Summer fragile beauties in Germany

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need..”
{Marcus Tullius Cicero}

Goodbye Spring and Hello Summer!

My old little town here in Ingolstadt in southern Bavaria has a beautiful bed of mixed summer perennials or wild blooms spread all over the town. Germany is indeed a beautiful country but these little country details made me feel at home even more. I lived 5 minutes away from a lush walking forest and 10 minutes from Klenzepark. I think it’s such a new experience for me to see great nature instead of a bunch of cars parked outside or pile of garbage. Also cycling everyday made me appreciate my neighborhood and notice this details about flowering plants.Here, parks and gathering areas are normally decorated with real plants, not plastic.Aside from the fact that most Germans love gardening and plants, they are also crazy about buying cut flowers and bouquets! Everyday, most shops have fresh cut flowers and they are on a decent price. I am totally impressed that here, the outdoor landscape changes in every season and that they are taken cared of by the city gardeners. There are even wild spaces that is full of bright flowers that really looks amazing. I was even thinking how do they plant different varieties that the outcome is raw, and authentically beautiful.

For almost three years of living here, I’ve got already the trend when it comes to plants and flowers for every season. Summer perennials, or blooms are a reminder of the bright golden days ahead full of warm sunshine and colors. Flowers like Poppy, cornflowers, pansies,peonies, roses, zinias, and petunias etc. are blooming like crazy. They are so lovely to look at. I’ve always wanted to stop and gaze upon them. At home I know that summer is at my doorstep when my lavenders are in full swing. The proud stems full of blue violet flowers gives a fresher, brighter look in our place, its an enigma.

I was too busy for the past days that I haven’t had the chance to write about my own garden update and my first ever raised-garden ( or Hochbeet). I was even more thankful that my little “Roses corner“in our garden are now in full bloom to think that Spring is not even officially over! If you live in Germany, I think you know that Germans start to raid the shops for gardening stuff even before Spring arrives. Every balcony, patio, garden and every tiny window is transformed into a botanical garden. Germans love gardening, plants and yes–flowers! This is one of the reason why I am into plant propagation and planting my own herbs, flowering plants and cultivating my indoor pot garden. Through time, I have learned which plants to cultivate, which plant survives the frost and cold winter days and so on.When it comes to flowering plants, my crew is limited because most of them doesn’t survive the cold and I don’t have enough space to place them. I was thrilled this year that my Chrysanthemum survived winter last year and now continuously growing.

Are you also excited for Summer as I do?

I am thrilled when I looked up the weather forecast for the coming days and saw that warm days are coming, finaaaallly! The other day, I even went to work without a jacket! To tell you frankly, Summer has a brand new meaning for me here. Finally people sit outside and tan under the sun and having a drink for hours! Aside from so many constructions going on in the streets, people are cycling like crazy! What I mean is that here in South Germany, Beer culture is a real thing and is part of our daily grind, so sitting in Beer gardens is just as important as going to work. I am Asian and the hot weather was also so real , it’s a daily struggle to battle with humidity. I knew how it is to live in a “hot”city like Kuwait where temperatures reaches up to 48 degrees and the so called “spring and winter days flies so fast” and we don’t have summer blooms to admire, only palm trees! But here in Germany, summer signals for something else. Summer here for me means vacation, shorts, grilling and BBQ, sandals, garden, my plants are alive and blooming flowers!

So let me share with you my private gallery of my favorite summer fragile beauties.One of my pastime is to photograph nature, just like going to my favorite nearby lake. I’ve always said that you can never go wrong with nature. It’s one of my favorite subject. Last week during my free day, we went out to our local park and I’ve took some photos from Labyrinth garden and the Rose garden. I was just in awe of the simple beauties of the colorful blooms that looks so eager to welcome the warm sunny days . I called them fragile beauties because their beauty can be so dainty and fleeting like wonderful Tulips, too much heat and they also wither, and to think that summer days seems to be so short, they go so fast.

These bright violets flowers for the weary heart but do you know how the mystery behind the Cornflower?
I cannot simply stop staring at them. It might look violet or dark blue under the sun.
This one is a total eye-catcher with its fluffy petals and sunshine yellow pistils.
The wall of Roses
A walk to remember in the rose garden where history is written in the walls and the crawling roses are the storytellers.
They are warm reminder that good things comes to those who wait.

What about you, what do you love about summer personally? What is your favorite summer perennials?

If you are looking for ideas on how to spend your time nature tripping and wondering about the fragile summer flower beauties in Germany, these posts below might interests you. If you have time to kill then go check them out. This is going to be exciting because I’ll be posting and writing more for the upcoming “Landesgartenshau 2020 ” will will be held here in Ingolstadt and it’s all about plants, landscape, flowers, music, arts and everything exciting and last but not the least, I want to share with you 10 cool reasons why people over here go crazy about the Audi Sommerkonzert !

Until next time and thank you for reading !

Showoff Scarlet Forsythia

Fields of Gold, Rapeseeds in Bavaria

Bavarian Summer Flowers

Sunflower fields in Germany

Tschüss!

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Baggersee and wind of Changes

When life gives you a picture-perfect lake, then write your thoughts about it.

Here comes the sun and it’s finally June!

I am welcoming this month with an open arms because it’s a beautiful month. With sun and sunshine, summer flowers, BBQ and grilling! My plants are happy and back to life again, and the best thing of all, I can finally wear shorts and sleeveless, minus the chill. Oh June, how elusive you are but you are the month that is the gateway for summer! It’s been a cold and long winter here in Bavaria but smiles are returned on all our faces now—-we’ve got sunshine finally!

See the photos below, aren’t they stunning?

This is Baggersee , before a reclamation area and turned into some kind of green oasis located in the western part of Ingolstadt. This is another private gallery that I wanted to share with you guys. This lake is a special lake ( or See in German) that is super close to where I lived. It’s about 10 minutes by bicycle and a 15 minutes lazy walking distance. It’s the second largest lake here in Ingolstadt with about an area of about 50 hectares. It is connected to the Donau ( Danube) river and offers a beautiful cycling path that connects Ingolstadt to other neighboring Bavarian cities through the Donau Radweg.

I often mention this lake here in my Blog. This place can be boring for others but for me, Baggersee is a perfect family getaway . It’s actually an advantage that we have it so close to us. It’s the venue for annual Triathlon in Ingolstadt , Kids for Run, and Fishermen’s Festival. There are Biergartens, water play areas, playgrounds, sports activity areas for volleyball, tennis etc., Wildpark or a reserve for wild animals, restaurants, BBQ & grill areas, lounging areas and so much more. You can actually do everything here, even camping! People enjoy so many water sports like kayaking, canoeing, swimming and diving. This place is turned into a winter wonderland when it is covered with snow! I once walked on this frozen lake and it was an unforgettable experience.

I thought of this subject because I’m using the photos I’ve took from my last visit to Baggersee. This place reminds me every time of the winds of changes that I’ve been through and going through. Time flies so fast, I can’t believe that I’m already three years living here in Germany. Anyhow, I have seen this place in every single season but my favourite time to visit is during summer! This lake is so peaceful, a nature haven and the feeling of tranquility is all over the place. It’s beauty is raw. It’s an image of pure beauty, unfiltered. I usually do a 5.4 km walk-jog-run thing here whenever I have the feels for it and going through this lake brings me to a whole lot of meditation and spiritual intercourse which brings me back to sanity. It’s actually my first-to-go-place if I wanted to go closer to nature and cycle.

A sight of migrating birds in Baggersee
It’s all about perspectives!

After all, not all Bloggers create stories about their experiences, sometimes, they just plainly write about their life.

Here in Germany, it seems like we missed Spring. It was not like last year where it was more cooler , warmer and sunnier. For the last two weeks we were drenched with heavy rains , with cloudy and grey weather every single day. The waters of the river Danube was on the highest I’ve ever seen! It’s actually quite a sight to watch the raging waters from the dam. I was already wondering if the sun would finally come out.

The serene beauty of the river Danube in Spring. This photo is taken from one of my early morning cycling.

I have been away for so long that I haven’t written so much and updated this Blog. This is actually my first post once again after a long period of blogging hibernation! I have been so busy nowadays and squeezing time for writing, blogging, painting and working is such a dilemma. Sorry that it’s only now that I discovered the feedback and contact options of WordPress. I didn’t know about it so it’s only now that I’ve read the messages you guys are sending me. Thank you so much for all the feedback and appreciation for my writing. I truly appreciate your support and comments. For those of you who keeps on following this Blog and sticking out with me, thank you. I realized that you really need to find time for all the things that you loved—that’s it, no excuses!

Anyway, here’s another shot of the beautiful sunny day photo from Baggersee. As I watched the fishermen doing their own thing, the Nordic walkers, and the glamorous sunbathers kill their time here as I did, I just thought that I’m really grateful to have access to this place.The winds of changes blows here wild on a cloudy, cold winter day, but in Summer, this place is something else–an escape, an oasis, a lounge for tired souls.

The magic of watching sunrise and sunsets.

There’s so much things that happened to me personally for the past months.I am checking up on my Blog and wanted to complete all my drafts and write about so many things but the moment that I’m sitting behind my laptop, the ideas seems to fly and I can’t squeeze it out and directly going to bed.I missed blogging and being in touch with my other fellow Bloggers and reading about their writings. I wanted to write comments to many articles that I’ve read but I was just too tired to complete them. I think that when it comes to Blogging, you need to be in a community– with interaction, and motivation to be involved .You can’t blog all for yourself. You need other people to read your stuff for you to survive. It’s not a one way track.

Anyways, since last year, I am back to working and I am trying to balance my time as a working Mama. It feels great to be back again and have another purpose and reason to get up every single day.After I finished my German course and passed my exam, one month after I got the chance to work . What I love about working in Germany is the privileges of a working mother. Here, you can work part-time and you don’t feel the social stigma. I noticed that most of German mothers are really investing their time on the first 3 years of their child and work less and focus more on their family. This setting fits me perfectly because afternoons are for my daughter. My daughter is 4 ( Oh how time really flies! ) and she goes everyday in the Kindergarten. She was often sick last Winter and took a long time to recover so it really gives us a stress. She always bring home the germs from the Kindergarten and most children are always sick so it’s a kind of one thing from another.Honestly, it’s really difficult when your child is sick and you need to go to work. We are alone here in Germany and we don’t have any relatives living nearby so we don’t have anybody to ask for a helping hand . The weather doesn’t help either. When its rainy and cloudy everyday, I just want to stay in and it makes me feel depressed.

The winds are blowing hard sometimes and I can’t help but to make a pause, a sort of a much needed break.”

Lakes of Dreams –This is the place where I often meditate and think about the brand new life I have now here in Germany.

Going back to my daughter, she was total rolling ball of sunshine. She got to dressed up as an Astronaut last Kinder ball or something like a Carnival, dressed up party here in Bavaria. She is in love with superheroes like crazy. She doesn’t want ever to wear a dress because she thinks that it’s not cool. Lego and Ninjago were her versions of being cool. For her, Kindergarten was fun, she really made a breakthrough this year. She speaks perfect German and English and she can now read and write, and scribbles a lot! She made quite a number of friends in the Kindergarten and she knows all our neighbors! She calls them all whenever she see them. She is very friendly, talkative, active, and the best of all— now she loves to ride her bike! Did you know that it’s a parent’s milestone when you finally taught your kid to ride a bike?! It was such a joy to see her cycling on her own pace. She even wants to cycle even when its raining and going to school. One special thing that she did yesterday was to cycle from home to Baggersee–on her own and back!

My little monkey doing the Tree-climbing activity in Baggersee!

Do you also have a special place to go to when you just needed a break?

Thank you for reading my friends and hope you come back again for another worthwhile read! Thank you for following this Blog and have a wonderful weekend!

In German we say it “Tschüss!”

The Netherlands : A place with more bicycles than people

A Land where there are more Bicycles than People


Seems like everytime I visit the Netherlands I become more and more into their Bicycle Urbanism. I just can’t get enough of their bicycles! It is so enormous in volume, it is everywhere! I get off from the train and arrived in the Station and see a parking lot full of bikes. I thought I’ve already seen it before and it’s no surprise anymore but then I still found it unbelievable. Different kinds of bicycles, old and new, modern, E-bikes and so on and so forth it’s all there. The sight of bikes is as normal as the sight of beautiful Tulips colors in Spring! I say to myself- Only in the Netherlands ! The country with more Bicycles than people.

Bikes parked along the canals of Utrecht, Netherlands

So I am inspired to write once again about Dutch and their bikes because I think this information is inspiring, as well as informative especially for people who lived in traffic prone places ( like I was before!) . I know it also depends where you are in the world but we can learn something about Dutch people and the way they cycle through all cycles of life through their bikes. Netherlands is so flat compared to Germany so going to places is shorter but can also be very windy. I know how hard it is to cycle when you have strong winds ahead of you, it’s not enjoyable and I hated it always. Also, nobody enjoys cycling in the rain, or when the roads are icy and frozen. So I am asking myself why do Dutch people love cycling?

The Netherlands : a beautiful place with colorful Tulips, canals and BICYCLES!

Cycling as an alternative and healthiest way of transport is the most practical solution of getting from A to B. They say that when you cycle for an average of 30 minutes then it increases your life expectancy. And for Expats who lived in the Netherlands and also here in Germany, I am sure this is one of the culture shock that we all can relate. Once I came here, we bought a bike! Anyway, I have been seeing my Stats and I noticed that I have viewers from different parts of the globe and I think that for someone who have never been to Amsterdam or in the Netherlands in general, they don’t really have an idea how big is the Dutch cycling lifestyle . It is really not just a trend or a tourist attraction to see–it’s a culture, it’s their life.

The average Dutch person cycles around 1,000 km annually and only in the Netherlands that there are more bicycles than people! And—did you know that Dutch old people still cycle even they are 80!

Super chic Dutch Bakfiets

With a country of 17.1 million people, there are 23 Million bikes! Imagine that!Meaning an average Dutch has 1.3 bikes, 2 or more! I saw it by my own eyes in my numerous visits in Holland. Bicycles or Fiets is staple as bread (or Brood) in every household and oftentimes they cycle to buy bread! Both young and old ride their bikes, going to school and to work. Every.single. Day! 32% of journeys for example in Amsterdam is by bike alone.

Utrecht Bike Lot is now OPEN : Biggest Bike park Station in the World

Compared to USA with 325 Million people, they have 70 Million bikes. I think everyone owns a bike than everyone owns a car. Last Easter we visited Utrecht and I discovered something more, it seems like that the number of bicycles is much even more than I could remember from what I’ve seen along the canals of Amsterdam and the bike parking lot in Museumplein. 40% of the visitors going to Utrecht are coming by bike so the largest Bike parking lot is found in this city. The 17,100 SQ/m parking space under the Utrecht Central Station can take up up to 12,500 BIKES! Imagine that!

My daughter trying to ride a bicycle we found parked in a light post

If they love to cycle then they need to build cycling paths for sure.There are 35,000km of bike paths only dedicated for cycling in the Netherlands. Most of the inner cities are car-free and there are endless places to go without the need of a car. Bicycle streets is very common standard in many Dutch cities but Utrecht is on top with 6km and plans for more.Bicycle Urbanism is the trend in Lowlands and I can really see why it’s bent to last.
What’s so fascinating is that they even created a pop-up parking concept for bikes and they have installed the Flo – a speed detection system coupled with digital kiosks that read each cyclist’s speed and help them speed up or slow down in order to catch the next light. It is a more complicated system than the simpler ones in place in Copenhagen .

What’s with the flowers and utility baskets in the bikes in Holland?
Without Helmets , the Netherlands is the safest place in the world to cycle!

Another important thing, as a parent, I can totally appreciate the unique love affair of Dutch with their bicycles and incorporating cycling to their kids at a very young age. For the past 2.5 years that I am now living here in Germany, and married to a Dutchman, I am cycling almost everyday and it’s one of my preferred practical means of transport, especially if I want to get on with everyday routines . I love the freedom, the peace and security I feel when I ride my bike but not on rush hours! Long distance cycling is not for me but here they have E-bikes as well but I appreciate everyday circulation and exercise I get from it. The fresh air that I breathe while riding my bike can be a stress-reliever and at the same time enjoying the surroundings while cycling is so nice. It’s one of the things I called “simplest form of luxury“. I often cycle going to work, getting basic groceries and bring my child to the Kindergarten and yes, I cycle even in Winter ! It’s very common here as well for Kindergarten children ( as young as 2!) to use Lauf Fahrrad (or walking bike) and cycle to their school accompanied by parents. We never had this in Philippines and certainly not in Kuwait so this new culture is something for you to really personally experienced for you to appreciate. It is not just a trend. It’s a way of life.

Bike capital of the World!

On the other side, here in Germany, we use much of the “Anhänger“. Of course, Germans always have the best technology for everything! It’s a compact carriage tagged along in a bike so you can cycle with your toddler everywhere you go. My daughter loves it and its very common here. I think most of families with little children have it. Complete with straps, seat belts and children always wear helmet as much as adults. But not so in the Netherlands.They transport their babies and toddlers in a box-type carriage attached to a bike called “Bakfiets” together with a bag of groceries withe other things as well. It’s what they called “super-utility box “!
In Germany, even if you don’t do cycling professionally, or you’re not into Sport, people wear Lycra and cycling gears, which is a total NO-NO in Holland. Dutch people cycle in normal and work clothes. What is amazing that the women can cycle so classy on skirt while riding a bike!

Bikes parked in Train Station

I lived 200 meters from a nearby school and I observed that young people ( Realschule and up to Gymnasium) also ride their bikes going to school, but most of them are being dropped off by a car every single day or taking the bus.

Should I cycle or should I play?


It is well known that Dutch children are the happiest in the world. I believe cycling is a part of the development of inner security that they feel as a kid. Cycling allows them to reach destinations safely and gives them the feeling of freedom, and achievement.

Parallel motion –Bikes, houses, shops, bars and people

The Dutch train their children at a young age to ride so they can confidently ride in the roads when they are around 12 years of age, just before they start secondary school . Only if they pass their traffic exam are they awarded their Verkeersdiploma (traffic certificate). This training is necessary as 75% of secondary school students cycle to school, rising to 84% riding for those living within 5 km of school. Even for distances of 16 km (9.9 mi) or over, some 8% of secondary school children cycle in each direction to school, though this is mainly in rural areas where the closest secondary schools can be a fair distance away.Some 49% of primary school children ride to school, but distances are shorter and adults often accompany the younger ones .

People cycle like crazy without helmet and children sits in front of the bike without the child seat like we have here. Do you know why it so normal? Street accidents are unheard of. In the Netherlands,the traffic rules are so bike-friendly so safety is not an issue. I have seen it by my eyes, children pedals from school to home but bikes being stolen are another issue.

What about you, what is your opinion about cycling? Do you hold back on riding a bicycle?

If you happen to visit Holland, try to observe and capture people cycling with umbrella and especially on bicycle rush hours, it’s really a sight!

How about you, what is your view of cycling? What do you like about riding a bike?

Some interesting read can be found Here and Here.

If you want to know how others feel about when they are cycling then read on from Here.It’s really good.

Flying Soon : Airbus Citybus flight taxi

The Airbus Citybus flight Taxi launched in Ingolstadt, Germany

This is actually a late post but I am glad I had the chance to witness and took some photos from my phone during the incredible show-off or demonstration of the futuristic Airbus “Flugtaxi”or flight taxi happened last month here in Ingolstadt in Bavaria. I am planning to create a series of posts about recent local sightings we have here in our old town of Ingolstadt and what a cool way to start this series with this eye-catching CityAirbus Taxi!

Have you ever imagined riding in a electrically-driven Cityairbus taxi? Take note, it flies without any Pilot with an approximate speed of 120 km/hour.

Flying to the skies soon!

As an Expat here in Germany , I am already happy that we have a great network of high speed trains for long distance travel, the Autobahn, excellent road system and public transportation is amazing compared to other countries. I am saying this because in my home country, traffic is really a headache and public transportation is a nightmare.So when I see something like this, I can’t help but to be curious.

Will it really fly? How safe it is? and the most important thing is that “Is it really for public or only the rich and famous can afford it?

Anyway, I came home from work and I saw in my feed a photo of a gigantic drone parked in front of our local Rathaus (or City or Hall ). It happened to be the public demonstration of Airbus Flugtaxi! I headed quickly to see it by my own eyes and yes,it was really impressive. It looked like the ones I’m seeing in futuristic movies, those drones and sleek automobiles flying in the sky like jet planes.

Airbus “Flugtaxi”launch in Ingolstadt in Bavaria

It looks very modern and something like “toys for the big guys”. I’ve flown twice with Emirates A380, the biggest commercial airplane so far and it already feels huge, but this one, only has 4 seats compared to 853 seats with 8 rotors which takes off and lands vertically !I think that soon, we will really fly soon in the nearest future now that prototypes are being analyzed, tested, and Airbus has now presented its Air taxi and test flights will be done as tests going on further. In the not too distant future, electric air taxis will be operated manually or autonomously in the city.

The pilot project in the Bavarian city is supported by the Ingolstadt Technical University, the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and various companies, including Audi.

Flying soon !

As a press release, the test flights will be announced soon and its just a matter of time. The maiden flight is planned at the airport in the German city of Manching near Ingolstadt – about 60 km away from the development site at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth. Once this happened, I am sure I will write about it here in my Blog but for now, thinking about the Airbus Flugtaxis is already a step to the futuristic life ahead of us all.

What is your opinion about City Airbus Taxis? Do you think this will solve all traffic dilemmas?

Tschüss !

The Art of Handwritten Mails

When was the last time you’ve received a handwritten mail or a card? or a postcard with a distinct handwriting of the one who send it to you? Doesn’t it feels great, your eyes are wide with wonder as you gaze to an envelop addressed with your own name on it, a mix of wonder and surprise…

You deserved to feel special once in a while
We all could use a little bit of Snail Mails

Few days before Christmas I received a surprise mail (snail mail) from a dear friend from Finland.One of my favorite Blogger, thesnowmeltssomewhere sent me a little surprise which turned out to have a “big love” inside it, she shared her traditional Finnish “Little Christmas” with us. I was feeling ecstatic and grateful that I felt special. It feels good to be thought of, especially from a person who lives across the miles. We haven’t met personally but we shared thousands of messages about life, babies, worries, and laughs! Last year, my other good friend ,Ann, from Grubbs n’Critters sent me handwritten mail together with a box of different spices, which up to now lies in my kitchen and is a daily addition to my cooking!It’s hard not to remember her whenever I cook something with cardamon or fennels! We seemed to be modern-day-Penpals or Penfriends, minus the videocalling.

Handmade and self-crafted cards for all occasions!

Personally, I am a huge fan of snail mail and I totally love it! In High School, i remembered that our class have this Penfriends around the World and we’ve got the chance to have a Penfriend from different countries. It was totally snail mail long time ago. I think I received a mail once a month. I had Penpal from Germany and Finland. Through time I lost in touch because I moved to different places but then the whole experience lingered.

Last year I have also shared about my project to make Handmade Christmas cards to be sent to friends and families during the holidays. This year, I think I’ve sent 40+ cars to 3 different continents and approximately 10 different countries! I worked on this project normally 3 weeks before Christmas. I dedicate 2 weekends to paint and to craft the cards and personally sealed them and post. That is how far I’ve remembered the process. I painted them one by one, and write on each of them personally. I write to each one of them personal message and it really boost my creativity. A simple card becomes so meaningful, so treasured. here’s a snap of the cards and letters we received by post this Christmas. Totally a whole lotta love!

Love in an envelop: Schneckenpost or snail mail

I think that when we write things personally by hand, and not by typing, we retain the original information better. It boost our self-worth and creativity. I even got a new calligraphy pen to enhance my handwriting skills! Just like holding a brush (Pinsel) while painting, you give something from yourself out of what you’ve written.Nowadays that we often used our fingers to tip and swipe on our smartphones, writing manually becomes a whole new experience! I am always impressed with a person who has a unique handwriting. It’s a distinguished character and totally unforgettable.

It’s a whole lotta LOVE!

I am sharing this post to tell you about my personal experience about snail mails. Schneckenpost as we called it here in Germany or snail mail (Post) has totally become vintage compared to the high technology gadgets that we are having now especially with smartphones, iPads and computers. The young people today maybe are totally oblivious of using it or people only knew Post because of Online shopping.I read an interesting article about this and if you have time to kill, you can read it Here.

I have no problem having all these instant technology that we have.In fact, this new millenium of E-commerce and its benefits are one of the technological advances we all enjoy. I value its benefits since I live so far away from my family in Philippines and I’ve lived almost a decade as a “foreigner”in other lands. Emails, money transfers, voice mail recordings, chats via Whatsapp, Kakao and Viber are such a convenient way to get in touch! But there’s something totally different from snail mail. It’s more on the sentiments and personal feelings. From the time that you write your letter, lick the envelop , put stamps and go to Post Office to send it—it’s both a tedious but an exciting journey! The thrill of opening your mailbox and finding a square envelop with stamps and you search where it came from is like opening a present. A journey of wonder.It’s more fun!

From the Little One with Love

When we write to someone, I must say that it increases our levels of happiness and feelings of gratitude. When we think about a person, we search in our memory , the link that bonds us and the gratefulness that we want to rekindle, or to give with this process. Just imagine the same feeling you have the very first time you’ve ever received a “Love letter”from your sweetheart or a letter from your partner that is far away from you, or a surprise letter from someone you’ve never seen for a long time. Snailmail letters bridges the distance!The connection and meaning is far deeper than any mbps from Internet! Handwritten letters and cards spreads love and definitely makes you smile.If you want to let someone know you care—send them a handwritten card, letter or even a simple note.

Give it a thought, don’t you think that simple gestures—done randomly–adds more excitement to a dull moments? Last month, as I was rushing to go to work I found out that our basement storage had a pipe leak and I hurried up to inform my husband to call and inform the “Hausverwaltung/meister” who will fix the leak. By the time I got home, I found a handwritten note from my next door neighbor writing and informing me that he also had seen the leak and called the Hausmeister. His simple gesture really showed that He cares. Aside from the random gifts for the little one which he left on our door, I find his gesture a very valuable one.

It’s the care that comes out from our actions that signals love.

One day we received a handwritten letter from my 4-year old daughter! Yes, she already sent us a letter with a stamp! In the Kindergarten, they make small trips and one of it is to visit the Postal Office. The children are asked to draw and write something to their parents and sent the letter by post. I kept this letter up to this day. When my daughter was born in Kuwait, where we don’t have any relatives, we were totally on our own. My parents-in-law collected handwritten cards from relatives in Holland and sent all the letters to us in Kuwait ( not to mention all their loving gifts for the baby). I was totally speechless.My mother-in-law makes very beautiful handcrafted cards for all occasions, stenciled and crafted by hand. I think that’s beyond hobby—it is a way to show her love. I think she is successful in her craft because she transmit this through her cards!

Crafting for Mother’s Day

We all feel the rush and we have all the excuse to say we are busy. Our schedules are packed, full and noted. Just like when we rushed to checked all our emails everyday and check Facebook, Instagram and chats. We spend time, we decide on how to spend it actually, the way we want it. We all have our errands to do and time flies when we are on the go. I know it’s not that easy to sit and gather our thoughts to write something, compose a letter or to even create something for a special person. I have this stress to create a letter in German ( a challenge in fact!). I try to find the right words.But come to think of it—isn’t it awesome to discover how someone thought of every single detail, just to make someone feel good.The more frequent you do it, the less you think it’s hard, it only takes a little effort.

So how am I doing it?

If it’s not your hobby or you think that “I don’t have the talent to do it!” then you don’t need to panic. Snail mail writing should not come as a stress. For me, I avoid buying the overpriced ready made cards that are really overpriced. I look for craft materials, nude and classic papers, stamps, unique decorating materials that I usually find it art shops, or in flea markets. I even used traditional materials as recycled papers, dried leaves, pins and clippers etc to add more personal touch. I love motif papers or paperDeco that can easily folded into your base for a card. I invested in a good calligraphy pen of different shades and some trendy stickers.Getting started is not as hard as you think!

I have a challenge for you:

Do you want to start and participate in a “Gratitude project”?

Think of someone you want to give a surprise. Someone that you love, or someone that you really thought of. You can start to gather their mailing addresses and create your handmade, handwritten letters, cards or just a simple thank you note and send it. It doesn’t even need a special occasion to send a letter to someone you missed, loved or to a new friend . You will see by your own eyes the result and impact of your action.A snail mail is slow, ( maybe if it crosses continents!) or slower than a click and swoosh from electronic mails, but you must know that it is more memorable than other things.

Once you’ve done this, tell me how does it made you feel.

We are on the countdown to Silvester, few more hours and we approach New Year’s Eve. It’s time to reflect on doing something radical or out from ordinary in 2019. Happy New Year everyone!

Until then, Tschüss!

One of a kind: Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt

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Falling in love with the Glühwein tradition in German Christmas Markets

One of my wishes came true this year and that is to visit the world-famous Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt, or probably the best Christmas market in the world, as far as Christmas markets are concerned. It’s one of the oldest, grandest and also the biggest ! Yes, I am saying it’s of world-class— and simply one of a kind, unforgettable and extraordinary Christmas market-fair-trade-fest rolled into one!

I cannot use too many more adjective for it but it is really worth a visit.From an Asian like me, I love everything about Christmas Markets! As an Expat, its one of the culture that I have fully integrated and loved. Despite the cold weather, everyone should try to experience this if they have a chance. I say this because I am totally thrilled and pleased with the experience of seeing everything that I’ve read in internet in full life and colors. Just like Oktoberfest—another magnet here in Bavaria, Nuremberg set a world record of number of visitors during Adventzeit. The crowd is simply overwhelming!

It’s a shame not to write about it since it’s really on my Bucket List–something that I never expected to be. I can’t get enough of the nostalgia from the Bitter-Sweet  Marriage Carousel so we end up exploring the Christmas Market and we were really blown away!

 

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Once in a lifetime experience in Germany’s Christmas Market

Maybe its a mistake when we decided to visit Nuremberg on the second week of Advent because it was packed, crowded, beautiful,charming and definitely exhausting! The crowd was something that I never expected to be. Despite of the grey , cold, windy, storm-ish winter weather, people, old and young, on different ages flocked to the streets of the central Hauptmarkt  square to witness the grand and only one Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt!

We arrived at around 11:30 am but we were lucky to find a table for lunch only around 2pm! Everything was packed, but the atmosphere is really something different. People are smiling, the vendors in the stalls are courteous and everyone is just in jolly mood.

 

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Not a Winter Wonderland, but still beautiful

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Creating memories in Nuremberg

We visited Nüremberg before  but the atmosphere in Winter is something different. The surrounding is filled with Christmas decors- in fact, what’s make it unique it its very traditional decors made of copper, wood and one-of a kind materials! Bright lights and the colors of Christmas is seen everywhere. Every shop compete with its own unique charming decors. The smell?— Oh your senses will be filled with the aroma of cinnamon, pastries, fruit cakes, Bratwurts, Nuremberg sausages and Glühwein. The taste of Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt!

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Aniseed, cinnamon, Lebkuchen and more Lebkuchen!

As a child, I can’t recall a Christmas market experience. I remember, we attended the midnight mass during Advent and there are few stalls of vendors selling traditional “Puto bungbong and Bibingka” ( sticky rice cakes) outside the church and nearby is a Carnival where we play and had fun rides. But nothing like the Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt in Nüremberg. For little ones, the rides, the grand carousel and the overwhelming threats for children is so tempting. From chocolate covered fruits to kinder punches and tasty threats that are beautifully displayed in every stall.

The first time I’ve ever tasted Lebkuchen from Nürnberg is when my husband brought some when he had a trip in Germany while we are still living in Kuwait. The taste of Spekulatius, cinnamon and Lebkuchen is unforgettable. I have tasted different Lebkuchen and Ginger breads here in Germany but I must say that I would always come back to Lebkuchen Schmidt.Highly recommended and worthy to bring as a gift to your love ones. Only be wary of the long lines especially during peak seasons! It’s not only their Lebkuchen but their cakes and Pastries are mouth-watering too!

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I’ve visited Nuremberg in Summer and my neck was cramped looking at beautiful old architecture, and the old city has always something to offers. The streets of Nuremberg during Christmas season are endless, chaotic,but really unforgettable. There’s always something to explore, to see and even if your feet already aches from walking, then just take a break and melt into the crowd.

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Christmas decors, balls and other Traditional Christmas ornaments made from different materials.

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Crowds in Nuremberg Christmas market

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Frohe Weihnachten

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Time to rekindle your childhood in the Kinder Weihnachtmarkt.The fairground is beautifully decorated with Nativity stalls, snowmen, sleighs and a winter wonderland for children. It offers lots of food stalls as well as toys stalls so it’s a perfect timing for gift buying too. I went to this Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt when the Christkindlesmarkt is too crowded for my daughter and I am even afraid to get lost!

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Happy writing— Giant pencils as a gift for the Little ones.

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Mistletoe!

Or kiss your Honey while taking a quick stop on this Mistletoe bundle!

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The world is your Oyster when it comes to food while you are in the Market. You find every type of food depends on your taste. The only downside is if you get a place to sit! On our visit we tried dome Balkan food and despite that its quite expensive, we were not disappointed with the taste.

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Tropical dried Fruits ! Yumm…

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Take the Carousel ride rain or shine!

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One happy little visitor!

There are thousands of Christmas Markets all over Germany and you can never have enough or shortage of it. Even our local Ingolstädter Christkindlemarkt can never be ignored but then if you have the chance to visit a Christmas Market, then go to something that worth the travel–and that is the Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt! I’ve just read that it’s almost 400 years old since the earliest writing about it was since 1628!

Nürnberg left me an impression and continue to do so… I wish it does the same to you. Maybe on my next visit, I’ll discover something else. From the mystical Kaiserburg Old Castle up to the overwhelming Tiergarten, I’ll leave you with endless options. My writing is not enough , you should be able to experience it with your own eyes.If there’s a market that I would like to bring my family in Philippines to see–then it is here.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What do you think of German Christmas Markets?

Here in Germany we have 2nd day of Christmas so here’s wishing you all Happy 2nd Day of Christmas and a Happy New Year! Until next time.

Tschüss!

 

 

Berlin …as I see it!

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One of the green sites inside the Hackesher Markt in Berlin

After 2 years of living in Germany, I finally have the chance to see Berlin! 

Why it took it so long I also don’t know. Perhaps because, we never had the chance or there are wayyyy to many beautiful cities and places in Germany , including Berlin of course to see and visit. I am living in the Southern part of Germany (Bayern) and Berlin is up in the north. People greets you with “Hello ” or Moin Moin up there, something that is totally not a norm in Bavaria. The Bavarian culture is definitely so much different from Berlin I realized that now. One thing for sure, I couldn’t find a decent Bretzel like our favorite, there’s no one wearing Tracht–Lederhosen and Dirndls and nobody greets you “Servus!

Yes, with so many things to do, life can be busy, so we are taking our time, sometimes unplanned things leads to bigger adventures. This gives me opportunity to look for fascinating Manholes and of course, some of  Berlin secrets!

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The Reichstag in Berlin ( or Deutscher Bundestag)

Coincidentally  that I am doing my Orientierungskurs ( Leben In Deutschland ) , it heightened more my curiosity about Berlin.Everyday we learned about the country’s  political system, history and  everyday living. Imagine my excitement seeing the things from the books I am reading and now with my own eyes. Over the days, I become so engrossed with  World War II history and related events so I busied myself reading a lot and watching German movies. It’s unbelievable for myself that I can now watch German movies with comprehension! I’ve read about horrific stories and I can’t even imagine it happened. I just realized how little I know about Germany. As someone who grew up in Asia, I had zero knowledge about Holocaust and what happened to Berlin during the war, totally out of touch & not having a grip on world History. I think if I didn’t live here then I wouldn’t be able to learn so much about this country like this. Integration in a foreign culture is really the key.

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Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

 

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Little hands, little traveler

 Another thing, it also happened that my cousins from 2 different side of the world arranged to meet with me for the very first time here in Europe and our meeting point is Berlin. My daughter and her second-generation cousin met also for the first time! Both Expat children! There’s no other better place of course to meet up, because they had participated in the Berlin42 Marathon  and that’s what makes it even more exciting. I haven’t seen them for almost 3 decades so imagine our excitement!

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Out and about into Berlin’s colorful streets

So here’s how I find Berlin as a first time visitor!

Berlin is BERLIN !

Berlin is one of the famous city in Europe and beside the capital of Germany, you should visit Berlin because–it is BERLIN. Something about this place stands out from the rest. I also don’t know why. You need to personally experience it!  Maybe because of the vibes, its alive, free-spirited, artistic aura and world-class travel destination it became over the years. I think you can’t be in Berlin without thinking about the past, the Cold Warthe Nazi and Hitler WW II and the Berlin Mauer (or wall). Germany has a fair share of dark past and it plays a great deal of what is Germany now and its people.It’s an appendage of the city’s history. But in fact, Berlin is not a typical, traditional “German” city. When I say, “traditional”, then it must be “Bavaria“! Apart from the utilitarian “Box- type” buildings which influenced by the Communist time and cold-war era, I learned that Berlin is still on continuous repairs. It was severely bombed during WW II so almost all of the city’s relics were restored or rather renovated. During the time of our visit, the other section of the Berliner Dom is still undergoing some repairs .Berlin is still repainting, rebuilding, restoring and its history is just yesterday’s news!

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Colorful art Grafitti in the streets of Berlin

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UNESCO World Heritage Site,Museum Insel in Berlin

Berlin is very International

Well, Berlin absolutely left an impression on me apart from it being a busy metropolis. I love this wonderful, international city! It is a home for all people around the world. For a minute, I was shocked to hear so many people are speaking English, which totally surprised me because in Bavaria, I barely hear people speaking in English. So when I heard it, I was really jolted. “Wow, I feel at home! “. Berlin is so diversified, relax, busy, multi-cultural and naturally very touristy.  Over the weekend, Berlin was flocked with tourists because of the Marathon so it’s really not surprising to see lots of people visiting.

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Inside the Cupola Dome of the Reichstag /Parliament Building in Berlin

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The magnet for visitors : The Reichstag Dome where the Bundestag (Parliament) sits in Berlin

People of different skin flooded the streets. Tourists from all over the world flocked over the Brandenburg Tor  and the Reichstag Building. People are super carefree and very welcoming. You can wear whatever you want and dress up to whatever style you like.  While taking the  U-Bahn and S-Bahn, I observed people.People from different walks of life come in and out of the train and chasing every second. People are kind and one time in a busy S-Bahn,  someone even gave us a seat.

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The Berliner Dom (Cathedral)

Berlin is Green

Berlin is often called Green metropolis. I can imagine that in summer, parks and green spaces are full of people relaxing under the sun. Another thing is that it’s  bicycle-friendly . I was surprise to see rental bikes all around but I don’t really know how does it works. Although Berlin has an excellent public transportation,tourist can explore the city by renting a bike as well. Berlin has another  unique Green feature as well–it’s Green Ampelmännchen, or the  pedestrian crossing traffic lights. In 1924, the first traffic lights in Berlin were ceremonially put into service on Potsdamer Platz.It was a surreal experience to saw the old traffic lights that still operates up until now.

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Fascinated with the Ampelmännchen in Berlin

Berlin is a home for Artists 

Berlin is very artsy, the graffitti Artwork is unbelievable! Art  is in every  corner and that’s what makes it so unique. With so many beautiful Architecture all around to ponder, you are left with many choices.It’s not the lack of high rise buildings, but the sense of modernity that blends with lots of historical artifacts. From the Berlin’s classic S-Bahn from Friedrichstrasse Station to the modern Aqua Dom in Radisson Blu hotel up to the Fernsehen Tower (TV Tower), Berlin has the mixture of both the past and the present.

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Graffitti Art, the more , the merrier

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Call me please…

A Walk through  History

If you wanna explore Berlin, then you need to do a lot of walking.Berlin is like a big treasure hunt place. If you are in search of something without knowing where it is, then you are into a threat, maybe you’ll stumble upon a great secret! That’s how we did it.Walking through the paths of historical sites, starting from the Brandenburg Tor,and tracing the marks of the traces of the Berlin wall, up to the Postdamer Platz and the Holocaust Memorial, you feel some kind of significance. You will be grateful about the life you are having considering the tragic stories behind these memorials. After a quite morning at the Museum Insel where we saw the Berliner Dom, Alte Museum and Pergamon, we walked straight to the Bebelplatz, and wondering why people are flocking there. It took time for me to realized what they are staring down to the ground–a squared-looking glass directly showing the   empty bookcases. Bebelplatz is the place directly in front of Humbolt University, the oldest university in Berlin and which has had famous professors, including  Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, and the Brothers Grimm. The same place where the Nazi burned the writings and all the books of the Jews about Jewish faith occurred in 1933.It was not a grand memorial, it was in fact a void.If you don’t see it closely and reflect, then you are just wasting your time. It was considered a voided memorial because the books burned that night in 1933 can’t be replaced, but the void for them can be, hence the empty rows of bookshelves.

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Bebelplatz Book Burning Memorial in Berlin

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Walking can lead you to details of History

You feel invincible knowing that great men and women have walked there, also people lost their lives on these memorable places, just like the story of the Kindertransport. I have learned much about German history just by walking through the city. Walking through a new city can be life changing as well.

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A Nostalgic shop in Heckesher Markt

Berlin is cheap…or rather affordable.

For budget travelers like me, I find Berlin affordable.In Berlin, you can do many stuff without spending much money. With almost all of the key landmarks which are situated close to each other, from Museums to clubs, to tourist spots and tours, you can easily find whatever suits your tastes. I find it easy to navigate on its busy streets.We had a nice hotel along Tiergarten with a very good buffet breakfast for only 8 Euros  and we can’t complain anymore! Because it’s very international, food is  no problem. I find it actually hard to choose what to eat because there are so many choices to choose from. From well-known fast foods,to dominating Turkish döners, Lebanese Koftas, Indian currys, Thai, Korean, Arabic dishes and of course, the native German delicacies served in Biergartens and restaurants, you can never get hungry in Berlin, never! Almost every corner has a Currywürst mit Pommes as well. If you want to spend some quiet time, then head to the line of restaurants on the banks of the Spree river and watch the boats passed by! The only thing that will bother you is the sound of street musicians trying to amuse you. One thing through, beer is cheaper than water in Berlin !

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Art mania or what?

Berlin has a place in  world history and always a special place in Germany.There are places being known because of its natural beauty or something that originates from it, or it’s just cheap to visit. For me, Berlin is a place to remember, either you visited it for leisure, business, or visiting a family or just plain navigation.

It has something that can never be bought from the souvenir shops–it’s enigma and it is really priceless!

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Watching shadow cast in Berlin

I could write so much more about this experience but I guess its all up to you to make your own experience and story about Berlin.This is a small part of how I saw Berlin.We are already looking forward for our next visit in Spring and see the city turns into pink paradise from the cherry blossoms! I am sure I will have another versions of how I see this city!

How about you, have you ever been to Berlin? How was your experience?

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Manholes

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Manhole cover in Amsterdam,Netherlands

The title says it all, this post is all about my fascination of Manholes or drainage covers.

Well, since I came to live here in Germany I got hooked into looking down , staring for a couple of minutes and just marveling at these drains.I find it  interesting to look down and taking photos ( if I have the chance to do so…) of unique water drain designs and the way every city has its own pride, normally it shows the city’s  name and the official seal.

But the big question is why?

In my home country and way back in Kuwait, it is quite different.Manholes are usually plain, dull or somewhat far from sight of the pedestrian or I’m just oblivious then. From the time I remember, I heard about accidents involving people falling off crazy in these filthy holes.With traffic crazy streets in Kuwait, no one stays longer in the streets or you’ll be ran-over ! Ok, maybe I sound a bit dramatic but the thing is, the culture says it all. For me, in Philippines, manholes never appeals to me because I grew up never having the “liking”into it or it sounds dangerous  and traumatic experience especially during rainy season and heavy flooding. People falling into a manhole may sound funny but actually it is NOT. It’s a serious accident.

I guess it shows how different each country value the water drainage system and its covers here in Europe especially in big cities. In a very touristic areas here in Germany, most inner cities observed car-free , therefore encouraging more people to walk, rather than drive into the city. So it means, we have more means to explore by foot at our own pace.

I must say that here in Germany, I have seen quite few interesting manholes. I haven’t had the chance to photograph them all , or I forget about it but this post will be updated from time to time once new updates are available. For starters, here are some of the fascinating manholes I’ve discovered.

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Manhole in Münich , Germany

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Welcome the Dutch  Royalty, Manhole from the Netherlands

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Manhole image from  Nürnberg, Germany

Sometimes it’s easy to spot them on but sometimes it’s also hard , especially when we are walking in a hurry or traveling by car.I know it’s not  everyone’s fancy , but one thing I noticed, in social media, I see so many photos of feet selfies, or shoe selfies . They all show a sort of individuality and personal choices.For photography, It’s all about our choice of subject and we have all the right to take photos of anything we want as long as it is rightful and doesn’t harm others. But here in Germany, public photography has some limitations as well.

So, why manholes?

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Looking down on a manhole in Berlin, capital city of Germany

First I got this habit of looking down where I walked into the streets when I ventured into exploring all the Stolpersteine or stumbling blocks or stones— those artistic stones for the victims of Holocaust and murdered Jews. I am living in Germany and I have learned these things in my class and everyday, as I explore the historical places, It is impossible not to be aware of the dark past of German history including the stumbling stones. It made a great impact on me to stop for a minute and think ..“Oh, there’s a victim of Holocaust who lived here…” I think its a very decent way of paying respect to their story and being grateful that war is finally over and hoping “Never again...”

So, back to my old habit, whenever I walk around into a new place, I took particular notice of where I’m stepping into. There’s so many landmarks, engravings, plaques of memorials, grave stones, or some sort of legendary marks which is imprinted into the ground for the sake of  history  and remembrance . One thing for sure,  you can learn so much from it.

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Caught a glimpse of the Manhole in Regensburg, Germany

Just like standing over a precious stone or a border mark, it has a profound effect, like “I’m walking over where a great war happened ,where heroes dies and fought for somethingor “I’m standing where the  wall of Berlin before stands “. So just like taking a minute to appreciate manholes, I also took time to admire an important city’s  landmark. I realized that what they do underground is as much as important as what they do over it. The street’s quality are also differ from place to place and the way they build it. Normally, these manholes are built with high-end steel, painted or engraved, or just personalised to city’s parameters.

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Walking through the cobble stone pavement in our little town of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany here shows the official seal .

There’s also something nice about looking at manholes through each season. Here in our old town, summer time is the time where road maintenance is being done and road works are really important especially the “Fußgängerzone” or walking path. Manholes or drain covers withstand the never-ending change of weather and seasons.

I therefore conclude that It takes a good government to pay attention of where the normal people drive, cycle, walk, and run into. So it goes with drain covers. 

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Looking down on a Manhole in Ingolstadt during first layer of snow last year’s Winter

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While exploring the oldest city in Germany, Trier

Do you also have a habit of looking down while walking?

How does the manholes in your area looks like?

Want to participate in a global project?

If you ever seen an interesting Manhole in your area, please feel free to send me a photo of it or a link so I can include it here in my list. My goal is to collect as many as possible depending where my feet leads me to.

Send me some photos in my Email : justbluedutch@gmail.com.

I hope you find my story interesting and something to ponder about. Over here, Autumn season has begun here in Bavaria and I am excited to wander off in the streets and continue exploring!

Wishing you all a happy weekend…Tschüss!

Donau Radweg Cycling Tour

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Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle…~JFK

Yup it’s officially Autumn here in Germany but let me ask you, what’s the most unforgettable experience you did last summer?

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The unexpected resurgence of the bicycle

This is a late post but last summer, we did our first Donau Radweg Cycling adventure as a family! It was pretty special, because for me, that was the farthest I’ve cycled non-stop in my life! And yes, we cycled with my daughter along and she behaved so well. I haven’t written much about what have I done for the past months mainly because lack of time and I am sorry for lack of posts and updates.This Blog is still alive and I wanna say a quick Thank you for all of you who paid a visit in my page and left some sweet comments.I’ll do my best to respond shortly soon!

So anyway, last summer felt so different from last year here in Bavaria. First, the temperature was warmer than I expected and as I have seen, so many fields and plants were ‘affected’ by the heat, even our garden was not spared. It’s kind of scorching and for quite sometime uncomfortable, reminding me of 40 degree-ish we had in Kuwait.This leaves us with only few options to enjoy leisure times outside. Best option we’ve had is anything with water. Swimming here and over there, and yes, even the pool in the garden had been a constant companion for my daughter.But aside from water activities, last summer was unforgettable because we’ve made it through our first Donau Radweg tour!

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Our destination : Donau radweg tour 

So how about doing a long-distance cycling? Oh yes, to start, approximately 23 kilometers, with a normal bicycle, with a 4-year old child in an Anhänger tagged along with us!

As I’ve written before, the moment I’ve moved to Germany, I think I have cycled more than I have ever cycled in my entire life! I ride my bike in every season, even when its winter and minus temps. I have heard about the classic Donau Radweg but I am always b intimidated of doing it, first, because I thought that it could be exhilarating plus I don’t know how would my daughter deal with it. Second, am I fit enough to do it? or would I cycle back home after 10 kilometers back home?

What if I had a tire burst?

But then long distance cycling for me is something different, it’s an adventure. I wanted to do something that is new and also fun. There’s something about reaching a goal. I guess I managed to integrate in the cycling culture here. When you live in Germany, you’ll be amazed to see that cycling is a very normal lifestyle. Everyone here I think owns a bicycle and cycle at least every day. It’s healthy, easy, practical and the best of all, environment-friendly. Add to the fact that Germany , or at least here in Bavaria, they have a superb cycling paths. I have read one time in the newspaper that in our city alone, its kind of look like Amsterdam now because of  the number of bicycles that they are planning to build more bike stands.

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I think one of the most important thing in my life is when I learn how to ride a bicycle…

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Backside facade of the castle Grünau

Another thing, cycling tours in midsummer is no joke, but since we finished our first Biotope Cycling Tour last year, with almost 30 kms within 2 hours, I knew it can be done.  I was  inspired when one morning, my teacher came to our class and shared that she had cycled from Neuburg to Ingolstadt, a sweet 23 kms within an hour to go to work and back!Okay she had an E-Bike, but still, I had great respect for the adventure part. It’s what I wanted to. Cycling through the Danube is a dream come true for me.

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A beautiful fountain in front of the Rathaus (City hall) of Neuburg an der Donau

Before the Radweg tour

We planned to start early morning and prepare our way to Neuburg an der Donau. Neuburg is famous as the “Renaissance City”along the banks of the Danube.When I saw photos of this city, I knew I wanted to see it by my own eyes. So my goal is why can’t I combine a small city tour and a cycling Tour?

We searched about our cycling path and we were confident  doing one of the old-time favorite tour along the Donau river, the Ingolstadt to Neuburg, with 23 kilometers over Weichering road. The only thing that is not sure is the weather. We checked the  weather numerous times, it’s a little bit cloudy, but enjoyable enough to cycle. We brought along the  daughter but this time she sits in an Änhanger, German’s version of the Bakfiets! It goes easy for her because she can read, eat, or sleep while we cycle. We packed very  light, with only few snacks and water  in our side packets. My Dutch husband cycled with an additional 40kgs ( total weight of the Änhanger +Natalie).Of course we had an emergency kit with us, and a huge packet of determination and crazy energy!

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The bicycle is a curious vehicle, its passenger is its engine…

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Exploring the Renaissance City of Neuburg

The Radweg tour

We started off cycling very light. The path is almost flat and through green forests. This bike path runs south of the Danube through the Danube floodplains, partly on paved roads with little traffic, partly (in the woods) over well-paved dirt roads, partly asphalted separate bike paths. Lots of nature, riparian forests, avenues, meadows and even resting benches along the way.

 

The first of the three sections leads from Ingolstadt to Weichering. The second section runs on rather long-curved-curvy Weldwegen to the castle Grünau. From there it goes with a paved separate cycle path next to the road without detours directly into the center of Neuburg. I knew we are almost in our destination when we were in front of the old castle of “Grünau”.  Our journey begins at the Baggerweg and runs close to the Danube along the direction of the Baggersee, where the Danube is crossed.I find the path very enjoyable, with plenty of fields and greeneries to watch while cycling. We came across with so many cyclists, everyone is loaded up with adventure packs. Along the way I was smiling to myself because I can’t believe that I’m doing this!

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Inscription on a giant Tree in Grünau Castle

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Grünau Castle 

Reaching our destination

Of course I need to make some stops when I see something worth photographing.After the Caste Grünau I thought we were almost in the city but I was mistaken. I need to cycle for at least 8 kilometers more! My daughter keeps on shouting “why is it so far?”where is the playground? ” But then once we see the beautiful architecture and the Donau river, I was completely excited.It’s even prettier than in the photos I have seen.We parked our bikes just beside the river and off we go to explore the city.

Fascinating finds

What is fascinating about cycling tours is that you can explore a new city by foot and that gives you more windows to explore– especially the hidden gems of the city.Neuburg an der Donau is a historical city which has a lot to offer, both to locals and visitors. The city hall itself is situated above the town proper, on a hilly top so it also requires stamina add challenge of cycling on a cobble stone pavement. The Hofkirche is situated beside the Residenz Schloss ( Residence Castle)  which is quite an impressive architecture.It is quite a norm in this region to be wedded in a Castle, like a fairy tale dream. In Ingolstadt, I often watched a wedding where almost all the entourage are dressed up in a traditional Bayerische Tracht ( traditional clothing) ,with Lederhosen and Dirndls, but the atmosphere of a wedding in a castle is something different.

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Door detail at the Residenz Schloss

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Intricate ceiling detail of the castle

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Sharing adventures together in two wheels !

Enjoying summer holidays with a family doesn’t need to be expensive. I realized that when you’ve never even tried something that intimidates you then you can’t even say if you are capable of doing it or not. I am so grateful that I have the chance to explore Bavaria through a cycling activity like this. Every place we go is really unique and worth telling.You don’t need expensive equipment either. Just make sure your bikes are in great condition and you are physically fit as well. Start slowly and take your time. I always remind myself that it’s not a race and to have lots of fun along the way! If you are looking for things to do next summer then you might try  long-distance cycling as well!

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Little Explorer

 

How about you, did you spent an active Summer?

When was the last time you’ve challenged yourself to do something for the first time?

 

 

 

 

Spring All time Favorites

I’ve tried to gather my all-time favorite photos for Spring. Each photo has a story to tell, a fragment of special, well-spent and gratified moments of solitude and self-nurturing experience captured in photos. For me, Spring is a wonderful season to cherish, a quick one, but also the most treasured of all because it signals rebirth. The first days of Frühling always bring to me much energy, excitement, renewed spirit and yes, new dreams to chase. This week’s theme is so timely, a collection of primed, all time favorites and I was excited to participate.

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Savoring life’s simple pleasures…

Last night it rained, and for me, it’s one of the few times here in Southern Bavaria where the rain really soaked up the grass. It’s followed by lightning and roars of thunders, it definitely sounds like typical Springtime! I love it because it watered all my plants in the garden and  eventually cooling down the house. Nowadays, it gets really toasty during the day and a simple retreat through the woods and green sanctuaries is quite a threat.Can’t believe that May is  already over and today we welcome the warm June breeze.

Few more weeks and its officially Summer here in Germany. Anyway, to start my all time favorites, above is a photo from Baggersee, a nature park with a beautiful lake which is only 15 minutes away by bike from our home. It’s always a great time cycling around in this place and having picnics.  In Winter, we enjoyed walking in the frozen lake  and watching the birds . The wooden bench in the photo against the golden sunshine is my perfect symbolism for a warm welcome invite, a reassurance that for  a short time to sit and appreciate the view, I can forget my worries and let nature communicate.

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Spring blooms in front of the Museum für Konkrete Kunst

On the other side, I love as well how nature can add more colors in a  dull, solitary place. Last month, I visited the Museum für Konkrete Kunst with some classmates. They had an exhibition about “Colors in Motion ” by Carlos Cruz-Diez. I love everything about Art and the color composition with Optical technology.  Colors creates an astounding  effect  same as the simple blooming spring flowers rejuvenate the drag moments from Winter, the Artist also showed the effects of colors in everyday motion.

He quoted “Do not complicate, simplify ..”

Below is one of my favorite photo from the art exhibit.

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Carlos Cruz-Diez ‘s Color in Motion Art Exhibition in Museum für Konkrete Kunst

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Fairy tale city and Cherry Blossoms

Some parts here in my town turns into  a fairy tale like setting during Spring. With the pink cherry blossoms trees surrounding the Neues Schloss  which create a postcard worthy shot. Ingolstadt has a fascinating inner city but surrounding the zentrum are  the old walls that creates a historical path in lush greens for exploration for visitors. Along the river Danube, a beautiful post-card scenery awaits for those who took time to wander around.

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Wild flower fields for your dreams

Cycling around the city is never a bore when I see fields covered with wild flowers like these. Here, there are so many of them. They are unkempt, but so wildly beautiful. I wanted to gather all these flowers and make hundreds of photos of them.Just like Dandelions and Poppy flowers, they are a sight to behold. You won’t see them all-year around, but when you saw them popping out everywhere, you know change is coming.

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My burst of sunshine in the garden!

“Gardening is like an Art, you use plants and flowers like paint, and the soil like your canvas “.

A great part of my Spring time is spent working in our garden.I am trying to squeeze my time to give way to my personal addiction : Plants!  This photo below is our Lavender shrubs blooming with gorgeous locks of purple buds! Whenever I looked at them, I am reminded that a change is essential for growth. These shrubs have withstand the long cold winters but then when the sun finally comes out, they are blooming, announcing their beauty. Their scent, their proud stems alongside with my roses exudes a character of resilience, elegance, and classic beauty. I am only using my iPhone in capturing this photo and yet, it does not need any more filter!

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My Lavender shines against the bright Spring sun

Most of the things I share here in the Blog are my personal passions. From art, traveling, expat life, and of course, nature. I love  gardening and creating an urban jungle inside our house and recreating a cozy garden. Aside from my indoor plants, this year, I planned to create a pot garden in our terrace. I combine different flowering plants to create a personal pallet of colors and life. Spring had given me the chance to nurture and grow plants that give me so much positive energy. I am not a plant expert, but I am a plant lover and I embrace the positivity it brings.

“I truly believe that when you start to learn how to grow things, you let yourself grow as well.”

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Spargelzeit is here once again

Spring time is the time for white Spargel  ( white asparagus) here in Germany. It’s lovely to see how this seasonal vegetable creates a nostalgic moment in restaurants, supermarkets and in the weekend market. Germans love them I see it almost everywhere!

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Hops, the heart of Bavarian beer

The flower Hops is the vital ingredient in beer brewing. Last month we had our Frühlingsfest and once again we recall the 1516 Beer Purity Law which is now almost 500+ years old. In fact, it is the oldest food decree in the world! Spring signals the new growth of Hops and just looking at this photo reminds me that I am living in a place where beer is a food, and not an alcoholic drink! My previous post talks more about this German culture and the ever-unforgettable beer feast!

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The secrets of Water lilies

When I took this photo from our last visit in the Mediziniches Historisches Museum last month, I am quickly transported to my childhood in the Philippines. The sister of my Grandmother had a big garden with a big fish pond where water lilies grow in abundance. I always love to spend time looking at these floating leaves with their gorgeous white and purple flowers. I love the solitary moment I spent in that pond.They remind me of the “Water Lilies paintings and  murals by Monet. To think they are the birth flower for July, seems to me that they are also present in welcoming Spring!

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Biotechnical border crossings

Also one of my favorite photos for Spring is the captured  Baroque building in front of the growing shrubs in the  Deutschen Medizinhistorischen Museum  in front the  Botanical garden. If you are following my Blog, then you must have read why this place is quite special, and definitely historical. I am not a history buff but I love stories behind a story. It’s a chain that I love to follow. It’s one of the setting of the novel of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus” . Surprisingly, she had the young Swiss Victor Frankenstein study at the Bavarian State University in Ingolstadt. Here he discovered the secret of life, and here he finally brought his own “creature” to life. Thus, “Frankenstein” became the most effective symbol of Biotechnical border crossings

I love visiting this place  I found new things for learning . Just recently, I watched the exhibition about “Radiologie im Nationalsozialismus “( Radiology in Nazi era 1933~1945 ) . This year, the Deutschen Medizinhistorische Museum is celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein with a diverse program.

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Yellow fields forever

Of course, Spring won’t be complete without the yellow fields. Be it rapeseeds or summer  yellow wood forget-me-nots, periwinkle, or milky orchids, a field full of wild yellow spring flowers are a magnet.I  must stop and enjoy the view. Full horizon is painted in yellow and it seems endless like hope. When I see a field like this, I am happy.This is what I love about taking bike rides, it gives me a way to discover and slow down.

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Fresh strawberries on a sunny day!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love strawberries and when I say strawberries, we like it hand-picked. Here in Germany, strawberry season starts from last week of May and runs up until a month. Last Sunday, we went to the strawberry fields and picked out a bucket of juicy strawberries and eat almost a kilo while picking! Every single piece is so delicious! My daughter went home with a red mouth and stains on her face because she just devoured strawberries non-stop. I love the simple pleasures in life like this, savoring and feeding your taste buds ! Whenever I look at this photo, I am reminded of the smell, the taste and of course, the whole lot of fun we had!

So, these are my Spring  all-time favorites! Spring is not over yet but within a couple of months, it has been all good and I am enjoying every singe minute of this beautiful weather!

What about you, what are your Spring time favorites?

This post was inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | All-Time Favorites