areas.There are many other interesting routes to explore, such as the Via Raetica along the historically Roman road. I live 10 minutes away from the banks of Danube river and this photo above is one of my favorite place to stop and just breathe in. It’s so peaceful!

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Discovering the beauty of Peonies

One can enjoy the scenic river views and enjoy the splashing from the little creeks with the ducks swimming by.  If you have time to kill, you can even catch your dinner from this point.This is also a great place to catch a sight of some birds. The extensive Donauauen ( the wooden areas on the banks of the Danube) stretch from west to east, making it a great starting point for any outdoor activity. If you got tired and needed to rest, there are enough platforms along the Danube to rest on and watch the flow of the river.

In the end,how far can you cycle will depend on your level of fitness.

 

Do you like cycling?

What’s your Bucket list for Spring?

If you like this post, make sure you followed my Blog to follow my Expat life stories here in Bavaria and Hey, do you like Art? I have a gallery of my personal Artwork posted in my Instagram, if you’d like to follow, you can view it Here.

Thank you for reading my friends, hoping everyone of you are enjoying the weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Fields of Gold: Rapeseeds in Bavaria

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The power of Rapeseed flower, a source of efficient and inexpensive source of energy.

April flies so fast, leaving me with its willful rains, hail and  more spring chills. With May now in my doorstep,  I know that summer is fast approaching, I notice so many sudden changes everywhere. I love changes, but sometimes, I felt like everything goes in synchronized motion and I need to keep up in my own pace. Here in  Bavaria, changes are so evident, my surroundings becomes greener once again. The grass gets luscious and growth is seen in everything. I asked myself, have I changed as well?

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The Yellow fields of Rapeseed in Germany, Spring 2017.

I wonder how on earth these plants grew up so fast! they’ve grown so much overnight! A month ago, the trees are still so bald and now, they are towering again with their succulent leaves.

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The charming Canola ‘Rapeseed’ flower

Yesterday, it was a beautiful day. We decided to take our bicycles and went for a spin with my daughter. Around 7a.m., the streets are already flooded with active Germans ready to soak up in the sun. We cycled and we were surprised that in the west side part of the city lies the ‘Fields of Gold’ or the massive ‘rapeseed‘ blooming with yellow  blooms. It was a surreal feeling cycling along these fields. I mean, I can’t stop but feel cheerful when I’m seeing this kind of view. No one can’t miss this sight especially when they are driving along this area, add the fact of the pungent odor that you’ll smell when you are near to the rapeseed fields.

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Rapeseed fields with the tower of the Liebfrauenmünster in the background.

I had the same feeling when I gazed upon the gorgeous Tulips fields in Lisse, in the Netherlands, but I didn’t know that just a few kilometers away from where we lived lies a scenic view that we can enjoy on a fine, sunny day! Personally, I am not immune to the allure of Spring, I love everything about blooming flowers and fascinating flora that showcase their beauty during Springtime. I know it’s an allergy season, but at the same time, a time of ‘Deutschland Dust ‘ season, or the pollen dust, which mainly comes from rapeseed flowers and other fragile wild flowers.

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Germany’s golden field of Rapeseed.

The first time I saw these fields were in the hilly side of Wurtzburg and from Hannover and Ostnabrück countryside.  I thought they were just normal weeds, I didn’t know their name.  Back then, I just thought they are a pretty sight! Yes, they are pretty, but they are one mighty source of ‘Biodiesel’, a very efficient and inexpensive source of energy.When combined with methanol, it yields rapeseed oil methyl ester. This is increasingly used as fuel in automobiles, although at this point, only about one to two percent of German cars are designed to run on it.

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One fine day with the Rapeseed fields..

Rapeseed, Canola flower fields are a typical Spring sight all over Germany.This plant ,or ( Brassica Napus)  is a bright yellow flowering member of the mustard or cabbage family along with 3,000 other species. “Canola” is a trademark for a hybrid variety of rape initially bred in Canada. Close relatives of this crop have been cultivated for food since the earliest recordings of man.Rapeseed, or rape, is used for vegetable oil; in fact, it’s the source of canola seeds and canola oil.

Quite interesting that most farmers plant Rapeseed after the Fall harvest, one can easily mistaken it as a simple ground covering for the cold winter months, but then , after 3-4 months, these plants turn a dull, grey fields into one scenic golden valley of golden blooms. Think about smart farming!

What do you think of German countryside?, isn’t it beautiful?

 

Are you on Instagram? Please follow me and see more photos from my Expat life in my Instagram and if you are into Art, you might want to check out JustbluedutchArt to see some of my artworks!

Thank you for reading friends, wishing everyone a great week ahead!

 

 

Spargelzeit : White asparagus time in Germany!

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Spargelzeit ! ( White Asparagus season) ,Germany’s King of Vegetables arrives in Springtime!

Spring is totally  all over here in Germany!

Everyday, as I  look at how the pretty magnolias and enchanting pink cascades of cherry blossoms brings a pink spectacle in our surroundings, this makes me love even more Spring! Even the tulips that I planted in our garden blossoms into bright fuschia and red bulbs, beside the rows of yellow daffodils making it super ‘Gezellig‘, and undeniably a cozy, warm & festive season! And yes, time for Germans to indulge in white Spargels! When I say indulge, imagine a  consumption of whooping 125,000 tonnes per year!

It is true,that’s a whole LOT of Asparagus or locally known as Spargel!

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The “White Gold”in Germany, the White Asparagus

Just as the Apple marks the Fall season and culinary delights for baked pies, Spring time here in Germany signals the start of Spargelzeit, or the season of White Asparagus!

Have you heard anything like this before? Well for me, I only knew of Green Asparagus! I’ve read that there’s a purple variety as well but white, it never really occurred to me!  I have never seen or tasted  a white asparagus in my entire life. Not until I’ve been here in Germany. If you’re wondering what’s the difference, very simple actually;  the white variety grows entirely surrounded by earth. In turn, this protects the slender stalk from sunlight exposure and keeps it from turning green. This also affects the subtle flavor of it. Rich in nutrients and very low in calories, asparagus is a healthy and delicious food!

Remember my story about how Germans decorate their fountains with 10, 000 hand painted Easter eggs? Germans as well, prefer this seasonal white delicacy that grows only during Spargelzeit, from April to July. Now nobody can really underestimate the Germans special affection to Easter, Spring festivals and their culinary calendar in each season. Especially here in my Bavarian town,  Ostermarkt (Easter Market), Osterbrunnen (Easter fountain)  and the Frühlingsfest (Spring festival) are all big celebrations . But the special culinary specialty for Spring is no doubt the white, long, slender stems of white Spargel (asparagus) .

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My first sighting of the famous White German Asparagus ( Spargel) in our local Farmer’s market .

Germany’s  “king of vegetables” can be seen as early as middle of March but the official harvesting season of white spargel starts around April and ends until June 24. First time that I saw these white asparagus was in our local farmer’s market and since then, I saw these bunches more often as well in various supermarkets. Though prices might soar up high during the season, and many will sprout as cheap ones, they say that it’s still best to get the best grade asparagus since as for the Germans, it is always worth paying more for the ‘white gold’.

So how does the White Spargel taste?

White asparagus is much softer in texture and stringier than the green asparagus.It has more subtle and delicate flavour. It is traditionally served with melted butter and potatoes (Spargel mit Butter), with ham (Spargel mit Schinken) or with hollandaise sauce (Spargel mit holländischer Sauce).

I’ve found out more interesting facts about the White Spargel :

  1. It takes 3 (Three) long years for an asparagus plant to produce its first tip.The soil is piled up in knee-high banks making its unique appearance.
  2. The states of Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony take special pride in being prime asparagus growing regions in Germany.
  3. Just like beer festival, there is also a “Spargelfest” ( Spargel festival)  held where culinary experts showcase their fresh spargel dishes,peeling contest and even celebrating with the Asparagus Queen!
  4. There is an Asparagus Museum in Herten, North Rhein Westphalia, in Germany.The Vestisches Spargelmuseum is dedicated to this spring delight, owned by Ludger Südfeld.  The exhibit display trace the entire cultivation process of this vegetable.
  5. According to the records from 2012 released by Federal Ministry of Agriculture recently, asparagus uses a fifth of the entire open land area for vegetables in Germany, making it the vegetable with the largest cultivation area in the country.
  6. The city of Schwetzingen claims to be the Asparagus capital of the World!
  7. During Spargelzeit, the average German enjoys the delicate flavor of this tender spring vegetable at least once a day. This, in turn, adds up to a national total of over 70,000 tons per year!

 

Yes, would you believe that in this country known for its ordnungs, there is also Asparagus quality !

Asparagus Quality

Germany has divided asparagus into strict quality classes, comparable to USDA Grade A, Choice, etc. The classes of “Spargel” are:

Extra – Minimum diameter of 12 mm (15/32 inch), no hollow cores, perfectly straight and all white. Most expensive.

Handelsklasse I (HK I) – Minimum diameter of 10 mm (3/8 inch), light bending, light coloration (violet). Good value.

Handelsklasse II (HK II) – Minimum diameter of 8 mm (5/16 inch), curved stalks allowed, slightly opened flower heads, more color than HK I and sometimes woody. Good for soup stock and students.

 

Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever tried eating white Asparagus?Also, do you think eating Asparagus makes your urine smell?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Island-hopping with a Banca

Adventure is worthwhile.” ―  Aesop

 

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“Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life..”.{ Werner Herzog}

I grew up in the second largest archipelago in the world, and with 7,107 islands with 36,289 kilometers of coastline,the sight of Banca ( Banka in Tagalog , pumpboat or  canoe ) is as common as hundreds of  typhoon-visits I’ve seen in my whole life! Although, we didn’t live near the sea, my childhood is filled with family swimming trips and beach getaways with friends. A country with tropical climate and abundance of water sports, it is very easy to indulge in the beach and explore nature through a tiny fishermen’s boat. The banca, also known as ‘pumpboat‘, which has 2 large outriggers which are usually made of ‘Bamboo‘to give the necessary stability.

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Accidentally we found another beautiful island…

Just like any firsts,  my first Island hopping experience was unforgettable, at the same time, liberating.  I said this because when you ride a banca, you will lost all your inhibitions, your sea & motion sickness , tensions, and fear of the waters will be gone. ( At least it works for me! )  Thoughts like ; ‘Is it strong enough? Will I reach alive in my destination?  or what if it suddenly sinks? ‘. Totally morbid thoughts!

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Sitting at the dock of the Bay { Soundtrack of my Life}

When you go on an adventure boat ride, it seems that the boat absorbs all your worries and transport you into another world, literally. Every move, the roaring motor sound it makes, the way that the boatman pull and start the engine, every push of the paddle and waves creates a magical nostalgia. This is how every island trip becomes special to me.Imagine owning an island for a day? Or sleeping under the stars, endless bonfires and the beach as your backdrop!

As each banca has its own personality, so as the journey. There is something so raw, exciting, and at the same time exhilarating about sitting in a wooden rugged ,slim boat where you can see the  fishes swimming, your face get wet from the splashes of the tides, and the open view of the sea that makes your horizon like  blue infinity.

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Our rental Banca during  Island hopping 

The banca is as typical as the colorful Jeepney, but  only 20 % of about a million bancas are registered. Uniquely, all of them have a name. Yes,you can recognize them in their flamboyant writing such as ‘Princess of Coron‘, Poseidon, Madonna or Seahawk. Most bancas are normally named after their owners, like the name of the hotel and resort, their son, or daughter. Isn’t nice to have a boat named after you?

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Waiting for the next destination…

I have boarded the largest sailing ‘Dhow’, the Al-Hashemi in Kuwait and explored nearby islands through a modern Catamaran, but my excitement can never surpass  the time when the wind blew over my face when I am on board in the little,skimpy, noisy, and colorful Banca. Have you ever wondered how a banca is made? If you watch the Secret Life of a Banca then you will realize how special it is.

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Unique cone-shaped bancas we used to explore the craters of a volcano

After the devastating  typhoon Haiyan, around 30, 000 bancas were destroyed, debilitating  the poor fisherman’s source of income in the Philippines. The old Banca  is being honed and re-engineered from the old model with the new through the use of fiberglass boat technology.Aside from its touristic usage, the Philippine bancas are now being built better, to empower the local livelihood and to weather the storms of the future. They are not just for photo shoots and having some fun in the islands, for the locals in the coastal areas, the banca  is the way of life and a way to live.

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Our rental banca in the midst of limestone rock mountains

If you’ve never ridden a boat, maybe the sight of a banca might intimidate you. But trust me, they are the  most reliable mode of transport to cross the sea, river, and lakes and wander through the mountains into the best-kept hidden paradise. Bancas are relatively robust if they run to ground since they have no deep-set keel or a centre board (sailing boat). But their maneuverability is relatively limited due to the flow resistance of the outriggers and the small oar blade. They are only partially ocean-going. Bancas can differ in degree of motorization, forms, sizes and colors.

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Bancas in front of the houses in the local neighborhood in Negros Oriental

I have seen smaller paddle-bancas. Children who lives along the coast  uses these boats as their playground. At an early age, they are taught to swim and  join their parents to go fishing.Poorer fishermen have only a paddle-banca but at night, they join the bigger motorized boats to catch more fish. The sailing-banca are seldom used but can only be seen in the southern regions of Sulu, especially used by Badjeros. They are famous for their colorful sails. In Boracay island, I saw bancas with blue sails docked on a bay during sunset. They look spectacular in summer!

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A beautiful day to sail

During island-hopping, the banca is usually provided and arranged by the hotel we are staying. They have their own boatman, with a guide and they are all experienced in sailing. They provide life jackets and are very flexible to our needs.While exploring the island, snorkeling, and swimming, our rented banca is just there, waiting  patiently . Everytime we hop on back to the banca, I know that the next adventure awaits.

“The sea is the same as it has been,since before men ever went on it in boats”

{ Ernest Hemingway}

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Until then…we shall sail together again.

 

Have you ever ride a small boat like the banca?

How was your experience?

If you love reading this post, share it with your friends and leave your comments. Thank you once again for stopping by and see you in my next island hopping adventure!

 

 

Fasching and Kinderball

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My daughter in her first experience of Kinderball 

Did you know that Germany has a version of Mardi Gras?

It’s called Fasching, Karneval, or Fastnacht  which all refer to the pre-Lent season, locally known as Faschingzeit and also referred to as the Fifth Season, mostly in German-speaking countries.  These celebrations date back hundreds of years, rooted in both Catholic and early Germanic traditions.

I notice this from mid- January, when all shops changed their displays from Christmas theme  into a wide, colorful arrays of costumes for young and old, masks, and various kinds of dress-up materials. And no– this is not Halloween.

Although there are carnival observances all across Bavaria, it should be noted that Fasching customs vary from place to place. Franconia (northern Bavaria) is where most of the action happens, but the capital city of Munich (München) has one of the largest Fasching fests in Bavaria – although the Sunday Fasching parade in Würzburg is Bavaria’s biggest. After the crowning of the Fasching prince and princess (das Faschingsprinzenpaar) in mid-January, everyone prepares for the start of carnival in the week before Ash Wednesday.

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Faschingzeit in Germany

Here, Fasching is not that big compared to the ones in the neighboring regions. Most clubs have a Fasching party but I don’t know how does it looked like since I have never been into one. We don’t have those big parades and street party. But they have this big event for the Little ones, where kids and the kids at heart enjoy the festive and cozy dress-up celebration. Kinderball is an event organized by Narrwalla, where kids and their parents are all dressed up in all different costumes. Most of them also have a Fasching event in their Kita and Kindergartens.

 

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Kinderball 2017

If you’re a parent, this kind of event is something that you would want to bring your child to enjoy hours of concert, singing, dancing, entertainment, and socializing. The kids jumped happily and more, interested to see the tricks played by the clowns, the light show, and of course there’s the Fasching songs that makes it so exciting. My Little Pumpkin surely loved this event.

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My Little Pumpkin 

The locals dressed up seriously and it’s obvious that they really enjoy it. Fortunately, it falls on Sunday so most families are there. I originally planned to dress up my daughter in a princess but she keeps on eating the sleeves so I decided to changed it into a Pumpkin where she personally choose. There was a service from the restaurant so Fasching food and drinks flooded the tables.There were cold cuts, sandwiches, different cakes, ice cream, potatoes, sausages and much more.

There’s a nice gallery posted online about this event. You can check it out Here.

What is your favorite costume to dress-up?