Spargelzeit : White asparagus time in Germany!

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Spargelzeit ! ( White Asparagus season) ,Germany’s King of Vegetables arrives in Springtime!

Spring is totally  all over here in Germany!

Everyday, as I  look at how the pretty magnolias and enchanting pink cascades of cherry blossoms brings a pink spectacle in our surroundings, this makes me love even more Spring! Even the tulips that I planted in our garden blossoms into bright fuschia and red bulbs, beside the rows of yellow daffodils making it super ‘Gezellig‘, and undeniably a cozy, warm & festive season! And yes, time for Germans to indulge in white Spargels! When I say indulge, imagine a  consumption of whooping 125,000 tonnes per year!

It is true,that’s a whole LOT of Asparagus or locally known as Spargel!

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The “White Gold”in Germany, the White Asparagus

Just as the Apple marks the Fall season and culinary delights for baked pies, Spring time here in Germany signals the start of Spargelzeit, or the season of White Asparagus!

Have you heard anything like this before? Well for me, I only knew of Green Asparagus! I’ve read that there’s a purple variety as well but white, it never really occurred to me!  I have never seen or tasted  a white asparagus in my entire life. Not until I’ve been here in Germany. If you’re wondering what’s the difference, very simple actually;  the white variety grows entirely surrounded by earth. In turn, this protects the slender stalk from sunlight exposure and keeps it from turning green. This also affects the subtle flavor of it. Rich in nutrients and very low in calories, asparagus is a healthy and delicious food!

Remember my story about how Germans decorate their fountains with 10, 000 hand painted Easter eggs? Germans as well, prefer this seasonal white delicacy that grows only during Spargelzeit, from April to July. Now nobody can really underestimate the Germans special affection to Easter, Spring festivals and their culinary calendar in each season. Especially here in my Bavarian town,  Ostermarkt (Easter Market), Osterbrunnen (Easter fountain)  and the Frühlingsfest (Spring festival) are all big celebrations . But the special culinary specialty for Spring is no doubt the white, long, slender stems of white Spargel (asparagus) .

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My first sighting of the famous White German Asparagus ( Spargel) in our local Farmer’s market .

Germany’s  “king of vegetables” can be seen as early as middle of March but the official harvesting season of white spargel starts around April and ends until June 24. First time that I saw these white asparagus was in our local farmer’s market and since then, I saw these bunches more often as well in various supermarkets. Though prices might soar up high during the season, and many will sprout as cheap ones, they say that it’s still best to get the best grade asparagus since as for the Germans, it is always worth paying more for the ‘white gold’.

So how does the White Spargel taste?

White asparagus is much softer in texture and stringier than the green asparagus.It has more subtle and delicate flavour. It is traditionally served with melted butter and potatoes (Spargel mit Butter), with ham (Spargel mit Schinken) or with hollandaise sauce (Spargel mit holländischer Sauce).

I’ve found out more interesting facts about the White Spargel :

  1. It takes 3 (Three) long years for an asparagus plant to produce its first tip.The soil is piled up in knee-high banks making its unique appearance.
  2. The states of Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony take special pride in being prime asparagus growing regions in Germany.
  3. Just like beer festival, there is also a “Spargelfest” ( Spargel festival)  held where culinary experts showcase their fresh spargel dishes,peeling contest and even celebrating with the Asparagus Queen!
  4. There is an Asparagus Museum in Herten, North Rhein Westphalia, in Germany.The Vestisches Spargelmuseum is dedicated to this spring delight, owned by Ludger Südfeld.  The exhibit display trace the entire cultivation process of this vegetable.
  5. According to the records from 2012 released by Federal Ministry of Agriculture recently, asparagus uses a fifth of the entire open land area for vegetables in Germany, making it the vegetable with the largest cultivation area in the country.
  6. The city of Schwetzingen claims to be the Asparagus capital of the World!
  7. During Spargelzeit, the average German enjoys the delicate flavor of this tender spring vegetable at least once a day. This, in turn, adds up to a national total of over 70,000 tons per year!

 

Yes, would you believe that in this country known for its ordnungs, there is also Asparagus quality !

Asparagus Quality

Germany has divided asparagus into strict quality classes, comparable to USDA Grade A, Choice, etc. The classes of “Spargel” are:

Extra – Minimum diameter of 12 mm (15/32 inch), no hollow cores, perfectly straight and all white. Most expensive.

Handelsklasse I (HK I) – Minimum diameter of 10 mm (3/8 inch), light bending, light coloration (violet). Good value.

Handelsklasse II (HK II) – Minimum diameter of 8 mm (5/16 inch), curved stalks allowed, slightly opened flower heads, more color than HK I and sometimes woody. Good for soup stock and students.

 

Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever tried eating white Asparagus?Also, do you think eating Asparagus makes your urine smell?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

Osterbrunnen in Ingolstadt

 

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“Impressive work found in Ostermarkt where around 10,000 handpainted eggs adorn the King Ludwig fountain  for this year’s Osterbrunnen. “

In our neighborhood alone,the sight of pink, white and eager cherry blossom trees (or  Kirschbaum ) are now blossoming with beautiful pink and white flowers, signaling the spring days ahead. The sight of the white Spargels ( white Asparagus)  in the wet market this morning assures me that beautiful days of Spring ( Frühling) here in Germany have indeed arrived! The past days the temperatures soars high,a good 10-15 degrees, sunny and bright, and I can’t believe that we can finally stroll outside without our bulky jackets. Weather is perfect, every where I see, I see growth of greens from the trees and yes, a time to celebrate Easter soon.

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Here in Ingolstadt, Easter vibes  is so alive and arrives right on the 1st day of April,in the Osterbrunnen fest right along the Paradeplatz in the old town.The event started with a parade of music, opening speech from our city mayor, Christian Lösel, and the tapping of the beer keg or O’zapft is! If you want a free mug of beer, all you have to do is be there!

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The Ostermarkt will run from 1st of April until 17th 2017 from 10.00 ~19.00 Uhr. Around the Paradeplatz, there are food stalls which serves the local delicacies, a Karussel (Carousel) for children, and quaint shops selling Easter goods.My daughter was too excited to see the carousel but always afraid to ride it!

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Tell you frankly, Easter here in Germany is a big thing since aside from its religious significance, it also signal the arrival of Spring, the season of renewal. About 3 weeks ago, the shops were packed with all the decorations and different types of  decorations for Easter such as eggs, Easter bunny ( Osternhase) and so much more. I have never seen such frenzy as these in the Philippines! There are Easter Chocolate eggs as big as a basketball! Today I got 6 pieces of Easter eggs given away during the opening ceremony and we are literally walking in a red-carpet cobbled streets of Ludwigstrasse. There are so many freebies along the street, I even had a glass of white wine! There are face painting for kids and there is such a happy ‘vibe”, even the Biergartens are in full swing once again! Ingolstadt is a small city and yet with so many festivals to celebrate, you can never get boring.

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Since April 15, 2000, the first Ostermarkt was inaugurated by Mayor Hans Amler and was solemnized by Moritzpfarrer Leo Pöll and since then, this event has become one of the highlights of Spring.

Right in the middle of Paradeplatz in front of the Neues Schloss stands the decorated fountain, with the monument of the mighty King Ludwig of Bavaria. During the first festival, around 3,000 ( three thousand)  painted easter eggs in white and blue colors ( Grösster weiss/blauer Osterbrunnen Bayerns) adorns the fountain, but each year they are increasing in number. The whole fountain is filled with spring flowers and Easter decorations arranged in a  steel crown like specially made by trainees of Audi AG.Now, around 10, 000 hand painted Easter eggs are on display for everyone to see. Such a lovely sight and a heritage that Ingolstädter are all proud of.

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To decorate the fountain, it requires 500 hours to do the creative work of painting the eggs and arranging the steel crown and finally set up the fountain.Looking at all the eggs, it is intricately painted and crafted.Imagine 10,000 pieces!

What an impressive work and creativity!

 

Have you ever seen a fountain decorated with thousands of Easter eggs? How is Easter celebrated in your area?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

Fasching and Kinderball

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My daughter in her first experience of Kinderball 

Did you know that Germany has a version of Mardi Gras?

It’s called Fasching, Karneval, or Fastnacht  which all refer to the pre-Lent season, locally known as Faschingzeit and also referred to as the Fifth Season, mostly in German-speaking countries.  These celebrations date back hundreds of years, rooted in both Catholic and early Germanic traditions.

I notice this from mid- January, when all shops changed their displays from Christmas theme  into a wide, colorful arrays of costumes for young and old, masks, and various kinds of dress-up materials. And no– this is not Halloween.

Although there are carnival observances all across Bavaria, it should be noted that Fasching customs vary from place to place. Franconia (northern Bavaria) is where most of the action happens, but the capital city of Munich (München) has one of the largest Fasching fests in Bavaria – although the Sunday Fasching parade in Würzburg is Bavaria’s biggest. After the crowning of the Fasching prince and princess (das Faschingsprinzenpaar) in mid-January, everyone prepares for the start of carnival in the week before Ash Wednesday.

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Faschingzeit in Germany

Here, Fasching is not that big compared to the ones in the neighboring regions. Most clubs have a Fasching party but I don’t know how does it looked like since I have never been into one. We don’t have those big parades and street party. But they have this big event for the Little ones, where kids and the kids at heart enjoy the festive and cozy dress-up celebration. Kinderball is an event organized by Narrwalla, where kids and their parents are all dressed up in all different costumes. Most of them also have a Fasching event in their Kita and Kindergartens.

 

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Kinderball 2017

If you’re a parent, this kind of event is something that you would want to bring your child to enjoy hours of concert, singing, dancing, entertainment, and socializing. The kids jumped happily and more, interested to see the tricks played by the clowns, the light show, and of course there’s the Fasching songs that makes it so exciting. My Little Pumpkin surely loved this event.

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My Little Pumpkin 

The locals dressed up seriously and it’s obvious that they really enjoy it. Fortunately, it falls on Sunday so most families are there. I originally planned to dress up my daughter in a princess but she keeps on eating the sleeves so I decided to changed it into a Pumpkin where she personally choose. There was a service from the restaurant so Fasching food and drinks flooded the tables.There were cold cuts, sandwiches, different cakes, ice cream, potatoes, sausages and much more.

There’s a nice gallery posted online about this event. You can check it out Here.

What is your favorite costume to dress-up?

 

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

 

 

Still hanging around | Resilient

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Frozen Berries in Winter

When everything else is gone, you’re still hanging around there, resilient, and enduring the changes around you.

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Lone Leaf : A winter’s survivor

When everyone had left, you’ve stayed.

Photos taken during my first walk this year here in Bavaria. What sort of things have captured your eyes lately?

In response to this week’s The Daily Post theme | Resilient

A Silvester kind of day in Germany

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind …”

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A Silvester kind of day in Bavaria, Germany

Guten Rutsch!

My German friends are sending me greetings with this German phrase and I’ve learned that it means to have a good start of the new year. We all deserved to have new beginnings. This is a typical greeting during Silvester day for Germans. I didn’t even know that New Year’s Eve is calledSilvester here and  if you don’t know Krapfen ( or doughnuts) then you are simply not from Bavaria ! The bakeries are flooded with these goodies so I had to try to taste it as well. It has a soft fried dough with a fruity filling and perfect for coffee & tea. This year-end festivities would not be complete without these.

Silvester is the German name for New Year’s Eve – owing to the fourth century Pope Sylvester I. Eventually made a saint by the Catholic Church, his feast day is observed on December 31. So today was my first Silvester Day!

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The river Danube on Silvester day, Dec.31,2016

I decided to take my last walk for 2016 and have final glimpses before the year ends. For those of you who follows me, you must have seen my posts about my Wandertags and seen the how the season changes in my eyes. The freezing air calls for warm functional clothing and my gloves are ready to keep my fingers warm. My Wandertags during the past weeks are filled with A Touch of Frost here in Bavaria and have been a delight to me no matter what. Today was no exception, and I’m glad to have a breath of fresh air even though its bleak and grey.The trees are covered in white frost that makes it totally different, almost ethereal. There are few leaves still hanging, like frozen survivors. Everywhere I look, I see an image of resilience, of how nature is doing its own metamorphosis in its own cycle.

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Frozen cobwebs

Though the year is ending in a few more hours, the promise of nature and its course is still unlimited. There’s still so much beauty in the barren coldness and despite the stillness. The water in the Danube river is so calm,yet showing its full of life.I see families taking their stroll with babies as in normal days. Couples are walking hand-in-hand ,and children are running around in their thick parkas.Everything seems to be taking their own pace to spend their day.

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The best is yet to come…

Walking through the woods has always been therapeutic for me. I enjoy the peace where the only sound I hear is the cooing of the birds and the crisp sound of my steps that makes me feel like I am walking in a wonderland.Today, the sun is nowhere to be seen. It decided to stay cloudy and grey all day and yet, my last glimpses for this year has been worth the walk. A Silvester kind of day indeed.

What is so interesting about living here in Bavaria is that all year around, the festivities are full of interesting stories and legends. Like for example instead of recognizing a single day as the winter solstice, the Germanic tribes observed twelve Rauhnächte – hairy nights, so-called due to the furry forms of the deep winter demons – or Rauchnächte – smoky nights, due to the practice of smoking the spirits out of one’s house on January 5. Bringing very little sun to the northern regions, the twelve Rauhnächte were considered days outside of time, when the solar and lunar years were allowed to re-synchronise. Silvester took place right in the middle of the twelve Rauhnächte and was the night of the god Wotan’s wild hunt, a time of particular commotion and celebration.

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Where the time stood still in the woods

The belief that the sun was slowing to a stop also led to the German tradition of doing no work on New Year’s Eve. The shops closed today at around 4pm and everyone seems to be taking their time, doing last-minute errands, shopping and taking walks. Everything is standing still. I watched the birds standing motionless in the middle of the Danube and I have this calm feeling inside me, being carried away too. I look forward to see some fireworks later and see more how my neighborhood turns the last page for this year.

And,as weird as it may sound,  they say that  no one should do any laundry, because the god Wotan made his rounds with his army of devils for a wild hunt during Silvester and would be terribly angry if he got caught in any clothes lines. So our laundry can wait too!

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The Path where it begins and ends

In a few more hours and we are on the countdown to midnight where we greet the coming new year. We got the Wunderkerzen for my daughter to enjoy the fireworks since I’m sure she will be snoring by midnight. I know its weird but I made an Apple pie, I know Fall is over but I have this craving for an apple pie so that has to grace our New Year’s dinner as well. This is what happens when you get bored of all the eating during this holiday. Me & my little family is ready to start a new chapter, a new chance in our Expat Life, a fresh beginning.

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See you all in my Wandertags in 2017!!!

I have made a truce with myself to leave all the negativity and dramas of 2016 and embrace new beginnings on a clean sheet and carry only positive vibes.

How about you, how do you prepare for the coming New Year?

“And suddenly you know..its time to start something new and start the magic of new beginnings..”

 

Cheers to a Happy New Year, for a brand new 12 chapters, and 365 new Chances!

Wishing you all with Peace, Love and lots of laughter in the new year. I hope to see you all here in 2017! ~Christina

Christmas trees of good wishes| Wunschbäume

“If you don’t have Christmas in your heart, you will never find it under a Tree “

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Christmas Trees of Good Wishes

Less than 2 days and it’s Christmas! The loonggg wait would soon be over…

Is your Christmas tree already up? I bet that by this time, presents were already packed too,neatly piled up under the tree and you’ve been enjoying the magical lights that is flooding your living room every night for quite sometime now.

Today was the first day of break from work and we are all good. Oh Yes, we feel good. My little family is all set to have a wonderful Christmas together, stress-free! This is what we want and what we need. We’ve been hit by the flu bug for the past weeks and we were sick but we are getting better now. The cold air outside still gives us chills but our hearts are warm, excited,and looking forward for more better days. We did some errands today , did some Christmas shopping and as I passed by the Christmas market in the city center, I pondered that tomorrow is its last day. We had fun out there and we have made great memories out of it. This time,I want to share another fascinating thing that I found out about German Christmas Markets (Christkindlmarkt), it’s about the Christmas trees of Good Wishes.

Have you heard anything like this? I tell you, it’s not your  ordinary Christmas Tree.

I just discovered another way to maximize my visits to Christmas markets, and not just collecting mugs from the Glühwein ,or buying those little presents, that is by taking a look at the Christmas Trees of Good wishes. These trees are normal pine or fir trees put up inside the market, normally located near the stage where the Giant Adventkalendar and the place where the actual carving of ‘Krippe’ is being done. Any visitor who may wish or try to decorate the Christmas trees of good wishes can do so, anytime, everyone is encouraged and welcome to participate. During this time where anybody can do a bit of reflection during the busy holidays, you can also let your own wishes be with the  four “naked”trees erected just opposite the Adventsbühne. Anyone who wishes to hang their own personal choice of ornaments such as star, straw , ball or other Christmas decoration can choose from the wide array of choices of the Baubles being sold there or you can even bring your own. After the 4th Advent weekend, the trees will be move in front of the city  town hall (Rathaus) where people can publicly admire them until the beginning of the brand new year.

 

I remember visiting the Labyrinth Garden and I saw something similar like this. It’s like the Apple Tree  , located in the center of the garden,where in you can think in silence , make a wish for another person, a time of solitude and best wishes, then hang an ornament, a memento, a special token or a symbol for your wishes.

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Christmas tree of good wishes

The Christmas trees of Good wishes is a perfect symbol for a sort of Christmas reflection. I find it meaningful to have something like this. It’s a nice way to remind us that this Advent season is also a time for reflection and to think of others and do charitable work, to be grateful, no matter what. I was personally saddened by the news of what happened to Berlin Christmas Market. Those innocent victims and the poor souls who end up being injured and traumatized by the incident. They came there to enjoy and have a great time and ended up injured,harassed, even some lost their lives. Such a tragic thing happened in a Christmas Market.No one has the right to steal our joy during this happiest time of the year and yet, things like this happened. We need to spread more love, and not hate. More good wishes, and not bitterness.

I reflect on this and thought that if wishes could have a power to change things then it is powerful. Imagine if all our silent wishes can be granted in an instant?

Do you still remember your feeling when you were decorating your Christmas tree?  What did you feel?

Excitement? Anticipation? Joy?

Worry, Fear,Hopeful maybe?

Or  or you see it only as a chore? But the thing is, only yourself knows…

” I am thinking how amazing it could be if you could  make one wish for someone in your life, or even utter a silent prayer for every ornament you hang in your tree…wouldn’t it be such a great time decorating? and how fulfilling the Tree-trimming could be …”

 

Here’s my wish for you this Christmas and for the coming New Year ;

May your heart grow three sizes this year –Love and only Love. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Looking forward to seeing you all in 2017!

~Christina