Chasing the Mozart’s golden ball and the sound of music in Salzburg

Chess and golden ball really looks good together!

No, it’s not really a ball of chocolate nor a giant Christmas ball . This is the sculpture named “Sphaera” on Kapitelplatz in the heart of Salzburg. It’s about nine metres high and made by German artist Stephan Balkenhol. It represents a male figure on a golden sphere with a neutral expression. It has become a famous landmark in this city and photo point for many tourists.

Perfection at its best , this is the Mozartkugeln or the chocolate delicacy named after Mozart.

First,we didn’t go to Salzburg to buy the Mozartkugel ( or the Mozart chocolates), named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but I admit buying a pack to taste the locally made ones. It tastes really good, of course, its chocolates and it has marzipan, pistachios and nougats! I have this feeling that the local food tastes better than the ones sold from other places, don’t you agree as well? If you are curious how this chocolate beat your Toblerones and M&M’s and why it becomes the legendary chocolate specialty from Salzburg to the world, then you can read more Here.

She is looking for the golden ball but instead we went through a bridge full of locks! There are some gold ones hanging there.
Taking a stroll through Getreidegasse : One certain house in the Getreidegasse always draws particular attention: No. 9, the house in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. Salzburg’s most famous son came into this world on 27 January 1756. His family actually lived here for 26 years, from 1747 on, occupying an apartment on the third floor .

Anyway, this famous landmark just came into our mind when we saw the brochures about visiting Salzburg. With the little help of our little friend Google maps, we find ourselves squeezed from masses of tourists trying to get a better photo in front of Sphaera. It is in near to the Festung HohenSalzburg or the Fortress, and Domquartier. All this places are nearby to each other and reachable by foot. Wehad parked from Designer Outlet and got the Kombiticket including parking fees and Bus Day Tickets so we can go to all places we wanted to. The Ticket costs us 15 Euros!

Nice little things as souvenir from Kapitelplatz in Salzburg. They are bells attached to cows, they can give a rather loud noise!

Salzburg is only an hour drive away from Kaprun. I think everyone who visited Kaprun visits Salzburg and Zell am Zee because they are really nearby to each other. We went on a day that the rain from good heavens poured its shame in Kaprun and rained all day! It’s a great thing that we went to Salzburg to see something different, and of course, something nice, and yes–aesthetically beautiful. Of course we still have the mountain views, the Salzsach river that follows our route and the never ending winding Austrian roads.By the way, they have really good roads in Austria.

“Travel shapes you” — Mozart took 17 major trips, costing him 3720 days of his life. That equates to 10 years, 2 months and 2 days .

We took our time exploring Salzburg. We had a stop in the nearby playground for my Little Traveler companion to burn her energy with climbing and sliding. We found a great hidden playground beside the Mirabell Palace and gardens and it was really good. We tried avoiding places with huge lines and crowds because my toddler doesn’t like to really wait.

The souvenir coin with engravings from the Hohensalzburg or the Fortress

Amazing views awaited us after a 54 seconds lift from the modern inclined cable railway in Salzburg going up to the Fortress. The Festungsbahn or Furnicular runs every 10 minutes and its quite impressive.It is a must for everyone who visit Salzburg to be in this Fortress. If you’ve never been up there, then you’ve never seen Salzburg! I always loved a good panoramic view of a new city that I visited. Everything looks so small and for the love of architecture, this place is really beautiful close to the river and the neighboring mountains. So much history, pride and culture in this city, It is indeed true to its name: the stage of the world. There is music played everywhere. Street musicians playing different instruments and artists is a typical sight in the streets and in every square. You can really hear the sound of music everywhere. Salzburg is the birthplace of the film the Sound of Music that is why this place is very very touristic! I must add here that during our visit, I saw so many Asians–Japanese, Koreans, Indians and so much more, not to mention tourists from the Gulf. Hearing them talking in Arabic sounds so familiar to me!

Another panoramic view of Salzburg city with the Salzsach river flowing through the city.
Can you find the Golden ball in this photo?

But Salzburg is not only famous because of Mozart, the whole city is so vibrant and the Baroque power and splendor can be seen from its city facades, museums, and the Domquartier or the Cathedral. I have made quite a few photos of the interior of the cathedral but i think photos don’t do justice in this beautiful cathedral. It is really one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen. This place is also memorable for us because we took the eclipse photos hanging in our living room in this vicinity.

Mozartplatz : Without music, life would be a mistake.
Beautiful Baroque power inside the Dom Cathedral
Fancy collectibles : Cool fascinating symbols of Salzburg
Everywhere is MOZART inspired! If you are interested to know more about Mozart and read about surprising FUNNY things about Salzburg’s wonderchild, you can read on HERE.
The world of cheese
The preferred snack food in Salzburg

We find tranquility and beauty in the baroque pleasures in Mirabell Palace and Gardens. It is full of intricate details, and the Grand Fountain (or the fountain pool) we saw four groups of statues by Ottavio Mosto (1690). They symbolize the 4 elements: fire, air, earth and water.

It was really packed with tourists and its really surprising to find so many Italians and Korean tourists here! In the famous Hollywood film “The Sound of Music “, Maria and the children danced around the Pegasus fountain and sing the “Do Re Mi “.

We had an amazing daytrip in Salzburg. We saw many sights that I hope to share in my next posts about our summer trip.We had fun, we had a taste of Salzburg, explore the Fortress, seen Mozart’s birthplace and residence, and marveled through the real sound of music in this city. We brought home wonderful memories as well and I am so glad that I can write down my travel memories and share it with you.Hope it can give you practical tips on how to do a family friendly trip!

Still more to explore, hoping for more travels. If you have time to kill, go and please check out our Mountain hiking adventures in Kaprun and Hike through the Krimml Waterfalls with a toddler ! For detailed trip Guide, you can find it HERE.

Until next time and have a lovely week everyone! Tschüss!

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Hiking through the Krimml Waterfalls in Salzburg

Krimml Waterfalls in Oberkrimml, Salzburg

“The principle of all things is water, 
as water is everything and to water everything returns”

Feel the power of water moves you!

Everyone expect something different whenever they go to a foreign place. Something unique, something extraordinary, out of the beaten path, or rather the one that is famous for. Others only found it unexpected, came out from getting lost and came out from the spot. For the adventure, thrill seeking individuals, their Adrenalin drives them to search for beautiful places. Most of them are away from the city, hidden paradises, and sparkling oases in the midst of forests and wilderness. Some looks for the greatest, tallest, or somewhat record-breaking. For us, we go in the mountains!

Getting up close and personal with the Krimml Waterfalls
Nature tripping plus getting healthy activity is always in!

Visit a Waterfall, and get healthy!

I find it really interesting that visiting a waterfall can actually do some good to your health. I have read it from the brochures and it really made me curious. My daughter is sensitive and have allergies. Her skin is very sensitive and she have some bronchial problems ( that is why I never liked Winter and cold!). Upon knowing this, I was excited to find out more about this facts, but also, I know, it takes energy to hike up!

 Walking through a vast, luscious green forests of Hohe Tauern National park and being active is really good. I thought for a minute that we are always surrounded by mountains, they are everywhere. The high peaks can be overwhelming! But have you ever wondered why the air smells so fresh near to waterfalls ? Here’s a food for thought :

Waterfalls spells NATURE. It’s like a giant humidifier. Everything about nature tells us about organic matter. Water and its power can be a spell binding topic but one thing about it, is that waterfalls has NEGATIVE IONS, a.k.a anions, which are negatively charged atoms, abundant in the fresh air close to moving water.In Krimml waterfalls, you will be actually bathing in water sprays. You’ll get drenched in minutes if you are not dressed up properly. I experienced it myself.

Studies shown that the benefits of fresh air and its abundance of negative ions are numerous includes reducing free radicals, revitalizes cell metabolism, enhances immune functioning, helps to purify the blood, balances the autonomic nervous system, promoting deep sleep + healthy digestion, promotes biochemical reactions that increases the levels of serotonin, alleviates depression and stress ( of course its FUN to hike through the waterfalls!) and lastly, it boost daytime energy! In short, a hike through the waterfalls is pure fun, healthy and adventure!So definitely, this activity is IN for us! Now its time to enjoy the fun part!

We are all ready and geared up for a hike through the waterfalls! My little wanderer had her very first own walking stick!

For me, my choices of activities were changed because our travels nowadays include a child, so everything should be kid-friendly. Our destinations are more family friendly and at least all the options for all the family members to enjoy. Looking for a playground to play and have a quick bite and break is almost our everyday itinerary. At one point, I was asking myself why would we want to go and hike up more than 4kms with a 5 year old to see this waterfalls?

What’s so special with it?

Well, I have seen many waterfalls in Philippines but I wanted to share with you why this experience is quite extraordinary.

The sound of the water is so powerful!

Be warned: you will be wet, drenched, but these showers will just fuel your adrenalin because you can never take your eyes off from the waterfalls again. You’ll just end up looking ans drooling over its beauty.

Nature teach us so many lessons in life. If we let it stays as it is, we can enjoy its pristine power .

One of the highlights of our short trip was visiting this place. We drove early to the picturesque little town of Oberkrimmler in Salzburg from the region of Pinzgau in Austria to avoid big crowds. It’s still summer vacation for us here in Germany so everyone is in vacation so we expect that there will be more tourists in this region. The drive to the foot of the waterfalls was quite short, about half an 25 mins from where we stayed in Kaprun. There we need to get to the Wasserwelten Krimml ( or Krimml Worlds of Water ) and parked in P4 level to get entry tickets to go up and hike through the waterfalls. We went on a sunny, fine day and we were already parked and settled at around 9:30 am. We’ve got the combi- ticket where at the end of the hike, we can be able to explore the Wasserwelten Krimml as well.My daughter was immediately overjoyed when she saw the climbing net in front of the ticket center.

Steinbock

The Krimml Waterfalls – biggest in Europe

Unparalled the biggest in Europe, with a height of 380 meters from the waterfalls’s drop, and 5.6m3 of water per second plummets into the valley on three stages. The waterfalls is situated perfectly with the vast greens and the National Park Hohe Tauern as our backdrop. You can even see the waterfalls from a far and it really looks like a giant pack of milk poured consistently in between rocks and greens. This waterfalls attracts 400,000 visitors per year and considered to be one of the top attractions in Salzburg in Austria. But the most interesting fact that I’ve discovered is that visiting a waterfall like this range has tremendous impact on your health. It is actually a healthy destination! Aside from the amount of trail and hike that you will do, you will definitely sweat and experience something not so ordinary.

Our little Mountain Hiker

If you visit the Wasserwelten Center, you will learn much of this waterfalls. The Krimml Ache is the source of the Krimml Waterfalls. It begins at the end of the Krimml Ache Valley and first gently flows through approx. 20 km of level Alpine ground, then becomes a thunderous glacial stream at the entrance to the valley before plunging down in the mighty stages of the Krimml Waterfalls.

Some nice little flowers I’ve spotted in the mountains

The catchment area of the Krimml Ache is 100.7 km2, approx. 12% of which is glaciated. The Krimml Ache is thus a typical glacial stream with an intensely changing water flow. Hence, for example, 30-40 times the February volumes flows in the months of June and July. As the meltwater takes 9-12 hours from the glacier snout to the waterfalls (=18 km), the daily maximum outflow is from 9 pm to midnight.

The Waterfall Trail

The trail itself going up to the peak is 4.15 km, with difference in altitude of 431 meters. It is quite a climb up to the peak but the great thing about this journey is that we have a shaded path. It is so exciting for all of us. This is actually my first waterfall experience here in Europe and my daughter got her first Trekking stick with an Edelweiss engraving. This trip is really for all ages and very good for families. I have seen families with small babies, on a body carrier, with strollers, and elderly peoples. I find it even funny to see everyone walking with a stick.In many stages of the climb, there are viewing points where you can actually feel the power of the water, hear its thunderous sound and feel its power. I cannot describe what I feel when I am so close with the waterfalls. I was also wondering if my camera will be okay because I was totally wet from the water sprays. On the first stage, there are big boulders of rocks and a good pair of shoes is really needed. We reach the lowest waterfall on foot in 10-15 minutes. From there the serpentine Waterfall Trail leads up to the uppermost waterfall (approx. 1.15 hours on foot) and further to the Krimml Ache Valley. It was quite a busy day and the crowds were staring to get thick.

View of the valley from above

For the different levels and stages, you can read more from Here. From the first stage, we were already overwhelmed by the sound of the waterfalls. Wet, drenched, excited and curious were the mixture of ourselves when we finally get up close and personal with the Krimml waterfalls!

I think I have takens hundreds of Photos from this waterfalls. But I found a great collection of “My Waterfalls“which is a collection of different images captured by visitors who have gone to see this place. It is great to see different perspectives of water power. It is really magical and quite an experience. Every nature escapade leads us to basic roots of happiness. I highly recommend this destination to enjoy with your families and kids. My daughter took her own photos and marvel at nature, collecting rocks, watching the waterfalls at different viewpoints and hike by herself. Okay there are many times as well that she complained of being tired and whine, but the key is to keep her motivated to reach the goal.For parents, don’t worry, there are various play areas where your child can enjoy playing and you also deserve for a short break.

More little flowers we spotted up during our hike

Enjoying a panoramic Lunch at Bergerblick

We made it up to the Bergerblick Platform at 1,390 m which also happened to have a very nice panoramic restaurant /Hut on top. It was just in time to have lunch and feel refreshed from hiking. Up there was numerous souvenir shops, restaurant and bathrooms.It was quite an achievement to have hike like this with a five year old. As I saw the faces of other parents in the restaurant, I can totally relate to how they feel. But it was also lot of fun!

More peaks to go !

Visiting the Wasserwelten Krimml

Additional plus points of this place was the Wasserwelten Krimml. It is a discovery center right at the side of the parking areas for visitors to learn more of the waterfalls. The best thing is that it is interactive. It has numerous water playing areas! Everything about water and its numerous forms and diversions. They have an outdoor play areas, all about water and the whole family can enjoy.I actually had a hard time controlling my toddler in this place because she wants to explore everything!

Almost at the top!

There is also the Waterfall centre  with underwater adventure world Aquaszenarium, is a view terrace with waterfall view, gastronomy, WasserWunderBar and shops with numerous souvenirs and delicacies from the region of Pinzgau. I got here some Murmeltier and Edelweiss soaps locally made.They also have a restaurant and clean bathrooms .

I find it interesting to check out the Haus des Wassers, or ( House of Water) which has various exhibition with exciting experiments, information on the Hohe Tauern Health initiative, WasserKino interactive cinema and Swarovski telescope for an accurate view of the Krimml Waterfalls. Going through the Aquapark outdoor area is free from the combi tickets and I am sure that you can spend here roughly an hour if you want to kill some more time.

Up close and personal with the powerful waters of Krimml Waterfalls

If you wanted to make memories with your children and love ones, i think this is a perfect place to visit.If you’re visiting near the areas of the Hohe Tauern, then this place is a must to visit. It takes time to go up, it might be a challenge but the view on top is really worth it.In the end, the higher you get up, the better the view!

Enjoying the view together!

Read more about the Krimml Waterfalls and be amazed of this wonderful jewel tucked in a well preserved forests!

Have you’ve ever been to a waterfalls? How are you guys spent your summer?

After visiting this waterfalls, then we are so ready to visit the famous Alpine Reservoirs in Kaprun! Stay tuned for more of our family friendly adventures, because summer is still not over!

Until then and Tchüss!

Hochgebirgsstauseen : Kaprun Alpine reservoirs

High altitude reservoirs in Kaprun, Austria

Last few days ago, I had a wonderful discovery in our trip to Austria and I can’t wait to share with you, but this time, it is without the winter wonderland ! In Summer, Austria is ever more grand! Imagine, over 2,040 meters of altitude, I was not prepared to see an incredible mixture of nature and great engineering! For Asians like me, the sight of a dam or water reservoirs up there in between three thousand meters Alpine peaks is not so ordinary, i thought for a minute, how did they ever built that in the mountains?!With my own eyes, I was able to see that it is a masterpiece and a modern technical wonder. It is like walking into a different world surrounded with different inter layers of glaciers, mountain peaks, blue calm waters, green pastures and beautiful rock formations, plus the highly engineered tunnels and reservoirs. Kaprun have it , it’s there in the Hochgebirgsstauseen ( or simply translated as high mountain reservoirs ) in the quaint village of Kaprun in Austria.

Kaprun Hochgebirgsstauseen: A blend of nature and Technology
A paradise in between three thousand meters mountain peaks

I think Austrians are crazy for building a dam up there in the mountains, but indeed they are brilliant! This place is a blend of nature and technology. Kaprun is not only famous for the Kitzsteinhorn- or the THE Glacier and the Grossglockner High Alpine road– which is the best panoramic road in Europe. It has so much more to offer for adventure-seeking individuals, nature lovers, families and for people who are looking for new experience, and that includes me.

We started our journey after having breakfast and packing our day’s essentials especially for our 5- year old daughter. The trip going there is enough thrill.We drove to Kessellfallstrasse up to the leveled parking area and there we’ve got tickets to go up the Hochgebirgssteuseen. One important tip – park on the highest possible floor, the way out is at the parking roof and there are no lifts, only tiny stairs. But the big bonus is that there is no parking fee!

Small , winding roads leads to bigger discoveries. I am so amazed that mountains as high as this can be reached in minutes!
The largest diagonal lift in Europe !

There are also public buses ( Bus 660) which can bring you up to this place and to the Kassa (or Ticket center). Don’t forget to bring your Guest/ Summer cards because you can get reasonable discounts if you show it to the cashier.From there, we took the 1st Bus ( approx. 6 minutes) leading to the Furnicular ( or an inclined lift which is not for the faint hearted!) and another bus ride through the tunnels up to the dam.The well-known Lärchwand inclined lift is one of the highlights of our trip to the high mountain reservoirs. It is Europe’s largest open elevator and overcomes a 431 meter steep step on the way up before continuing on the higher road towards the reservoirs. It feels like riding an escalator without the steps and what is best- you feel the fresh air on your face!

Beautiful layers of Glacier and mountain ranges

It was quite a very tranquil ride. I am totally impressed of the road construction and the ride going up! I never felt a bump and the scenery of going up is an adventure itself.Another attraction that you pass by on your journey is the herb trail from the Mooserboden mountain restaurant to the Fürthermoaralm. In about 45 min. Walking time and over 237 vertical meters, you will learn a lot about local herbs and enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding peaks of the Hohe Tauern. At the Fürthermoaralm you should take a break before you take the bus back to Mooserboden. This pasture has an exciting story to tell as it had to be relocated during the construction of the reservoir. The original Alm lies at the bottom of the lake. Among other things, the new alpine pasture was used to host construction workers on the high-alpine construction sites, which is regarded as the cornerstone of today’s commercial alpine pasture in Pinzgau.

A hidden paradise is no longer a myth

The two dams- the Mooserboden and the Wasserfallboden are like Fjords sandwiched in between the Alps mountain ranges and the way the reservoirs was built is really impressive. The views that awaits you on top is really wonderful. There are a couple of restaurants on top, an exhibition center of the Hydroelectric power system. The Moosersperre dam towers 107 meters almost straight up and at the same time curves across a width of 494 meters between the rocks .A walk through the dam is really great and my daughter enjoyed it as well. There is a beautiful playground just beside the restaurant and endless picturesque panoramic views for nature photography. The best way to enjoy this place is stay a bit longer, explore, wander and linger a bit longer.

An easy hike for the families and little children!
Lovely little flowers along the banks of the dam

We enjoyed a hearty lunch in the restaurant, the Bergrestaurant Mooserboden ( at 2,040 meters) and tried their regional dishes and delicacies like “Kaiserschmarren” , chicken schnitzel and Rind Gulash all at reasonable price. The service was fast,the restaurant has great ambiance, cozy and quiet despite the volume of costumers and they have clean bathrooms! This unique location on the Mooserboden reservoir offers us wonderful views of about 3,000 m mountain peaks while eating and enjoying our drinks. We had luck because we had a wonderful weather during our visit. On one note, this place is only open from June up to October and closes in Winter.

This place offers lots of hiking paths and nature wander tours.What I’ve enjoyed the most is really watching how the mountains envelops this place, its like a painting came alive. The colors, the symmetry and the way the Glacier on top spreads is simply mesmerizing. I was totally blown away of this beauty. Honestly, this is one of the most beautiful nature I have ever seen. The water changes from different colors from the levels where I’m standing. From emerald green, blue, seafoam green and torquoise. This place reminds me that we can leverage nature by not destroying it. I think this is one of the reasons we love Austria– it is really a nature jewel.

View of the day in Kaprun, Austria
A lovely view from the Restaurant Mooserboden 2,040 meters high

If you are visiting around Kaprun, Zell am Zee or nearby to Höhe Tauerns, make sure to drop by and see this place.You will not regret. It is very kid-friendly and you can even bring your pets up. I have seen a couple of families with their dogs with them as well as strollers for babies.It is unbelievable when I see almost newborns already being brought to this heights! One thing more– I gained high respect for the bus drivers and their route plans in the mountains—simply impeccable!

If you want to learn more about how this structure was built and how the inner system of the dam works, then you can join the tours they offer. It takes every 45 mins and meets directly at the Mooserboden kiosk from 10 a.m up to 3 p.m.

Admiring the rock formations

I think for many people who have never been to Austria and to Kaprun, this place may mean a MYTH. Kaprun means one thing above all: the birthplace of a myth. High above the Kaprun valley, a world of wonders of technology emerged in the post-war period, which was already ahead of its time and has lost nothing of its myth even today. The two high mountain reservoirs in Kaprun are almost like fjords. Especially when snow melts in spring, then they are bulging and the turbines, hidden behind the mighty dam walls, are running at full speed. In the mountains above Kaprun, electricity is generated at 2,040 m above sea level, a lot of electricity. It is not just for touristic purposes, it is really built with purpose. This is promoted throughout the year and for many decades. You have to see it by your own eyes.

Hiking adventure for the whole family

When visiting in Summer, make sure to wear appropriate clothes and shoes. I am glad we all wear hiking shoes as it is a must for hiking especially through rocks and steep areas, plus it is safer for your feet. This is not a place for your sandals or open shoes. It is better to always bring a summer jacket or something to protect you from winds. It is always great to check the weather before going as this place needs a clear blue skies. Other activities you might want to try while visiting this place are as follows ;

  • Walking and learning with children – there are 6 adventure stations that will allow young and old visitors to find out more about nature and technology in a playful manner.At the cash desk, children are handed a leaflet with a plan and directions on how to experience the kids trail. A great surprise awaits at the “Electricity Adventure World“.
  • Enter the depths of the Interior of the Mooser Dam – how was the gigantic dams built in the middle of the Alps?
  • Explore the Electricity Adventure World-this is a wonderful exhibition showing young and old can immerse themselves in the world of hydropower and the myth of Kaprun.
  • Last but not the least — lie down in the wooden benches along the dam, close your eyes and breathe in nature! Don’t forget—Take really nice photos!
Adventure hiking in Hochgebigsstauseen in Kaprun, Austria

Want to learn more how to visit this place? I have posted here some helpful links that can help you with your trip.

Kaprun High Mountain Reservoirs

Family Summer holidays in Kaprun Zell am Zee

Until next time ! Tschüss!

Silence | If Statues can talk…

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Bronze statues in the Hofburg church in Innsbruck

Innsbruck has been marvelous so far, as it offers us complete diversity of things to see and explore. So far, we didn’t just marble on the magnificent snow-capped mountains , and devoured plateful  of  delectable Kaiserschmarrn, but we also found ourselves silenced and impressed by  these 28-larger than life Bronze Statues inside the Hofburg church, or formerly a Court church located in the Altstadt of Innsbruck, but now houses the cenotaph for one of the most important person in  history —Emperor Maximilian I, 22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519] the Holy Roman Emperor or also known as The King of the Germans.

innsbruck 14

From what I’ve read and seen in this museum, He seemed to be a very  important person, just look at how grand his cenotaph is and considering the numerous tributes for him. Actually, the Hofkirche ( Court church) is built by his Grandson, Emperor Ferdinand I as a memorial for him,  and also houses the tomb of Tyrol’s  national hero, —Andreas Hofer.

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If Only statues can talk…

These large statues (200-250 cm) are really impressive. Compared to the white-washed busts we’ve seen in the Walhalla, these bronze statues are actually the ancestors, relatives, and heroes during the lifetime of Emperor Maximilian I. My daughter was delighted to see all of them. She keep on asking me who are they and what are their costumes? She is not even scared. I felt eerie for a moment especially looking at the fierce faces of the women, and the strength these figures emanates. They are even larger than I am so its really like seeing them for real!

If only  statues  can talk and tell stories by themselves…

 

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The cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian I lies in the center of the church

The great thing about visiting places like this is the experience itself. It is so much better to see this place rather than just reading about them. I know that it’s quite normal everyone that during Museum visits and the like, silence is observed, noise is forbidden most especially for religious relics like this.

Yes but how can you even make noises while visiting a cenotaph or a tomb?

The moment I stepped into this place, I was silenced by its beauty. The grandeur and  solemnity of this church, the architecture itself is a history in the making and the story behind this church. Imagine, the cenotaph itself took 80 years of construction!It is so true that when we are in awe, we are silenced.

Silence  is  golden for statues like these in Hofburg. Since only through silence that we can be able to fully appreciate the art behind it, the legacy of their existence and their part in history and in our modern times.

Silence is respect, paid in full, and observed in willingness.

It is just right that they have a place in history and we marvel in them.We should be silent. We can’t add anymore for their life story, it has been written and impregnated through their magnanimous effigy.

But then, If only statues can talk…

 

 

 

Inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Silence

Swarovski Crystal Worlds , A Sparkling place for everyone!

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The Giant, guarding the entrance to the Chambers of Wonders in the Swarovski Crystal World.

I think we’ve just got lucky!

New Year started off with  bright, shimmering sparkles for us, because we found ourselves in the beautiful Winter Wonderland of Crystals—-where else, but  in the Headquarters of Swarovski Crystals in Wattens, Austria! Well, not everyone would consider this place as  a Bucket-List sort of thing, but If you love Crystals and you have a thing for Arts, plus you are in the vicinity of Innsbruck, then this can be a great getaway for everyone in the family!

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Killer view of the rings of snow-capped mountains!

As for me, I love the unique sparkle of Crystals. I like the simple beauty of it whether it’s in a form of jewelry or from an art installation. I have learned that it takes talent and high-end technology to come out with these gorgeous creation. The sparkle is something magical and when you wear something that blings, plus you feel good about it ,then nobody can take away that from you, regardless of how much it costs.

 

So when we’ve learned that the Swarovski HQ is just half an hour drive from Innsbruck, we decided to give it a go. At first I was just super curious of what’s all about the face of the Giant,I’ve only seen it in photos, so I wanted to know the concept behind it. The Giant, is one-of a kind symbol, that is the face of Swarovski, same as the Swan as its current symbol.I find it fascinating how from 1899, Swarovski uses the Edelweiss flower as its logo. Edelweiss symbolizes  Alpinism and purity, for a fact that Edelweiss is one of the most beloved flowers in Austria.

Into Lattice Sun
Into the Lattice Sun exhibit by Lee Bul inside the Chambers of Wonders

All my questions were lost as we stepped into the magical world of the huge Krystallwelten. My eyes feasted, and my mind marveled into the artistic creations that are on display. The company itself , which operates in roughly 2,800 stores in around 170 countries,  and employs more than 32,000 employees, and has a revenue of about 2.6 billion euros (in 2016) looks magnanimous against the azure mountains,it stands out among the hilly country side of Wattens. Now I understand why people from different parts of the world traveled half across the globe just to see what’s in this place. Swarovski is still Innsbruck’s #1 Tourist attraction! Thanks to the great mind of Daniel Swarovski, the founder of Swarovski Crystal Dynasty, a humble glass cutter, and a genius to create a Diamond for everyone!

If you are interested to know how it all started, from Daniel Swarovski’s  humble beginnings to what Swarovski is now to the world, here I found an interesting Swarovski story.

I, myself were fascinated of how crystal is being made, so it’s just fitting to share with you what I’ve found out about the art of making Crystals. The modern Crystal museum is not just a shop where you buy a piece of crystal jewelry. The whole place itself is a platform for Arts with the theme of Crystal, thus making it a top-ranking  Austrian tourist destination for its modern Architecture and facilities. Maybe not everyone loves Art or jewelry, but I must say that the Artistic installations there conveys great minds and concept, and of course  guarantees delight for everyone in the family no matter what the weather is.

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The Giant of Wattens!

Its winter time and just in time for the New Year, so  the whole place is still heavily decorated with Winter Magic Moments where the visualizations were designed by Tord Boontje. There’s a giant Christmas Tree ,carousel and many unique art installations glittering with lights can be seen in the gardens.When we arrived at the Arrival’s Hall where we got our tickets, we already have the glimpse of the grand entrance to the Chambers of Wonders, with The Giant of Wattens, slightly covered in snow and foliage, with its glistening eyes and  mouth  flowing with water.The world renowned-landmark of the World of Crystals created by the great mind of  multi-media Artist, André Heller!

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Magical Winter Moments in the  Swarovski Krystalwellten

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Shimmering bright lights in Swarovski Crystal Worlds!

 

Chambers of Wonders

Little that the world know, inside the Swarovski Crystal Worlds are 16 Chambers of Wonders.These are  special chambers designed by  world-class talented Artists showing their inspiring creations.

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A hallway full of cascading Crystal Chandeliers and Crystal art installation (Into Lattice Sun)

The Artists have one goal in their mind:

Nurturing the sense of wonder of every visitor who came to Wattens! This place offers more than the bling. So it’s not only a place to buy crystal jewelry, it is a place that displays innovative Crystal Technology and artistic minds, with crystal as the main component!

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Mechanical Theater inside the Chambers of Wonders

Some of the notable Artists and Art installations  that I personally found to be inspiring were :

Manish Arora’s “Ready to Love” is super colorful, funky, with dancing lights and a stairs full of colorful inscriptions with the theme Love.It is so fresh and luxurious that my daughter was so delighted to see this.If you are traveling with children, a place like this might be boring for them, but in the chamber of “Ready to Love”, it looks like it’s a colorful play area with interacting lights.

André Heller’s “Heroes of Peace” is an interactive stage.  Heller designed an accessible explorable theater for all the senses to inspire, amuse and fill up the audience with positive energy. We saw Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi in a hologram-filled space! Looks eerie at first, but it’s quite high-tech!

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El Sol by Fernando Romero

Fernando Romero’s ” El Sol “ is a stunning art installation which focuses on man’s relationship with the sun. This is by far my favorite since it reminds me of the stunning Winter sunsetscapes that I saw while I’m in Tyrol. El Sol is a one-of a kind, large geodesic structure,mimicking the sun made up of 2, 880 individually manufactured Swarovski crystals!

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The grandest and biggest Crystal I have ever seen in my life!

Another beautiful sight inside the Chambers of Wonders is the “The Eden” by Fredrikson Stalard . For me, it is unique, and I love the mystery. My daughter enjoyed this one too. It’s like she is walking in a maze. It’s a forest-fantasy in an archaic, primeval world. At its entrance, a waterfall, filmed in the surrounding Alps, cascades down a screen and is reflected by the walls, while the roar of the water permeates the entire Chamber of Wonder, creating a wall of background sound. Inside, the visitor follows a path that meanders through a dense wilderness of simple polished brass structures, which through mirrored walls appear to go on to infinity.

Within the depths of this dark forest, the wanderer encounters strange, hidden gems in the form of the biggest crystals Swarovski has ever produced. They emerge as beacons of light from the dark, like strange, exotic birds, reptiles, flowers, or fruit, symbolizing the magnificence of nature and the origins of life.

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Talking about Crystals…!

For the rest of the Chambers of Wonders are listed Here. Seeing them one by one is like being transported into a magical world  one after the other where Swarovski crystals shines the best.

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Shop display inside the Swarovski shop

 

Of course, inside as well  is the tempting shop of Swarovski where we’ve seen all beautiful things out of crystals! Adjacent to the Chambers of Wonders is the Swarovski Shop where you can mesmerized yourself with all the beautiful jewelry and items offered by Swarovski. They are currently having a huge Sale so visitors are really flocking and hoarding over it.

We went out to grab a bite inside Daniel’s Cafe & Restaurant which is also dynamically designed. It is very spacious and we loved the food.The price was reasonable and their service is excellent.

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Crystal Clouds and Mirror Pool

Outside, we marvel along the beautiful Crystal Clouds installations.We visited on a snowy, cloudy day but still, the sight of the Krystallwolke is something  that amazes me. It’s made up of 800,000 crystal jewels embedded in a net like structure to mimic  clouds.It is designed by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot.

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The Playtower inside the Swarovski Crystal Worlds

We continue to wander off through all the Kunst im Garten ( Art in the Garden), Labyrinth (Maze), Roman Excavations, and go inside their one-of -a kind Spielturm ( Playtower) .This is a place that my daughter loves, so do we!She needed a time to release her energy so this place really comes handy.

 

They have a state of the art indoor playground and a tower that is completely amazing! The view from inside seeing the mountains is beautiful even on a cloudy day.The façades of the tower, designed by architecture firm Snøhetta, consist of 160 crystalline facets, though no two are exactly alike. The panes are imprinted with an innovative pattern of millions of tiny animal motifs. The view from inside to outside is visible at all times and at night, the structure is a spectacular body of light.

I have seen that not only  children love this place but also their parents who played with them. There are slide tunnels, maze, puzzles and bouncing areas. Outside there is also an Outdoor playground, a Labyrinth maze and so much more.

To cap up our Swarovski experience, I could say that it has been a well-spent day. I did not expect that my husband would love this place but He said that He actually enjoyed it.We haven’t seen all the other attractions since its cold outside but then, there is always a reason to come back.

How did you start your year?

Do you like Swarovski Crystals over other type of jewelry?

Would you like to visit this place given a chance?

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you follow #myInnsbruck experience from my other posts about our New Year experience in the Alps.

Got Instagram? Follow our Expat Life experiences and my personal Artworks in our Instagram Page and If you have a time to kill, please check out my Etsy shop!

Tschüss!

 

 

 

 

Growth | El Sol and My Tyrolean sunset

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It was sunsets that taught me that beauty is fleeting…only lasts for a couple of moments,

And it was sunrises that showed me that all it takes is patience to experience it all over again…

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The little things?

These tiny moments?

They aren’t little…

They are Life’s Giant milestones.

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One of my top viewed post is “Why do you love watching Sunsets?” It didn’t surprise me at all because it’s one of my favorite post as well. I, personally loved everything about these little moments when the sun says Adieu and the peace that comes along with it.It’s a personal post for myself. This particular sunset is special. It’s one of the times I watched the sun shyly sets in between the mountains. It’s magical when all the different shades of red, oranges, and yellow and all the other hues mixed with each other creating the most original pallete I’ve ever known. It’s incredible how the sun washed away the houses in the villages , in between the hundreds of pine trees with a gentle glow.

I’m sure I am not the only one who took pictures.

It’s not because it’s a brand New Year that I am opting to have a brand new mindset, but watching a sunset definitely changes the way I look about my growth as a person.

All I knew that growth is clearly visible when your mind is set for appreciating your life for what it is and looking forward. Yes, the sun sets, but in your mind, you know that the sun will come once again…the show begins again once the morning comes.

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I’ve read many times that watching a natural beauty doing its own course like sunsets   may boost well-being, increase generosity and enhance life satisfaction. This is one activity that I never get tired of doing, anywhere, given the chance, I know that what matters is for myself to actively engage with the experience. To reap the rewards of that sunset, you need to stop whatever else you’re doing and really notice and appreciate the show in the sky.

This post is also inspired by one of the intriguing Art exhibition that I’ve seen in the amazing Chambers of Wonders  inside the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, the “El Sol”.

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“El Sol ” by Fernando Romero inside the Chambers of Wonders in Swarovski Crystal Worlds.

“El Sol” is Spanish for “The sun.” Fernando Romero’s installation, is made up of  2,880 custom-made Swarovski crystals, weighing more than 500 kgs., symbolizing the exploration of humankind’s relationship with the sun. This spherical structure is exactly one billion times smaller than the sun itself. At the heart of the artwork is a sphere of LEDs, whose light is split by the inner facets of the precisely cut crystals in such a way that it creates a dynamic surface reminiscent of the sun.

The inspiration for El Sol was the remarkable geometry of the pyramids built by the Aztec and Mayan people. Romero’s creation is thus an homage to his Mexican cultural heritage. At the same time, his structure is also based on modern technologies. Three months of design and development were needed before the drawings were ready, and it took the technicians more than 350 hours to construct the artwork. I am over grateful to see this with my own eyes and experience the kaleidoscopic effect from this.

Sans the technology and crystals, I took photos of this Tyrolean sunsets from our balcony in our rental apartment in Tyrol. What makes it unforgettable is that it definitely inspires  me and signals growth in my spirit. I’ve seen sunsets over high towers, buildings, over a lake, a volcano, across the seas, and in forests. This one is my Tyrolean sunset.

This year, I am ready for change, I am ready for growth.

I am ready for more sunsets beauty that 2018 offers!

What about you, Where’s your most memorable sunset  experience?

 

 

 

 

This post is inspired by this week’s DP Challenge |Growth

Unforgettable Winter Sightseeing: Innsbruck

 

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Fancy finds in the Christmas Market in Innsbruck

Before the year ends, we had the chance to explore and visit Innsbruck in Austria. It was actually a spun in the moment , nevertheless, Innsbruck is the beautiful capital of the Alps, a city framed within the gorgeous rings of snow-capped mountains, an Olympic place for the Winter Sports and the famed Olympia Skiworld. I’ve learned that Innsbruck is the first city to host the Olympic Games a third time (Olympic Winter games in 1964, 1976, and the Olympic Youth Winter Games in 2012).

But more than a winter sport magnet, Innsbruck is such a vibrant city. Well, not everything looks inviting especially in Winter time but I wish I could find more words to describe this city, so far, its one of the most diversified cities I’ve ever visited. We are traveling with a toddler so of course our interests are best fitted for her needs. It has by far the most modern architecture in the Alpine region, rich historical sites, stunning nature views, and a winter paradise for all ages. Quite impressive that within minutes you can reach the highest mountain peaks, marvel at the Glacier, and come down to the sophisticated town surrounded with great splendor of Tyrolean rural heritage and history.

I have seen so many photos of Innsbruck in Instagram and I had wished to see this place. It came true and I couldn’t be thankful enough to marvel at the Alpine adventure at the start of this brand New Year. Our New Year spent in Schlick 2000 Wanderzentrum is really unforgettable, especially for my daughter.This beautiful city nestled in between the Alps mountains and the Inn river makes a winter getaway, especially with children something that is enjoyable for parents as well.

Here are some of the sights we’ve visited and the photos I took while we explore the city and the nearby villages in this place.We were standing in front of the Triumphforte facing Theresien Str. with the gleaming mountains and planes passing by, I knew that this city has a lot to offer!

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The Golden Roof ( Goldenes Dachl) in the Old Town

” Use every moment, dance every dance, you can’t take anything with you.”

We stumbled on this square with the giant Christmas tree in front of it and loaded with tourists. I found it  fascinating that this structure is still  impeccably preserved centuries up until the modern times.  I read that the scroll on the relief of this famous Golden Roof  bears this beautiful quote.  This, however, is mere speculation as the writing remains undeciphered. The Golden Roof is decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles (all still original). Some were stolen but reappeared. One was replaced with a wooden tile while a hay barn was adorned with a shiny one. The exchange was reversed. The Goldenes Dachl in the Old town is still one of the most important gem of Innsbruck.

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Maria-Theresien Str. /Annasäule right in the Innsbruck Centrum

From where we stand and explored Innsbruck by foot.In New Year’s day, where almost all shops are closed, this street is still filled with tourists and locals celebrating New Year. Innsbruck  Christmas Markt still noticeable in the far end corner and I can still smell the glühwein and baked goodies.

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Bergisel (Sprungschanze), Ski Jump

The moment we stepped into the city, this is the view we get. The gorgeous Bergisel floating amidst the fog on a cold winter day. A day before we left, the city was already packed with tourists for the upcoming Winter Ski-Jumping  World Cup tournament of Vier Schanzen Tournee (Four Hills Tournament) 2018.This eye-catching tower is designed by Architect Zaha Hadid, the “Bergisel Sky” panorama restaurant and the panorama terraces.It takes only 20 minutes ride to conquer 2,000 meters.This is definitely one of the best Alpine experience you can have.

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The 28 larger than life monuments guarding the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I inside the Hofkirche

We continue walking through the narrow streets and as we reached the Markplatz,we decided to walk through the Hofburg. I am so glad that visiting the Hofkirche is not boring for my 3-year old daughter and not “too historical” for her age. I was surprised that she actually enjoyed marveling at the 28 ( Twenty-Eight) larger than life Bronze statues guarding the cenotaph of Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I.

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Swarovski Crystal Christmas Tree in front of Markhall, facing the Inn river

We noticed that the sun starts to shine so we head off to admire the beautiful country side near the river. Of course we didn’t miss to admire this Swarovski Christmas Tree in front of the Inn river facing the Markhall.This one really shimmer against the bright sun. We had a pit stop inside the market and had coffee. Compared to the Markthal in Rotterdam, this one in Innsbruck is smaller and not really touristy.

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Cobbled stone streets going to the historical inner city of Innsbruck.

It was a cold day and yet we enjoyed all the surrounding sights along the Theresien Str. with all the Baroque architecture and heavily ornamented buildings and shops.This street is so full of charm and the rows of tempting shops are full of  high-end brands, Christmas displays, enticing tourists and showing that sophistication and modern fashion is totally into this city amidst framed by the mountains.Take for example this unique facade of the Taxispalais. For a second you would think what’s inside.The Taxispalais is a Kunsthalle with an international exhibition profile.Its mission is to debate contemporary life through art and cultural discourse.If you are into Arts, you should not miss to explore this place.

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Taxispalais : Blue men in the building in the busy shops along the Maria-Theresien Str.

Innsbruck is definitely a city with a high-end Architecture! Another eye-catching landmark unique to Innsbruck is the Nordkettenbahnen cable railways, designed once again by famed Zaha Hadid. This is totally the jewel of the Alps.The new Hungerburg Funicular was officially opened in 2007. The funicular set new international standards for modern architecture due to the extraordinary design of the stations. According to Zaha Hadid herself, she was inspired by the ice and snow landscapes of the region. As a result, the four stations, Congress, Löwenhaus, Alpine Zoo and Hungerburg resemble icy glaciers, giving the impression that the nearby mountain is right in the heart of the city.

The contrast between the arched shape of the roofs and the firmly anchored concrete bases make the stations unique, and gives them an almost magical sense of weightlessness. If you’re in Innsbruck, I highly recommend to check this out!

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The modern Nordkettenbahnen cable railway station

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The quaint villages at the foot of the mountains along the Inn River

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Mariahilf, a historical site in Innsbruck

At the end of Theresien Strasse, I was intrigued at the row of colorful houses along the Inn river, just in front of the bridge and the Markthalle because it reminds me of the leaning houses along the canals in Amsterdam. With the background of the mountains, this is definitely a postcard worthy of visiting!

 

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Narrow Areas, thousands discoveries

To cap off our #MyInnsbruck sightseeing experience, we head off to Wattens to visit the headquarters of Swarovski. The trademark image of Swarovski, The Giant is the face guarding the entrance of the Chambers of Wonders. Multimedia artist André Heller created a world of wonder to celebrate Swarovski’s hundredth anniversary in 1995. Heller’s thematic centerpiece for Swarovski Crystal Worlds was the shape of the Giant. And he developed the story of a Giant who set out to experience the world and all of its treasures and wonders.One of the highlights of our Crystal experience is seeing the enormous 800,000 crystal jewels hand-mounted in the Crystal Clouds!

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The Giant, guarding the entrance to the Chamber of Wonders inside the Swarovski Kristallwelten

Even if the weather was not hundred percent perfect for our winter sightseeing, we really had a great time exploring all the sights that Innsbruck had to offer, especially for families. Visiting Innsbruck is totally a kid-friendly place and there are further more attractions to try on our next visit.

Of course, not only our eyes have feasted on this trip, our tummies as well. I can’t leave this place without trying once again one of Austria’s pride ; the Kaisersmarnn!

Have you ever visited Innsbruck?

Do you also take time to explore a city and its historical sights?

 

 

Thank you for reading my friends! Wishing you all a lovely start of a brand new week!

 

Tschüss!

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve in Schlick 2000!

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My view last New Year’s Eve, up above, 2,240 meters above!

It’s my first time to celebrate the New Year away from home. Normally, we celebrate it at home, staying in with the family and watching fireworks. Not so this year.

We decided to go up high in the Alps and enjoy the view from above.

Well, even with an active 3-year-old toddling with us, then why not?

For a couple of weeks, and a week before Christmas, I felt so stressed out, I am like pulling the days to end to finally start the Christmas break. I had my Deutsch class up until the 22nd of December but I badly needed a holiday. I don’t care how long it is or where it is, I just want to be out and have a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, my daughter got sick, she caught a virus right after the other so she was really running on high fevers, coughs and colds. These lasted up throughout Christmas. It causes us a lot of stress and at the end of the week, I also got a nasty sore throat and I am not really up for the holidays.

We are blessed with a fine weather on New Year’s Eve when we climbed up the Schlick 2000 in Stubaital, in Fulpmes, a winter wonderland village, half an hour away from Innsbruck. Our family apartment has a wonderful view of the mountains as well and we enjoyed it in different views. I especially cannot forget how beautiful the last Sunset that I watched in Tirol.

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The view of the valley from above the Schlick 2000

Now who can’t say NO to this view?

I have seen another beautiful side of the Alps. The snow-capped mountains are really living gems of Austria. Looking at the cloudless horizon with the glistening mountain peaks and the serene atmosphere above makes this a whole new experience for me. Though I was really motion-sick while going up through the cable car rides twice to finally get up to the viewing area, my stomach has a nasty somersault while I looked down at the steep slopes. I couldn’t sit still while I hold my daughter’s tiny hands in between my hands.I am just so glad that it went so fast. I was feeling so sick !

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A Winter Sport Paradise in Innsbruck

This view is totally worth it! We found the top piste packed with Skiers and tourists. Young and old, clad in shiny, colorful winter garb, all set for an adventure in the slopes. Some are just lounging , enjoying the sun, sipping a beer, and probably napping. Well, yes, this place looks like a Beer garden up above 2000+ meters!  My daughter was super thrilled to try on different sticks, helmets, and roll over the snow.We left Germany full of snow as well but I was not even happy about the sight of it. But here, I saw the snow with a different charm. It looks like the snow fun is waiting for us. I couldn’t get off my eyes to the gigantic  mountain ranges full of snow in front of me. They are like giants, but I don’t feel small. The great thing about Innsbruck, it gives us the time to just relax and enjoy.

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I personally love to just have a peaceful getaway up above the mountain and admiring the grandeur of the Alps. To reach as far as my eyes can see. I can cover with my thumb an entire village and follow through the clouds that shrouded the whole valley. Everything around me is just magical. A special winter pleasure.

When I looked at my daughter, all my worries are gone. I know it’s another year to face, another challenges, and yet, she made me feel brave to face everything. Remembering that she was crazy sick and finally back to wellness gives me enough strength. She deserves to catch the sun. She deserves the world! Also, I am super grateful that my husband brought us into another winter wonderland at the very start of the year. Austria will always be special for our family. This time, we never felt isolated there because we are only a few kilometers away from the vibrant city of Innsbruck. We could even catch a glimpse of  it. From the windows of our apartment, we watched the fireworks and watch the lights danced in the mountains. It is totally different from the way I grew up celebrating the New Year!

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My Little Explorer!

Cheers to New Routes… New Possibilities.

We are ready to face the New Year!

 

 

 

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Celebrating my Anniversary with WordPress ! Cheers for more Blogging adventures!

Today also marked another special achievement for my Blog, Justbluedutch!  It’s my Blog Anniversary with Word press. It has been 2 years now that I am sharing with this wonderful platform my life in photos, stories, adventures, my artworks, and my Expat Life. I have met great people here who have shared with me their life stories as well. Reading about their life experiences made me appreciate the beauty of Blogging.

I wanted to specially thank all the people who followed my Blog and gave wonderful comments. There are lots of genuine-kind hearted people who totally inspired me and appreciate my Artworks. It means a lot to me.

With the start of the new year, I hope you stay with me as I continue to write about my life experiences here in Germany .It has been a pleasure to share my life and adventures from my Expat Life with all of you.

 

Danke Schön! Thank you and Salamat!

 

If you like to connect with me and follow my Expat Life, please visit my Instagram page and also, if you love Art, you can check out my Etsy shop  and get inspired by authentic, handmade, original Aquarelle and Acrylic paintings!

 

Tchüss !

~Christina

 

 

800,000 Crystal Clouds In Swarovski Kristallwelten

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Crystal Clouds in Swarovski Kristallwelten by Andy Cao & Xavier Perrot 

Happy New Year to you my friends! Thank you and warm welcome to the Blog for my new followers.It’s great to see you all in this brand new year!

I am so sorry for a long absence and updating this Blog. All through out Christmas, my daughter has been sick and I was busy both studying in my Deutsch class and with the 2-weeks break, despite the silence and hustle of the Christmas season here in Germany, we manage to get through with everything!

We spent New Year’s Day visiting the world-famous headquarters of Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens, near Innsbruck, Austria. The weather was grey, gloomy and constant snow showers dampen our mood but we can’t afford to go up in the mountains due to bad weather so we decided to wander off to the hilly village of Wattens, a half-an hour drive from Innsbruck. It’s  New Year’s Day, so it was busy as usual,the arrival hall of the Crystal world is packed with many tourists from different places. The entrance ticket costs 19 Euros per person which gives a full admission through the museum. As for me and my family, we’re so glad to see this place because it really exceeds our expectation.  I was totally impressed of how magnificent the crystal world until I saw it with my own eyes. All my life, I have known Swarovski only  as the  crystal and fashion icon and its beautiful  jewelry line, nothing less. But seeing this place, I was really grateful to have this chance. More than the crystal jewelries I have seen in the store, I had no idea how beautiful the world can be with crystals and artistic craftmanship.

It’s winter time, the place is covered in snow.The  company is situated in the foot of the snow-capped Alps mountains .On the day of our visit, I noticed that the company  is undergoing a tremendous expansion, with its modern Arrival’s hall facing the face of Swarovski, the Giant” ,lying in the verdant hills of Wattens, the foliage-covered giant who spews a waterfall from his mouth and guards over a dozen fantastical crystal chambers beneath a hill. It is designed by artist André Heller, who guards its entrance into the shimmering wonderland.

All of these are owned by Swarovski— the 16 Sparkling Chambers of Wonders, the spacious 7.5 hectares  garden surrounding the Giant, the Play Tower and play area,the Labyrinth, Arts in the Garden, but the most impressive thing that caught my eyes is their “Crystal Clouds and the Mirror Pond “. 

With the gorgeous white snow-capped mountains on its background, the Swarovski headquarters evolved into a stunning place for everyone to enjoy. Now people of all ages can visit this place and not only see gems, and crystal jewelry but also left in awe of the wonders inside this place. After we enjoyed a delicious lunch in “Daniel’s Kristallwelten” restaurant, my eyes caught the display of greyish net-like stuff suspended in poles in the spacious garden and wondered what are those. So after we ate, we went out and explore this wonderful work of art.

Talking about Crystal technology of course, the new crowning piece of the beautiful garden is the Crystal Cloud, created by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot. Formally trained as landscape architects, Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot embrace serendipity, trusting intuition as their guide. They juxtapose the landscape medium with unexpected materials: recycled glass, mother-of-pearl, crystals, fishing line, etc. These materials come to life in outdoor settings, releasing or refracting light, elevating the inherent imperfections as beauty marks.

This monumental installation drifts above the black Mirror Pool, inviting visitors to pause for moment and be inspired.  I, too, have gazed long enough to admire the concept behind this and wished that I have seen this in the night-time where the lights make it like a magical world or while its shimmering against the sun.

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Give the Mundane its beautiful due.

With a surface of around 1,400 square meters, this mystical masterpiece is the largest work of its kind in the world. The Crystal Cloud consists of around 800,000 hand-mounted Swarovski crystals.  Imagine that! The forest of columns holding up the crystal-laden, cloud-like wire structure is proof of this. Visitors can walk along a ramp that drops down into the middle of the pool, allowing them to experience the interplay of light and colours from the height of the water’s surface.

I found a beautiful video of how the Crystal clouds shimmer against a bright sunny day.

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800,000 hand mounted Swarovski Crystals in the Crystal Clouds in Swarovski Kristalwelten in Wattens, Austria

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A Beautiful work of Art in Swarovski Crystal World, Innsbruck, Austria

A descending path draws visitors to the Mirror Pool where the crystals’ light is captured like stars shimmering in the nocturnal sky – even in broad daylight. The innumerable fireflies create magic light; as if in an enchanted fairy tale garden, they flit and dance through the air and accompany the visitors across the footbridge.

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” Making Diamonds affordable for anyone”

The 1,400-square-metre Crystal Cloud is the centre-piece of the 7.5-hectare park, which opened in Wattens on 30 April. The cloud and pool are located in a shallow depression surrounded by graded banks and birch trees. Contoured mounds separate the park from the surrounding area.

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Crystal Clouds in the Swarovski Crystal Worlds

On December 3rd, 2015, CAO PERROT won the Best of Year 2015 Award in the installation category for the Crystal Cloud at Swarovski Crystal Worlds, Wattens (Austria). The award has been presented by the US Interior Design Magazine for the past 10 years. This year’s winner was decided by almost 60,000 voters from the architecture and design industry.

Do you own a diamond?

Not everyone can afford  real diamonds, but  Daniel Swarovski’s vision was to make “a diamond for everyone” by making crystals affordable, and it definitely become a dream come true for myself.

Fake diamonds or not, Swarovski crystals have proven that whether or not you could actually afford anything studded with actual Swarovski crystals, the Crystal Worlds is an incredible sight for anyone with a love of fantasy and this is how we spent the first day of this brand New Year!

How did you spent yours?

 

 

Thank you for reading my friends, Stay tuned for more posts about my Innsbruck holiday, and spending New Year’s Eve and enjoying winter pleasures in the Schlick 2000 Ski area  even if you have a motion sickness riding the cable cars!

Tschüss!

To love winter is a Privilege

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.

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To love Winter is a privilege

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?

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A walk into this winter wonderland.

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 Wandertags and 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…

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A christmas Ball covered in snow.

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.

 

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Time to work the messy work in Winter

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!

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A Submerged Mercedes-Benz  in snow .

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.

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A  statue covered in snow.

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.

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Snow everywhere and a frozen bird house.

 

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A perfect  natural White Christmas Tree

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.

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I’m not stopping  by this time!

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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