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?
If you enjoyed this post, and wants to kill more time in my page, make sure to follow me on my Twitter and my Instagram for more updates on my Expat Life and travel adventures. Thank you so much for stopping by my friends!
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.
Yesterday, November ends with an intense fiery sunset. As I recalled, the day started with chilly winds and the frost hugged the hedges, fallen leaves and the grass felt crisp, stiff and frozen. As the day ends, I was able to make some photos when I peek into the sky and see the magical sight. If you don’t notice how beautiful the colors of the skies around you then I don’t know what else can amaze you…
Sunsets are magical…as always it never fails to amaze me and this time of the year,the year’s shortest day comes at winter solstice. But, for Northern Hemisphere, earliest sunsets happen around early December. Did you notice that November flies quickly? Autumn will soon be over and the season continues to change. It has to make these changes.A month ago, I saw the trees still covered withtheir beautiful colorful leaves, but now they are almost bald, bare and stiff. Most plants are on their pathway to decay…only few leaves are still holding on. The air keeps getting colder and colder each day and there’s no stopping that this year will soon come to an end.
Are you ready for the remaining days of 2016?
Each and everyday there is something new presented and it is for this reason that the breathtaking sunsets are one of my favorites aspects of the day approaching the winter days.
Before saying Hello to December, I was left with postcards of beautiful sunset, a keepsake that reminds me that in another time, the sun will come out again, in full colors and once again, displaying its beauty,always there to bring wonders.
One of the perks of being an Expat is living like a tourist everyday, or on a tour without a tour guide.Sightseeing is absolutely free, unlimited and you’ve got full access to discover the less-touristic areas which makes a place special.You can explore the neighborhood and outskirts like a curious tourist and be amazed of the hidden gems around you, without the rush.Of course there would come a time that you’ll get used to seeing the buildings and structures around you,and suddenly it all becomes a normal sight. You won’t think of it as worthy of a second look, but then, it is because you have discovered something else. Something even more grand, something worth of admiration.
And the best way to do this, is by foot- walking, at your own pace.
For the past months that I am doing lots of walking, (both figuratively & literally) into my new town, I have found so many interesting history and tales that is way beyond the written reviews in Trip advisor or any tourist site in the net about this place. It is not as big as Munich or Berlin, but it has its own identity, and rich cultural heritage. No wonder there is so much mention in this place. In this little old town of Ingolstadt, that certain” Bavarian ” spirit is in the air, everywhere. From the locals who walk the streets in their traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls, up to the details engraved in their beautifully restored gabled houses, picturesque Architectural ensembles in different periods and up to their imposing gateways.
One particular Bavarian character of this city that I noticed ever since I step on this place is their impressive fortifications, which, I can say that has become the Old’s town’s charm. The “Schanz”( a series of fortifications) has a reason why it has been built and preserved up to this day. Indeed, Ingolstadt is a Medieval city of towers and gateways.
The church Liebfrauenmünster or also called the Minster to our Dear and Beautiful Lady is definitely a must-see. I love its exterior and even more the details found inside. When I spent a day on top of the Pfeifturm, the town’s watch tower, which stands beside the city’s oldest parish church, of St. Moritz, the prominent roof of the cathedral stands out.It is one of the largest late-Gothic church of this kind in the whole region of Bavaria, even in Southern Germany.According to records, about 7,000 tree trunks were used in its construction.
Do you like the Audi car?
I’m telling you, Ingolstadt is a city more than just Audi. When you walk down the street, you can see that the locals really loved their cars, their sleek Audi cars as they loved their Bavarian beer. Of course Audi is a prominent landmark in this town, where almost everybody drives in style. With 566,646 cars built in 2015, the Ingolstadt parent plant is the Audi Group’s largest production facility and Europe’s second-largest car factory. Globally networked, Audi Ingolstadt is the company’s flagship plant in terms of its technological prowess. This is where the Audi A3, Audi A4, Audi A5, Audi Q2 and Audi Q5 car lines are built. One of the biggest magnet for this city is the Audi Forum, which attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year.
Another distinctive detail I saw in this town is the Bronze and Stone façade. From the memorial plaques in the Franziskanerkirche, valuable and unusually well-preserved memorial plaques adorn the walls,the pillars, and the side chapels. This old town is home of the impressive Asam’s Church of Maria de Victoria. This hidden church boasts of the phenomenal ceiling fresco by Cosmas Damian Asam , the most famous Bavarian Baroque artist. His phenomenal creativity is shown in the largest flat ceiling fresco in the world at 42 m X 16m which can be admired by walking round it. I could stare at this ceiling for hours. When I walk, the image seems to move, simply amazing.Now I know what is perspective painting means. If you want to know it, you’ve got to see the ceiling fresco of Asam’s church of Maria de Victoria or the Asam’s church in Munich which is also work of the Asam Brothers.
Another treasure found in this church is the Lepanto Montrance– a filigree work of art, set in gold and silver, which represents the Christian’s victory over the Turks in the sea battle in Lepanto. It is a unique battle portrayal on the most valuable monstrance in the world.
Then there’s the impressive Neues Schloss, (New Castle) a fortress type castle which stands in the middle of the city centre. It is built by Duke Ludwig the Bearded in the first half of 15th century. I love the picturesque view of this castle when I am on top of the bridge above the Danube river. Inside this castle is the magnificent vaulted, elegant interior that accommodates the Bavarian Army museum where it displays the historical weapons, armaments and tin soldiers.Outside this castle are the decorated 17 richly decorated cannons,the Scherer and the Schererin which guards the Neues Schloss. It weights more than 9 tons each. Right in the castle courtyard you can also view the Baroque Clocktower. This location is a major touristic area along Paradeplatz square where the fountain and statue of Ludwig the Bavarian can be found.
The door of Liebfrauenmünster
Kreuztor-the city’s most famous landmark
My walks have also took me to the outside of the medieval town walls as far as the Taschenturm tower, which used to be one of the minor gates in the Town Wall. The city’s most famous landmark- The Kreuztor, is the most beautiful of all the preserved gateways that leads from the west into the old town. Four small corner towers and sparingly used limestone decorations embellish this red brick gateway tower from the late 14th century. It’s name came from the leper house with its chapel “to St. Cross” that used to be here outside the town.
As I continue to explore the city, I admired the beautiful architecture of the narrow gable houses. They are colorful, unique and has a distinctive feature that really makes this city a worth while to see. If you’ve seen the gable architecture where Amsterdam is famous for, then you know what I mean. It certainly gives an identity to the city. The houses of the old town, in which councilors,guild masters and professors once lived, and which have been witness to a great deal back in the old days, are still full of life up to this day. I wanted to photograph each one of them because every single house is unique.
It is very obvious that Ingolstadt is a city with strong fortifications. These Schanz were built by Leo von Klenze have resisted many attacks over the centuries. That is why these fortifications are still so visible, intact and well maintained up to this time. At any given time, you can see the unique, open-air museum of German fortress architecture especially if you walk through the Rose Garden of Klenzepark where you can see the Turm Triva, which is the home of the Bavarian Police Museum. It is right inside of the lush green oasis with the view of the River Danube.
I was wondering what is Turm Triva when I first saw it. At first I thought it was an open air arena, but then I didn’t realize that it was part of the Bavarian fortifications. Then I’ve learned that the wall complexes, with the Baur and Triva round towers (Turm Baur & Turm Triva) and the Reduit Tilly in the classical style build just at the bridge head of the Danube river were built for the refuge for the Royal family.
For a fact that apart from all of these architectural sites, Ingolstadt also is very green. I can say that its one place for a lover of nature and for someone who wants to walk and enjoy the slow pace of life. Over the few months, I began to adapt to my new routine in this city. I knew now why the locals love outdoors and when its sunny and nice, everyone just hop on their bicycles roaming around the city like crazy. There’s always something to do and see.
When I did the walking tour to find all the Stolpersteine here in Ingolstadt, I appreciate this old city even more. For me, the best way to explore a small, traditional city like this is by foot. Not only that I feel “belonged“to it as I walked around , smiled, greet, and nod to the old folks whom I found to be so active, and to the busy people in the streets, but also, I can easily feel the beat, or the vibe of the city. So all in all, it was always a great walk around the old town.
Have you’ve been to a walking tour? How was your experience?
Typical sight inside the Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait, during the not-so busy times inside the wet market. Almost half of this old man’s life is spent as Expat in Kuwait, inside the souk working as a vendor and rumbling in the streets of Kuwait City. “Baba” whom I fondly called him as I haggle for the fresh vegetables he is selling. Like the story of one Tea Boy ,life goes on like this, counting the days where a certain “magic”could happen and change the course of his routine, in his life spent as a modern nomad , or also known as Expat.
Do you like visiting wet markets? What fascinates you the most?
It’s not as posh & glamorous as the padlocks in Pont des Arts in Paris nor in the picturesque Mount Huangshan, Lotus Peak in Anhui , China or in Cologne, Germany. It doesn’t even resemble to the colorful padlocks that I have seen hanging in the tiny bridges in the canals of Amsterdam.
If you don’t see it as romantic, then what is it?
After all, they are just-padlocks.They all glittered and sparkled in the sun — an oddly beautiful mosaic above the river. A real magnet for any visitors. But for someone who fell in love madly, the kind of over-the-heels kind, for those who once were in-love, was in-love, and still in-love,a sight of this makes a skip in our heart.
At this time of the year, and right here in my own side of the world, I catch a rare glimpse of one particular padlock. One misty morning in my Bavarian Wandertags, there I saw it in the Glacisbrücke. Its hanging there in the cold, drenched & glistened with dew of the early fog. Resilient and strong.
Call it romantic, or cheesy gesture or pledge of undying love. Yet this padlock is simple, bold, heavy, & original.
Just a Big Balls of Love.
The lock of love is the same for its ultimate purpose– wherever it is, a symbol of binding the same love. Same lock.