Artwork: Surreal Aquarelle skyscapes

Hello friends!

I am working on a different series nowadays. Maybe it’s the changing season that’s inspiring me to create a different palette of colors and play with surreal sky effect visual artworks. A different forte compared to my style in making the “Faces in the Crowd” series, with this surreal paintings of skies, stars, and colorful  cloudy effects —the options are limitless and no painting is similar to the other. Every single painting turns out to be different.

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‘” Twilight “- original hand painted  and 100% hand-made item in 36 X 48 cm acid-free, age resistant aquarelle paper using Artist’s grade paints and inks.
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Closer look on this Twilight sky and  starry night  Aquarelle painting.
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Ready for shipping!

I love how it turned it so well. When I put it beside the Eclipse’s photos, I realized that there is only a thin line separating from my imagination of the starry skies, the moon, the stars, and the sun. It’s amazing how nature can inspire us to create something surreal.

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Surreal Sky and stars effect watercolor paintings ( Artwork by JustbluedutchArt)

 

 

This one is a version of a cloudy day. The painting is made with lots of greys, viridian, violets, blues and lots of wet-on-wet washes techniques. I specifically used a heavier, matt paper to withstand the washes. I am using the finest grade of Hahnemühle aquarelle papers which are acid resistant, age-free, and totally absorbent and causes no warping. I love the quality of these papers and they come in a block form so I don’t even need a canvass board while working on them.Quite expensive but the quality is good.

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“Stormy Clouds “- original Watercolor painting in 36 X 48 cm aquarelle matt paper

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Do you like paintings like these? What style of paintings do you prefer?

 

I love to hear your comments on my artwork, so please feel free to leave your comments!

If you’d like to view more samples of my Artwork, add me in Instagram where I post daily my current works! I’m still working on the online shop and updating the gallery feed so please stay tuned.

If you want to support a local budding Artist like yours truly, just send me an email in justbluedutch@gmail.com just in case you want to collaborate, inquire for purchases or whatever. I hope to hear from you!

 

Thank you for stopping by and here’s to a great weekend!

P.S. For those celebrating Easter, do you do Egg hunt and do you know by chance a sample of “Osterbrunnen” culture like the one we have here in Germany?

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday life in Germany: 14 weird things

Let’s face it,  expat life can be exciting, new place, new surroundings,  and definitely so many new routines, but full of mind-boggling  experience as well! Especially if you see a different culture that’s totally non-existent from the way you used to live before.Living here in Germany for the past months has been really great, but many times, I see things that totally cracks me up. But no matter how weird it may seem, I can’t deny that I am starting to love the German lifestyle. As an Asian Expat, here are some ” weird” things  I found here.

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The quaint view  from above  of my town in Germany

Have a laugh, or comment if you want, and yes, enjoy some time of awkwardness!

P.S. As disclaimer, these are all my OPINIONS and based on my personal experience. So, here we go!

1.German water comes from the Alps, they say it’s the best water in the world, how about the massivee Kalk?

I swear our kettle is a living testament for this! It has massive, hardened, irritating, Kalk inside. Tap water is super safe to drink but I find it so annoying to see the shiny stuff that floats on the surface of tea. Kalk is the reason why the pits of  shirts never get quite white, the grit on your wine glasses after using the dishwasher, the white stuff that clogs your clothes iron, the white stuff that remains after you boil water, the reason why you have to use 50% more detergent when doing laundry and the spots it creates after every shower is driving me mad. No wonder there’s an aisle in the supermarket dedicated for all the anti-calc problems!

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Germans love to drink Sparkling water and nobody likes water from the tap (Leitungswasser).

2. Sparkling water

Germans have a serious love-affair with ‘fizzy’ water ( or sparkling water). Water here is gold,you certainly CANNOT have a free water in the restaurant. Here, you pay for water and most of the times, they serve you with sparkling water unless you insist on getting the ‘still‘ water.The only water you can get at a restaurant will be bottled water with carbonation, or bottled water without carbonation.

3. Sprechen Sie Englisch? “A little” (or Ein bischenn)

I have this habit of asking Germans if they speak English, Always! But I always have the same response: Ein bischenn ( or a little bit ) . I observed that Germans are not boastful, or the bragger type. A country who has a very high standard of education and thousands of Ausbildungs and to think that most European speaks 2-3 language, and yet, seemed to be reluctant to speak in English, or shy in a way. Maybe they just want to appear silly. So now, every time someone says ‘a little‘, I  just assume they speak perfect English. I find this strange, but OK, they are Germans!

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No JAYWALKING in Germany.

4.Germans loves Rules and Order–Everytime!

Nobody EVER  jaywalks in Germany. Everyone obeys the rules! They have a thing with Ordnung    ( or order) most especially traffic rules and Recycling. So from someone who came from a traffic congested Manila and chaotic driving maniacs from the Gulf road in Kuwait, observing traffic and driving behaviour in Germany is something fascinating. From my experience, drivers are  super polite, nobody shouts in the road, I have never seen road rage as often I saw in Kuwait and  the one thing that you will never find in the Gulf countries– they always gives way to pedestrians. There are many zebra crossing and people with disability are always given proper consideration. Just don’t walk in their cycling lanes or else, you’ll get angry stares and the bell will absolutely ring twice!

 

5. It’s a bad luck to wish someone “happy Birthday “in advance.

I didn’t know that greeting someone when it’s not yet their birthday is considered as bad luck for Germans! Never ever greet in advance to a German or you will receive angry stare, probably a long silence.There’s a saying that sums up the German mentality nicely: “Du sollst den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben,” or, “You shouldn’t praise the day before the night.” It means don’t be sure of something until it happens, because then it won’t happen. So wishing someone a happy birthday early could mean they won’t have one, or more precisely, that they’ll die.

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Big flat buttn for a job well done!

6.The thing about German Toilets

No hose.No Bidet. For ladies you know what I mean. Back home and while  I was still living in Kuwait, we have water hose beside the toilet bowl. But here,not a single one. Germany loves everything that is energy-saving, water saving, and environment-friendly. If you want to live in Germany, get use to toilet papers.More funny thing is, in our apartment,our toilet (Bad) is facing a major busy road, so when you do your business, you have a view! Imagine that!

Another thing, all German toilets have big square or rectangular buttons. A big button for a job well done!My daughter loves to push this because it’s so easy, totally different from toilet bowl designs I grew up with a push valve that you pull to release water.

7. Big Light Switches and Kid-friendly outlets.

Apparently the little light switches that flick on and off in Kuwait and from Philippines just don’t cut it in size for the Germans. Here, they have these massive buttons  that allows for an easy on and off. Have you ever tried to turn on the light in the dark feeling the entire wall before finding the switch? Not in Germany! In our basement where the laundry area is located, there are lights in the corridor which switch off automatically after 1 minute. I was feeling creepy the first time I experience this because I was waiting for the light to be out, no matter how I push, it’s still ON.

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Roller shutters in windows  Germany

8.Jail Blinds and every windows with Roller shutters 

We have large windows that also serves as doors in our living room and bedrooms.Talk about functionality, here in Germany, most homes have this type of windows. The light flooded our house on a sunny day and I love that. All our windows have roller shutters and many German homes have the same blinds. Though it offers a guaranteed sleep in the pitch black, I find it rather spooky at first. Around 6pm when it’s starts to get dark, you can hear all the shutters being put down. If you walk in the streets at night, it can really be so silent. So totally different from Philippines. In Germany it is not always so easy to know what your neighbors are doing.

9. Wide Open Windows and sometimes, curtain-less!

This is possibly the best window there is! I feel so free when I wake up, open the window wide and hang half of my body outside for some crisp, clean, fresh morning air. The levers on these windows don’t only open sideways but from the top too! You can decide to tilt it to let some air come in, or open it fully sideways.the best thing is, everything looks so modern with clear windows and no squeaking hinges.

10. They Have Style When it Comes to Buying Groceries

Perhaps not every German, but when here in Bavaria, almost all the locals I see are shopping with wooden baskets. Here in Bavaria, in the old town during weekend market, the sight of people shopping with wooden baskets is so idyllic. I see so may of these little wicker baskets or little canvas bags, some are even attached to their bikes. Way to take the reins on eco-friendly shopping Germany! There is also the trolley that the old people use to get groceries. I have never seen something like this in Kuwait or in Philippines.

And yes, you need to bring your own bag when you buy groceries and you pack your own goods!

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Life in Germany : Two duvets in 2 separate beds, Two is better than ONE!

11. Square Pillows and Double duvets in two separate beds

Yes,Germany is one of the countries here in Europe and in Scandinavia that uses two beds, two duvets for a couple’s bed.This was a total shock to me when I first saw it. I love the idea of comfort, more sound sleep idea that you get from it, but I am never fan of this square ( 80 x 80cm )  pillows. I don’t like it and it’s a pain in the neck.

12. Sunday is really a Quiet Day.

On Sundays, ( or Ruhetag )  it is illegal to mow your lawn so don’t ever think about it. Your neighbor would probably won’t approve. It is considered rude to ride your loud motorcycle. Basically, you shouldn’t use any mechanical or electronic device that makes noise. If the walls are thin between you and your neighbors, they might ask that you don’t do laundry on Sundays (which is when I do laundry). German’s like their quiet time so they just keep on cycling all through out the day especially on a bright, sunny day!

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Walking on a dreary winter, on a frozen lake!!

13. They love the Outdoor life.To the max!

Okay this one is no- brainer. Back then in Kuwait, people also flock outside especially when the weather is cooler and mild. But here, what surprises me is how Germans love outdoors no matter what the season is. People are cycling in winter. Walking their dogs every single day. Sunbathing in the parks in summer, and get a ‘tan’ sitting on cafes with strollers and everything on bright sunny days on weekends. On Saturdays, people flock in the wet markets to get fresh produce, at the same time eating weisswurst and beer at 10 am! Old people are super edgy, hiking and do nordic walks. Even young people walk with the “magic stick”.Children live half of their day in the parks and playgrounds. For Germans : There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!

14. Remember that Eis is not Ice

I am used to having ice cubes in my beverages. I am never a fan of drinks without the chill, unless its coffee. But in Germany, putting ice cubes in drinks is not common, and if you want ice for a drink, you may want to ask for “Eiswürfeln” (ice cubes) instead of simply “ice” to avoid confusion. Also, Eis means ‘ice cream’ so be careful when ordering. In Germany, eating an ice cream on a cold days is also very typical!

 

There you have it!  Do you also find any ‘strange’things in your country now compared from what you’ve used to?Feel free to share in the comments!

Stay tuned for more stories like this on my next post about Everyday Expat Life here in Germany.

Any thoughts? If  you enjoyed this post,  you might like to read more stories like this, here are further reading;

Bavaria in 100 Days!

25 Surprising facts about living in Germany

Why is it more Fun to be a kid in Germany

Servus ! How to say Hello in Bavaria

Tschüss !

 

 

 

 

 

 

Konichi-WOW: Parenting in Tokyo,the world’s largest City |Expat Mama in Japan

 

 

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Victoria and her adorable son, William, a Lego Aficionado! (AmericanExpats in Japan)

It’s time to get to know another awesome Expat-Mama!

We had an amazing series of wonderful Expat -Mamas & Papa around the World last year, and to start off this year, we have a very interesting feature —Victoria, an American Expat-Mama living in Tokyo, Japan with her husband,Nicholas, and their handsome young man, William (2.5 years old).

Konichi WOW: Parenting in Tokyo, the World’s Largest City

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Living in Tokyo- the largest, and probably the most fascinating city !

Tokyo in a glimpse

Tokyo-The most populous city , probably the most bizarre and yet fascinating metropolitan with more than 35 million people living in it.Tokyo is not only known for iconic city that was chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2020 Summer Games,but it is also one big magnet for Expat families. Japan regularly touted as the safest for children and was the 4th (fourth) best place to raise children, according to HSBC’s 2014 survey results.Tokyo is one of safest capital cities in the world, too.

Only in Tokyo that people reserve their seats in Starbucks by leaving their wallets and designer bags on the table!  In general, residents respect personal space and privacy, and public spaces are remarkably clean.

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Adventures with a toddler on the move

Victoria’s Background

Victoria is the  Lifestyle Travel Blogger behind teafordinosaurs.com. Originally from Chicago, she spent the past ten years of her life living in Milwaukee.  When her husband received a job offer in Tokyo, they chose to embrace the adventure.

Pre- baby, she was a Marketing Director for a nonprofit organization. In her free time, she managed an online shop and danced professionally for the Milwaukee Brewers. Post- baby, she chose to be a stay at home mom. She continued to manage her eBay shop and added an Etsy shop to the mix. In preparation for their move to Tokyo, she closed up both shops and shifted her attention to creating a blog about travel, expat life and parenthood.

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Livin’the Expat life in Tokyo!

Share something about the current country you are living in and notable aspects – (food, leisure, nature, quality of life, childcare, education etc.) local customs & culture, attractions, family oriented activities and raising your kids as an expat.

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Enjoying a train ride with Daddy !

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Tokyo is quite different from Milwaukee as you may have guessed. The streets are crowded, there is a language barrier, driving is weird and we are away from our friends and family. However, it is also very safe, surprisingly quiet, and extremely accessible even with a toddler in tow.

On City Living

 For the most part, I love living in the city, especially Tokyo. There is always something to see or do even with a toddler in tow. Our apartment location couldn’t be any more convenient with a metro station right outside and 24 hour valet parking at our building. Still, getting around via train or car or taxi just takes a while. I miss walking out my back door, hopping in my car, and being somewhere, anywhere, within 15 minutes. The train is always at least 4o minutes for me because I’m traveling with William, and although traffic isn’t crazy, it goes slow and there are a ton of traffic lights. Having said that, even walking places takes a while due to all the lights and the fact that no one jay walks. People follow rules here and jay walking is illegal…

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The Kawaii culture

This is the Japanese word for cute. We hear it a lot due to having a blonde, two-year old in tow. Of course everyone wants to hear that their kid is cute but a couple of times people (harmless) have rubbed William’s head which is pretty strange. I just hope they’ve gone on to receive plentiful riches from the good luck they’ve acquired.

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Tokyo is very kid-friendly. Restaurants have kid settings and cups. Train stations have elevators. Department stores have play areas. Family bathrooms are everywhere. Talking about food, It’s all good, and you can find any cuisine you want.

One of the first things you learn about parenting in Japan is  that even very young children are expected to be independent and self-reliant enough to go to school unaccompanied, even if it means taking a city bus or train and traversing busy streets.

On Preschool

We decided to send William to school about three months into living here. We wanted him to interact with other kids his age, become familiar with listening and following a routine outside of our home. Plus, let’s be honest, Momma needs a break! I toured roughly ten different schools and on the low-end figures were coming in around $6,000 – $8,000 a year for two, half days a week. I’m all for early education but that is some serious cash to shell out for 7 hours a week! Eventually, I found a nursery school that fit our budget and needs for this year. It’s not my dream preschool, but we like it and it’s perfect for William’s first “school” experience.

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Where is ‘Home’ for an Expat Kid? 

On Language Barrier

 It’s not impossible to get around or enjoy Japan without speaking any Japanese. Most signs and the entire metro system are also in English. Hotels speak English and restaurants usually have an English menu or the point and nod works. Still, when you’re actually living here and say, want to return a sweater, it’s frustrating. More so frustrating because we take a language lesson once a week and I still feel like I don’t have the words when I need them.

Or relocating with your kids to another country? What are the common adjustments or struggles you’ve overcome?

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Off to a new adventure, new chapter!

Relocating with a two year old was relatively pain free (aside from breaking the news to your family and friends). Our son adjusted remarkably well and now at about 2.5 is starting to grasp the concept that we have two different houses that are very far away from each other.

My parenting style hasn’t changed too much since living in Tokyo. If anything, I am much more relaxed about letting my son explore and interact with new people. We are fortunate to live in a huge city that is extremely safe, of course it’s not perfect but it’s much different from the constant “stranger danger” mentality of the States.

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On Work-Family Balance

One of our biggest challenges was adjusting to the work life balance (or lack thereof) in Japan. My husband works much longer hours than back home and it took a few months to really find a groove and get acquainted with our new normal. I think what helped the most was allowing our life here to be something entirely different from we were used to back home. New place, new routine.

What is your opinion about raising your kid as a third culture kid? ( TCK means a third culture that your child is growing up with compared to the culture of your husband/spouse )

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Are you happy that you are raising an Expat Kid?

I am very happy to be raising an expat kid. We have been able to show him so much of the world before he’s even turned 3! Although he may not remember all of the experiences, I absolutely believe it has strengthened his ability to communicate, problem solve and understand the world around him. An obvious downside is being away from family, with such a huge time difference, phone calls can be tough. Going home twice a year and having family come to visit us here in Tokyo is a huge help and makes the time go by much faster also. As a bonus, we’re getting really good at taking looonng flights!

How do you make an impact as an Expat Mama in your country of residence?

At about two months in to living in Tokyo, I realized that making friends would take some effort. I created a playgroup via Facebook to bring together expat families within our area of the city. I enjoy planning the monthly events and love that the group members are able to network with one another. It’s always nice to know you aren’t alone especially when you are all in the same boat of trying to figure out life in a drastically different place.

Thank you so much Victoria for being part of this amazing series and sharing your life with us. It is a pleasure to meet you!

P.S.

All images used in this post are owned by Victoria and TeaforDinosaurs Blog. Should you want to use it, please mention or do inform her.

Want to follow TeaforDinosaurs ‘s Expat adventures in Tokyo? Follow Victoria in her Instagram account Here and her Facebook page .

Enjoyed reading about Expat parenting story like this? If you love this post, please share it with your friends and if you wanted to share your own Expat Mama/Papa story, please drop me an email in justbluedutch@gmail.com or leave your comments below!

 

 

One Dirty Job : Milking a Camel

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My Middle-East experience is complete, I’ve done one dirty job of milking a Camel!

I have also drink its milk. I’m telling you, it is not as bad as you think. They are just like the milk from your prized cows and goats, grazing in green meadows. Only that camels grazed in arid deserts.

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Milking a camel is not everyone’s pastime and maybe not your ideal thing to do if you are a tourist, but If you see a camel , what would you wanna do?

Do you wanna try riding it ?  stare into it’s big nose, or are you going to be like me, try the not-so-ordinary task of milking a camel ?

If you came from a place that camels are not a common sight, like Germany or Holland or even Philippines, then you would definitely frown at the idea  of drinking it’s milk ,let alone grab its…

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Into the desert | The road taken

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Into the desert in Kuwait

One of my fondest memories while living in Kuwait was exploring the roads into the desert. We had desert camping where the police check on us 3 times until ordered us to pack our things and go home. We’ve done fishing, picnics, and visited many farms near the desert. Yes–there are farms in Kuwait. There are farms with vegetation,and some with camels and other animals which is popular destination especially during the slightly ‘colder’months in winter .I have tried to milk a camel there and shoot with a rifle in one of these farms.

The road going to Abdaly farms, Wafra and Yasmin farms all the way up to the border of Iraq is surely a lonely, wide, hot arena of arid desert. With only the rows of power lines and palm trees as your view, and of course, watching in anguish, the car-racing maniac drivers who drive as fast as 200 kmph, obviously ignoring the cameras! But surprisingly, if you are adventurous enough,you are rewarded with a close encounter with camels, and  a chat with some locals with his pack of goats and sheep.

What’s your ideal road-trip like?

This post is inspired by DP Photo Challenge |The Road Taken

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

German sausages : Love it or Hate it

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Germany- the country who adores pig and sausages

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

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

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

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

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

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Currywurst swimming in curry sauce

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

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

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

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

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Sausages and more sausages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The king of Bavarian breakfast- the weisswurst.

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

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

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

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If the sausage fits…!

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

 

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

Walking on a frozen lake

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Walking on the frozen lake
Would you walk  on a frozen lake? Or what about running after your kid in it? Well today, I just did. But hey,  its a Frozen lake! 

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Germans walking their dogs in the Auswaldsee
The past weeks here in Bavaria has been cold and temperatures are negative. Really freezing cold.Now mother nature have done something during these times, somewhat surprising us with a frozen delight to appreciate the cold.The waters in the dam turns into ice, with zero current. I was totally clueless this could happen, more because I’ve never seen such thing before. I didn’t expect that the Baggersee and the Auswaldsee will get frozen! Last summer, I remember walking around the lake and we had an amazing time exploring the nature around,watching the deers, enjoying its blue waters on a sunny day. I also cycled here last Fall and watch how it turned into a nature paradise of trees in their colorful  leaves. Such a beautiful scenic place! Its typical to bring a picnic, camp, and  some fishing enthusiasts flock in this lake to fish, sail a romantic boat and watch the time goes by.

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Meeting up in the frozen lake
But I never really expected that one day, I would be walking through the lake, walking on normal ice.It is an amazing experience, but scary as well. Especially when you are walking with a two-year old. I don’t even want to imagine a rescue scene here so it took guts to finally step on it.

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Lazy sunday walks is perfect on a frozen lake

Today was another day that’s still cold, still negative temps but at least we had some sun. You can tell that it’s a good weather today compared to yesterday where in we freeze our asses out in the cold.We needed to be out  the whole day since we look into the 5 prospective Kita for my daughter.A day like this, as usual,the  Germans are out, doing their usual routines. I already noticed that the waters of the dam were frozen ice. There is no movement  anymore and it reminds me of the movie ‘Frozen’ when Elsa freeze the fjord . Its my daughter’s favorite movie so yes, I know it!

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A game of Eisstockschiessen, It’s a Bavarian thing!
It was so nice breathing in the crisp winter air, enjoying the scenery . It’s always a great time to just be out and stay under the sun. People are walking in their heavy bundles, carrying backpacks with thermos. Some are still braving the cold cycling, and of course, since this is Germany, people run, jog and do Nordic walking. We were surprised to see so many ducks, swans, and birds gathering there in the thin ice. People start to feed them with bread crumbs so they flocked on one side while the rest stay on the other side, having a nice sunbathing. I love to watch in silence how the ducks and the swans swim in the icy cold waters.

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Enjoying some wildlife scenery
I tell you, I was apprehensive at first to do this. What if it cracks?  I didn’t know how thick the ice could be. What if I step on a thin ice and it breaks? Would I survive from the cold?

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The birds are chillin…A typical sight in the the frozen Auswaldsee
I see so much fun around me. People are playing Eistocks schiessen and broom hockey. Kids are ice skating, sledding with their parents, and enjoying the experience of being in the icy lake. I walked with my daughter as well, holding her tight because she keeps on falling. I am so sure I’ve stomped on my feet just to check if the ice is really that hard! It felt so different,really surreal, but then so fun!  You really need to wear the right shoes or else your toes will freeze as well.The scenery of Baggersee this winter is what the Dutch called as Gezelligheid, different and overwhelming. A different winter beauty worthy to see.

Watching the families frolicking on the clear frozen lake, some running after their dogs would surely brings a smile on anyone for sure. It’s so crazy that parents even brought the stroller there.No matter how tempting and thrilling this experience, I recommend to be always be on safety especially if you don’t know the nature of the frozen lake. Make sure that the lake is frozen enough to enjoy!  It can be scary if you underestimate the thin ice on frozen lakes.

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Just a duck
Another helpful hint is to monitor any cracks in the ice. Ideally they should look about four to six inches or deeper, although people have skated on three-inch thick ice. Also, dark, fresh ice is safest. And remember that occasional rumbling and cracking are normal.

Don’t let a little cold weather stop you from enjoying the sun on a cold freezing winter days! 

Now did this awaken your interest? Personally,I admit its bucket list for me since I grew up in a tropical country.So here are some tips for you to enjoy winter days in a frozen lake if you are planning to visit one. Best of all, most of them are free;

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One fine hazy afternoon in a frozen lake
Ice skating. The most obvious activity is also the most timeless. No need to pay for an indoor or small outdoor rink.

Broom hockey. If you have actual hockey gear, by all means have at it.  Broom hockey is a fun team-based activity to enjoy on the frozen water, with or without skates.

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Reflection of the sun in the ice
Ice stock Schiessen. Also known as Bavarian Curling. In German, it is known as Eisstockschießen. Competitors slide ice stocks over an ice surface, aiming for a target, or to cover the longest distance. Ice stocks have a gliding surface, to which a stick (ca 30 cm) is attached. This is a new sight to me so I really enjoyed watching how they play the game.

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Bavarian Curling or Eisstockschiessen
Photography. I’m no expert. But a frozen lake may very well be more beautiful and majestic than a thawed lake. I’ve shared here some of the shots I’ve made today. All stunning. So why not catalog and capture your own impressive views of the lake?

 

Wildlife observation. Not all birds fly south for winter. So take a pair of binoculars and listen to the sounds. Admittedly, you won’t encounter flocks of species in the winter. But with the refreshing silence, you’ll immediately know when you encounter something of interest. And you’ll be reminded of how delicate life can be. Watching the ducks and swans can even be therapeutic.

 

Enjoy the silence. In the mountains, like our winter wonderland in the Zugspitze Arena enjoying the Alps  the surroundings as well in the lake is so serene. So relaxing.So peaceful because you are close to nature. The only sound you hear probably is the ohhhs & ahhhs when you are about to slip! Be careful!

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The art of capturing the winter beauty
Weather watching. Before you roll your eyes, know this: weather conditions at lakes are something fierce. Weather conditions at frozen lakes can be even fiercer, so it’s easier and more impressive to observe. Case in point: Fog banks, ice crystals, sunsets, and ice floes, all of which make their appearance this time of year. A dam that is completely zero current–that’s quite a sight!

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A small fall near the dam
Dog sledding, etc. This is what I knew Germans to be doing 24/7, no matter what the weather! Walking with their dogs is considered as a habit here, so why not let him do some fun adventure as well. Dog sledding is new hype.

Can’t believe that January will soon be over,time flies. How are you surviving the cold?

Have you ever tried walking on a frozen lake?  Do you remember doing some thing for the first time?

Thank you so much for reading my friends. Wishing you all a great week ahead.If you enjoy this post and want to see more of my photography , follow me on Instagram and my Expat stories!

 

 

 

Fateh al-Khair : Graceful against the wind

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Fateh Al-Khair – The last surviving Dhow ship displayed in front of the Scientific Center in Kuwait. (c.1938)

The Fateh Al- Khair  and its voyage  to India and Africa up until 1952 is one of Kuwait’s local pride and symbol of cultural heritage. They are called the “graceful “sailing ships . Built to withstand against the strong winds , these boats are with triangular sail (lateen)  set on a long yard mounted at an angle on the mast, and running in a fore-and-aft direction. For me, grace is an art and act of doing things in a dignified motion, like elegance against turbulence.

Living in Kuwait means seeing Dhow ships like this on a daily basis, as you see date trees almost everywhere!  Staring at them takes you back to the time where in dhows are the mighty means of transport of trading during the good old days, before the oil was discovered. The marine lifestyle of Kuwait is still so very active up to this day, although Kuwaitis prefer to travel leisurely  by yachts & private-owned boats. Fateh Al-Khair stands as a perfect memento of Kuwait’s  rich maritime culture. I won’t be surprised if they will build another extension of The Avenues with the concept of a dhow ship, after all, it’s the Top 1 Attraction in Kuwait!

Fateh Al Khair, is a surviving deep-sea sailing ship from the pre-oil era, that is displayed as an exhibit in front of the Arabian Gulf right inside the grounds of the Kuwait’s Scientific Center. Fateh Al Khair  is 19.8 meters long, 8.1 meters wide and 4.9 meters high. This ship was designed and built in Kuwait in 1938. The building of the ship took 18 carpenters who worked 60 days round the clock and cost approximately 17,000 rupees, which was the currency prevalent at that time. The dhow is made from Indian timber and weighs 95 tons when empty and can sail up to 13 knots.
In my days spent in Kuwait, I visited the Dhow harbor frequently since it’s just a few meters away from where I live. Seeing it against the background of  beautiful azure blue waters of Arabian Gulf makes me feel proud that once in my life, I have seen this important part of Kuwaiti culture. She’s a  fine noble ship, surviving the harsh winds from her voyages, and now, she rested with pride, gracefully.
Her legacy –  a Dhow ship in full sail is represented in the Emblem of Kuwait, emphasizing its traditional importance in the country, where it was used to carry fresh water and in the pearl industry, as well as a trading ship.
Are you fascinated with the Arabian culture?
If you want to read further about the Maritime Culture of Kuwait,here are some useful posts that I have written documenting my experience of seeing them. I got  married in the Guiness World Record- “Al Hashemi II “, the largest boat I have ever boarded, and even celebrated most of my special days in one of the traditional “Booms”.
Do you have a boat experience? What’s the biggest boat you’ve ever boarded?
If you like to see more photos with stories, please check out my Instagram and follow my Twitter for more updates! Have a great week…

This post is my entry for this week’s  DP Photo Challenge | Graceful