La Grande Schmierage V { Hall of Fame Graffiti Art Spray Party}

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Es lebe die Schmierage! 

All for the love of Graffiti Street Artworks !

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Hall of Fame Street Spray Art in Germany

Do you like Graffiti Art? Do you even think its an Art?

Fo a fact, I must say that from a point of view of an artist, you can never contain Art.

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Just like this 250- meter old boring walls of an underpass bridge that becomes a world spectacle of art, talent and spray bottle becomes the medium of artistic expression. I love how a simple place like wall bridges turns into a beautiful display of unique designs and artistic expression—all in a form of the rebellious GRAFFITI!

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This morning , we went with our weekly Wandertag and hop into our bikes. It’s a cloudy Sunday and we have high hopes that it won’t rain.On our way , we made a little detour and it was a lucky start I must say, because as we are approaching the underpass of Unserherrn, near Ringsee, we saw people gathering under the bridge and Graffiti Artists are already absorbed in their work. We made it into the “La Grande Schmierage V “, Hall of Fame, the biggest Graffiti Spray Party happening now in Germany!

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Yes, the boring underpass becomes so alive and colorful with all the life-size wall sprayed- artwork of the talented artists, it was like walking into a street gallery!

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Artists came from  different countries — from Montréal, Barcelona, ​​Moscow, Bergamo, Slovakia and various cities in Germany, also from top-class artists of the international spray scene. From yesterday,  1st of July, and today, they all meet in the so-called “Hall of Fame”  to redesign the 250-meter wall surface of the underpass bridge. 

Graffiti  is something illicit, more like a rebellious symbol of expressing one’s ideas through drawings, writing or scribbling on public areas. Not everyone like it. If someone sprayed on your beloved personal wall, I bet you might be furious. You can never call it an art, its more of an invasion of your private place.

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Spraying can be an assault and may cause  damage to property. Others find  lubrication and illegal spraying so invasive and illegal, whether for the sake of  so-called hip art form , it’s still  something vulgar and oppressive. But not so here in Germany, here in our region in Bavaria, Graffiti spraying is legalized. Legal Spraying and Graffiti Art has established itself increasingly in urban areas as an expression of lifestyle and worldliness .

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As early as 1995 the gray concrete walls of the railway underpass were cleared for graffiti by the city of Ingolstadt and the spraying in the Hall of Fame was legalized. Since then, the walls are constantly being sprayed again, the hall often changes its appearance – and still counts as one of the largest legal halls in Germany.

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Meet the Artists through their artworks!

They are bunch of normal, messy, hip-looking men and women you can see in the streets. But once they hold their Spray, the world is their audience. Notable artists for the 2017 Spray meeting are as follows:  Five Eight from Montréal, Saturno from Barcelona, ​​Kram from Barcelona, ​​Zmogk from Moscow, Verbo from Bergamo, Kaisy from Slovakia, Omsk from Saxony, Bond Truluv from Leipzig , Rusl from Constance and Dater from Koblenz. In addition, two sprayers from the partner town of Kragujevac are expected. 

You can see their full profiles Here.

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I am so thrilled that even though I don’t know them each by their faces, I have seen them in their spray action. They are really amazing and full of talent! I could watch their drawings and draw unlimited meanings. Once you see their work, you will never see the same “old boring walls”the same as before– it’s like they have brought something to life. People stop and take a look, and observe. These walls deserve a look. No wonder it’s an international event! Some of notable Graffiti work that are worth to see are Here. My favorite was the work of Inti, a giant Don Quixote mural in Quintanar de la Orden, Spain.

The La Grande Schmierage graffiti meeting was launched in 2008 under the organization  of the City Youth Initiative and in close collaboration with Boris Schmelter. The organization and support of the artists are located at the FRONTE79 Youth Cultural Center in Ingolstadt.

 

Do you like looking at street wall art? Which one is your favorite?

If you want to read more about the La Grande Schmierage, here are some useful links:

www.schmierage.de

www.tumultfestival.de

 

One for the kiddo : Tiergarten (Nürnberg Zoo)

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My daughter is mesmerized by the azure blue waters and swimming seals inside the Blue Salon 

Do you like going to the zoo?

I didn’t know that once you have a child, you will appreciate the Zoo! Second to  playgrounds, the zoo is a place that we have learned to enjoy with my daughter.

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Entrance to the Blue Salon where you can see face to face the graceful swimming Sea cows or Manatee!

I think I’ve only been to a zoo a few times, I can count them, nothing special, more like an educational trip for school, or when I visited the Kuwait Zoo to kill time . The fondest memory maybe is  when my husband is visiting the Philippines and I decided to take a quick look at the nearby  Manila zoo ( because it’s on our way ) but then, while I was busy with my phone, a bird suddenly drop a bomb on my head. Oh yes, I was completely covered with bird poop! What an amazing zoo experience indeed!

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It was nice to meet you Bears!

Anyway, we finally made it to Tiergarten Nürnberg last weekend. This is the first zoological Park that I’ve seen here in Germany.  Last Spring, my daughter had a blast in the Petting zoo inside the Keukenhof Gardens and she can’t wait to see much more. She’s very into animals and she knows each of them by heart, both in English  and Deutsch! From the central station in Nürnberg, we took the Tram # 5 going to Tiergarten and within 10 minutes, we are at the gate of the zoo.It was only 9:30 in the morning and yet the zoo started to get crowded. We decided to come early since she will have her  midday nap and I know she can be a handful when she is cranky.

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Tropical flowers adorn the tropical Manatee house inside the zoo

 

Nothing but nature 

The moment we stepped inside the zoo, I was amazed by how green it is. So many trees and its like walking in a wild jungle park. We had lots of walking to do inside so shades from trees are a heaven! I love that the park has a natural lay out inspired by nature and the animals are kept as in their natural habitat as possible. The zoo was well-kept, maintained, clean, and easy to navigate.

I love walking into their Tropical forest  ( Manatee House) where its a replica of a tropical jungle where you can observe the Manatees  ( Sea Cows ) swimming under your feet.They are sooo huge and seeing them under your feet is a bit creepy. It’s a first time for me to see such animal. I even saw some plants that only grows in tropical climate like what the Philippines have. So many mature stock of trees, idyllic mixed woods and natural landscapes make this zoo one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, at least from my own impression. Exotic animals live in harmony right next to a range of local bird species and mammals, and the craggy sandstone rock formations make generous natural enclosures for many animals where they can climb and relax.

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Watching the Giraffes having their breakfast
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A camera-shy Zebras

Now I understand why they say that whoever has experienced the wide variety and idylls of Nuremberg Zoo will come back again. The elegant movements of the dolphins and sea lions in the dolphin lagoon, the tropical atmosphere in the manatee house and the feeding of the polar bears in the Aqua Park provide an unforgettable experience.Compared to the Sea Life in Munich where we see more varieties of sea life animals but then it was  in a close area and a bit claustrophobic for me.

As expected, my daughter enjoyed watching all the animals. Too bad that we didn’t have the chance to see all the others and the rest of the zoo. It is a spacious zoo, built on top of a hill, with lots of areas to wander,  so it means lots of climbing. We went to each animal’s places but they seemed to be hiding in their cribs. Maybe its the heat? or napping? I don’t really know why but I find it rather disappointing especially when we are all excited to see the Lion’s den. All we found in the cages are the meat. On the other hand, the Zoo was so large that I don’t have the energy anymore to explore it and see it all. My daughter starts to get cranky and needed to recharge.

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A bird sitting on its nest

 

A lovely Surprise : The Aqua Park and the Manatee House

We chose to go to Nürnberg zoo because we wanted to see the Dolphin and Sea Lion show, and that is something that we really enjoyed. The show runs simulatenously with   feeding times at 11 a.m , 2 p.m and 3:30 p.m . .The open area has wooden benches where viewers can have a full-vista of the show. I must say that the training for the dolphins & seals are incredible and that was one great show! Nuremberg Zoo is very well-known for its sea cows, the manatees and the Dolphin show.  In the Manatee House, these gentle giants can be observed under water. The generous dimensions of the tropical house provide a colourful and diverse environment for sloths, turtles, butterflies, monkeys and numerous tropical plants. Beavers, otters, penguins, sea lions and polar bears are also at home in the Aqua Park, an extensive water landscape interrupted by a variety of small islands.

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A very lively Dolphin show !

You need an ample amount of time to explore and see all 3,295 animals from 292 species that can be seen at the Zoo. Yes, that is a LOT. I read that the zoo moved from the Dutzendteich to Schmausenbuck to make way for the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and during World War II, more than 90 % of the facility was damaged, actually Nuremberg was heavily bombed during the war. I am glad that we were able to see the  Dolphin lagoon and show which is actually the first outdoor lagoon for dolphins and sea lions in Germany. Good thing to know as well that the Nuremberg Zoo participates in 46 international breeding programs and is a partner zoo of the Species Conservation Foundation.

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Dolphin Show

 

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Amazing Dolphin performance!
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Beer garden inside the Zoo

We took our break and had lunch in one of the Beer garden up in the hill. It has a play area beside it so while waiting for our food, my daughter was running up and down again. I find the food simple, nothing special but its a great place to have a breather from walking.

 

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Souvenir shop for the little ones.

There are many souvenir shops, restaurants and adequate bathrooms inside the zoo so I find it really convenient. We got a cute camel souvenir with engravings since it reminds us of the stuff toy we’ve got in the Scientific Center in Kuwait.

If you have an active kids like I do, I highly recommend to check out this place. It’s for all members of the family and a great way to spend the weekend, but like I said, just be prepared to walk and walk.

 

For Admission Fees, you can find more information Here .

Other highlights of a day trip in  Nürnberg :

The Ehekarussell or the Bitter Sweet Marriage Fountain

Kaiserburg ( Imperial Palace)

 

Strawberry Fields forever

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Long wait is over, Summer is finally here!

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Fresh strawberry bunches sold in the erdbeeren Punck-Bayern, Unserherren Fields, Germany

Did you know that Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each Spring?

We can’t even get over with the ‘Spargelzeit’ (White Asparagus season) yet and now here comes the season of one of my favorite summer fruit : Strawberries  ( or Erdbeeren)! Since we had a sunny Spring, strawberries came earlier here in Bavaria. In Germany, it is very easy to distinguish what time of the year it is, just look at the seasonal fruits displayed in the shops and you’ll know. Strawberries and Raspberries are flooding the grocery shops, as cheap as 2.99 Euros for 500 grams! Last time, I bought a bunch of strawberries for only 1.99 Euros!

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A walk in the strawberry fields with a Toddler
So last Sunday, we decided to spend quality family time on a sunny Ruhetag by visiting the Strawberry fields and pick strawberries by ourselves. It was our first time to go in the fields so we are all excited!  I am so thrilled by this idea since I wanted to explore the strawberry fields here in Bavaria and for my daughter to pick strawberries by herself. All over Bavaria, from the start of Strawberry season,  there are so many fields are open, for locals and hungry-pickers to enjoy!  These yummy goodness fresh- tasting strawberries can be harvested over six or seven weeks. In the second week of May strawberries grown in tunnels in the open field reach the market, followed by strawberries grown under plastic by mid-May. And the season reaches its peak with regular open-field strawberries from the beginning of June. In July the greenhouses are prepared for the next season that can be harvested from the end of September to Christmas.

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On Repeat : Tasting , Eating, Playing 

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The best strawberries in town, fresh from the fields
We checked out the site of the strawberry Fields in Bayern and we discovered that there are so many nearby fields that are opened for public picking. There are also remnants of the White asparagus being sold in the stalls, but a wide supply of  raspberries, honey, Bio-eggs, and ice cream  are also available for purchase in the same fields. It was such a lovely experience and the weather is just right to pick them.Families with small children ran around the fields, old people with their buckets, picking with smiles on their faces, eating and just enjoying the early summer sunshine. What a delightful way to spend a Sunday morning!

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One of our handful picks, half were already eaten along the way!
Strawberries belong to the favorite fruit group in Germany; the 3.4 kilos of strawberries consumed per person last year are proof of that. They follow apples, bananas and sweet citrus fruits in the ranking of most successful fruit. And a representative survey showed that strawberries are a proud favorite of consumers between the ages of 10 to 25.

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Toddlers and Strawberries are always a perfect combo!

Stop and smell the strawberries! They are considered members of the rose family, they give off a sweet fragrance as they grow on bushes.

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Father and daughter bonding time!
We got more than 2 kgs. of fresh, juicy and super delicious strawberries and we headed home to have a Strawberry -coma weekend!

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Toddler life: Eating hay, rolling in the hay
You bet someone really had a great time in the strawberry fields. Going home covered in hay, smelled like grass and mouth-smothered with strawberries are a perfect way to end our trip! While cycling back home, I can’t help but to hum the song “Strawberry fields forever by the Beatles… ”

Will definitely check out the other fields next time so stay tuned for more of our Summer escapades!

What are your summer plans?

How do you enjoy the warm sunshine? Don’t be shy to share in the comments!

 

I made it! My First Biotope- Cycling tour in Germany

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My cycling-mania is still ON over here !

To think that the cycling season have just started  here in Germany and summer is still a month away, more fun begins as we continue to enjoy cycling .The other day, I’ve written about how we are falling in love with our bicycle and guess what—–we joined our first cycling tour!

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Biotopradwandertag 2017 route map

Yes, with my husband and our little Adventurist, off we go for a Biotopradwandertag for a sweet 30 kilometer cycling tour. This is my very first time to experience going on a bike tour like this so I’m definitely excited. The distance and the event itself is all new to me. At first I was hesitant, thinking that maybe my daughter will get bored and as always, I kept worrying about the weather.What if it rains, or  what if she gets  cranky because its her nap time as well.

But then we made it to finish line!

Sweating, hurting my ass, but totally energized. My knees where shaking when I am doing the uphill part and my heart is pounding at some points during the trip but my stamina is still up. I don’t wanna give up. My endorphins are on high and I am very glad that I made it. I haven’t cycled for years and to be able to participate in an event like this makes me feel so at home here in Germany.

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Active Germans ready to cycle!

Believe me, cycling can do wonders on your mood.

The Biotopradwandertag is a cycling tour to promote awareness of the region of a habitat associated with a particular ecological community all around in Ingolstadt and the regions surrounding it. This year was the 29th Biotope Cycling Day ( May 21, 2017) and was personally organized by our city mayor. This Bike tour is an annual event in any weather.

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In my first Cycling Tour !

I saw this ad in the newspaper and after googling a bit and translating, I asked my husband and few friends to join this tour. Good thing it falls on Sunday, and the weather was perfect. A bit cloudy in the morning but up until the end, we cycled under a carpet of beautiful sunny skies.

The tour started at 9 AM, we get the tour map & information from the Stadt theater and I was really impressed how organized the event was. The trails were properly signed, there were visible sign posts for the directions for the cyclists. Along the way, there are guides who helps us go in right direction. For a fee of 3 Euros per person ( kids under 16 are free), all Finisher receives a gift, drink & food vouchers that they can enjoy after the tour. Major sponsors are Willner/Farradzentrum, Nordbrau and Sparkasse. Emergency help lines are also set-up.

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Pit stop in this beautiful lake.

Along the way, the scenarios are really beautiful. So fresh, and the air feels so clean. Acres of Rapeseeds, a sea of wildflowers in different shades, and  very clean neighborhoods. I didn’t expect that Bavaria can really be so green ( literally!), with hills and fields, and to discover all these while cycling is the best way to enjoy our Sunday.

My mind is meditating, relaxing , my muscles are working, and  my body is rejuvenating.

After 2.5 hours of cycling, at about 2/3 of the trip, we had a pit stop in the check point where we have time to stamp our papers, get free drinks and food, and a bathroom break.I saw Germans of different ages, from toddlers to the not-so-young anymore, but are still very active in cycling. Everyone is having a great time.

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There is always a reason to stop because I see so many sights and I don’t wanna miss it.We finished the tour on time and we had  lunch provided by the organizer. The whole Stadt theater was converted int a Beer garden where people devoured their beers, Schnitzels, potato salad, bread and assorted drinks!

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Bikes and All Bikes!

Cycling with toddler stress-free is possible here in Germany and I am glad that my daughter has the chance to experience this on such a young age. Children should not stop us from doing what we are passionate about. I am sure I’ll be doing this again next year, maybe a bit more farther!  If you have the chance, I highly recommend to join this type of outdoor activity, it’s healthy, fun and it’s best enjoyed with your whole family! I think more than the hype, it’s all about doing what you enjoy and what makes you feel good.

 

Have you ever engaged in a tour of your favorite sport ? What are your favorite summer activities?

 

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How to fall in love with your Bicycle this Spring

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Cycling through the golden fields in Bavaria

I want to share with you how I developed a new-found love-affair with my bicycle this Spring time.

No, it’s not the current trend here in Germany, nor a health fad, but yes, it’s the number one outdoor sport choice! Fortunately, I am married to a Dutchman, from The Netherlands, the land of cyclists. The land where Bicycles and people are like Bread and Hagelslag  or sprinkles (totally inseparable!).

For the record, Dutch people revolved their lives in Fiets ( Bicycle) and from the country with much more Bicycles than inhabitants, so yes, they have a serious affair with bicycles. Add the fact that I am  living in a country where cycling is ingrained in everyone’s mind. Cycling is a big part of German culture. If you will move to Germany, it is likely that you will buy a bike! It is very rare to find an adult German who did not grow up riding a bike and whose children, parents, and even grandparents probably still ride bikes. My neighbor who is almost 80 years old,  still rides her bike gracefully, twice a week doing her groceries by bike and doesn’t mind cycling during winter.Amazing, right?

So, I am inspired by this.

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I am not in the lowlands but I am cycling under a carpet of Cumulus clouds.

The weather nowadays is at its best here in Bavaria.Thinking that for the past 8 years I got used to 50+ degrees C temperatures outside, here on the other hand, a mild 10-25 degrees in a bright sunny day is absolutely amazing! Not too hot, not too windy and the chill is just right.

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16- Kilometers of cycling with a toddler rewards us some photo-ops in the Stables with lots of horses so shy from the camera.

My little old town, Ingolstadt,  can be explored extremely well on a bicycle.The cycling tours will take you through a typical Bavarian agricultural landscapes, Asparagus fields, and hop gardens scenic views to the south, up to the foothills of the Altmühltal nature park to the north. Pretty villages with public houses and Biergartens ( Beer garden) line the route.

We are joining our first Bike tour ( Biotopradwandertag 2017) this coming Sunday, with my toddler of course, so stay tuned for my stories later about it!

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Toddler and adventures kind of day!

However, much more than one day is needed to discover everything that Bavaria has to offer.If you are a tourist, a trip to the historical sites in the pedestrianized Old Town is a must.The easy-to-follow- biotop adventure path, with a total of 11km in length is also another option.The path consists of 18 stages. At each stage you can find out about the habitats of animals and plants and why do we need to protect them.This is an interesting cycling path for the nature lovers and for active cyclists.

Do you live in seasons? What’s the best way for you to enjoy Spring?

For me, soaking up under the sun, cycling til my ass hurts,BBQ and picnic outdoors, admiring the golden rapeseed fields, and chilling’ in beautiful gardens full of spring blooms! Sure thing I do miss the beach back then in Kuwait and the island-hopping in the tropical islands back home in Ph, but then, spring time in Europe is not that bad. It is actually a whole new experience for me.

These are the moments in Spring that feels like summer–like having BBQ with friends in our garden, grilling the Bratwurst ,indulging in fresh green salads, eating ice cream almost every day (OMG! burn the calories through cycling! ) and finally, wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts!

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Always looking forward to the next cycling adventure!

I have a 2.5 year old toddler, and it’s absolutely not a problem! We bundled her up in the kindersitze and she also can have fresh air and outdoor times. Packed with lots of snacks and bag full of patience, off we go! Last week, we did a 15km ride to the East side of the city with my daughter and it was great. The great thing about cycling is that you get active, relax, meditate, at the same time enjoying some quality family time. I never imagined in my life that cycling could be this good, it will leave you craving for more and more. Once you learned to create adventures with your Bike, you’ll be cycling for life. Also,this is what I love about Germany–spending outdoors with family is a matter of priority!

Through our bicycle trips, we discovered many playgrounds. A pit stop to a nearby Spielplatz (playground) always makes the day and erase boredom from sitting in the bike.We always make it a point to explore nature, local sightings, and fun kid-friendly activities.

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Along the way, finding beauty in everything comes naturally. No filter needed even if I only uses my iPhone to capture photos because its handy.

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Orange poppies can be so lovely!

A pit stop in another lake on the other side of the city was totally worth the hours of cycling. The lake, surrounded with trees, boats sailing, swans swimming, and a cheerful crowd busy having BBQ’s, picnic and just lazing around the lake. The waters still too cold for a swim but I can see so many people put up their tents, camping and fishing. This place is a picture of a simple, serene escape from the busy-ness of the roads in the city.

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Old ladies chatting up with each other, under the tree, beside the lake.

Watching the time goes by while cycling and Wandertag with nature is the perfect Spring past time.

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Having some quiet time along the river

Cycling through the river Danube is one famous bike trails in Europe.The Danube cycle path is one of the best- known and passes through the unique,natural areas.There are many other interesting routes to explore, such as the Via Raetica along the historically Roman road. I live 10 minutes away from the banks of Danube river and this photo above is one of my favorite place to stop and just breathe in. It’s so peaceful!

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Discovering the beauty of Peonies

One can enjoy the scenic river views and enjoy the splashing from the little creeks with the ducks swimming by.  If you have time to kill, you can even catch your dinner from this point.This is also a great place to catch a sight of some birds. The extensive Donauauen ( the wooden areas on the banks of the Danube) stretch from west to east, making it a great starting point for any outdoor activity. If you got tired and needed to rest, there are enough platforms along the Danube to rest on and watch the flow of the river.

In the end,how far can you cycle will depend on your level of fitness.

 

Do you like cycling?

What’s your Bucket list for Spring?

If you like this post, make sure you followed my Blog to follow my Expat life stories here in Bavaria and Hey, do you like Art? I have a gallery of my personal Artwork posted in my Instagram, if you’d like to follow, you can view it Here.

Thank you for reading my friends, hoping everyone of you are enjoying the weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Cherry Blossoms magic in Bavaria

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Fluffy, sensitive blossoms for tender beginnings…

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

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

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

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

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

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

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

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

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Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria

Picturesque pink magic …

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

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Capture the beauty while you still can…

 

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

 

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

 

 

My first Vineyard walk, a taste of Moselsteig!

 

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

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

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

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Up close and personal with Riesling grapes.

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

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

An excerpt from Wines of Germany :

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

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

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Grapevine crawling in the walls of the restaurant in Monzel

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

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

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

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

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Admiring the ‘ ‘Gold’ of Mosel valley

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

 

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

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The vineyards are named after their winery owner

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

First signs of Spring ( Frühling) in Bavaria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fresh lilac Crocuses

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

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

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

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

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Bright sun shining day !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Wetland wildlife watching

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Ever tried Duck-face?

Well Hello March!

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

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

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

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White swan

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

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Survival of the fittest

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

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Walking in grace

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

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

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

 

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

 

Waiting for Spring…

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The Neues Schloss in Ingolstadt in Winter

The New Castle-My favorite place to photograph in our lovely town.

Am I the only one or is there anyone else waiting for Spring? The landscape surrounding it is really beautiful.I have photographed this castle  many times and yet everytime I passes by it, I can’t help but to admire its simple beauty.The past seasons showed its different charm and I can’t wait how would it look in the bright, sunny spring time!

Here are some related content about this beautiful architecture which you might find worthy to read :

Early morning with a view in Neues Schloss

The Cannons in Neues Schloss

A walk into the old town