Unplanned and totally spontaneous, today we droved along the Hop (or Hopfen in Deutsch ) fields in the quiet hilly town of Wolnzach, Bavaria. Wolnzach is the heart of Hop producing Hallertau region ( or Upper Bavaria) and is also a known “seal district “( Siegelbezirk). One of the great thing about living in Ingolstadt is that it’s so easy to do a day trip or excursions, plus the notable cycling tours in the vicinity. Within half an hour drive, ( around 35 kms) we reached Wolnzach where the green lush fields came in sight. It’s pretty amazing just to see them up close and personal. Totally reminds me of the grape vineyards in Moselle! Hop fields on hills are normal landscape scenery here in Southern Germany , especially in the Hallertau region (Holledau) 50 km north from Munich. I’ve seen these fields many times along Autobahn and I wished that I could see them close-up, and today my wish came true.
The Hallertau region is the largest Hop- producing region in the world and they exist since 736!It’s no surprise why we have Oktoberfest and twice a year Beer festivals. There is no single occasion here that is not celebrated without Beer! Mind you, the beer culture here is so strong and has rooted itself as a cultural legacy. This is one of the first thing I embraced from the time we moved here. Did you know that aside from the home of Audi HQ, Ingolstadt is the birthplace of the Beer Purity Law. Now, seeing these endless Hops fields made me realize how on earth we were blessed to lived in a region were these “green golds” grew. I am not a drinker or beer enthusiast, but through time, I appreciate the value of this valued beverage like a noble Bavarian.
Here in Germany, we only need Hops, malt, yeast and water to brew Beer.This is what the Reinheitsgebot 1516 ( Beer Purity Law ) is all about. I already mentioned many times in my Blog that beer here is considered as “Food”and not an alcoholic drink. Our trip was just in time for harvest, the Hops that we’ve seen are almost all ready for harvest!
We made a stop in the Deutsches Hopfenmuseum Wolnzach and learned more about Hops from its botanical background up to its main role in Beer brewery. Imagine, around 14,220 hectares (35,120 acres) of hops are grown in this region and harvested in mid-August. Being around with these gigantic vines is a great experience. The smell and fragrant of Hops is really something you need to experience personally. In Germany, the total hops-growing area amounts to 19,000 hectares and makes up a third of global production
One of the coolest thing you can find there is the Hop picking machine, where it is the biggest and most expensive agricultural machine of all times. The museum’s own “Iron Picker” was refurbished and is now ready again for special demonstrations. When we arrived, a group of American tourists also came. They were cycling and they were are all excited to know more about Hops and making photos! One says “the smell of Hops is really strange!” My daughter said it smells like pee! I also find it strong , no wonder it was once quoted as “wicked and pernicious weed“!
Mind you, cycling along the Hop yards is actually another adventure that I wished to do myself!
Did you know that Hops plant cannot be harvested on their first year after being planted? But after its initial phase, they can produce for the next 70 years! This is really a plant for decades! Another crazy fact that I’ve learned is that Hops flowers should only be female flower to be allowed to be brewed.
Because pollinated seeds are undesirable for brewing beer, only female plants are grown in hop fields, thus preventing pollination .But how would you know if the flower is female or male?!
If you’re looking for a different kind of adventure for families and all ages and you’re in the vicinity of Upper Bavaria, a visit to the Hop fields should be on your list. What’s best, you can end your road trip with a Prost!
Do you have a Bier Wanderlust? If you have more time to kill, check out my post about the artist Hundertwasser and the unique Kunsthaus in Abensberg and Kuchlbauer’s Bierwelt where you can also learn about Beer brewing in a magnificent Artistic backdrop!
Recently the little wanderer is into stones. She loves to collect stones, especially the shiny ones , or something with texture. We have a handful of collected stones at home and she is into crystals and gems nowadays that we want to feed her curiosity. She even have a name for them all. She said she dreamed of having stones from volcano! How are we going to have that! I think she got so fascinated as well by the sedimentary rocks we’ve seen in Stauseen in Austria and now, everywhere we go, we pick up a stone, in short; we are stone collectors!
Today, at around 8:30 a.m, the little wanderer is wide awake and wants to play outside so after everyone got refreshed and showered, we packed our cameras, backpacks and off we go on the road again.We had a great time last night in Metallica’s concert in Munich ( which she really entertained the crowd nearby to where we sits!) and today we want to do something relaxing, quiet, and not so stressful. Destination as decided by the Dutchman, so off we go to Riedenburg and visit the Kristallmuseum, which houses the biggest crystal groups and stone gems collection by far here in the region of Bavaria.
Riedenburg is around 40 kms away from Ingolstadt and we drove there for approximately 40 minutes because this time we took another road away from the Autobahn. The road was hilly and full of curvy edges overlooking the hills and green forests. The scenery and landscape around the countryside is so calm and we almost have the road to ourselves.One of the perks is a stop in the Sunflower fields which I really love. For me, summer is not complete without sunflowers!
I haven’t finished writing my blog post about Kelheim where we took an adventure cruising along the Weltenburg narrows . In there, we took a boat and ogling through the Gorges and through the oldest Monastery of Weltenburg Abbey and what a surprise, we saw once again one of the ship gliding in the Altmühltal while we were there in Riedenburg. The museum is located along the banks of the Altmühltal river and the boats going to Kelheim on a boat tour.
The Kristallmuseum is a private gallery museum situated in Bergkristallstrasse in Riedenburg. We arrived around lunchtime so the Restaurant Fasslwirtschaft is already packed with guests, visitors, bikers, cyclists and families with kids eagerly enjoying the relaxing saturday afternoon. There is a playground which immediately catches the attention of my daughter , a mini-gold area for the whole family, and the Kristall museum !This restaurant serves traditional Bayerish food and the ambiance is really good!
We first seated ourselves in one of their traditional barrel huts (or Fässern in German) and ordered lunch. The prices were decent and the food was excellent! We played some minigolf and then explored the Crystal museum.
In the Kristallmuseum, I saw a great collection of crystals , gems, precious stones, and so many pretty shiny things that I have never seen in my whole life. I love beautiful stones and handcrafted jewelry and here I’ve got to see and admire. Here you can see the Turmalin Collection from Madagascar with over 600 pieces in varieties. If you are fond of Horoscope, then this place have a special treat for your own Zodiac sign where you can press a button and the ceiling ( or the Sternhimmel) will illuminate for your preferred sign.The artistic side reminds me of the House of Mirrors I’ve seen in Kuwait.
What’s so special also in this place is that they have the replica of the biggest Diamond and more than 300 gemstones and their stories. The 7.8 tons, 3 x 2 meters Crystal group is something that would really catch your attention. It was discovered in Arkansas, USA in 1981. It’s big, shiny, gigantic and really a complete wonder. The Scholz Family brought them to Riedenburg and built the foundation of the Kristallmuseum and since then, Riendenburg became their home. Nowadays, it is one of the top tourist attraction in this town.
I was asking myself how did this crystal grew this big? Now I need to do my research and feed my curiosity.
Anyway, if you are looking something family friendly destination around Ingolstadt and can be done in a halfday out of town, then this place is really something you can check out. It is open from March to middle October from 10 o’clock but they have a Ruhetag (closed) on Mondays! If you’d like to visit them on Winter, you can find the details in their Website Here.
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.
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?
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.
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 something “or “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.
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.
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 : firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
Hello November, but first, let me say my final Adieu to October.
I took a walk yesterday, the last day of October, and it was a fine, cold, grey day.Nothing special about it, except that we have a long weekend here in Bavaria, so overall, we are just chilling out. All of us in the family are feeling sick, but still, we are fine. It’s Halloween time in almost half of the world, but I noticed that Germans are not so fond of this. Kinder Halloween parties are held in a music club bar where children clad in their costumes danced in the funky lights, grooving to the disco lights, and loud music. I must admit, a threat for eager parents like me as well. My Little one, dressed as a funky skeleton, with a complete face painting done by yours truly was cheerfully emancipated as she partied with other kids. Trick or treating is another melancholic dream, well at least here in Bavaria, it’s a ghost, not as fancy as I have seen in Philippines. I was surprised that although they love pumpkins, it is best with pumpkin soup ( which I actually made for dinner last night !) and pies , the groovy jack-o-lanterns cheers up the lonely balconies outside , which is a picture of deafening silence.
I think its detrimental to even ring the bell of a house where all the roller shutters ( or Rolladen in Deutsch) are firmly shut!
Snapping some photos from my camera, and briskly walking on the carpet of fallen leaves, here’s what I’ve written to my thought journal ;
October, the only time where I see spider webs as something fascinating. Probably the best time to see spiders webs looking great, beaded with the moisture of the morning dew or mist. Take note, no two spiders webs look exactly the same. I didn’t know about this before, but then, it’s good to know, right?
Walking into the woods surrounded with colorful palette of autumn leaves may look dreamy and looks magical to others, it really looks beautiful , I cannot deny it. But after a while, this postcard of natural beauty becomes a fleeting moment. At the back of your mind, you know that the dreary cold winter still need to surpass, and I need to endure the cold. I am not so fond of winter that is why I’m saying this. After the ravaging winds we have from three days ago, which ripped off all the surviving leaves from its branches, now everything else is bare and grey. At least for enthusiastic Germans who runs everyday, the colorful foliage provides a great scenery, sort of.
But then, every leaf fallen to the ground and muddled up in the wet puddle only knows its own misery——-and melancholy.
The truth is , I could expect no more from this sight. It is enough. For me, everyday it gets even more ordinary. Maybe only by a pure accident of organic chemistry, leaves are reborn, as they start to die, in an astonishing range of colours that puts their spring birth to shame. We all know the look of decay. This is the winding-down of everything, slowly towards death. Yet , for those who took time to have deeper insights about autumn, you know that the beginning of the end doesn’t feel like decay, at least on the surface, it doesn’t feel like a crumbling and a decomposing and a collapse from within; it feels like the arrival of a world of new feelings. At first, the sound of dried fallen leaves against a kick, that crisp sound it makes that creates a jolt of excitement is almost the same melancholic exercise from my muscles as I rake down the dried , stubborn , fallen leaves in the lawn for hours.
That’s the other side of melancholy. How do you appreciate the beauty of a mess?
If we look closely, in the autumn foliage we can see our own mortality: a beauty with a sadness never far away. It’s the time where sadness creeps slowly, camouflaged in quiet, calmed emotions, basked in agony of anticipating the end of the cold months. Soon, the season to rest and reflect will pass. Like a long passage to cross. But there’s nothing beat the picturesque beauty of blooming colors of spring whilst in Autumn, the beauty comes from an inner understanding of the cycle of life.
Where everything looks hazy, the mystery beyond the mist is yet to be uncovered.
And then again, there is the mist, arriving uninviting. To me, autumn mist is something you smell before you see it; it’s the initial hint of the blow of the air as I leave the house in the morning, the first gush of wind which kissed my cheeks as I hop on my bike, slowly creeping into my nostrils, and the realization from my inner tissues tells me that summer is finally over and the world is turning.
Every morning, I notice that the sunshine is hazy. I’ve moved all my plants to the biggest window in the house where they can received as much sun that they need to thrive on the coming winter months. It’s a joy to see them gathered together, as if they need each other to survive the gloom. I’ve picked my last stem of roses from this year, pruning of stems will follow later. I’ve sensed it as early as the last week of August, the end of BBQ season and lounging in Biergartens has come to an end, the gloomy sight of empty playgrounds, and steaming rivers becomes a panoramic dream right now.
This is my thoughts from my One hour of melancholy— Auf Wiedersehen October!
Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read , my friends. If you enjoy this post, please feel free to leave your thoughts, I would love to read them as well.
So tell me, are your moods also affected by the weather?
Do you also experience this so-called “melancholic” thoughts when winter is coming?
Cheers to November and wishing you all a lovely week ahead!
Summer is doing its sluggish exit by now. The sight of this beautiful, fragile flower is nowhere to be found in the wild fields here in Bavaria. Once full of wild flowers and Poppy, the fields of Golden yellow Rapeseeds , the Ooh Shiny and glorious Sunflowers and Gladiolas are slowly fading. As I relive the memory of Summer this year, I discovered by chance that 2017 Germany’s Flower of the Year is none other than the “Poppy“ or commonly known as Papaver rhoeas . It’s no surprise that due to its delicate and vulnerability features, this flower is the symbol of remembrance for dead soldiers from World War I.
Scharmel Iris – “The poppy opes her scarlet purse of dreams”
Poppy seeds are rich in oil, carbohydrates, calcium and protein. Poppy oil is often used as cooking oil, salad dressing oil, or in products such as margarine. Poppy oil can also be added to spices for cakes, or breads. Poppy products are also used in different paints, varnishes, and some cosmetics.Poppies have been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death. Sleep because the opium extracted from them is a sedative, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead.Fascinating facts about this flower, right?
Germany’s Flower of the Year 2017 : Poppy
Since 1980, Loki Schimdt of “Blumes des Jahres “(or Flower of the Year) initiated the campaign for Stiftung zum Schutze gefährdeter Pflanzen (“Foundation for the protection of endangered plants”) which became the Stiftung Naturschutz Hamburg und Stiftung zum Schutze gefährdeter Pflanzen (“Foundation Nature Conservancy Hamburg and for the protection of endangered plants”) in 1985. One of the main purposes of this organisation is a public awareness campaign about the ecological value of wildflowers. Every autumn, the Loki Schmidt foundation announces their chosen flower of the year.
I find the sight of wild red poppy flowers in many fields here in Bavaria so beautiful. I felt like I am transported into another world just by gazing to a wild field full of these blooming Poppy. It grows abundantly here in the Bavarian region and when its sunny, we have a very nice scenery . It was actually the first signs that the heat is on and its summer officially here.
Do you love Kenzo Flower inspiration perfumes?
Then you might love that this flower is an iconic symbol of their perfume line. As Kenzo quoted “What if the poppy previously planted in the city, could now rise into the air? It would blossom the sky…
The idea of this Flower of the Year campaign, called ‘Blume des Jahres’ in German, is to draw attention to the plight of certain flowers which are slowly becoming endangered in our countryside. I hope it helps with awareness, as it would be tragic to lose more of our beautiful wild flowers.If you’d like to know more of this campaign and want to know the other endangered wild flowers, you can see it Here.
What are your favorite summer flowers?
Do you know any flowers that are also endangered ?
The Fateh Al- Khair and its voyage to India and Africa up until 1952 is one of Kuwait’s local pride and symbol of cultural heritage. They are called the “graceful “sailing ships . Built to withstand against the strong winds , these boats are with triangular sail (lateen) set on a long yard mounted at an angle on the mast, and running in a fore-and-aft direction. For me, grace is an art and act of doing things in a dignified motion, like elegance against turbulence.
Living in Kuwait means seeing Dhow ships like this on a daily basis, as you see date trees almost everywhere! Staring at them takes you back to the time where in dhows are the mighty means of transport of trading during the good old days, before the oil was discovered. The marine lifestyle of Kuwait is still so very active up to this day, although Kuwaitis prefer to travel leisurely by yachts & private-owned boats. Fateh Al-Khair stands as a perfect memento of Kuwait’s rich maritime culture. I won’t be surprised if they will build another extension of The Avenues with the concept of a dhow ship, after all, it’s the Top 1 Attraction in Kuwait!
Fateh Al Khair, is a surviving deep-sea sailing ship from the pre-oil era, that is displayed as an exhibit in front of the Arabian Gulf right inside the grounds of the Kuwait’s Scientific Center. Fateh Al Khair is 19.8 meters long, 8.1 meters wide and 4.9 meters high. This ship was designed and built in Kuwait in 1938. The building of the ship took 18 carpenters who worked 60 days round the clock and cost approximately 17,000 rupees, which was the currency prevalent at that time. The dhow is made from Indian timber and weighs 95 tons when empty and can sail up to 13 knots.
In my days spent in Kuwait, I visited the Dhow harbor frequently since it’s just a few meters away from where I live. Seeing it against the background of beautiful azure blue waters of Arabian Gulf makes me feel proud that once in my life, I have seen this important part of Kuwaiti culture. She’s a fine noble ship, surviving the harsh winds from her voyages, and now, she rested with pride, gracefully.
Her legacy – a Dhow ship in full sail is represented in the Emblem of Kuwait, emphasizing its traditional importance in the country, where it was used to carry fresh water and in the pearl industry, as well as a trading ship.
Are you fascinated with the Arabian culture?
If you want to read further about the Maritime Culture of Kuwait,here are some useful posts that I have written documenting my experience of seeing them. I got married in the Guiness World Record- “Al Hashemi II “, the largest boat I have ever boarded, and even celebrated most of my special days in one of the traditional “Booms”.
From our recent trip to Austria where I have seen surreal images of the beauty of snow during a cold Freezing January , I admit I was in love of this pure whiteness all over me. To tell you honestly, coming from one of the hottest country in the world,and grew up in a tropical climate where I only knew humidity, rain & scorching summer, the sight of the mountains, especially the Alps covered in snow, and walking through a gush of a heavy snow fall, all day, all night, sure thing its a pretty sight. It’s overwhelming for the first time! My husband said ; you are asking for snow, now you have snow!
I can’t stop staring and capturing these moments. All the more that I was immediately smitten when I saw from Snowmeltssomewhere her wonderful captures of the silence, beauty, and the low visibility in the Finnish Lapland, covered in pure whiteness, almost unreal for someone who experience snow for the first time.
Then comes the second day, the third day and the rest of what we called nowadays, it all becomes…pretty normal. Almost everything. It’s still a winter wonderland, but the “wonder” diminishes gradually.
All I wanted to say is, to love winter and snow is a privilege.
Because not everyone experience these changing seasons. I, myself was one of them. There are people from the other side of this planet who have never seen a single snowflake in their lives and for them, seeing a place like this is an absolute paradise. They would fly miles away just to see a winter wonderland and experience White Christmas, dressed up in winter clothes and soak in the winter atmosphere. Yes, they have the right to brag about it. I remember seeing people in Kuwait during the months of December ~January who dressed up in winter boots, faux fur coats and wool jackets in a temperature of 10 degrees on a sunny day . Meanwhile, we would all be cycling and taking walks here in Germany in pullover and light jackets. Here in Bavaria, even with the minus temps & snowing, people still cycle to go to school and work, jogging, bringing out their kids in the cold, and walk their dogs on a freezing day. Same routines.
Not everyone have the chance to grow up in a winter wonderland place. I used to dream about snow and a white Christmas too. I wonder how a snowman is being built and how does it feel to ski or even ride a sled. I longed to know how does it feel, and taste the snow, and watch the magical snowflake falls on my face. I was so eager for this experience like a child.
But the fun ends and I won’t lie, I have these secret emotions and I don’t expect that every one of you can relate. Despite the beauty that I’m seeing, I can’t deny that I have these blues that engulfs me whenever I see all these whiteness and exhilarating coldness. I know complaining never helps because I don’t hate the cold, I am not just used to it.
Can anybody relate to my feelings?
This biting cold. It creeps to my bones and I can’t stand anymore even 3 seconds without my gloves. One time, in the middle of my Wandertagsand my whole body feels a surge of panic to get inside immediately or else I couldn’t even feel my face anymore. I’m afraid I might get a frostbite. I dunno what is a frostbite. No, not yet. That on weekends, I was dying for a bike ride but continuously hesitated, dreading the freezing wind in my face and I know my nose will just be stuffed and becomes runny. How annoying it is to remove your gloves, get a tissue, wipe your nose–all in repetition? Oh well if it itch somewhere, then…
This panic of layering clothes. I am not so conscious but what exactly is Winter fashion? Here in Germany, I can’t think of any fashion— only Function! You need to dress up for the weather. They say that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. But how much is too much? Is 3 layers enough? Unless you’re attending a very important meeting, your impeccable dress doesn’t matter. At home, dressing up a wiggling toddler is something that we do in haste nowadays, oftentimes leading to drama. Please tell me if you have any tips how can I make my daughter put on her mittens/gloves because it’s always a fight for her to keep it on. Before I could even put on my shoes, she already removed it.
It’s a hard work pushing! Winter is a lot of work. If I managed to push my daughter’s stroller in the snow-covered streets for even an hour, then I don’t need to work out anymore. I needed to be cautious in my steps too, or I’ll end up landing my ass in the streets. Even buses I’ve seen have snow chains since roads with ice can be so slippery. Not fun at all. I’m just glad if we survive on a daily basis. Besides, my toddler might ask me why we need to take walks in these minus temps, freezing cloudy days , when all the playgrounds have disappeared, literally!
I’m sweating the moment I get in.I thought I felt cold but why I was sweating so much? I should blame these layers that I wear. I can’t wait to untangle my scarf when entering a shop but dreading to put it on again after 5 minutes. Is it only me who thinks that drinking Hot chocolate everyday makes me feel so bloated? I admit I have drink more tea nowadays more than I have ever drink tea in my whole life, also countless trips to the bathroom.
Happy hour is nowhere. No leisure walks outside means no sunsets to watch. It’s just grey & white there,then black. When I am dreading the 5:30 a.m wake up call knowing it’s still pitch black outside and that our days practically ends at 4:00 p.m when everything turns dark. Am I supposed to have early dinner and what else? go straight to bed? Remembering back in Kuwait where we put on dark curtains just to shield out the bright sun and children are playing up until 1 am in the morning in the park. In winter, all fun is indoors after 4pm. Now that we are living in these changing seasons, the only time Germans go crazy to rush to go outside is when the sun decided to show up. It is a sunny day, but also very cold.
These Heavy. Winter. Garb. The daunting feeling when you’re about to go outside and start getting dressed, and you grab your winter jacket, boots, hat & gloves. It has become your daily uniform. For quite sometime now. The streets suddenly become narrow with all these people walking in their stuffy jackets. I wore 2-3 layers of socks sometimes and yet, my toes still feel cold. I must add that wearing tights & leggings becomes a daily struggle.
When some friends made comments about how much they LOVE Winter and the only words that comes out from my mouth is–Yes, it is. But deep inside, again, these silent emotions– the reality bites of winter. I am thinking how to give a polite answer with all these things in my mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I love winter but sometimes it’s utterly depressing. I see it as everything is hibernating! I love seeing the snowfall today, and I would love to watch it tomorrow ,again & again. I love-making snowman in our garden with my daughter, after all, I just had a complete winter garb this year, great finds I must say. I love everything about White Christmas too. My first Christkindlmarkt and our first Christmas here in Germany is all good memories although I’m not so fond of Glühwein! But…
I hope the warm sun touches my skin again and see beautiful sunny days…can’t wait!
What about you, what do you like about Winter? Which one of the seasons is your favorite?
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Austria and the Alps is not only for Wintersport , but it is also for the enjoyment of the whole family, young and old! Last week, I am so grateful that I had the chance to cross the border and explore Tirol this winter. Though I am not used to the cold, my first Winter Wonderland experience is a dream come true and is filled with overwhelming experiences especially that we have a toddler traveling with us.
Austria on a cold freezing winter with a 2 year old? Yes– It’s possible! So here I want to share with you why it’s totally worth your time and money, after all, it’s a beautiful country.
My 10 personal reasons why you need to visit Austria in Winter and have a 360 Panoramic Holiday !
1.Because there is SNOW!
Powdery snow. Snow-capped mountains. Lazy strolls in a Winter Wonderland in a post-holiday season. Beautiful glistening white snow against the bright sun. More & more snow! Everything is covered in pure whiteness. There’s so much snow that even the light posts got icicles. I was taking photographs where my feet is in knee-deep snow and if you follow my Instagram, there you can see that my daughter had her snow-coma moments eating,rolling, lounging, and playing in the snow! She has the whole village as her playground.
If you want to experience a winter wonderland, you need to go to where the snow is.
2.Because the Mountain is calling!
The Tyrolean Wetterstein mountain ranges and the highest peak,the Zugspitze is one of the most beautiful scenic views you could ever had if you visited the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena.Personally, I am overwhelmed by its beauty. Seeing it everyday can totally change your life. Need I say more? You need to see it by yourself and then you will know why its an enigma to the world.
3.Because there is the Wintersport!
Do you like Skiing? or cross-country skiing?Snowboarding or snowshoeing maybe?
Tirol is a haven for Wintersport all year round! Anyone can enjoy skiing in so many Ski Resorts. From 07.01 up to 05.02.2017, there is the Superskiwochen (Super Ski weeks) and from 18.03 up to 21.04.2017 anybody can enjoy Sonnenskilauf (Sun Skiing).If you’re itching to try a new thing, you can even try the ‘Nachtsskilauf‘ ( or Night Skiing). More than 210 km of slopes, 88 lifts, 110 km of cross-country skiing trails—This is the definition of a real Winter Wonderland during Wintersport Season!
4.Because getting there is so accessible.
Going to Tirol has never been so easy and convenient, even with a toddler. We reached Ehrwald from Ingolstadt, Germany only within 3.5 hours via the regional train.With the new Arena Express Bayern-Tirol, there’s even a Free train connection for guests and locals between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Vils. This region in the west of Austria is easily accessible by its modern transport network. Travelling by train or bus is one of the most relaxing ways to reach Tirol, be it from other parts of Austria or from countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Driving to Tirol in your own car is also easy, whichever direction you are coming from.
If you travel by car, make sure you have the Motorway toll sticker (“Vignette”), while all other roads are accessible free of charge. Whichever route you take, fantastic views are guaranteed! Guests planning to arrive by airplane will find direct flights from many European cities to the Innsbruck-Kranebitten airport. Some airlines even operate a daily service to Innsbruck.
5.Because your stomach will be pampered!
A Culinary experience is a big part of any travel experience. Tirol is an amazing place to eat and drink, serving up some of the best food in the world. While in Tirol, seek out some of the country’s quintessential foods served at roughly 130 restaurants brandishing the “Tiroler Wirtshaus” (“Tirolean Inn”) logo, indicating locally grown produce on their menus. Our days are filled with awesome goodness from a warm Breakfast buffet offered by the Pension House where we’ve stayed and after a day of sightseeing and hiking, we feast on local foods in the restaurants in Ehrwald & Biberwier.
Where to Eat :
Sonnenspitze Restaurant – Try their Veal Schnitzel with fries which my husband loves, the delicious Spaghetti Bolognese and The Zipfer Austrian beer is also worth a try. A visit to the Tiroler Haus (In Ehrwald/Zugspitze ) from a break from skiing while enjoying the views, you can try their signature and Original Tirolerhaus Kaiserschmarrn (Dramatic pancake) served with apple sauce & cherry jam.
6.Because getting around is so easy and convenient.
In Tiroler Zugspitze Arena, you can enjoy the place car- less. Visitors are encouraged to travel without their car. The public transportation is so easy and conveniently accessible during sightseeing & hiking around into the mountains. Transportation within the region is free and according to your schedule (Ticket = Tiroler Zugspitz Arena’s Gust Card + guest) .You only need to provide a valid photo ID and you are free in all rides. All buses are stroller- friendly and even people with disabilities can access high altitude areas without any problem. Totally amaaziiingg right?!
If you’re a guest there, you’ll get a Gästekarte and you’ll have many benefits such as discounts from the destinations and free access to Family pool in Ehrwald, Ehrwalder Almbahn,selected Guided tours in Winter and Summer and so much more. For the complete list of your Guestcard benefits, you can check Here.
7.Because Nature here is something Surreal.
Up in the mountains or down in the valley, the Zugspitz Arena offers a magnificent nature vistas. From the wonderful trekking and adventure hike we did, I was able to see steaming springs, small lakes, and a forest-covered in snow which looks like a dream. I am sure that in Summer, this place is transformed into a new paradise. There are hiking tours offered for free to explore the villages and seeing the local culture of each neighborhood.
8.Because you can reach the Zugspitze peak within 10 minutes!
The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain at 2,962 metresabove sea level, has been easily accessible since the first cable car was built in 1926. The most modern incarnation leaves from Ehrwald ,the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn transports visitors up onto the mountain quickly and comfortably via three mighty metal pylons driven into the rock. Once up at the top, crossing over from Bavaria in Germany to Tirol in Austria couldn’t be easier – the border runs directly through the middle of the Zugspitzhaus hut on the summit.
It goes without saying that the views from the Zugspitze are spectacular: down into the Inntal Valley, across to the shimmering green Lake Eibsee near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, over to the Hintertux Glacier – and on clear days even as far as the TV tower in Munich. The views looking up are just as good.Even babies,toddlers in strollers & people with disabilities can enjoy the 1,725 meters of mountain view in just 10 Minutes! The journey in the 100-passenger capacity cabin with its panoramic views is an amazing experience.
Travel Tip :
Make sure to take this trip on a clear sunny day to enjoy the views of the mountain peaks ranging from 2,000 m up to 4,000 m and across 4 countries ( Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria) reaching as far as the Eastern Alps!
Here’s a teaser of their live webcams so you can have an idea what kind of view you can expect when you are in the Zugspitze peak! Go for it!
9.Because Winterwandern is amazing!
I love wandering around and exploring by foot and Tirol did not disappoint me. With the right clothing and the sturdy stroller for my daughter, we were able to wander around so freely, even with the heavy snow.Thanks to Intersports-Leitner Rent– where we got the perfect Kinderwagen for my daughter.If you don’t like to bring bulky Winter sports gear and accessories, you can also rent from them.Everything you need to enjoy a winter holiday can be found in their shop as well.
Winterhiking in the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena is something that I really look forward during our holiday. The foot paths and hiking trails are with proper signage, and everyday, there are various programs arranged by the local Tourism for the guests to enjoy. While hiking, we saw horses, goats, alpacas,and donkeys. The local architecture is very unique and I admired the wood cabins in the foot of the mountains.
10.Because it is a destination for the whole Family!
I got a fair amount of stares when we rode the bus going up to the mountains where it is filled with people in ski boots and doing Winter sports. Maybe they are wondering what on earth can my toddler do up there in the mountains. Though we didn’t ski, while my daughter is too stubborn to sit on a sled, this place is best for families. I find the people so friendly and they have made us feel at home during our stay.
If you have a chance to spend a winter holiday , I highly recommend you consider going to Tiroler Zugspitz Arena. It’s a 360 deg. panoramic holiday that you shouldn’t miss!
Highly recommended place to stay is the Gästehaus Panorama where I find to be super cozy, affordable & value for your money. It’s like a home away from home. With our wonderful host Katrin, our stay was filled with enchanting views, great service, and a comfortable place that takes care of all our needs.
Stay tuned for my review for this place and more about our Winter Wonderland holiday in Austria!
“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind …”
My German friends are sending me greetings with this German phrase and I’ve learned that it means to have a good start of the new year. We all deserved to have new beginnings. This is a typical greeting during Silvester day for Germans. I didn’t even know that New Year’s Eve is called “Silvester“ here and if you don’t know Krapfen ( or doughnuts) then you are simply not from Bavaria ! The bakeries are flooded with these goodies so I had to try to taste it as well. It has a soft fried dough with a fruity filling and perfect for coffee & tea. This year-end festivities would not be complete without these.
Silvester is the German name for New Year’s Eve – owing to the fourth century Pope Sylvester I. Eventually made a saint by the Catholic Church, his feast day is observed on December 31. So today was my first Silvester Day!
I decided to take my last walk for 2016 and have final glimpses before the year ends. For those of you who follows me, you must have seen my posts about my Wandertags and seen the how the season changes in my eyes. The freezing air calls for warm functional clothing and my gloves are ready to keep my fingers warm. My Wandertags during the past weeks are filled with A Touch of Frost here in Bavaria and have been a delight to me no matter what. Today was no exception, and I’m glad to have a breath of fresh air even though its bleak and grey.The trees are covered in white frost that makes it totally different, almost ethereal. There are few leaves still hanging, like frozen survivors. Everywhere I look, I see an image of resilience, of how nature is doing its own metamorphosis in its own cycle.
Though the year is ending in a few more hours, the promise of nature and its course is still unlimited. There’s still so much beauty in the barren coldness and despite the stillness. The water in the Danube river is so calm,yet showing its full of life.I see families taking their stroll with babies as in normal days. Couples are walking hand-in-hand ,and children are running around in their thick parkas.Everything seems to be taking their own pace to spend their day.
Walking through the woods has always been therapeutic for me. I enjoy the peace where the only sound I hear is the cooing of the birds and the crisp sound of my steps that makes me feel like I am walking in a wonderland.Today, the sun is nowhere to be seen. It decided to stay cloudy and grey all day and yet, my last glimpses for this year has been worth the walk. A Silvester kind of day indeed.
What is so interesting about living here in Bavaria is that all year around, the festivities are full of interesting stories and legends. Like for example instead of recognizing a single day as the winter solstice, the Germanic tribes observed twelve Rauhnächte – hairy nights, so-called due to the furry forms of the deep winter demons – or Rauchnächte – smoky nights, due to the practice of smoking the spirits out of one’s house on January 5. Bringing very little sun to the northern regions, the twelve Rauhnächte were considered days outside of time, when the solar and lunar years were allowed to re-synchronise. Silvester took place right in the middle of the twelve Rauhnächte and was the night of the god Wotan’s wild hunt, a time of particular commotion and celebration.
The belief that the sun was slowing to a stop also led to the German tradition of doing no work on New Year’s Eve. The shops closed today at around 4pm and everyone seems to be taking their time, doing last-minute errands, shopping and taking walks. Everything is standing still. I watched the birds standing motionless in the middle of the Danube and I have this calm feeling inside me, being carried away too. I look forward to see some fireworks later and see more how my neighborhood turns the last page for this year.
And,as weird as it may sound, they say that no one should do any laundry, because the god Wotan made his rounds with his army of devils for a wild hunt during Silvester and would be terribly angry if he got caught in any clothes lines. So our laundry can wait too!
In a few more hours and we are on the countdown to midnight where we greet the coming new year. We got the Wunderkerzen for my daughter to enjoy the fireworks since I’m sure she will be snoring by midnight. I know its weird but I made an Apple pie, I know Fall is over but I have this craving for an apple pie so that has to grace our New Year’s dinner as well. This is what happens when you get bored of all the eating during this holiday. Me & my little family is ready to start a new chapter, a new chance in our Expat Life, a fresh beginning.
I have made a truce with myself to leave all the negativity and dramas of 2016 and embrace new beginnings on a clean sheet and carry only positive vibes.
How about you, how do you prepare for the coming New Year?
“And suddenly you know..its time to start something new and start the magic of new beginnings..”
Cheers to a Happy New Year, for a brand new 12 chapters, and 365 new Chances!
Wishing you all with Peace, Love and lots of laughter in the new year. I hope to see you all here in 2017! ~Christina
I love simple pleasures in life and one of those is having early morning reflections.Lately, where the air gets crisp and colder each day, there’s no better way to spend a quiet morning with a relaxing view like this, with the Neues Schloss seems floating along the peaceful Danube river. I am even grateful when the sun decided to bring sunshine even for a few hours. I have posted about New Castle for numerous times here, seen from different perspectives, but I just love to capture it also in different seasons. I am bent on making better photos because I wanted to do justice to the beauty that’s in front of me.Nowadays that almost everything is covered with fog, frost and the other night, we had snow, well I think it’s that thin, drizzle of fresh snow! I am not so looking forward to the cold, but a sight of snow gives an excitement in my heart. Couldn’t believe that its only few more days, and then it’s Christmas. It will be our first Christmas here in Germany and so far, alles gut!
So again, I thought of dropping by a visit to my favorite spot in front of the river, just in the front of Reduit Tilly where I can have a perfect view of the Kavalier and the Neues Schloss. I love the open Shanz architecture and I found more details every time I visit. I love this particular view where I see a different perspective of the castle.Even with the blunder, the castle in the background always brings a nostalgic effect to me. This is the best postcard that I brought home from last week’s Wandertag.
I have always been fascinated with castles and dreamed of seeing one someday. It’s always been a childhood dream. I have always been looking forward to see real castles and even be inside of it! The thrill, the excitement, the sight and the whole experience of finally making it real is unforgettable.When I visited the Burg Eltz , I fell in love at it first sight, more like a fairy tale trip.First, Burg Eltz was a beautiful castle tucked in the middle of the forest. That makes it even more enigmatic. Walking inside the steep stairs and those grand cellars and viewing the halls was a delight even thought I have a wiggling toddler wrapped in front of my chest. I grew up thinking that the Walt Disney’s Disneyland castle is the best, but then I moved to Germany and learned that there are so much more than castles and fairy tales. That my Expat life is even larger than what I think…it has its own reality bites. I am telling you, it’s not always good. Some days there are times I find myself clueless how can I get by especially now that I can’t speak ‘passable’ German yet. Even my thoughts are just a minute of a fraction of what I could be able to conceive from life itself.
But then, I know that in the absence of everything, then ANYTHING is possible. I know that the new castle in front of me has something in store for me here. Having new friends, learning the language, and finally integrating into a new culture gives me whole new motivation everyday.
For now, I feast my eyes from the beauty of nature that offers me everyday. Feeling grateful, and full of hope for better days.