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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Milestone Alert : My green Goblin 3-Year old daughter goes to the Kindergarten!
It’s been a while since I’ve written some personal updates about my daughter whom I’ve written a lot about here in “Raising Natalie “. So I thought that after squeezing some quality time with my ever-beloved laptop which always reminds me of my Expat days in Kuwait since it has Arabic characters in the keyboard, I finally managed to put together this post to celebrate my daughter’s first days in Kita ( or German Kindergarten). And yes, I called it celebration, because I think, starting in Kindergarten is a great milestone to celebrate just like a promotion or a raise. After all, it’s a signal for growth. Not only for your kids, but for parents as well! Finally, my Third Culture Kid goes to Kindergarten!
So first, if you are a parent and your child goes to Kindergarten for the very first time, let me give you my warmest congratulations, and say “Well, done!”
I wanted to share our experience how did it go for us with my daughter starting her days in Kita here in Germany. I’ve written before how insane it is here to find a spot for our child to be admitted in the Kita. We literally waited for almost a year! Yes, A YEAR! With almost 10 schools we applied, only 1 responded. Sure thing, as a parent we all have our own preferences for which school we want our children to go, but here and on our case, it’s not just possible. You gotta take what’s given to you. The competition is so tight that you just put your hopes on luck! Anyway, we are grateful for the slot that has been given to us by the local ministry which takes care of these things. It is just in time for my daughter to be readily accepted since she just turned 3 years old last August and her school starts this September.
We ‘re all excited for her! Few weeks before she start, we always talked about Kita to her so she gets familiar with it. When we had our meeting with her teachers, we were asked to prepare the things that she needed like Regenkleidung ( rain clothes) like Matschosen, (which is really a German thing!) a raincoat,rain boots, hat, gym shoes, house shoes and extra pair of clothes(seasonal) just in case she make herself wet or dirty. We brought her some extra diapers just in case, toothpaste, tooth-brush, and her own File folder with her personal identification and a family photo.
Here in Germany, the education system is totally different from where I grew up, or from Kuwait, or in the Netherlands. Here, German focused more on children’s early development through free play, totally opposite from the American system where there is a stress on learning the academics at the very young age! Here, in simple layman’s terms: Kita is a place to play and learn things through play. Social skills are polished by stimulating the child’s development through unstructured modules. They learn things naturally and reading comes later. I never see any alphabet or numbers on the walls. I remember that in Philippines, Kindergarten & pre-schoolers are taught to read and write, paint, count and so forth and there is a reward system. Like if you behave well or achieve something remarkable for a certain activity, there is always the recognition. Remember the stars on the hand? Over here in Deutschland, those things are not the norm. I think I am the only one whose teaching my daughter to write and count!
When her teacher saw that my daughter reads the writings on the bulletin board and the names in their coat racks, she was really surprised! To top it off, I already announced to the teacher that my daughter is the only one who just can’t sit. She is so restless that she always wants to be on the go, running, playing and hyperactive. They saw it on the very first day. I haven’t even had the chance to say a proper goodbye because she already run into the playground and her teacher is running after her! We start with her staying in the Kita from 8 am to 11 am for the first 2-3 days, then gradually increase the times she spent there up to 2pm. On the first day, they asked me to leave after 1 hour and stand by phone to wait for any updates. Around 11 am, I picked up my daughter and felt relieved that she was playing by herself, cried a few times but they were able to calm her. I can see signs that she is ready for Kindergarten but the challenge of Separation and Hunger are two big things she is overcoming slowly, at her own pace.
My daughter is very social and yet uncontrollable especially when she is too absorbed with playing. She’s the explorer type so I know that the hardest part for the teachers to do is to tame her and make her listen. She has a lot of personality and her attitude stands out being the defiant. Oh yes, there were lots of crying, screaming, and defiance on these days and the worst thing is, she doesn’t like to eat or drink during Brotzeit (snack time) or even during lunch. She doesn’t like to be in their group, she refused to stay there in their room and prefer to be in the middle group where she spends her time pretend-playing, and obsessing about dressing up as a nurse and Doctor. By the end of the week, she caught her first virus , also maybe because we are having a terrible rainy-cold-crazy weather these days, so she got severe colds and when I pick her up, she was already warm.
It was not an easy start for us. In fact it gets bumpy at the end of the first week. Nevertheless, during the course of the days up until today, I saw that she made some progress. I was happy today because when I opened her lunch box, only few pieces of cucumber are left, we are making real progress! She sat in the table with her classmates and began eating together.I know there are more challenges to come for her, like sitting in the potty and probably sleeping there, but I trust that my daughter will overcome all these in due time and finally adapt to her new routine.
As for me, I don’t know about you or for other parents how did it go, but I really felt weird during the first day of my daughter in the Kita. Call me crazy, but I felt sad, disoriented ,and a bit out-of touch. I missed my daughter from the moment I left and my heart was crushed during the time I was going out to leave and heard her crying. I asked myself if I am a terrible mother? I can’t imagine that my hyper-active “kleine madchen“(little girl) will be needing me less and less. Its a mixture of happiness for her growth and yet why all these weird feelings inside me!? The separation anxiety is real now!
When it comes to the familiarization phase, it is important to observe and regard the many signs that our children sends out. There is a possibility that children react at a delayed stage (even months later) to an unsuccessful adaptation.
As the winds get chillier, and colder, signalling that Autumn is here and soon everything will be in full Autumn colors once again, my daughter is facing the new chapter of her life ; taking the Big Little Steps in the Kindergarten and we as parents, need to moved on as well. This Familiarisation period ( or Eingewöhnung in Deutsch) might not be easy from the start but I know, soon she will feel secure, safe and comfortable in her new environment. I am relieved that though the teachers barely speaks English, still we found a way to communicate and understand about the matters of her settling-in the Kindergarten.
How about you? How was your own experience when your child goes to Kindergarten for the first time? (If you have a child...)
I am very motivated person, especially when I am painting, but I discover that lately, my mood is greatly affected by the kind of surroundings that I am into. I realized that adding “greens”and cultivating plants have helped me so much to manage my stress and helped me take control of my focus. When I visit gardens, botanical or plant shops, I am in a happy place. It’s not just about the visual effects from plants that I love, I also adore the fact that houseplants add texture and life to a space especially with a more minimalistic theme like what I am into.
I am no-genius gardener or a skilled horticulturist, I just LOVE plants!
I don’t call this an obsession but a new passion. I guess if you LOVE something that you do, then it’s really good for you. For me, Green is the new Black. So I don’t feel guilty that I am indulging myself into my plant therapy and so far, I am so happy with the results. But it was not that easy at the beginning. The moment I bring home the plant, it starts dying, I feel frustrated. I won’t lie, I have killed so many until I have finally settled on best approach to keep my plants healthy, green, thriving, and best of all——keeping them ALIVE!
What is your plant’s personality?
One way I learned about plants is to do some research about them. It’s easy to take care of something that you are familiar with since plants are variedly different.
If you have a small apartment, better choose plants that can adapt to your space. It’s not just all about buying plants from the store and bringing it to your home. It’s all about incorporating it to your lifestyle. If you’re thinking of adding some plants into your home, then this post might inspire you. I have said to myself before that I am a notorious “brown thumb“, but then I bent myself in keeping them alive or else, I would really consider myself a “complete failure”! ( Crossing fingers!)
I wanna share with you 9 plants that I manage not to KILL (Hooorraayyy!!) and gratefully nurturing up until now .
1.Dumbcane ( Dieffenbachia , Leopard Lily)
This is actually a present from my parents-in-law once we moved to Germany. The photo above shows the mother plant, I already transplanted the other sprouts into another pot and that one is also thriving. It is very sensitive to direct light and overwatering is very crucial since it will rot the roots.I find this plant so pleasant that it adorns or living room in all seasons. Best to put in a corner where there is indirect sunlight .
Note : This plant is toxic. Not to be eaten. The leaves, if chewed or eaten, can cause temporary swelling of the tongue and throat, leading to a temporary loss of speech and the common plant name of dumbcane. While this is usually not serious, it can cause suffocation. Avoid placing the dumbcane plant where curious children or pets might be tempted to taste it.
2.Cornstalk Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ) or Massangeana
One of the best plant for purifying the air and removing several types of toxins. Its tall tree-like shape makes it a great addition to any room.Very easy to maintain. Take note that its leaves are toxic so keep away from pets.
Did you know that the dracaena fragrans was a plant used in the NASA’s clean air study which proved to remove a considerable amount of toxins from the environment.The worst thing’s to do with this plant is over water it or let it stay in direct sunlight for too long, otherwise it’s a tough cookie.
3.Silver Bush , Cushion Bush ( Calocephalus Brownii)
This is one of my favorite houseplants since late Spring. I find it so pretty and unusual. It looks so artificial with its silver bush and can add instant “life”once you place it near the other greens. It’s very easy to maintain this plant, again, it needs a good draining soil and too much water is the friend of this plant.
In Australia, Silver bush is also called cushion bush, because the twigs used to be used as filling for mattresses and cushions. Its suffix is ‘Brownii’which refers to the Botanist Robert Brown who discovered this plant in 1817.
4.Purple Shamrock , Love Plant ( Oxalis Triangularis )
I got this purple gem as a present from my neighbor. She gave me a small pot of this with only a few strands. Since then, it grew wildly, so I propagate and transplanted a total of 4 plants within 3-4 months. Yes, it’s really that easy. Oxalis triangularis or commonly known as ‘Purple Shamrock’ or Love Plant. Its purple triangular-shaped leaves are so beautiful, so amazing that during night-time, it closes and opens up again once it sees sunlight. It needs a good draining soil, and requires less water and moisture.
I place this plant in our kitchen window where it has an abundant indirect morning sun and glows perfectly well.This plant is a must have if you want to keep a homey atmosphere in your patio, balcony or just beside your bed.
5. Spider plant, (Chlorophytum comosum, airplane plant, St. Bernard’s Lily, spider ivy, or the Ribbon plant)
Another plant that I love is this cute Spider plant. It reminds me of the wild plants we have in Philippines .The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is considered one of the most adaptable of houseplants and the easiest to grow. This plant can grow in a wide range of conditions and suffers from few problems, other than brown tips
I find them Spider plant so easy knowing that they are one of the most popular houseplants. Best for beginner plant lovers just like me.These tough plants tolerate lots of abuse, making them excellent candidates for newbie gardeners or those without a green thumb. Provide them with well-drained soil and bright, indirect light and they will flourish. Water them well but do not allow the plants to become too soggy, which can lead to root rot. In fact, spider plants prefer to dry out some between waterings.
Succulents hit me hard. I find them so addicting. The first time I lay my eyes on them I immediately wanted to take home a bunch. But sad to say that because of my over-enthusiastic attitude, I have also “killed”so many. Back them I didn’t know how to keep succulents alive and I don’t have much idea. After learning my mistake, I manage to grow them and keep them thriving. I actually have so many “babies” which I replanted .
Number 1 tip : Do not over water and sometimes, its best to leave to actually leave them alone. They need at least 6 hours of sunlight. If you have winter season, its best to keep them indoors before winter comes so it helps them to acclimatize.Avoid glass containers or anything that doesn’t drain.
7. Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)
This is one of the first plants that I successfully grown from cutting a stem. Often called as a money tree ( as per Feng shui) and when grown indoors, Jade plant attains size like a small shrub. I keep in a place with partial indirect sunlight. I find this plant super tolerant of poor soils and its thick leaves and stems acts as reservoirs of water. Just take note that they are not thriving well with Overwatering so resist your urge to water often.
Do not water a jade plant too often,or as per schedule as this can cause root rot, only when the top soil is dry to the touch.
8.Dragon Tree or Drachaena Marginata
Just like my Yucca palm, the Madagascar Dragon tree is another perfect plant that requires little attention you can totally forget it exists.It can grow up to 8 feet and also toxic for pets.
Dracaena plant care involves keeping the soil moist, but never soggy. Drooping or yellowing leaves indicates over-watering or poor drainage. Learning how to care for a dracaena includes finding well-draining soil in which to grow your houseplant dracaena.
This plant prefers warmer temperatures. Be sure to remove any yellowing leaves and trim brown tips to groom the natural leave shape as needed. This is also a great plant for natural air purification. Yes, plants cleans the air!
9.Cactus (Kakteen, Cacti)
Need I say more, cactus are super trendy and is everywhere. From chic homes to effortlessly stylish spaces, cactus is definitely one of the popular houseplants. I love Cactus and I have always dreamed of having a huge cactus collection but my daughter seems to be so charmed with it so I best keep it to minimum since she has already hurt herself by the pins and hairs.
The photo below shows the very first cactus plant that I bought. It was so tiny back then with one single pad .Look at it now after a year, the sight of the new spikes are getting me super-excited I can’t wait to propagate them next spring.
If you are a Decoholic like me, then you might as well jump into this cactus trend and start your own indoor garden with cactus.A popular plant during fifties, it seems only natural that with the revival of mid-century design elements in home furnishings and accessories, architectural plants like cactus would be embraced once again. But how you display your cactus plant and what you display it in, is the key to creating a fresh, modern look fit for today’s interior. Best of all, they will survive even if you neglect them! They will greet you alive even from a 2-months holiday! They are known to be drought-tolerant instantly highlight the mood in any space.
Other plants that I nurture is the English Ivy which is thriving so well, my Christmas Cactus, Anthuriums, Lavenders, tomatoes and sweet peppers along with Begonias. I also love to grow herbs which I usually use in cooking like Rosemary and Basil (Basilikum).Will definitely do an update of this post next year for their growth status so stay tuned!
The most obvious benefit to having plants around your home is the visual impact. Of course flowers around your home can bring color and interest, but simpler green plants can also help a room look cleaner and more polished. They can even help you cover up blemishes on your walls or unsightly cords running along your floors.
Yes, you might have noticed that I am under the spell of Greens nowadays. I am loving all plants and thought that green is really the new Black! Here in Bavaria, the southern part of Germany, I have seen such an expanse of wild fields. From exotic plants to fine greens that all my Bavarian neighbors adorns their gardens and balconies to colorful blooms, especially in Springtime! One moment I am walking in the cobbled stone streets in the Old town where the stones speaks of hundreds of years in history and for a few minutes, I am lost in the middle of a wild fields full of greens and wild flowers. I find it rather luxurious to have the best of both worlds, seeing the urban developed structures, and the virgin, raw, and natural beauty of forests surrounding our city. Take for example this wild flower we’ve seen in a field full of bushes and wild summer flowers near to a playground.
In a typical place lies a nature wonder, a sweet surprise which goes unnoticed by hurries of life.
Taking a closer look at this flower, from the umbellifers ,from the family of Apiaceae , the Daucus dakota, or the wild carrot. This wild child is so striking, with its well-structured seeds covered in spikes and form into a ball while the umbels are still young. When they sprout, they have the same patterns.
The umbels are claret-coloured or pale pink before they open, then bright white and rounded when in full flower, measuring 3–7 cm wide with a festoon of bracts beneath.
A solitary purple flower often occurs in the center of the umbel. After flowering they turn to seed and contract and become concave like a bird’s nest. The dried umbels can detach from the plant, becoming tumbleweeds.
Did you know that the fruit are egg-shaped with seven ribs and hooked spines which will attach to animal hair.
Daucus carota is very similar in appearance to the deadly poison hemlock but Daucus carota is distinguished by a mix of bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its stems and leaves and a root which is a slightly thickened tap-root that smells like carrots.
Amazing right? I never knew that wild flowers could be so interesting as this!
Isn’t it good to be out and have a short trip once in a while? There’s something about getting lost in a new city. Wandering through the unknown alleys, skimpy streets , clueless, and eager is a feeling that is familiar to all travelers, backpackers and curious wanderers. There is always the mixture of excitement and ardent anticipation to see what is beyond over there, maybe on the look for a surprise, or even wishing for your imaginations to be real. Can you relate?
Let me share with you our wanderings in Nürnberg, the second largest city in Bavaria. Nuremberg is a 950-year-old city with romantic flair, drawing in heritage buffs, foodies and artistic souls alike and yes, a haven for the little ones as well.
We decided to skip the museums since my daughter will surely get bored in it and since its a nice weather, we opt for more outdoor activities. But walking through the streets of Nuremberg ( or Nürnberg as the locals referred to ) offers anyone a great kaleidoscope of history, arts, and charm. It is impossible not to stop and take a closer look because there is so much detail to ponder about, making me think what is it all about. For the record, Nuremberg was once one of the most important residences of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and has an almost completely intact city wall. The distinctive pink stone gives the city a fairy tale atmosphere.Its not everyday that I see a city with a palace on a hill, the Kaiserburg, or the Imperial Palace looms in the view the moment you start to wander in the Haupmarket,so that must be very distinctive.
Do you also find it fascinating to follow the current of the river while sightseeing? I find it so relaxing to have a few moments of peace while admiring the Pegnitz river , and when I turn my head around, I see the rows of cafes, filled with chattering tourists, and the streets filled with clash of cultures. There are two bridges, Museumsbrücke and Fleischbrücke , crossing the Pegnitz river to the Hauptmarket .The main street north from here, Burgstrasse, runs up to the skirts of the beautiful castle which we managed to climb – the Kaiserburg. This is something we never regret despite the uphill part because we had lovely views up above the castle.
As we continue to explore, we head straight to the Haupmarkt ( Central Market), which is famous for the Christmas Market and Christkindlmarkt during Christmas season. This is a huge square with tons of sights to enjoy. On normal days, you can see a huge stalls of different local produce such as fruits, veggies, sausages, cheeses, honey, garden plants, souvenirs and so much more. There are so many street food as well. We bought some grapes and it was really good. On the right side of the square situated is the Frauenkirche, a beautiful church and you can never miss to see the Beautiful Fountain ( Shöner Brunnen).Aptly named “The Beautiful Fountain”, this is a major highlight of the central market square in Nürnberg. It was designed in the 1380s by Heinrich Beheim, a stonemason, and was intended to top the Frauenkirche.It stands at an impressive 19 meters (62 feet) high and is bedecked in gold. There are 42 stone statues surrounding the fountain that depict allegorical figures, churchmen, electors and heroes. This fountain is always full of tourists trying to rub the copper ring believing that your wishes can come true!
Do you spot the precious ring?
It’s a sunny day and we are eager to cool down, but knowing there is not much shops with Air conditioning in Germany, we decided to walk further to get ice cream then we found this statue called “Das Narrenschiff” or The Ship of Fools. Children loves to swing in here,even adults, a famous meeting place. My daughter played here for a while so we spent an ample time looking at this bronze statue of a boat carrying seven people, a skeleton and a dog . It is planted in a main road, in an intersection, and catches the eye of travelers. Based on a popular sixteenth century book by Sebastian Brant, this piece was sculpted by Juergen Weber off of woodcuts by favorite Albrecht Dürer. This artwork shows an expelled Adam and Eve, their murderous son Cain and other violent figures. It is a scene showing the destruction of the world. Another fascinating fountain that we saw along the way and everyone should not miss is the Ehekarussell, or the Bitter sweet Marriage Carousel.This is my favorite so far.
As part of discovering the local culture, you’ve got to taste the local food as well. With all the walking that we’ve done, it is imperative to eat. As I wrote before that as a foreigner living in Germany, the amount of Sausages can be overwhelming! But then again, in a country known for its bratwurst, many German cities have their own specialty sausages, including Nuremberg. An authentic Nürnberger Rostbratwurst is made from low-fat pork enclosed in a lamb casing, twisted into sausages that measure from 7 to 9 centimeters long.Another must-see and must-try to do is shopping for some authentic Lebkuchen! Just going inside this store makes me hungry. I love everything about the dainty bakeshop of Lebkuchen Schmidt.
If you love shopping, visiting Nürnberg won’t disappoint you. Wandering in the city center leads you to one busy shopping district line up with shops, and yes, it’s that time of the year to not miss the Summer Sales so you can give it a go.
Once you get tired, you can always grab a bite and drink and sit in one of the cozy cafes alongside the road. Another wonderful pastime is just watching people and taste the local beer.There are plenty of restaurants, clean bathrooms, and even changing rooms for your little ones. One thing that disappoints me is that I didn’t find any play areas near the city proper. Maybe they are nearby but it seems that I haven’t seen any directions through it.
So much to see, so little time. I leave the rest for you to discover by yourself. If you love street art, you need patience. You need to explore further. To find good street art in Nuremberg is really hard. Best is to get lost completely then your chances are high to find some nice murals. If you are not the history and architecture buff, you can always hop on to other off-the beaten path attractions in this city.
Nuremberg, I will see you again sometime soon!
Have you seen Nuremberg? Do you think it’s a fascinating city?
If you’ve been there, what are the other cool things you can add to this list?
This is the real thing now, the heat is ON in Bavaria !
What Summer fun are you engaging now?
Nevermind the plague of Wasps and bee season, summertime is finally here and in Bavaria, in my old little city, everyone is just feeling ecstatic of the fine summer breeze, or rather, toasty winds since we have 32 degrees now!
Have you seen summer flowers yet? They are blooming, giving us perfect backdrop for outdoors. From our garden to the nearby parks, summer flowers can be so exotic just like the Echinops Ritro!
I came to Germany last Summer, and I’m telling you, this season is probably the best season to enjoy Bavaria. To make the most of beautiful nature, lots of sun and water fun is essential. This week we have temperatures ranging from 18~32 degrees C . With this we have all the reason to spend time outside given the favors of so many holidays. Staying in when the weather is perfect as this is definitely a S-I-N. Generally, Germans, or the typical Bavarians, adore the sun. Soaking up under the sunshine until the last ray of the sun until 9 o’clock at night. You can see them sunbathing in the banks of the river Danube, lying in the grass in the parks, or just right in their balconies.
With the kick-off of the festival season, the Spring Pfingstenvolkfest, Die Welt is bunt, Bürgerfest, and strawberry season, it feels like summer arrived early since we have a very sunny spring. I have written countless times that from the moment the day breaks, people here are out, (including US!) and ready to explore— and yes, with their dogs, clad in outdoor clothing, in their bicycles, with their walking sticks, off to the lake, and drinking beer in the bier garten promptly at 10 a.m on weekends!
So here I wanna share with you some of the fascinating things about ‘Summer Feels ‘ here in our region. Whether you are just visiting tourist or a local, sure thing that you don’t wanna miss out on these activities!
Grillsaison ( or Grilling season)
Summer is not complete without BBQ and Germans really take their grilling to the highest level! You know its summer when you breathe in the smell of BBQ in almost every house on a fine weekend. Since we have 9pm sunsets, this is a perfect way to bond. Be it in an open park, garden or in the tiny balconies of apartments, German take their grilling time seriously. Months before summer starts, we are flooded with different kinds of grill paraphernalia, from the garden tents, lounging seats, and yes, ‘the meat and wurst‘. About 70% of Germans have BBQ every weekend and its typical to see a grill machine in every garden. Pack a picnic, a mat and head to the lake, throw a piece of sausages ( wurst) and meat cuts into the charcoal grill and drink beer. This spells the perfect “Gemutlichkeit “or what the Dutch called “Gezelligheid” .
Poppy fields and wild flowers everywhere!
When summer time comes, in between wheat fields and every single empty space is filled with this fragile reddish-orange wild Poppy flowers. When I run and cycle, I can’t help but to stop and just be amazed by how these simple wild bulbs can change the whole neighborhood and the way I feel. Sure, Tulips are my favorite flowers , but then there’s something about a field covered in Summer poppy blooms. It looks so calm, peaceful and so pretty!
Eis Eis Baby!
Who doesn’t like Ice Cream?
Ice cream parlors and shops are finally open here since late Spring. On warm, sunny days, there’s even a huge line outside. You really need to sweat out first before you enjoy their wide selection of Eis ( ice cream). My daughter is crazy about the richly flavored popsicles and ice pops which comes out in watermelon, kaktus, and yogurt ice cream. One is not enough, eating ice cream is definitely a threat we always enjoy during summer especially after we are all sweaty from cycling around.
Make sure to eat “spaghetti eis”: We promise it’s only a stupid name. This concoction is really just a strawberry ice cream sundae with vanilla “noodles” and strawberry sauce with white chocolate flakes standing in for the cheese. Guten Appetit!
Sunbathing in a make-believe beach!
This is the photo of the Donaustrand, a place made to look like a beach beside the river. It is the platform located in front of the river Danube and facing the New Castle. During summer, this place is a magnet for Germans and all outdoor lovers to enjoy a relaxing time, especially during sunset. This is a place a for open-air concerts and the ” Live Orchestra Nights” where you can enjoy live music, drinking with friends, and lounging in recliners and sunbathing like you are in the beach .This is such a cozy place.
Hanging out your clean laundry outside
There is nothing like the smell of clean laundry, hung out to soak up the fresh air. Hang out your sheets before the drying racks take over your apartment for the winter.We have a huge space in the garden and I just love how the sun do wonders on the sheets! I love this since it really saves time from tedious long cycles of drying. Natural is always better!
Skinny dipping and baring it All !
Oh yes, Germans are very liberal and no-nonsense people when it comes to nudity. In some lakes, there are areas which are particularly allotted for “nudist”. Here, people are no hang-ups in baring it all and soaking up the sun from dawn to dusk.Germans think nothing of stripping to sunbathe. They do it on beaches, by lakes, and in heavily frequented urban parks. It’s very common to see unclothed people on regular park lawns or topless on balconies. Germany is one of the few places in the world where naturism occurs not just in secluded areas, but in the heart of major cities. German-style public nudity, known as Freikörperkultur (or “free body culture,” and usually shortened to FKK), dates back to the 19th century; it’s not just an activity, but a culture intended to reshape behavior.
For some people who are not into this and for families with children, there are lots of areas in the lakes for them to swim.We love to discover lakes where my daughter loves to play and here, they are just plentiful!
In summer, I see a lot more people getting active and staying fit. People do things “manually” and live more. They love to do things by themselves. Mowing the lawn, tidying up their garden, people here loves to do things—no maids or house helpers! People run and cycle no matter what the time and temperature. They walk more and use the car less as much as possible. With abundant jogging areas, nature can be best enjoyed while getting fit. Germans adore the “pig”and heavy pork-lovers, but even if they sit in the Biergarten everyday and eat sausages, seems that they don’t get fat! Everyone looks so impeccably fit.
Summer Cocktail Drinks
It is very typical to see bunch of people hanging around in the lake, or in the park enjoying a nice picnic and sharing summer cocktails. Of course, the beer is always the easiest way to create a cozy gathering but cool drinks and smoothies are always something pretty special. When it comes to picnics, Germans can be proud of their lifestyle!
What about you, what do you love to do during summer?
There are more on this post so I think I will make a post #2! Stay tuned.
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!
So last Sunday, we decided to spend quality family time on a sunny Ruhetagby 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.
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!
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.
Stop and smell the strawberries! They are considered members of the rose family, they give off a sweet fragrance as they grow on bushes.
We got more than 2 kgs. of fresh, juicy and super delicious strawberries and we headed home to have a Strawberry -coma weekend!
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!
Last year ( June 2016) was the start of my life in seasons and this month is the mark of my 1 year stay here in Germany.Yes, time flies, it goes fast.
I’m into running lately and the other day, I went for a run and as I chilled down in the garden, my husband commented : “You’re running now, you’re like the Germans..” I laughed and replied : “I”m also like the Dutch, I cycle now more.. a lot…also I eat potatoes and sausages more than I eat rice”.
Mind you, I grow up in a completely different topography, climate of only 2 seasons– rainy and summer with a humidity that can make your blood boil.First time that I’ve seen a real snow in my life was last year in Austria. This alone makes a whole lot reason why my Expat Life now in Germany is a life-changing one. For those of you who are following my Expat Blog stories, I am sure you’ve read in my posts and seen in photos how I embraced all these changes in my life. Ironically, seeing all the different seasons here have changed me, at least from the way I look at life right now.
“Just like seasons…people change..”
Now I dressed differently and more functional, totally very -German-like, always prepared for the rain. I totally learned how to dress myself for what the weather calls for, every single day. I never imagined before that I needed separate jackets for winter, for summer, and spring or fall. All the heavy bundles of winter clothing and never-ending layers…and shoes for walking, trekking, hiking and for snow. My life before from 50 degrees Celsius heat to frigid negative temps is something that I always recall and laugh how I’ve learned to appreciate each moment. Sometimes I feel that the weather really affects the way I go about my day.Can you relate?
I realized that just as the seasons are important in the nature’s cycle, it is also important in my own life.My days before were only composed of rains and heat, humid, stormy and for quite sometime, a scorching summer and delirious dust storms.
The thing is, experiencing a life in seasons is totally different when you only see it while visiting another country. It’s another story when you’re just a tourist and wanting to experience snow in Winter compared to actually living in it everyday. The cold, long German winters and fickle weather drives me nuts but now I get used to it. I guess that if you’re an Expat like me, you would agree that adjusting in new seasons is always part of any Expat life.
The current season of my life now is Spring ( or Frühling) , a few more weeks and comes Summer. I had the privilege to enjoy Spring to the fullest by seeing it in full Dutch colors, and that was made possible by visiting Keukenhof Gardens last Easter in the Netherlands. I really love tulips but they are very expensive both in Manila & Kuwait, it’s very rare to find it, sold only in big flower shops. In Holland, they are an ordinary sight, like weeds, growing in every household and empty spaces.Before, I only feast my eyes on it in internet or in magazines and thought they were so beautiful to be real. Seeing all the spring flowers in bloom and watching how the plants & trees regain their ‘life‘ made me understand about the time of recreating myself, first allowing the growth to pinch in, so I can be a better ‘Me’ . Spring is a beautiful season where I rekindled my passion for drawing and painting. It’s like a part of me had resurrected and my dreams were completely infused with colors.
I believe that Spring is the season in our life of new growth. It is the period of our lives where we clear out the old to make way for the new. It is a time where we create new beginnings for ourselves and our lives.
Then comes Summer. I arrived in Germany last summer. The heat without AC is also something I got used to. A 30+ degrees heat can also be toasty here.Germans love the sun, oftentimes sunbathing and swimming. Germany is pretty in a sunny day with lots of outdoor activity to enjoy. Summer season is the return of the Dandelions, like a season to enjoy ourselves. It is a time sitting in Biergartens ( Beer gardens) , grilling and BBQ parties in the garden! During this period we feel bright and happy.
We are loving life and reaping the rewards for the positive changes that we have made.
Last summer after I left Kuwait and before going to Germany, I squeezed some time to visit my family in Philippines and let them see my daughter for the first time. I managed to get some adventure with my friends by hiking and trekking along the crater of a Volcano. It was a long time dream as well. I missed home and my island -hopping adventures . Summer has always been my favorite season, but not much during summer months in Kuwait and Ramadan period. Summer in Germany has been a fascinating one as well. The 9 PM sunsets are always magical, long summer days gives us more time to wander around. I discover the Bavarian lifestyle and the enigma of Biergartens, German sausages and lots of outdoors. I tasted new dishes and explore our new home like crazy. I can’t get enough of the thought realizing that I am eating my dinner while the sky is still bright where in other parts of the world, it would be pitch-black already.
Nothing beats summer sunsets, especially when seen behind bodies of water. I have watched numerous sunsets here in Bavaria where the sun turns the sky in pink and orange glory .Summer was and would always be a happy season in my life.
Oh then there comes Fall. Another first time for me .
I love all the nostalgic feelings I had watching the trees lost its leaves and everything just turned into golden, yellow rustic beauty. The sound of the crisp dried leaves when I walked on them is so therapeutic.The views in our old town is breathtaking during Fall. I have been obsessing in photography and its a time I appreciate nature even more. I have indulged myself in baking Apple pies and my first carving of a real pumpkin. My daughter enjoyed her first trick or treat, Fasching & Halloween here in Germany. I struggled with the language barrier and tried to integrate into the German culture so hard that everyday seems like a hurdle for me to overcome. Another life-changing experience was cycling with my daughter, another first time for me and having a taste of Oktoberfest by seeing our local Herbstfest here in Ingolstadt. The Beer culture of Germany is really a pride and Bavarian culture is truly unique in this region. I love everything about the traditional German Tracht– Lederhosen and Dirndls!
Autumn is the season of our life where change occurs and we need to let go of the old. During this period of our life we recognise and feel the need for change in our lives. In order for us to change we need to let go of things from our old self, just like the leaves falling from a tree. We may for example need to let go of negative feelings, bitterness, the past, limiting beliefs and traditions,and the most important — limiting forgiveness.
It was never easy. It is hard integrating into a new culture, especially when I can’t express fully what I want since I don’t know German yet. I know that failure to let go causes me to remain stuck in my life and hinders any positive change. I needed to shred my old self to finally give in to a new me, and Oh yes, I got my Aufenhaltstitel! I am now holding a legal and official residency here in Germany. Just like the trees that undergoes harsh pruning time during Fall, their leaves must fall in order for them to grow. Pruning time comes in a natural way.
This photo shows one of my favorite places in Kuwait. This was taken by my friend who made our wedding photos. This is the dock where the traditional ‘Dhows’ and fishing boats lazily docked after a busy fishing day. Just like the orange-red skies during Autumn in Germany, Kuwait has beautiful skies approaching Ramadan season. Remembering ‘Ramadan’ and my life back in Kuwait makes me grateful that I have the chance to see the best of both worlds.
Then comes Winter.
I was not really looking forward to the cold. I don’t even have winter clothes.My first Winter Wonderland experience in Austria has been unforgettable as well as exciting as we welcome the New Year . When I told my husband that its my first time to experience snow and winter, He really made sure to bring me to a place where I had an unforgettable snow-coma! It was a pleasure seeing my daughter eating and jumping in snow for the first time .My first Winter is totally unexpected, exhilarating, freezing, but then it changed my views about snow and the long cold winter days.Do you know how hard it is to push a stroller in snow? or walk into an icy street that shouts “Achtung, glatteis!”
Honestly, I like snow, but not the cold. The cold makes me feel depressed and very un-motivated to do anything. Everywhere you see is white, gloomy and my feet is freezing plus the stress of dressing up a toddler in heavy winter clothes is always a struggle!
Winter is the season where we experience challenges and difficulties in our life. It can feel like a cold and lonely time. Our life may appear bleak. We may be dealing with storms in our life which creates fear and anxiety for us. However, we need periods of winter in our lives.
These winter times provide us with important learning and understanding. It is through the challenges and difficulties in life that we learn our most valuable lessons. Winter also helps us to appreciate and be grateful for what we have. Without periods of winter in our lives we can take for granted all of the goodness that we experience.
My first Christmas market experience, our first Christmas in Germany and my first time to make snow man with my daughter makes this season a festive one.This is also the season where I got so sick, both me and my daughter had colds, flu, and we felt like the grey winter is totally dampening our moods. Another highlight is the time when we walked on top of a frozen lake which is so nerve-wrecking !
Indeed, time flies and I realized that soon, by next summer, at the end of this month, I will be 1 year here, I will be a year older, wiser, and integrating fully in my new culture and loving life in new intensity. I feel so much more at home now here, because I embrace the changes, I let myself grow. I have come to love “Ordnung“( or Order ).
Every season has special memories that makes me the person that I am now.
Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever relocated to another country? How was your experience? Are you also affected by the seasons?
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).
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.
” You needed chaos to create order and by this, give a definition to beauty “
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.
“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.
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
Last Friday, June 2, signals the opening of the annual Spring festival called “PfingstenVolksfest ” here in Bavaria and will run up until the 11th of June. We have two major festivals here, one in Spring (or Frühling) and one in Autumn ( or Herbst) . Last year when I came here, I was able to attend my first Autumn Volksfest and it was awesome. For an expat like me, experiencing this festival like a local is one of the great things that happened to me for my first year in Germany.
The festival started as usual with a parade in Volk music and a grand Fireworks display. On top of the tower of the Pfeifturm, the Bavarian watchmen perform their traditional gun shots .The band who plays the music composed of different groups. Young and old, children and kids join the happy vibes in the show, even some migrants joined the parade carrying the Bavarian flag. Everything is so open and welcoming.Everyone is dressed up in traditional Bavarian tracht, men in Lederhosen and women in beautifully made Dirndls. Seeing them, all smiles, parading in such a cozy atmosphere is such a delight to see.The huge horses which pulled up the carriages of the two major beer breweries here in Ingolstadt ( The Nordbrau & Herrenbrau) are absolutely the star of the show. They are so huge, loud and yes, they can be wild once prompted.
The parade starts from the assembly area in front of the Alstadt /Rathausplatz and continues to go in the Festplatz where our Town mayor officially open the festival or O ‘zafpt is ! Inside the fair grounds are huge arena full of different rides for children and adults to enjoy. There’s the giant Ferris wheel, roller coasters, carousels, and other head-spinning rides. If you are not afraid of the heights, I’m sure you will have a blast here. There are also numerous stalls which sells traditional goods, 2 large Beer tents, and other beer gardens.Outside the tents are lines of food shops which sells finger foods, sandwiches, hotdogs, Pretzels ( or Breze), currywurst and other sausages, crepes, burgers,cheeses, Lebkuchen and other sweet delicacies, and so much more.
You can never get hungry inside. If you opt for more appetizing meals, there are lots of grilled foods you can find inside the beer tents! Pretty waitresses in Dirndles would be so glad to serve you.
Volksfest is a festival for all ages.When you visit Bavaria, you will really feel the authentic and “Bavarian thing” in the way they celebrate things. This is totally different compared to other parts of Germany and here, festival like this is more than just a mug of beer. Oktoberfest is another thing but during Volksfest, I see all people, expats and locals, children, young and old celebrate in their own ways. The tables inside the Beer tents are full of smiling people, enjoying the day drinking their beer, singing, dancing, and gathering with their love ones.
The festival grounds are always well maintained and clean. There are ample parking spaces for bicycles and cars and the traffic is moderated. Compared from last year, I noticed that there are more security persons roving around the place, but not harassing.There are plenty of toilets and bathrooms, even Baby changing rooms. What can be more cozy than seeing a group of young men in Lederhosen playing their trombone, flute, and singing Bavarian music?
With the warm weather we are having now, visiting the Volksfest is a perfect time to spent as a family and with friends. They have different programs everyday, like on Wednesday afternoon is the Children’s day , Tuesday afternoon is for Senior’s Day were discounted prices are offered to make the feast more enjoyable. There are also special programs where big companies like Audi and Ingolstädter Schanzer Football club have their own special gathering.
If you have the chance to travel to Germany during the months of June and September, make sure not to miss seeing an event like this, it is definitely a showcase of the Bavarian culture. Even if you are not a beer drinker, there is always an activity that will suit your lifestyle. For the many times I have visited Volksfest, I have never seen a drunk person ran amok or making a scene, totally not a German thing.
Have you ever tasted a German Lebkuchen?
Do you know that this yummy cookie is best known for its authentic German flavors? A typical Volksfest memento that you could bring to your loveones!Read more here.
See you in the Autumn Festival this year and yes, don’t forget to say PROST!
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