The beauty of Autumn in Germany

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Autumn in Bavaria, Germany

I owe this post to the raw, pure and simple beauty of Autumn, the season of layers and golden glow. The season where I  created my Art gallery series “The rhythm of Crimson“and the “Hues of Malachite“. As much as I love nature, I think its just proper to document these moments and share with you some snapshots around my neighborhood . It’s been in my drafts folder for a week now and it really deserves to be published.Today, I finally squeezed some time to sit behind my laptop and search through my photo archives to complete this post.  I know its been a while since I write about my Wandertags , but yes, I  must confess that time is super precious, and life really happens when you are in constant motion. No day-off,in lay man terms!

But when we are silent, it doesn’t mean that our lives are boring, it’s just means that adventures are happening.

I’m sure many expats like me can relate to this.Though I grew up in a tropical climate and live almost a decade in a dry, hot climate, I began to appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons here in Europe. Someone even told me that it must be  heaven or paradise living in Germany. I humbly retorted — there is no such thing as paradise. Your happiness doesn’t depend on places, let alone tangible things. Though I love summer and I get cold easily, I am such an Autumn person. Give me a quiet, serene place with a simple view of gorgeous colorful trees and leaves on a bright, chilly autumn day, with warm socks, big sweaters, and a pocket of time to paint, then I will be in all my glory. My soul would be happy.

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A typical sight in Germany— a Farrad ( bike) amongst the fallen leaves.

As me and my family entered into new routines and big changes, we are colliding with changes in nature as well. October is the time comes to dressed up in layers once again.Everyday, my feet stepped into a myriad of colors, the streets are covered in yellow-brown mosaic of leaves, it is really beautiful! As I go out in my day, in a rush but kissing and chasing the fog relentlessly. I am fully embracing my life in layers. With the beginning of late sunrises, and dark nights, I find comfort knowing that my life continues to eveolve.I won’t lie, it is a struggle to wake up 5:30 in the morning every single day. It is still dark when we go out, with crisp air, cloudy, wet and very foggy. It’s like the sun is  also too sluggish to put on a show. I am most ecstatic when the sun starts to shine, because I know, it gets better  during the day when its sunny.

Anyway, here I wanna share with you my side of the world , these photos reflect the life we have as an Expat family here in Bavaria, the south of Germany.This is what my everyday life looks like. As much as we love the European summers, I love the serene, quiet evenings, chilly mornings, and a soulful meditation that the Autumn weather brings.

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Autumn (or der Herbst) means walking back to nature. Taking walks plays an important role in German lifestyle. Here, I’ve seen the other side of walking. Back then in Kuwait, I see walking as a penitence. With the dry and heat, walking is never enjoyable.Whilst here, it’s a physical activity, exercising your self-wellness . During Fall, walking is even more special on  a carpet of  crisp fallen leaves. Nothing beats the “Psithurism“or the sound of the rustling of leaves,  the graceful descending movement of  leaves falling to the ground, obedient to the course of gravity. The sound it makes is raw, making each step exciting. The different shades of leaves creates a unique mosaic, which only nature can do. I have tried to replicate the textures when I made some “Painting with Leaves”.  I find the sight of the fallen leaves on the ground a pleasant reminder that even though everything is dying and falling  during Fall, life can still be beautiful.

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Chasing the fog

“All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried “

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Foggy mornings, maybe a future painting inspiration.

Do you like foggy, hazy mornings?

Have you ever tried chasing a Fog? Another thing that makes Autumn in Germany special are the chilly, foggy mornings which starts from late September and can last up until November. The fog here stays up until 11 am!Have you ever tried cycling in the fog? Or just take a walk through the foggy forest on an early Saturday morning?

When I see fog, I feel like I am into a quest. I remember last year when I was so engulfed with these foggy mornings and crystallized spider webs, making me spent most my weekend mornings chasing the fog. There’s something about it that is so eerie, so mystical, and mysterious . The cast that it makes on the trees and surroundings is a sight that is imprinted in my mind. I love photographing these moments. In this photo,the Donau river almost disappeared, it’s unseen because of the thick fog, but you know it’s there.

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Of course if I talked about Fall in Germany, Oktoberfest and every city’s Volksfest will surely cross your mind. All these festival are almost legendary. Just right before the chill creeps into our window sill, we enjoyed once again the warmth inside the beer tents, with a Breze (Pretzel) in the hand and danced through the groove of  traditional volk music. Our Herbstfest ( Fall Beer Festival) is one of my favorite festivities,the carnival, and the total coziness of celebration is really one of -a-kind, especially in our region, the beer capital of the world—Bavaria!

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Foggy, hazy mornings

What I like about taking time to observe nature during the morning rush is that you can capture it in its raw form. When I passed by to this street everyday, it is full of students, in a hurry, everyone is chasing the time. These trees itself are witness of time,  enduring the cold, and obediently abiding to the call of nature to shed all its leaves in order to give way to another growth. Through all these process, she cast no worries.

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The golden shadow cast of Autumn

Since the time that my daughter started in the Kindergarten, Fall brought us a new meaning as well. It signals growth and moving forward. The time for Big Little steps to be made, and taking the leap on second chances. I, too, had been moving forward in my life. It was not an easy, or comfortable one, but then this is where I find meaning of my daily purpose.

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Big Little Steps of a Third Culture Kid
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Purple bloom against the fallen leaves

Just like this flower in between the fallen leaves, it still stands out and  bloom. Autumn is her season to shine. A purple one against the browns. Sometimes, life’s challenges comes like a contrast and its the way we respond that resonates with our surroundings. Lately, my family is plagued by the challenges that my daughter faced in her “Eingewohnung” in the Kita ( Kindergarten). This is the phase where she faced with so many new things and her skills are challenged, she, herself is being challenged physically, emotionally, and most important —socially. As parents, we feel the stress as well, but then we decided to hold on to each other and stand out.

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The orange , red and yellow leaves in constant transformation gives me glorious sight everyday, invoking positive vibes and encouraging resistance. The cold, long German Winter will come soon, but we are staying still.

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If you might wanna know, there are so many things that comes up only in Autumn, a seasonal thing I must say. Like for example these clouds of mushrooms, they are everywhere, almost invincible! Our streets are also full of chestnuts, acorns, pine cones, and beautiful twigs. We have adorned our home with the pumpkins we’ve got from the fresh market and yes, my plant sanctuary gets even more cozier with the addition of colorful callunas!Germans are crazy about their gardens, and indoor plant sanctuaries are as common as Biergartens!

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You know its Autumn in Germany when almost all house is adorned with these beautiful Calluna Vulgaris plant.
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Clusters of mushroom I saw during Fall
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Autumn in Germany
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Pumpkin patch

German Autumn won’t be complete without the warm orange shades of Pumpkins. The warm colors of Fall —the burnt orange, reddish, plum, and burnt sienna are my favorite shades .A parade of pumpkins or Kurbis is every child’s delight. Pumpkin pie, Lebkucken, Stollen, Apple picking and cozy sweaters are always a hit everywhere. The smell of freshly baked goodies, gorgeous warm glow of candle lights while tucked into warm socks–all these are simple comforts for the soul during Fall.

One thing that I have learned lately  in my life is to be content, with what I am and with what I have. Autumn in the same way is the season where I appreciate the contentment in my own home by paying attention to what I already have. A time when the year is on its last leg and it doesn’t do you good have regrets. Lastly, we don’t have Fall season in the Philippines and so I am grateful that I have this “privilege” to live in this place.

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“The Trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go…”

Have you enjoyed this post? If you live in a place with a season like Fall, what do you appreciate the most during this time? and if you have one photo that describes your life right now, what could it be?

Would it also be fallen leaves?

Feel free to share your thoughts about your favorite moments during the changing seasons.

Thank you for reading my friends! If you have more time to kill and you want to see more of my personal Art Gallery like my current obsession now, the art of Fluid Painting using acrylics,  please add me in Instagram. I share and post there my current artworks and I think its worth the follow.

Tschüss!

 

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Wasps in Germany , Sweet menace in Summer

 

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Enjoying outdoors last Vater tag ( Father’s Day in Germany) in the Donaustrand, sans the Wasps!

It’s summertime again! ( feels like it already!)

The last few days, it  feels like summer already here in Bavaria. People are all over under the sun , engaging in any outdoor activity you can imagine. Swimming , doing Sports, devouring Eis ( ice cream) sunbathing in their balconies, grilling, children are playing without shirts all day in the playground, BBQ everywhere, cycling til they drop, walking their dogs, lounging in Beer gardens, crazy over running & Triathlons, and yes, sleeping under the sun!

With the long weekend holiday celebrating the Ascension Day  last May 25th, the same date as the ‘Vater tag'(Father’s Day)  here in Germany, we’ve got  the perfect mood and  weather for it. As I always share in most of my posts, Germans love to be outdoors the moment the sun is up. We are having a simmering 25-32 degrees C nowadays and I can tell you, this pool season is also a signal for the Wasp season . This is one thing that I observe to plague Germany, especially here in Bavaria when the temperatures gets warmer.

In summertime, the flowers are blooming and super radiant. Our little garden is already full of roses and colorful flowers, I love this season!  But if you think that Wasps only hover on any pretty flower, then you are mistaken.

 

Two years ago sometime in August, I first met the nasty crazy German wasps. On our trip going to Moselle and Trier, we had a stop over in one of the restaurant and we decided to eat outside since its very warm. My daughter wants to walk around and I already noticed so many critters flying.It’s hard to ignore them especially when they are literally hovering all over you.Also,it is very rare to find a restaurant in Germany that has an air conditioning. This is one of the times where I really missed the all year/all day AC we have back in Kuwait. When summer comes, it can really feel toasty here, added the annoyance you get from the flying wasps. Inside the restaurant, there are ornaments filled with wasps and bugs caught by the sticky fly swatter and nets.

How can you eat when in your sight is a giant plate-full of wasps, flies, and critters?

Wasps love to fly over your food and they can really sting badly. This is why I don’t want to mess up with them. As a kid, I had been stung by a bee and it’s something I  don’t wanna experience again, let alone watch them sticking to my Schnitzel, or to my curry sauce. I am very careful about this because I have a daughter who is crazy about critters, lady bugs and spiders. She thinks they are cute ‘toys’ and she is chasing them!

I know you might wonder, what’s the difference between Wasps and the normal bees?Though both wasps and bees are relatively harmless unless provoked, it is good to know the difference between the two.The German wasps – called yellowjackets – have a nastier sting than the common wasp and are currently at their angriest.

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Wasps are members of the family Vespidae, which includes yellow jackets and hornets. Wasps generally have two pairs of wings and are definitely not fuzzy. Only the females have stingers, but they can sting people repeatedly.German wasps are bigger than normal wasps but smaller than hornets, have three black spots on their face, and can sting repeatedly.

 

Bees are fuzzy pollen collectors that almost always die shortly after stinging people (because the stinger becomes embedded in the skin, which prevents multiple stings). Bees don’t die each time they sting, though; the primary purpose of the stinger is to sting other bees, which doesn’t result in the loss of the stinger.

You might be interested to read on these basic facts ;

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If you see German wasps in your garden the nest is usually less than 500 metres away. The cold kills the wasps, apart from the newly hatched queens in the autumn. They look for a warm dry nook to hibernate over winter. If you are planning to enjoy your coffee and cake in the outdoor cafe, don’t be surprised if you have someone to share it with. They just love to destroy summer picnics and cling on to any sweet fruit or fermented drinks.

I hope the above info could help you be aware of this. 2015 was a terrible year of wasps in Germany and thinking of the rising temperature, they are bound to be hovering everywhere and swarm over your face! So, don’t let the bug carried by these wasps destroy your summer mood.

Have you enjoyed this post?Tell me,  have you ever been stung by a bee? or a wasp?

 

 

 

Fields of Gold: Rapeseeds in Bavaria

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

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

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The Yellow fields of Rapeseed in Germany, Spring 2017.

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

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The charming Canola ‘Rapeseed’ flower

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

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

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

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Germany’s golden field of Rapeseed.

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

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One fine day with the Rapeseed fields..

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Keukenhof in Pink!

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Gorgeous Pink Impression tulips in Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, April 2017

I know what you’re thinking…

I know, I know, forgive me for spamming you with my posts about our recent trip to the Netherlands but I can’t help it, Keukenhof is just too gorgeous!  One photo  wouldn’t do any justice and a single post is an understatement of my amazing experience there. The flower arrangement , the garden shows and the different exhibits showcases the epitome of beauty of the flower-mania  in Holland. For flora and fauna enthusiasts, it’s definitely a must-see during Springtime in Europe!

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My daughter adores some fine pink Tulipa ‘Menton’

 

After seeing all these beautiful spring flowers in the most beautiful spring garden in the world, my standard for nature has been elevated. My impression about Tulips in general has become so great that I have  now high regard for this wonderful piece of nature. I didn’t know that flowers could have such an effect to humans in general, and not only to gardeners, landscape designers, and flower enthusiasts.I have great respect for the artistic mind and tremendous hard work and  labor of the people who make Keukenhof a place to show this grand beauty.

To give credit to this amazing place, this time I’d like to share with you some photos from Keukenhof gardens once again, in pretty  Pink floral colors and it’s symbolism  to tell about your love to someone. Pink Tulips symbolizes the ” Awakening of Love “!

I have seen thousands of tulips coming in different shades of pink, from dark ones, almost purple, and with some bright tints of whites and red. Pink Tulips are a symbol of caring, attachment (not as strong as love, like the red ones) and good wishes. They would be appropriate for a friend or family member.

Here are some snaps of my personal favorites so far!

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Pink Double Blooms
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Tulipa Negrita

Close up with ‘The Negrita” -Though it’s not as darkly colored as its name suggests (“nigra” means black in Latin), the purplish-pinkish color looks great in the garden with almost everything.

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Bi-colored peach-pink standard Tulipas!

Pink tulips  express happiness and confidence. This makes them a very good choice when congratulating a friend on a new job or promotion. It’s an ideal gift to have them sent to someone’s office as a warm first-day-on-the-job surprise. I was obsessing photographing them in layers because I just love how they are aligned with each other and how they create a striking sight!

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The pink impressions in Keukenhof gardens
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Pink-reddish lilies!
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Pink roses in the Flower show in Oranje Nassau Pavillion
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Up close with some pretty Pink Pearl Hyacinths
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Pink Double  Blooms, eager to blossom
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Parade of pink beauties!
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Beyond words…

Beautiful, isn’t it?

I must say that If you really have the chance to visit Holland in Spring, make time to get into Lisse, in the Netherlands to visit this garden. A day filled with colorful flowers can brighten anyone’s burden and who knows, It might change the way you see life.

Do you like Tulips? What is your favorite color so far?

If you’re interested to know more of different types of tulips, you can read it from here.

 

 

 

Cherry Blossoms magic in Bavaria

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Fluffy, sensitive blossoms for tender beginnings…

The Cherry blossoms turning the Neues Schloss into a  magical fairy tale land!

I don’t need to travel to Bonn, to the world-renowned Heerstraße street or to other scenic parts here in Europe to see the Cherry Blossom spectacle, because right here in my old little town in Bavaria, our streets are flooded as well with these gorgeous pink blossoms . It’s been a while now that these flowers are  dazzling us everyday.  I realized why people say that seeing these pink lovelies during early days of Spring is one of the things you should do before you die— it is simply gorgeous! I know I am not the only one who is crazy enough to snap  photos of these flowers, and why not, they are irresistible to not capture. They are the popular photo motif at the moment. See feeds in Facebook and Instagram and you know what I mean. I do believe in seeing the beauty of the moment before it vanishes.

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

Well, remember the long dark, grey winter days where all the trees are bald, leafless, and barren, now Spring is bringing back everything to life! Just like the other wild spring flowers, Cherry blossoms brings such a happy spirit, lifting our souls to enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine once again. Isn’t it  amazing how our moods  changes, when we see a change in our surroundings?

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

Just like the charming yellow Daffodils, Cherry Blossoms are such an enigma to behold during Springtime! I found more about this flower when I did a bit of reading and now I understand that aside from touristic reasons, Japan’s  Sakura is such a magnet for tourists.

Hanami is the Japanese tradition to admire the blossoming of flowers in spring, especially the delicate cherry blossoms. It dates back to the Heian period. The term, however, refer to the cherry blossoms (sakura), symbol of the Japanese culture. The true meaning of this tradition is not observing flowers blooming passively, but rather in living the journey of these beautiful flowers coming off the trees by the spring breeze. Cherry blossoms are not only symbols of rebirth and wealth, but also of the samurai’s qualities: loyalty, honesty and courage. Hanami is also an opportunity to meet friends, planning parties, picnics and karaoke sitting under the cherry blossoms trees. It is amazing admiring a rain-scented flowers, just like what the Dutch’s thing for Gezelligheid!

Did you know that Cherry blossoms are very sensitive flowers? The first flowers emerge slowly under the protection of the old branches. They do not like rain at all, and frosty night temperatures can easily harm the flowers as well. Since the weather here in Bavaria has been cooler than usual, we even had rains & hail today, I already see that some blossoms are down in the streets.

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

Picturesque pink magic …

Here in our neighborhood alone, rows of pink and white cherry blossom  trees gives us a happy vibes whenever we walk and cycle.Fortunately the trees here are tall and have been pruned so high that no one can reach the blossoming cherry branches. Otherwise the precious trees would probably be looted by souvenir hunters, myself included!  I was even tempted to cut a branch! At this safe height, the fluffy pink flowers swing in the warm spring breeze.

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Capture the beauty while you still can…

 

Remember that the cherry blossoms only lasts for a short time, around 10 days, so if you have the chance, make the most of them whilst you can!

 

What do you love about Spring in your area? Do you also love Cherry Blossoms as I do?

 

 

My first Vineyard walk, a taste of Moselsteig!

 

There is something medieval, in the best sense, about these vineyards. The sheer work invested in them over generations, the effort of planting, tending and harvesting vines, each attached to a stake, all by hand, on 60-degree slopes, beggars belief; but the effect is of a communal work of art, a glowing tapestry of vines.” -The Telegraph

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Steep , picturesque view from the vineyards in Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

My Unforgetable Vineyard walk— My first taste of Europe’s Leading Quality trail, the  Moselsteig (or long-distance trail ),the finest Riesling wine,and the sparkling winding beauty of the Mosel river, Weinfest ( wine fest) all came by surprise! The Mosel Valley, a gorge the river carved between the Hunsrück and Eifel hills, and the valleys of its tributaries, the Saar and Ruwer rivers offers a beautiful hiking trail for all ages.

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Up close and personal with Riesling grapes.

Germany has nearly 240,000 acres of vineyards. About 88 percent of this area is planted in white and 12 percent in the red grape variety. You won’t believe it,  but there are also vineyards in Philippines, like the Gapuz grape farm in Bauang, La Union, but for me, the sight of vineyards is totally unknown. I have never seen one until I came to Europe. Before, I’ve only seen it from the movies and from books, let alone seeing a local winery ( or Weingut) , and tasting the wine of course.

Roaming around the nearby towns made my thoughts and my eyes  wandering constantly. I see grape vines everywhere, the steep vineyards seen along the road ( Wine road) have the names of the owner or ‘Weingut‘ .Grapes vines even right at the doorsteps of every house, creeping through their walls and fences, and decorating their garden. A distinctive product of this region is wine from the Riesling vine.If you visit a wine region like this, it is impossible not to learn anything about the wine industry.The grapes of the Riesling vine stock are small and contain a large number of seeds. They need a longer time to ripen, are harvested in late October, November and even December, and don’t produce as much juice as other types of grapes.

An excerpt from Wines of Germany :

Mosel’s Vineyard area (2003): 9,533 ha / 23,555 acres · 6 districts · 19 collective vineyard sites · 500+ individual sites

Grape varieties [white 91.7% · red 8.3%] (2003): Riesling (56.8%), Müller-Thurgau (16.1%), Elbling (7.2%) an ancient variety cultivated by the Romans and because of its pronounced acidity, often used as a base wine for Sekt, Germany’s sparkling wine as well as Kerner, Bacchus and Spätburgunder.

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Grapevine crawling in the walls of the restaurant in Monzel

A Roman poet described the Mosel as “bigger than the Nile… nobler than the Tiber 

If I could freeze moments from this trip, it would be up there in the hills covered with greens, lots of green vineyards of grapes. Watching the river makes a winding turn and admiring caste ruins nearby, I felt like I’m in a dream.I was admiring the view at the same time carrying my sleeping daughter. Pity she missed this view, I am sure she will be so busy pinching the globes of grapes hanging so plump and eager for the sunshine.

From our starting point in Monzel, we walked through  the banks of Mosel river in front of the Weingut Schloss Lieser and watch the ships go by. On a grey cloudy day, Mosel is still beautiful and the view of the steep vineyards  covered in light fog makes it even more enchanting.

What is distinct when you visit this place is that the river banks rise so sharply that the vineyards carpeting these slopes are among the steepest in the world, with some planted at an astounding 70-degree gradient. On these precipitous inclines, nearly all labor must be done by hand. That includes tying each vine to its own eight-foot wooden stake, and carrying up the slate soil that has washed down with the winter rains.

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Admiring the ‘ ‘Gold’ of Mosel valley

We reached Traben-Trarbach, which was overlooked by the ruins of Grevenburg Castle, and was once the second largest wine-trading town in Europe after Bordeaux, and this legacy can still be seen, not least in the labyrinthine network of wine cellars beneath the streets, which you can explore. We decided to walk through the town and  cross the bridge, admiring the architecture around town and  its Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) which dates  from the late-nineteenth century, and the imposing castellated towers of the Brückentor, the bridge that links Traben with Trarbach.

 

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Hiking through the vineyards, from one to another is an adventure – add the fact that so many ruined castles on almost every river bend makes the hike so picturesque.I was not prepared to see the expanse of beauty in the Mosel valley, let alone fall in love with the Riesling wine. I guess that If you have tasted something so good, you would always compare its taste to other types.I am not a wine drinker, but a sip of Riesling white whine is always a treat.

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The vineyards are named after their winery owner

Riesling wine is delicious, they are also relatively low in alcohol.With levels often as low as 8%, you can have Riesling in the midday lunch and it doesn’t have unduly impact on a scenic afternoon walk.Whether trocken (dry), feinherb (medium-sweet) or süß (sweet), they were all chilled and fruity.After our day trips, we sit down in the balcony for an enjoyable treat- a sip of glass of wine!

To cap our Vineyard hiking adventures, we are rewarded with this view. Now who am I to complain?

 

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Not to be missed when you are in Mosel- the Burg Eltz. is located just up the river valley from the Mosel river  and home for the legendary Eisenköpfe (Iron Head) knights and is one of the best example of a medieval castle in Europe.Every stone in this castle is original.

Even with a baby worn around me, I was able to climb the steep vineyards, discovered castle ruins, and yes, found a fairy tale castle along the way!

 

Any thoughts ? If you enjoyed this post, and you  like river views , check out why the River Danube is the most photographed river here in Bavaria, plus, you will always be rewarded with a stunning view of the Neues Schloss as well.

Also, if you are in Instagram, make sure to follow JustbluedutchArt to see some of my personal artwork!

 

 

 

One at A Time : Lesson from the Daffodils

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Yellow Daffodils from our garden

“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head..and whisper to her neighbor, Winter is dead…”

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Dancing Daffodils : Standing yellow and proud. The brave soul who was not afraid to bloom despite the ugliness around her.

I know from the early signs of Spring that it can’t be far behind if there are Daffodils and today, my heart is filled with warm thoughts seeing the mass of Daffodils in our garden,  in full bloom. There are still so many bulbs sprouting from the other bed.This is a new sight for me, since its also my first time to experience Spring here in Germany. Excuse my delight, but yes,I love these pretty yellow thing! What about you?

Nature always have a way to remind me that I am now living in seasons. That just like any wild flower,I must allow myself to grow in all the places  that I never thought to be.My sight seems to have the ability to meet my every day need with effortless perfection. I find that when life gets to be too much heavy and everyday troubles bubble up and over, a time to relax the mind  is much-needed, accompanied by a walk in the fresh air, can in an instant, calm…no matter what the season.

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The first bloom of Daffodils from our garden  brighten up our home.

To tell you, I think there’s just something about Spring. I remember months ago, I planted some bulbs in the garden. I’m no experience gardener but I hoped that it will grow , and hopefully, bloom. After the snow melted from our garden and I saw the budding sprouts pushed themselves slowly, their baby leaves are winding up, greeting the warm sunshine.

I thought it will never come out. I almost give up.

But then one bulb sprout after one another, one at a time.

Two months ago,  I was heavily  burdened with anxiety, with a deep anguish. My feeling like the gloominess of cold winter.As a parent, I don’t know what to do. My daughter have a speech delay and did not say a thing or two in her 2.5 years. Whenever people would ask me if she is talking already, I don’t know anymore what to say. I was in the brink of having her checked-up and getting a professional opinion. She is one happy, very active fireball of energy, a tiny Goblin. She is so active and yet, when it comes to talking, she was lagging behind. The thing is, she perfectly understands English & Deutsch, follows instructions in both language, but no talking. My friends say that for children who were born with multiple languages surrounding them, speech can come late. I used to believe in this too.

But the anxiety continues.It robs my joy every single day. I kept on asking why…and When?

Two weeks ago, she surprised me and my husband when all of a sudden, she just blurted out “Mama“! I couldn’t believe it! Did she just say whaaattt? Then “Papa“follows, and many other words, she sings and reads the alphabet now bilingually, recites the numbers, even perfected the spelling for her favorite animals and colors. Her favorite word so far is “Rot” ( German for Red) . Her vocabulary has grown so much in a span of 2 weeks. I find it so great when she replies now whenever I am asking her simple questions.

I have learned so much from this experience.As a parent, it humbled me knowing that I almost lost my faith in my child.That I need to wait patiently. Raising a child indeed comes One at a time.

Happiness came in when I witnessed this milestone in my daughter’s life.There have been millions of times we have sung the same song, read dozens of books, and talking day after day. But then,milestones doesn’t come in an instant. It’s always One at a Time, one baby steps at A Time.

Spring will come and so will Happiness.

So I’m holding on. I know life will get warmer. The yellow Daffodils in my garden  reminded me to keep the faith. Just as their petals turned up towards the sun, I need to move toward my goal and desires one step at a time-often just baby steps and learning to use the accumulation of time.That when we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things.

My daughter is talking now. Talking too much. It’s music to my ears.

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The Daffodils in my garden are dancing. Swinging when the wind blows.

Fresh beginnings.

New life.

Rebirth.

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Who could ever imagine that out of these wild flower comes a great wisdom.

The Daffodils and other wild flowers, the delicate, intricate, unassuming flowers. Especially the early spring flowers who find themselves among the first to brave the unstable elements. The ones who have the quiet strength to weather the cold winds and last few spits of icy snow as they tenderly open themselves for all to admire.

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No matter what you ask of the Daffodil, it will still wait until Spring to bloom. From this I learned we all open up when the time is right…

Do you like Daffodils?

What do you look forward this coming Spring? Share your comments below.

 

 

The law of reversed effort

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The Law of Reversed Effort 

A personal post about what I’m experiencing for the past days.There were days where my mind is like a muddy puddle, unclear and chaotic, and desperately in need of clarity.

The truth is, a struggle  creates struggle and  my life as an expat  is not all  bed of roses.Let’s face it, everyday, more often, it’s bleak and grey ,you are  faced with the hard realities, instead of the fairy-tale fantasies of living in a world of different culture and language. I don’t know, maybe I need to blame the weather, the cold, the situations or my attitude and the way that I reacted to events.

I needed clarity but it is so elusive, the harder I tried to figure it out, the less output I get,  it only gives me all the blurry ones.I’ve felt like I’m in a rat hole that I couldn’t get out.I can’t say what I wanted to say in exact words that I wanted to say. I feel helpless.

I wanted to do things but it doesn’t work the way I wanted it to be.It felt awkward.I felt like my effort were all wasted.I even tried to paint my emotions but I ended up making a mess.

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C’mon Spring, do your thing!

I heard you, I know you might say; isn’t it should be “Try and try until you succeed? ”

So I decided to take a walk in the park one day and just sit there and wait for clarity. At best, I am hoping to just stop fighting myself. As usual, the sun is elusive, hiding behind the clouds.I gazed upon the buds in the branches and the sprouting leaves in the bushes. The grounds start to get greener once again. I saw signs of new beginnings, new chances. A rebirth.Spring is definitely on the way.

How odd but sometimes I felt like I am a plant who wants to grow in the middle of cold winter. I realized that my negative thoughts are apt to be more effective than the positive because the negative usually has more feeling with it.

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A budding signaling a rebirth

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone”. – Alan Watts

Like a muddy puddle, it’s best to leave it alone to clear.I let my mind rest and my body to just do nothing. Literally nothing. Like my daughter in tantrums, I let her sort her own emotions by staying calm, just watching how things naturally sort themselves out without my constant “interventions “.

Today,the clarity that I needed came.Along the way,and out of my stubbornness, I discovered something beautiful about the law of reversed effort.This came like a wake up call. Many times, things in life only sort themselves out only when we don’t do anything, taking the concept of the Law of Reversed Effort a bit further, it sometimes refers instead to a state of mind, a state of  mind of ‘not doing’, perhaps this is akin to a flow state of automatic action, a mindset of effortless concentration that only resides when we are present and ‘in the now’, because if we try to mentally push things too far in this mindset we just get the opposite result.

Isn’t this also the truth when writing a blog post? Or finishing a project? Our deep need for a clear slate to write down our thoughts? A state of mental relaxation is the only way for clarity to be achieved. Easier said than done but yes, it’s the only way to get things done, naturally, without causing stress in my mind.

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The Law of reversed effort

Like these buds which reminds me that nature has its own course to follow. It’s an autopilot that only nature comprehends.Nobody can intervene. I can’t hurry up the seasons or mold the people around me the way I wanted them to be.Nature has its own way, and it’s definitely not My way.

Here is the original quote from Huxley about the Law of Reversed effort.

“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent unknown quantity may take hold. We cannot make ourselves understand; the most we can do is to foster a state of mind, in which understanding may come to us”. Aldous Huxley (The Law of Reversed Effort).

Any thoughts ?

Have you ever felt like this? How did you overcome it?

If you love this post, Share it with your friends and leave your comments!

 

First signs of Spring ( Frühling) in Bavaria

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Wildflowers in bloom  in Neues Schloss : Early signs of Spring { Photo credit to Sabine Hartmann

A week ago, we tossed our heavy winter jackets and opt for our light jackets and surprisingly,  we managed to enjoy outdoors sans our gloves and bonnets but only when the sun is out. Last weekend, my daughter was back in the saddle and enjoyed cycling once again. After the Karneval season, it seems like the temperatures started to creep high, at least now it’s not negative and no more Glatteis. We’ve had one to two days in a row of lovely sunny days, but often times it’s  still grey and cloudy. The sharp winds brought chills and rains visits us occasionally and you know how it feels when it’s cold and raining at the same time–It sucks!  Weather can be so unpredictable as ever! The snow has  finally melted and the frozen lakes were back to its current again. Despite the obvious signs of spring, winter is still all over here in Germany, especially here in Bavaria.

Although the true arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere does not happen until the spring equinox on March 20, there are signs of the end of winter and the arrival of warmer weather. If you’ve been out, I am sure you wouldn’t miss it.

And yes, our winter gears needs to stay a bit longer more…

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Pussy willows ( Palmkätzchen) ,usherettes of Spring and  the first bush to blossom.

These ‘Pussy willows‘ are all over the place and they are sold everywhere. The best ones are in  the weekend markets. They are perfect home decoration for the coming Easter celebrations. Every Bavarian household makes an ‘Osternbaum‘made of  twigs from ‘Palmkätzchen‘ with plastic Easter eggs hanging on them. I saw these wild  bulbs on our way to the park  last sunday and I couldn’t resist but to take a close up shot!

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These lavender lovelies gives such a happy vibes to the brownish almost barren gardens.

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And look what I’ve met the other day, a gorgeous snowdrop among  bunches of dried leaves in the garden! I am looking forward to find a field of these little beauties. It is so refreshing to see them after the long cold winter days and their color totally remind me of the Winter wonderland in Austria !

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Fresh lilac Crocuses

So many wildflowers are sprouting and starting to bloom. The lilac Crocuses are little wonders, small as they can be. But for the bees, they are the source of inspiration for the coming warmer days.The other day, I saw my daughter playing with a ladybird (Marienkäfer) in the garden and a wasp is hovering over her.

Wilkommen wasps! (or  Bees ) your season will soon be  here!

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Oh wow! Sprouting Daffodils  in our garden!
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Bird houses in every tree!

If taking a hike in the middle of the  woods is your thing just like me, you will be rewarded with an amazing orchestra of the singing birds. A sure sign that feathered animals are coming back and start to nest once again. Bird houses are a common sight as well, even from the porches and balconies of apartments. Also, Wildlife watching is one of the prettiest sights  I have seen nowadays. It’s my first time to see real black swans here, crazily fighting over the breads we tossed, they are prettier than from the ones I saw in movies or internet. Wild birds are in frenzy manic chirping, perhaps they rejoice since they can easily find food nowadays .

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Bright sun shining day !

Daylight saving time  (DST) will soon be back (March 26)  and Huuuuurrayyyyy that the sun is up until 6pm now.Here in Germany, when its bright and sunny like the photo I took last Saturday, everyone is out, walking, cycling, running and exploring like crazy! Germans go out in herds! I see people in scarf and eating ice cream and I have the same cravings as well.

Do you know how Germans look forward and getting ready for Spring?

They are up early, clad in boots and gardening gloves with a rake, cleaning up their gardens and mowing their precious  lawns, and on Saturdays, they all rush to Dehner to grab new planters and seedlings! Yes, it’s true, my neighbor just did this.

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While waiting for Spring : Enjoying a Leberkäse sandwich with some sunshine 

With all these early signs of Spring, who wouldn’t be excited?

I can’t wait for my first German winter to be over and to start shedding all these winter clothing in layers one by one. Unfortunately, most trees are still bare and leaf-less, beer gardens are still not in sight and yes, Brrr,  it is still cold outside!

What about you, what’s your favorite sign for Spring?

 

 

 

Wetland wildlife watching

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Ever tried Duck-face?

Well Hello March!

Couldn’t believe we’re already on the final stretch of  winter. German winter is surely  long, freezing cold and grey, but it’s definitely a beautiful season, especially here in Bavaria. I love snow, not the cold, but there’s so much more to the whiteness all around. I saw some spring buds sprouting already in our garden and looking closely at the trees, I know that Spring is just around the corner. One of the things that I am enjoying nowadays are the wild sounds of the birds and wild life animals. Who needs music while running? It’s amazing! Walking in the woods, the silence is golden, with only the twigs crackling beneath my steps  and the crazy hooting, chirping, and orchestra of wild birds enough to make me hum.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed this winter was wetland wildlife watching. If you live near a wetland natural areas, such as lakes, rivers, wildparks and reservoir dam, these are really great for spotting ducks, geese and swans in winter. I remember on  sunny days in January and February many wildfowl are displaying with drakes flashing their bright colours, bobbing their heads and calling noisily. A great winter wildlife spectacle.

Our favorite is when we bring a pack of stale breads and just tossed on them and it’s a crazy frenzy party there in the water.

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White swan

I am so grateful that I live in a place where nature is close by. A 25- minute walk, then I am into a different world where I have close encounter with wetlands, forest, wood park, lakes, river and wild life animals. I love this since walking outdoors with my toddler on weekends are more enjoyable especially during Sundays where most shops are all closed. What a great way to show to her in real life the animations she love to look  millions times already  in her favorite book “Alle Meine Lieblingstiere ” ( All my favorite animals) and Gonnie gaat varen.

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Survival of the fittest

I have learned that most of the wildlife cannot deal with the harshness of high-altitude winter conditions. The snow also makes it easy to spot animal tracks as well as the animals themselves. In summer, these creatures spread out to graze grassy mountainsides, munch leaves in the woods, or hunt for prey in the hills. But in winter the animals mass in the lower elevations.

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Walking in grace

Winter is tough for wildlife – food is in short supply and the days are short. But as leaves fall from hedges and trees, birds suddenly become much easier to spot and winter can be a good time to look for tracks and signs left by animals. One of my favorite sight was watching how the ducks waddle and float while the swans are  fierce, proud and flipping its wings. When it flies to catch something, it’s a time I normally just watched in silence.

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Wild ducks and birds
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Birds of the same feather…
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Flirting in the frozen waters

You see, the best things in life are free, and on the sidenote, have you ever wondered why bird’s feet and those of the ducks don’t freeze?

 

Any thoughts? Have you ever tried bird-watching in winter?