Guten Appetit! White sausage for Breakfast?!

Typical Bavarian Breakfast
Weisswurst, sweet mustard and a freshly baked Pretzel!

Today, 3rd of October is a national holiday here in Germany. We are commemorating the “Tag der Deutschen Einheit”or the German Unification Day. The day of coming together of Germany as one country. The time when the Berlin wall fell and East and West Germany finally reunited to become one solid nation as it is now.No more cold war. No more divisions. As the whole world know, Germany had a share of tragedies, morbid war stories and dark past. But now everything is different. It is a new Germany and became a home for many migrants, foreigners, including me. But then this post is not about history, its all about Food! Food that Germans and Ausländer like me enjoy here everyday!

So I thought of writing something about this land that became my home for the last 3 years up to now. Germany is really more than Football, great cars, castles, and Autobahn. This beautiful country has lots of worthwhile places to see, things to do and great nature and yes—lots of delicious food that meets more than the eyes and appetite!

Do you want to know another special about Germany? What do Germans eat for breakfast?

What’s in their table for breakfast?

Pretzel with butter, sauerkraut and sausages!
Always a perfect combination.Mahlzeit!!!

Beer, cheese, sausages,musli and bread, lots of dark, seedy breads; these are the staples in every German table every day. I am also a certified convert now. I have been converted into this German, or rather Bavarian diet. Believe it or not, I think I eat more bread now than I eat rice!

A typical German breakfast includes different kinds of cold cuts ( ham, bacon, salami etc.), different slices of cheese–Emmentaler, Gouda, weiss Käse ,camembert,cheddar cheese, Obazda and sweet mustard. They also love sliced veggies like paprika, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Of course Germans never forget to eat bread ( Brot) or Brötchen in many different sizes plus freshly bakes Pretzels! There is no other taste that I love other than Bavarian Pretzels–they are really good.With bread, they love different kinds of marmelades, spread cheeses and butter. Some people love also to eat Musli and jogurt plus sliced fruits.All of these should come with a warm cup of Coffee or tea.
Do you love the German way of having breakfast?

But do you know that somewhere down south, people eat something “unusual” before they start their day?

Is that an orange juice? apple juice? or lemonade?!
What do you think of the Beer culture of Germany?

I am living now here in Bavaria ( or Southern Germany) for almost 3 lovely years now and one thing that really caught my eye is the traditional Bavarian “Weisswurst Frühstuck“or in English we can say it as “white sausage breakfast”.

This beloved Bavarian breakfast is composed of white sausage boiled in water, lots of sweet mustard (senf) , freshly baked Pretzel and yes– would not be complete without a Weissbier ( or wheat beer!). Some omit to drink beer but normally you can always find this breakfast meal in restaurants, bakeries and during Volksfest or festivals. During weekend markets, there is always a food stall that sells these combo and it’s pretty cozy to see them eating this way. Add the fact that people here are seen in Dirndls and Lederhosen almost as often as they enjoy sitting in Beer gardens!

Guten Appetit! Typical Bavarian, Typical German. Leckeres Frühstuck!

Every country has its own delicacy when it comes to breakfast and main dishes they eat everyday. Way back home, we opt for a warm breakfast. This means our love for everything with “rice” seemed to be a normal choice. Fried rice, with sunny side up eggs and hotdogs, sometimes with “Tuyo” (dried fish) ,a cup of Coffee and a slice of mango or bananas . In Holland, I’ve learned to eat bread with “Hagelslag”or chocolate sprinkles. I remember my days in Kuwait, we eat lots of Khubz (or Arabic bread) with almost everything , of course with milk, Chai and Gahwa coffee.

Ein leckeres Frühstuck! ( A deliscious breakfast!)

What do you usually eat for breakfast?

What is the native specialty in your place?

More of the Food culture in Germany in these Posts :

The land with a thousand Sausages

870 -Year Old Historic Sausage Kitchen in Germany

Goodbye Oktoberfest, Hello Lebkuchen!

Have you enjoyed this post?

 Make sure to hit the Follow button for more Expat stories and travel stories on this Blog. If you are an Expat Mama, you might want to be featured in this Blog for our series on Expat Mamas around the World! Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com.

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Cruising through two rivers, from Kelheim to Weltenburg

Oh hello September and Servus from Bavaria!

Yesterday was the first day of school here in Bavaria, for most parents like me, it’s one of the times we anticipate. We can’t afford a vacation of more than 6 weeks so we’ve survived the “Urlaubzeit” (or summer break) by doing “small vacations“. Budget wise and travel-wise, it’s all our deal to keep the little one busy and for us to keep the day going keeping with our day jobs!

We’ve been to the Hops fields which get us up close and personal about the raw material of German beers, One of the most memorable thing we’ve done was cruising into two rivers in one day without breaking our budget!And yes, toddlers enjoy boat trips as well!

But first, what do you think of the view below?

Bavaria, you are beautiful!
One of the best kept hidden beauty in Bavaria– cruising in two rivers from Kelheim to Weltenburg and ogling the Danube Gorge.

Yes, we sailed by boat through this Gorge! On the heat of summer , we discovered another nature adventure, and yes, we didn’t need to travel so far. Just approx. 1 hour max. (55 kms) drive from Ingolstadt, we head towards to the tranquil city of Kelheim. Kelheim is another beautiful town here in Bavaria which is known for its Kings, Celtics and Dukes and the relaxing boat trips along rivers of Bavaria. Thank God for the Dutch husband that discover this excursion trip, if not for him, I wouldn’t be able to see the hidden beauty of the Danube Gorge! Kelheim is also famous for its natural attractions because of its nature reserves, adventure hiking trails, cycling adventures, and the city’s cultural heritage. It lies within the proximity of the Danube river and so close to the Naturpark Altmühltal. Together with my parents in law and my ever active 5 year old story teller, we got our Tickets and boarded our boat ( MS Ludwig the Kelheimer ), that’s going to sail us through two rivers — the Danube and the Altmühl!

We decided to take the ship and explore the Danube Gorges up to the Monastery of Weltenburg but the weather kept on bothering me. But then we stick to our plan and off we go. In the middle of the trip, we were greeted by fleets of heavy delusions of rain that we almost cringed and wanted to go back home! How on earth can we have a boat trip in this rain? But then we continue driving. Tell you frankly, this trip reminds me so much of the boat trip we made when we are in Regensburg where we made an excursion up to the Walhalla, or the German Parthenon!

For those of you who doesn’t know, Southern Germany is famous because, it is Bavaria, the only Bavaria, the beautiful region in southern Germany where Castles and dreams go together so good. Plus, we have King Ludwig. When he is on his rule, he kept himself busy building his dream castles. He is really a one of a kind.The king of sky- is- the limit , and has extraordinary imagination and lover of great architecture. In Bavaria, he built so many beautiful Castles, Halls and gigantic monumental structures that made Bavaria a tourist magnet as it is now.One thing, he likes to build either on a high hill, on top of a mountain. It’s always like we need to climb, hike, travel by boat or with a Bergbahn or just walk, in order to reach his memorable hideaways!

Schiffahrt Kelheim and Personen Schiffahrt im Donau & Altmühltal are some of the companies who runs the boat trips and departs from the dock of Kelheim on a close schedule, daily ( Summer schedule, from May to October).For the updated boat trip schedules, do check their detailed Fahrplan in their website. Their prices is pretty decent and affordable. For this Summer vacation, they even have discounts for students and if you’ve got a grade of 1, then you can even have a trip for Free! If you’re interested about this, you can check the full information Here. Our ship was pretty full. Aside from the normal group of tourists and elderly people, I noticed that in our ship that its full of cyclists with their bikes, mountaineers, and families with small children. It’s really an adventure trip for all ages! A trip to Kelheim offers cruising the Danube narrows , trekking , rock climbing, canoeing, paddle boat rides , swimming and exploring the nature reserves and cycling with a view until your Adrenalin drops! Your pets are even welcome on board!

The weather was a bit gloomy but still we have fantastic views from Kelheim and the Liberation Hall located on Michelsberg. It was built between 1842 and 1863 by order of King Ludwig I of Bavaria to commemorate the Wars of Liberation from Napoleon, above all the Battle of Nations in Leipzig.
The extraordinary mosaic of cliffs exposed to the summer heat, shady forests, tranquil abandoned river channels, and the cool stream of the River Danube provides habitats for numerous plants and animals. This place really deserves to be declared as one of the oldest nature reserves in Bavaria. Definitely a natural heritage of European significance.
The Danube Gorge –here the river is only 80m wide. but depending on the water level, it can reached up to 20m deep. It is the narrowest and deepest part of the Bavarian Danube.The flow velocity is at mean water level of about 2.5 m per second.

The bee-Hive or hollow stone–Here we saw that the lower part of the rocks are almost white, it shows the height of the “Flood of the Century”at Whitsuntide 1999.At that time, the water level was about 5 meters higher at mean water level.
The spectacular Rock formations in the Danube Gorge that evolved from Jurassic period.This nature reserved was declared since 1978 and one of the most beautiful Geotopes in Bavaria.
A beautiful baroque pit-stop !
On sight is the oldest Benedictine Abbey in Bavaria—the Monastery of Weltenburg which was founded in 620 A.D. The Abbey church was built between 1716 and 1751 by the Asam Brothers and its famous for its great Baroque decor!

The Weltenburg Barock Dunkel is a dark bottom fermented beer specialty is being served in Weltenburg for generations.Where else can you see a Brewery, restaurant, Biergarten in a Monastery in front of a benedictine church?— Only here in Weltenburg!.. and yes–Only in Germany!

Fascination for the Little Wanderer!
One of the best discoveries we had in Weltenburg and Danube Gorges was the “Wipfelsfurt” .This circular basin with a diameter of 150m was created about 15 million years ago when a meteorite hit the ground and formed a crater. Wipfelfurt is the shallowest part of the Danube between Ingolstadt and Regensburg.
Enjoying a late sunshine on board !
Tourists and visitors enjoy a beautiful backdrop of the Danube and the rock wall formations .
Besucherzentrum in Kloster Weltenburg
In the deciduous forests, which are near naturally cultivated, some fascinating birds can be found like the Woodpecker and Stock Dove. This museum is situated in front of the restaurant and in here visitors can learn more about the history of the Monastry, the Danube nature reserve and the construction of the Asam church.

It was quite an enjoyable smooth boat ride with only occasional showers and soft winds.Inside the boat is a restaurant which also serves different refreshments and dishes so you won’t really worry about being hungry on board. There is an audio guide Tour on run so we are informed on every significant details of the boat tour. Right on time, we made it to the Monastery of Weltenburg after 45 mins. and we hopped off from the ship to explore the oldest Benedictine Abbey in Bavaria. This monastery was built by the Asam Brothers who are famous with their Baroque masterpieces. I’ve seen quite some of their works in Asamkirche here in Ingolstadt and the Asam church in Munich. If you love Baroque, then you must really see this church

It’s almost lunchtime when we arrived in the monastery and just in time for us to grab some bite at the Weltenburger Wirthaus-Bladl. We are in Bavaria so even after a boat trip, we sit ourselves in front of the Asam church which is adjacent to the restaurant. What’s so special about this restaurant? It is actually the oldest brewery in a Monastery, and famous for its dark beer. Here you can enjoy the famous Kloster dunkel bier ( dark beer) and Bavarian traditional dishes such as the Weiss wurst (white sausage eaten with sweet mustard), Klosterwurst, Klosterkäse ( Cheese), and their Klosterkaffee.

Big discoveries for Little Wanderers!
Making a pose at the oldest Monastery Brewery in the World. The oldest Benedictine Abbey here in Bavaria was founded by the monks of St. Columbanus. It is situated near the entrance to the scenic Danube gorge, on the northern slopes of the Arzberg mountain, near the site of the ancient Celtic settlement of Artobriga. .
We leave nothing but footprints, but we took along giant bags of memories, wonderful photos, and worthwhile experience.

What kind of family adventure have you’ve done lately?

If you’re in the vicinity of Regensburg, you can combine this nature adventure trip with a boat trip along the Danube, and to its neighboring town of Riedenburg where you can see the largest Crystal group, or if you are in the mood to discover some amazing Art while drinking Beer, then you can head on to Abensberg to see the Kuchlbauers Kunsthaus . You can also check more on Here.

Thank you for following my Blog and until then, see you again in my next family adventure! Tschüss!

All shiny and pretty in Kristallmuseum Riedenburg

A mountain of crystals in Riedenburg’s Kristallmuseum

Recently the little wanderer is into stones. She loves to collect stones, especially the shiny ones , or something with texture. We have a handful of collected stones at home and she is into crystals and gems nowadays that we want to feed her curiosity. She even have a name for them all. She said she dreamed of having stones from volcano! How are we going to have that! I think she got so fascinated as well by the sedimentary rocks we’ve seen in Stauseen in Austria and now, everywhere we go, we pick up a stone, in short; we are stone collectors!

Today, at around 8:30 a.m, the little wanderer is wide awake and wants to play outside so after everyone got refreshed and showered, we packed our cameras, backpacks and off we go on the road again.We had a great time last night in Metallica’s concert in Munich ( which she really entertained the crowd nearby to where we sits!) and today we want to do something relaxing, quiet, and not so stressful. Destination as decided by the Dutchman, so off we go to Riedenburg and visit the Kristallmuseum, which houses the biggest crystal groups and stone gems collection by far here in the region of Bavaria.

Watching the fountain at the entrance of the Kristallmuseum after trying to calm her after a tantrum.
Beautiful artwork in the walls which I am trying to decode the meaning…bringing my imagination to the fullest!
Gigantic multi facet stone, could be a nice home artdeco as well. But it would be hard to transport this one…

Riedenburg is around 40 kms away from Ingolstadt and we drove there for approximately 40 minutes because this time we took another road away from the Autobahn. The road was hilly and full of curvy edges overlooking the hills and green forests. The scenery and landscape around the countryside is so calm and we almost have the road to ourselves.One of the perks is a stop in the Sunflower fields which I really love. For me, summer is not complete without sunflowers!

A stop to the yellow fields of Sunflowers !!!

I haven’t finished writing my blog post about Kelheim where we took an adventure cruising along the Weltenburg narrows . In there, we took a boat and ogling through the Gorges and through the oldest Monastery of Weltenburg Abbey and what a surprise, we saw once again one of the ship gliding in the Altmühltal while we were there in Riedenburg. The museum is located along the banks of the Altmühltal river and the boats going to Kelheim on a boat tour.

These crystals are huge!

The Kristallmuseum is a private gallery museum situated in Bergkristallstrasse in Riedenburg. We arrived around lunchtime so the Restaurant Fasslwirtschaft is already packed with guests, visitors, bikers, cyclists and families with kids eagerly enjoying the relaxing saturday afternoon. There is a playground which immediately catches the attention of my daughter , a mini-gold area for the whole family, and the Kristall museum !This restaurant serves traditional Bayerish food and the ambiance is really good!

A good amount of fresh greens served in the Fasslwirtschaft Restaurant! Guten Apetit!

We first seated ourselves in one of their traditional barrel huts (or Fässern in German) and ordered lunch. The prices were decent and the food was excellent! We played some minigolf and then explored the Crystal museum.

In the Kristallmuseum, I saw a great collection of crystals , gems, precious stones, and so many pretty shiny things that I have never seen in my whole life. I love beautiful stones and handcrafted jewelry and here I’ve got to see and admire. Here you can see the Turmalin Collection from Madagascar with over 600 pieces in varieties. If you are fond of Horoscope, then this place have a special treat for your own Zodiac sign where you can press a button and the ceiling ( or the Sternhimmel) will illuminate for your preferred sign.The artistic side reminds me of the House of Mirrors I’ve seen in Kuwait.

The city of Crystals
Torquise beauty – Some fine creations you can buy in the Kristallmuseum souvenir shop

What’s so special also in this place is that they have the replica of the biggest Diamond and more than 300 gemstones and their stories. The 7.8 tons, 3 x 2 meters Crystal group is something that would really catch your attention. It was discovered in Arkansas, USA in 1981. It’s big, shiny, gigantic and really a complete wonder. The Scholz Family brought them to Riedenburg and built the foundation of the Kristallmuseum and since then, Riendenburg became their home. Nowadays, it is one of the top tourist attraction in this town.

A small part of the family of crystals!

I was asking myself how did this crystal grew this big? Now I need to do my research and feed my curiosity.

Anyway, if you are looking something family friendly destination around Ingolstadt and can be done in a halfday out of town, then this place is really something you can check out. It is open from March to middle October from 10 o’clock but they have a Ruhetag (closed) on Mondays! If you’d like to visit them on Winter, you can find the details in their Website Here.

What is your favorite gem stone?

Do you want to have an insight what is it inside the giant Swarovski headquarters or just be amazed of the creation of 800,000+ crystal clouds in Krystallwelten in Wattens!

How about you, have you discovered something interesting lately?

Until then and Tchüss!

Donau Radweg Cycling Tour

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Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle…~JFK

Yup it’s officially Autumn here in Germany but let me ask you, what’s the most unforgettable experience you did last summer?

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The unexpected resurgence of the bicycle

This is a late post but last summer, we did our first Donau Radweg Cycling adventure as a family! It was pretty special, because for me, that was the farthest I’ve cycled non-stop in my life! And yes, we cycled with my daughter along and she behaved so well. I haven’t written much about what have I done for the past months mainly because lack of time and I am sorry for lack of posts and updates.This Blog is still alive and I wanna say a quick Thank you for all of you who paid a visit in my page and left some sweet comments.I’ll do my best to respond shortly soon!

So anyway, last summer felt so different from last year here in Bavaria. First, the temperature was warmer than I expected and as I have seen, so many fields and plants were ‘affected’ by the heat, even our garden was not spared. It’s kind of scorching and for quite sometime uncomfortable, reminding me of 40 degree-ish we had in Kuwait.This leaves us with only few options to enjoy leisure times outside. Best option we’ve had is anything with water. Swimming here and over there, and yes, even the pool in the garden had been a constant companion for my daughter.But aside from water activities, last summer was unforgettable because we’ve made it through our first Donau Radweg tour!

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Our destination : Donau radweg tour 

So how about doing a long-distance cycling? Oh yes, to start, approximately 23 kilometers, with a normal bicycle, with a 4-year old child in an Anhänger tagged along with us!

As I’ve written before, the moment I’ve moved to Germany, I think I have cycled more than I have ever cycled in my entire life! I ride my bike in every season, even when its winter and minus temps. I have heard about the classic Donau Radweg but I am always b intimidated of doing it, first, because I thought that it could be exhilarating plus I don’t know how would my daughter deal with it. Second, am I fit enough to do it? or would I cycle back home after 10 kilometers back home?

What if I had a tire burst?

But then long distance cycling for me is something different, it’s an adventure. I wanted to do something that is new and also fun. There’s something about reaching a goal. I guess I managed to integrate in the cycling culture here. When you live in Germany, you’ll be amazed to see that cycling is a very normal lifestyle. Everyone here I think owns a bicycle and cycle at least every day. It’s healthy, easy, practical and the best of all, environment-friendly. Add to the fact that Germany , or at least here in Bavaria, they have a superb cycling paths. I have read one time in the newspaper that in our city alone, its kind of look like Amsterdam now because of  the number of bicycles that they are planning to build more bike stands.

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I think one of the most important thing in my life is when I learn how to ride a bicycle…

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Backside facade of the castle Grünau

Another thing, cycling tours in midsummer is no joke, but since we finished our first Biotope Cycling Tour last year, with almost 30 kms within 2 hours, I knew it can be done.  I was  inspired when one morning, my teacher came to our class and shared that she had cycled from Neuburg to Ingolstadt, a sweet 23 kms within an hour to go to work and back!Okay she had an E-Bike, but still, I had great respect for the adventure part. It’s what I wanted to. Cycling through the Danube is a dream come true for me.

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A beautiful fountain in front of the Rathaus (City hall) of Neuburg an der Donau

Before the Radweg tour

We planned to start early morning and prepare our way to Neuburg an der Donau. Neuburg is famous as the “Renaissance City”along the banks of the Danube.When I saw photos of this city, I knew I wanted to see it by my own eyes. So my goal is why can’t I combine a small city tour and a cycling Tour?

We searched about our cycling path and we were confident  doing one of the old-time favorite tour along the Donau river, the Ingolstadt to Neuburg, with 23 kilometers over Weichering road. The only thing that is not sure is the weather. We checked the  weather numerous times, it’s a little bit cloudy, but enjoyable enough to cycle. We brought along the  daughter but this time she sits in an Änhanger, German’s version of the Bakfiets! It goes easy for her because she can read, eat, or sleep while we cycle. We packed very  light, with only few snacks and water  in our side packets. My Dutch husband cycled with an additional 40kgs ( total weight of the Änhanger +Natalie).Of course we had an emergency kit with us, and a huge packet of determination and crazy energy!

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The bicycle is a curious vehicle, its passenger is its engine…

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Exploring the Renaissance City of Neuburg

The Radweg tour

We started off cycling very light. The path is almost flat and through green forests. This bike path runs south of the Danube through the Danube floodplains, partly on paved roads with little traffic, partly (in the woods) over well-paved dirt roads, partly asphalted separate bike paths. Lots of nature, riparian forests, avenues, meadows and even resting benches along the way.

 

The first of the three sections leads from Ingolstadt to Weichering. The second section runs on rather long-curved-curvy Weldwegen to the castle Grünau. From there it goes with a paved separate cycle path next to the road without detours directly into the center of Neuburg. I knew we are almost in our destination when we were in front of the old castle of “Grünau”.  Our journey begins at the Baggerweg and runs close to the Danube along the direction of the Baggersee, where the Danube is crossed.I find the path very enjoyable, with plenty of fields and greeneries to watch while cycling. We came across with so many cyclists, everyone is loaded up with adventure packs. Along the way I was smiling to myself because I can’t believe that I’m doing this!

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Inscription on a giant Tree in Grünau Castle

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Grünau Castle 

Reaching our destination

Of course I need to make some stops when I see something worth photographing.After the Caste Grünau I thought we were almost in the city but I was mistaken. I need to cycle for at least 8 kilometers more! My daughter keeps on shouting “why is it so far?”where is the playground? ” But then once we see the beautiful architecture and the Donau river, I was completely excited.It’s even prettier than in the photos I have seen.We parked our bikes just beside the river and off we go to explore the city.

Fascinating finds

What is fascinating about cycling tours is that you can explore a new city by foot and that gives you more windows to explore– especially the hidden gems of the city.Neuburg an der Donau is a historical city which has a lot to offer, both to locals and visitors. The city hall itself is situated above the town proper, on a hilly top so it also requires stamina add challenge of cycling on a cobble stone pavement. The Hofkirche is situated beside the Residenz Schloss ( Residence Castle)  which is quite an impressive architecture.It is quite a norm in this region to be wedded in a Castle, like a fairy tale dream. In Ingolstadt, I often watched a wedding where almost all the entourage are dressed up in a traditional Bayerische Tracht ( traditional clothing) ,with Lederhosen and Dirndls, but the atmosphere of a wedding in a castle is something different.

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Door detail at the Residenz Schloss

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Intricate ceiling detail of the castle

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Sharing adventures together in two wheels !

Enjoying summer holidays with a family doesn’t need to be expensive. I realized that when you’ve never even tried something that intimidates you then you can’t even say if you are capable of doing it or not. I am so grateful that I have the chance to explore Bavaria through a cycling activity like this. Every place we go is really unique and worth telling.You don’t need expensive equipment either. Just make sure your bikes are in great condition and you are physically fit as well. Start slowly and take your time. I always remind myself that it’s not a race and to have lots of fun along the way! If you are looking for things to do next summer then you might try  long-distance cycling as well!

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Little Explorer

 

How about you, did you spent an active Summer?

When was the last time you’ve challenged yourself to do something for the first time?

 

 

 

 

Tour guide : My Town in Winter

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My Town : Morning after the snow in Bavaria

Mind you, I am already looking forward for Spring but then from the last few days, I woke up once again with all the streets, houses, and trees all covered in snow . I was dreaming that Winter is finally over, reminding myself once again that to love the cold and winter is a privilege. When its winter, my  own little town is transformed into a wonderland. Well, for people who work and have enormous errands to do, the sight of snow in their doorstep is never a sign of good morning, let alone for me.

Just in time for this week’s Photo Challenge | Tour Guide, let me share with you some photos of what it looks like over here in Bavaria.

As much as I have been mesmerized by the view of my town in bright sunny day on top of the Pfeifturm, seeing it from above once again covered in snow is also a great experience.

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The Danube in Winter time

The still waters of the second longest River in Europe, the Danube ,is a sight to behold, it is like a reflecting glass. Sometimes when I looked over the bridge, I’m thinking what if the river freezes? How nice it would be to be able to walk on top of it.This panoramic sight is such a splendor to see while the seasons change its course.

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Winter mood in the woods

The  morning after a night of snow gives an outstanding stillness and silence . It is so peaceful.This is a path I always pass by almost every single day.The river is sleeping, covered in icy cold fog.

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There’s still beauty even when everything is covered in snow.

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It’s like a scene from a movie that I cannot recall anymore.

Winter is like a dream. You know that soon you need to wake up and realize that reality is just around the corner. On normal days, I don’t see anything special in this place. In Winter, it’s almost like walking into a dreamland, everything is so white. The trees and its wilted branches are quiet witnesses of the cold yet they remain peaceful,  agile  as ever when the snow embrace them once again, all over again.

This path is always frequented by morning joggers and runners, but this time, the path is deserted. I was quite early. I parked my bike a bit further to capture this serene state. It amuses me that there’s not a single footprint or dog footprints yet.

Undisturbed beauty, unparalleled serenity of German long cold winters.

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I love patterns and natural accents.

Beware of walking into the streets, it can be slippery. I’ve seen many people slip and slide through the snow. It’s not a funny sight.

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Nature comes so close, no matter what the season.

One of the things that I love personally is encounters with nature. I love to photograph nature and living here gives me the access for all of it. The thing about Winter in Germany is that people go by all means what they want to do. As the saying goes “Es gibt kein schlechtes wetter, nur schlechte Kleidung” or ” There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing “. This is so true here.Winter is a season to experience, not a time to slow down the time. People still go out, walking and exploring, as they do when the sun is out.Only the type of  outdoor clothing changes.

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What weekends are made of

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Ingolstadt sewer cover : Always remember where YOU Step!

I find it truly special here in Germany that they have an impressive Manholes ( or sewerage system covers). From where I came from, I don’t see anything fascinating about looking down at these manholes. I don’t recall seeing a fascinating one in my times in Kuwait! They are often dangerous especially when its flooding, or dirty, and mostly broken. But when I came to live here, I came to appreciate the great engineering behind it. The craftmanship and history with its logo, the seal ,the coat of arms of each city that I’ve visited. Maybe for others its nonsense, but for me, they are quite extraordinary. So in Winter, of course, there’s still the Bavarian pride!

This post is inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | Tour Guide

Kindergeld : My 3- year old’s basic income in Germany

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A Third Culture Kid enjoying the cold Autumn walks

It has been revealed by Internations, and there’s no denying that Germany is probably one of the best place on earth to raise a family. I am a first- time parent and raising my child in a culture totally different from where I grew up with, has been the focal point of our expat move. Of course I know that all parents ,in general, desires the best for their child, and this is the reason why I wanted to share my personal experience why despite of the crazy weather and difficulty to learn the language, I think Germany is a better place to raise a kid and be a child!

You might be surprised, having a child is Germany seems more of a blessing, an enjoyable reason to defray the first-world country problems that weighs every family on a daily basis. With its excellent health benefits and support to parents, both financially & socially, raising a child here can be rewarding!

Raising an Expat child, which has windows to multiculturalism or rather, raising a  Third Culture-Kid child in Germany is a privilege . Aside from the extensive leisure activities, safe environment, a more play-based educational system in the early years, every child has their own allowance up until they reached the age of 18.

My three-year old daughter has a monthly income of 192 Euros that goes to our German  bank account paid by the German government. So simple as it sounds and yet so generous. When we came to live here in Germany and heard about this, we are extremely happy. Happy in a way that as parents, we all know that every single Euro matters when you are raising a child. Kindergeld is a great help to our family budget.It is granted as a tax refund, primarily to meet the constitutional rule that income is untaxable up to a child’s subsistence level.I am not talking about the amount itself, but as an expatriate parent like me, this amount is really something tangible, with this I can feel that the government “cares” about my child, and to every single child living here.

I am sure that I’m not the only one who is grateful for this. Although it seems to me that this country is an advocate of  “Ordnung“( or order) and everything seems to be ruled by rules, I see that hard work really pays off. All taxpaying expatriate residents of Germany are, like Germans, entitled to Kindergeld if they have children. Also called as” Child Benefit“,  the German government give all families, expats included, to help defray some of the cost of raising children. It can run from €190 to €221 per child per month, and is usually made by a fund transfer into a German bank account. We all know that raising a child is expensive. From diapers to milk, Kindergarten expenses and other essentials, plus the never-ending cycle of buying toys!

Just about any taxpayer living in Germany with children can get the Kindergeld, whether employed, self-employed or independent. You get it as a rule that until the children turn 18, though it can continue until they are 25 if they are still in school or meet other requirements for an extension.

This amount also varies depending on where region in Germany you are living.

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Kindergeld amount 2017 (standard amount):

Child benefit for the first child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the second child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the third child: 198 Euros per month
Child benefit from the fourth child: 223 Euros per month
The child benefit amount will be increased by 2 euros per child compared to the end of 2016 for 2017.

If you are a parent and planning to move to Germany or living here and about to have a baby, then this is good news for you! If you’re interested to know more about this, you can check it Here.  I will share to you the steps we took for us to avail of this benefit. It was easy, smooth and practical in all sense. The child benefit application must be submitted in writing and signed. Note that all the forms will be in German . Applications may also be submitted by an authorized representative, who must submit a written power of attorney (for example by members of the tax-consulting professions). An oral application, for example by telephone, is not possible

Official details in English are given Here.

Here’s how to apply :

  1. Anmeldung ( Application) – Open to all family members. This is to prove that the family is living in Germany.
  2. Birth Certificate : translations of them if they are not in English / German. If child is born in Germany, a birth certificate is issued separately to apply for Kindergeld, which should be attached in original. We translated my daughter’s Arabic birth certificate into Dutch & German languages because her nationality is Dutch. We also brought along  the originals with the attestations showing it was legalized both from the German embassy in Kuwait and the Netherlands embassy there.
  3. Your passport
  4. Forms to fill up are listed Here.Haushaltbescheinigung (KG3a) – A proof with your address (This has to be certified as per procedure below)
    • Tax identification Number ( both parents & child)
    • German Bank account ( where the transfer will be made)

Procedure:

  1. Fill in following Forms:
  2. Take the Haushaltbescheinigung, and your passport to your local KVR/Rathaus (The place where did you registration/anmeldung)
    • Officer will verify the form and  pay the applicable fee. You will be issued stamped Haushaltbescheinigung.
  3. Put in the envelope:
    • Stamped Haushaltbescheinigung 
    • Antrag auf Kindergeld (filled in)
    • Birth certificate
    • Residence permit copy (Aufenhaltstitel)
  4. Post it to the office of Familienkasse belonging to the city you live in !

That’s it. You will now get your Kindergeld in 3-4 weeks. Keep the letters from Finanzamt safely for future references.

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Can’t make up her mind: Aspiring to become a Doctor today, tomorrow a Gardener, and next week will be a Veterinarian!

More than the benefit itself, I am really grateful that my child is growing up in a place where the family oriented lifestyle is very high.When I am writing this post, I am not actually surprised that Germany is considered a great place to raise a child and live abroad. Generally speaking, Germany is an economically strong nation, it’s a hard-working nation, and it’s a nation where the people feel a strong pride in their country. Right from the beginning, from childhood, they feel important !

Back in my home country, we don’t have such things as  child benefit. You as a parent is responsible to allot savings for your child. I grew up in a culture where there is an endless pressure on “getting rich” to be able to afford everything, seeing money as an achievement or a social standing. As a child, I don’t have such as this “benefit“. I have other siblings who, along with me, strive for all our needs to be met along with all other basic necessities.

I saw both the joys and misery of raising multiple kids and I realize the effect of poverty and the support from government, or the lack of it. Families with more children  struggles to meet both ends.I think that beyond the cost, it is also the reason of advocating Family planning.

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My Third Culture Kid

Kindergeld is a form of love. There’s so much love for children here in Germany that I cannot sum up in this post. I will try to write more in my next post about this. Anyhow, Children are special gift, with tantrums and all their screaming, and Yes, they deserved to be raised in the best way that we can give to them.

Have you ever had a “child allowance”when you were a child? How did it make you feel?

Wasps in Germany , Sweet menace in Summer

 

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Enjoying outdoors last Vater tag ( Father’s Day in Germany) in the Donaustrand, sans the Wasps!

It’s summertime again! ( feels like it already!)

The last few days, it  feels like summer already here in Bavaria. People are all over under the sun , engaging in any outdoor activity you can imagine. Swimming , doing Sports, devouring Eis ( ice cream) sunbathing in their balconies, grilling, children are playing without shirts all day in the playground, BBQ everywhere, cycling til they drop, walking their dogs, lounging in Beer gardens, crazy over running & Triathlons, and yes, sleeping under the sun!

With the long weekend holiday celebrating the Ascension Day  last May 25th, the same date as the ‘Vater tag'(Father’s Day)  here in Germany, we’ve got  the perfect mood and  weather for it. As I always share in most of my posts, Germans love to be outdoors the moment the sun is up. We are having a simmering 25-32 degrees C nowadays and I can tell you, this pool season is also a signal for the Wasp season . This is one thing that I observe to plague Germany, especially here in Bavaria when the temperatures gets warmer.

In summertime, the flowers are blooming and super radiant. Our little garden is already full of roses and colorful flowers, I love this season!  But if you think that Wasps only hover on any pretty flower, then you are mistaken.

 

Two years ago sometime in August, I first met the nasty crazy German wasps. On our trip going to Moselle and Trier, we had a stop over in one of the restaurant and we decided to eat outside since its very warm. My daughter wants to walk around and I already noticed so many critters flying.It’s hard to ignore them especially when they are literally hovering all over you.Also,it is very rare to find a restaurant in Germany that has an air conditioning. This is one of the times where I really missed the all year/all day AC we have back in Kuwait. When summer comes, it can really feel toasty here, added the annoyance you get from the flying wasps. Inside the restaurant, there are ornaments filled with wasps and bugs caught by the sticky fly swatter and nets.

How can you eat when in your sight is a giant plate-full of wasps, flies, and critters?

Wasps love to fly over your food and they can really sting badly. This is why I don’t want to mess up with them. As a kid, I had been stung by a bee and it’s something I  don’t wanna experience again, let alone watch them sticking to my Schnitzel, or to my curry sauce. I am very careful about this because I have a daughter who is crazy about critters, lady bugs and spiders. She thinks they are cute ‘toys’ and she is chasing them!

I know you might wonder, what’s the difference between Wasps and the normal bees?Though both wasps and bees are relatively harmless unless provoked, it is good to know the difference between the two.The German wasps – called yellowjackets – have a nastier sting than the common wasp and are currently at their angriest.

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Wasps are members of the family Vespidae, which includes yellow jackets and hornets. Wasps generally have two pairs of wings and are definitely not fuzzy. Only the females have stingers, but they can sting people repeatedly.German wasps are bigger than normal wasps but smaller than hornets, have three black spots on their face, and can sting repeatedly.

 

Bees are fuzzy pollen collectors that almost always die shortly after stinging people (because the stinger becomes embedded in the skin, which prevents multiple stings). Bees don’t die each time they sting, though; the primary purpose of the stinger is to sting other bees, which doesn’t result in the loss of the stinger.

You might be interested to read on these basic facts ;

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If you see German wasps in your garden the nest is usually less than 500 metres away. The cold kills the wasps, apart from the newly hatched queens in the autumn. They look for a warm dry nook to hibernate over winter. If you are planning to enjoy your coffee and cake in the outdoor cafe, don’t be surprised if you have someone to share it with. They just love to destroy summer picnics and cling on to any sweet fruit or fermented drinks.

I hope the above info could help you be aware of this. 2015 was a terrible year of wasps in Germany and thinking of the rising temperature, they are bound to be hovering everywhere and swarm over your face! So, don’t let the bug carried by these wasps destroy your summer mood.

Have you enjoyed this post?Tell me,  have you ever been stung by a bee? or a wasp?

 

 

 

Anticipating in Silence

“Some Days are made of Silent Anticipation “

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A lighted candle always brings anticipation and I love how it creates a “Silent moment”in any child.

Waiting for Christmas has always been exciting for both young and old ones, but here in Bavaria, it’s as big as Oktoberfest I must say. Though people look forward more to a warm mug of Glühwein instead of beer and Zimtstern  (Cinnamon Star cookies) than Pretzels. I, myself is looking forward to see all these new things in my eyes.There’s something about experiencing things for the first time–everything seems special. I can still remember my daughter’s excitement when she saw her boot was filled with goodies during St. Nicholas Day ( Nikolaustag) . All around the city and on each home, everywhere is decorated and the atmosphere of Christmas is so heavy here in Bavaria. I know that in other regions, the traditions vary and things are celebrated differently, but with same looking forward for Christmas Day.

Children have this big anticipation in their eyes, a longing for something exciting! There’s the glow in their eyes when they know that they are counting the days for the big day comes starting with the Adventkalendars. It is practically a calendar with treats or chocolates in every date with small doors.On the 1st of December children get to open the first little door, behind which they find a chocolate or some other little treat. On the 2nd of December they get to open the 2nd door, and so on and so forth up to 24 December. Now, which kid will complain? Even the adults loved this one. Enjoying every piece of chocolate in silence.

Christmas in Germany is one of the happiest and most celebrated holidays of all times here,but Christmas here comes in a long, sweet, waiting game. As early as November, the city center was transformed into a winter wonderland and place for the Christkindlmarkt. Another custom that I have observed here is their Adventkranz  or the Advent wreath. This is a truly one German cozy tradition,though the concept of Advent wreath originated from German Lutherans in the 16th century, but spread out to other denominations. German families celebrates the 4-Sundays of Advent before Christmas  with an Advent wreath  shaped into a round, flat wound of fir pine It is adorned with cinnamon sticks,orange peels and with 4 red candles.

From Hamburg, the Advent wreath started its triumphal procession out to the Christian world: In 1925 an Advent wreath with four candles was set up in a catholic church in Cologne for the first time. Since 1930 as well in Munich.

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Advent, Advent, a Little Candle is burning.

On every Sunday during Advent another candle is lit until in the end all four are burning. “Advent, Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt,” goes one children’s rhyme. “Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier, dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.” “Advent, Advent, a little candle’s burning. First one, then two, then three, then four. Then the Christ Child’s at the door.”

Children watching the candle in silence, but with eager anticipation. Looking admiringly on the packed gifts under the Christmas Tree and watching the lights flood the living room while listening to Christmas carols. One of the things that I love doing here nowadays is watching the locals decorate their houses in a very unique way, totally different from the culture that I grew up with.When I am out,I love watching people in silence as they all go around with their busy hustle and bustle during Christmas season. Busy shopping, gift wrapping, and some are just celebrating life everyday in the coziness of the German Christmas markets. With a warm mug of Glühwein and with tasty treats, or a bucket of roasted almonds or chestnuts. Some towns are famed for their Christmas markets, for example Dresden’s Striezelmarkt (named after a type of cake – now known as Stollen – traditionally sold there) and Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt (“Christ Child Market”).

Anticipation doesn’t need to be loud or grand, because  some days in Christmas season are made with silent anticipation.

 

In response to this week’s Photo Challenge :Anticipation

Goodbye Oktoberfest, Hello Lebkuchen!

Today was the last day of  Volkfest here in Ingolstadt and although the weather was  grey, it didn’t stop us from visiting once again the Volksfestplatz.  This has been my first taste of Bavarian  Oktoberfest and so far, it’s really good. It’s really more than just   Beer, sausages and huge Pretzel, it’s one of a kind festival , for all ages &  family oriented, cozy and Gezellig as the Dutchie may call it.

Before we say Auf wiedersehen to Oktoberfest, I grab something that really interests me, the German Lebkuchen-the original Gingerbread! Now who wouldn’t be captivated by this yummy looking  heart-shaped cookie? Hmmm Lebkuchenhertz

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Bavarian Lebkuchen, with writing “I like you”

I had my first taste of Lebkuchen when my husband brought some from his business trip in Munich last year. Here in Bavaria, Fall season comes along with abundance of these threats which is clearly seen in the shelves of local supermarkets, along with German baked cakes and pies in food stalls in the city center, and of course, a crowd pleaser in every Volksfest. There’s something very festive when you see these Lebkuchen hearts hanging in Fruhshoppen. You just got to grab one!

The one country that takes gingerbread making to a whole other level, especially for the holidays, is Germany. Of all the countries in Europe, Germany is the one with the longest tradition of flat, shaped gingerbread. Christmas season is when gingerbread makes its most impressive appearance. The German practice of making Lebkuchen houses (gingerbread houses) has caught on worldwide and is a fun and festive tradition in numerous countries around the world.

They range in size from small saucers to large platters and are strung with a ribbon for easy wearing. Of course they are decorated with the obligatory messages of love: “I love you” (Ich liebe Dich), “You’re my sweetheart” (Du bist mein sußes Herzchen) and “I think only of you” (Ich denke nur noch an Dich) and of course, since we lived in Bavaria, the famous Bavarian phrase,  I like you “I mog di”.

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Lebkuchen, the original Gingerbread cookie

Nuremberg, Germany is considered to be the mecca of gingerbread. Each bakery keeps its recipe a secret. The Lebkuchen (gingerbread) has a Protected Designation of Origin and must be produced within the boundaries of the city. In 1643, the city officially recognized the Lebkuchen-Baker profession by creating the “League of Lebkuchen-Bakers.” In 1645, the league created strict guidelines that commercial bakers had to follow in order to sell their lebkuchen.

Did you know that in Nuremberg, Germany, the quality of the lebkuchen gingerbread was so high that it was used as currency?

Leaving the Oktoberfest grounds without one of these for your sweetie is against the rules. So if you’re in Germany and have seen these yummy threat hanging in one of the stalls and bakeries, go ahead, indulge and have a bite. It is Goodbye for now for Oktoberfest but definitely a warm Hello to Lebkuchen season!