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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindsbaum and Stork

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Only in Bavaria : Kindsbaum and stork

Last month while I was walking through our neighborhood, I spotted this Stork wood post and suddenly, my husband told me that They’ve got a new baby!” I asked, “How do you know?” and he said that it is an old tradition not only in Bavaria but also in some European countries  like Holland. It is a common sight to put the stork pole in front of the yard or garden of the family who had a new baby.In the beak stork holding a baby in a diaper fixed. A blue ribbons to the diaper means that a boy is born, a pink bow for a girl. Quite similar to  Dutch baby traditions just without the infamous Geboortekaartje (Birth card )  and Beschuit met Muisjes.

It is indeed clear that a happy event took place in this house. A very proper way of announcing to the whole neighborhood, right?

 

The other day, I went on another street and again,  found another familiar wood Stork ,  this time it was a bit different because it has some accessories such as the baby clothes of a girl and a boy.

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Kindsbaum: Only  in Bavaria

Kindsbaum or also known as Stork ( Storch) pole is a traditional way of announcing the arrival of babies in Germany. Especially in southern Bavaria, it is customary to set up a so-called child tree for the wedding (in some regions it is called wedding tree). It is about a 5 to 10 m long, white-blue painted trunk, be suspended from the “branches” various baby stuff (bodysuits, pacifier, bottle, etc.). Usually a stork is mounted at the top of the child harness. In addition, located at the bottom of the tree at eye level a blackboard with a poem in which the newly married couple is reminded of his duty to bring to the world within a year. The setting up of a child tree is a particularly beautiful tradition that is lived mainly in southern Bavaria, and always a wonderful surprise for the wedding couple.

 

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“You have One year to make a Baby, If there is no one after one year, then you have to make a Party for your friends “

So after a year and the couple haven’t had a baby yet, their friends will show up on their wedding anniversary and they are obliged to throw a feast,let’s say  maybe 15 liters of beers ,sausages,and other threats. Pretty simple right?

If Stork bird symbolizes birth & Fertility here in Germany then  what happened to the Stork population  knowing it’s the only country in Europe which  has drastically declining child-birth & has a low birth rate same as Japan? Did the stork migrated to India, Philippines & China? Germany needs more Babies, it’s very clear in statistics and not a mythical opinion.

 

 

Have you had any  experience of unique Birth traditions?

Did I miss anything from this post? please feel free to comment below, I would love to hear it.

 

 

Frankenstein in Ingolstadt

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Ask any kid during Halloween of which character  they wanna be and it is for sure that one of them would shout   ‘Frankenstein’. Do you know Frankenstein?

Now who would not know this monster, I think everyone does because  it’s as famous as Mickey mouse ,Olaf and Winnie the Pooh. Although this 8 ft. monster is not always favored by babies and toddlers because of its scary face and humongous built, it is for sure a favorite among Halloween parties. Frankenstein the monster becomes a world-wide enigma  and is a part of any childhood ( even adults!)  since numerous movies and world literature were adapted based on this novel.

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I admit that I knew Frankenstein myself, but I never ever imagine that I would live in the place where the setting of this gothic novel is based upon.When I found out about this, I was definitely itching to explore and visit the Álte Anatomie’  in Anatomiestrasse 18-20 in the old city of Ingolstadt. I thought, it could be in Holland , Austria , Switzerland or somewhere else in Europe, but why in Ingolstadt?

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Old Anatomie  Building

Did you know that Ingolstadt is the Birthplace of Frankenstein?

Not many knew but the Frankenstein novel was written by English author Mary Shelley in 1818. From a chapter in her book ,she had named the place where she created the character of Victor Frankenstein  in Ingolstadt, here in Bavaria, Germany . Basically, Frankenstein is the name of the mad Doctor who created this monster,and not the monster itself. Eventually, it becomes his identity. For a fact that Shelley has never been to Ingolstadt, and the University is no longer existing during the period that she wrote the novel.This is what I find quite interesting.

Why Ingolstadt?

This is because Ingolstadt holds a unique and great story that not everyone knows.I myself didn’t know of this , only after I visited the Old Anatomy Building that I’ve learned some fascinating facts that relates to Shelley’s writing.

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Mary Shelley,Author of Gothic novel’Frankenstein’

Do you know about the Illuminati? I only learned about this when I read about Dan Brown’s novels. The University of Ingolstadt produces Johann Adam Weishaupt, a German philosopher, born in Ingolstadt, who gained a Doctorate degree at the age of 20 in 1768. Weishaupt founded in 1776 the academic secret society which included “Illuminati”, the Goethe, Knigge, Herder, Pestalozzi and many other sizes of German intellectual life in the Age of Enlightenment and also Mary’s husband – the famous poet Percy Bisshey-Shelley. Think about a place of thinkers & revolutionaries!

On a closer look, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is  the story of Victor Frankenstein, who study Chemistry  in the University of Ingolstadt . This renowned university was first opened on July 26, 1472, which from that time was  considered to be the medical and scientific center of whole Europe. Ingolstadt university housed the principal establishment specializing in anatomy and biology, The Ingolstadter Alte Anatomie (or the Old Anatomy Building). It has the ultimate “Experimental Building” for medical & scientific research from 18th century! For these reasons, Ingolstadt is the perfcet place for a setting of a Sci-Fi horror novel.

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The Alte Anatomie Botanical Garden with the Baroque building in the background. {Image source : ExtraPrimaGood}

Now this old baroque building is one of the tourist attraction in Ingolstadt which holds an enigma up to this day.

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View of the Old Anatomy and Herb garden-Hortus medico botanicus.

Fast forward to current times, the Deutsches Medizinhistorisches Museum (German Museum of Medical History) shows the  unique collection of medical and surgical exhibits from various continents and periods in the “Alte Anatomie” (Old Anatomy). The herb garden- Hortus medico botanicus contains an abundance of around 250 kinds of medicinal plants. The plants are selected firstly on the basis of their historic and present day psychotherapeutic importance and secondly on which drug can be extracted from them. The garden served as a scientific show garden imparting medico-botanical information on a wide range of indigenous and Mediterranean medicinal plants. I found out that some of the plants here are poisonous ( as it was properly labelled) and yet used to create medicine to cure diseases and for study purposes. The whole garden is therapeutic sight, right in the center of the city. I saw the prominent Opium poppy, passion-flower,Jimson weed, and so much more.

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Alte Anatomie Botanical Garden

In the reception, you will be handed out a remote control and headphones where you can have an audio tour while exploring the  Scent and touch garden, which is  also accessible for people with disabilities.Included in the renovation was a polished hip cafe just before the entrance of the garden. You can have some bread, pastry, and threats while enjoying a glass of wine, beer or coffee while enjoying the serene garden views.

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Lavender alley

As we walked through the Anatomiestr. , in the garden and in the extension building,my mind wonders that based from the novel, it is the same streets where the monster walked away and eventually fled into the wilderness. From above you can see the Liebfraunmünster towers, the old  gable rustic houses,and from this location, Ingolstadt still holds a mystery and enigma.

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Hortus Medico-Botanicus garden in Alte Anatomie

I didn’t see any fragment of the horrific imagery or personification of Frankenstein in the Alte Anatomie but rather a place bound with rich medical history that contributes to the advancement of medical field today. I didn’t know that knowing the story of Frankenstein would lead me to learn about the rich history of the place where we live now. In fact, if you wanted to learn more about the life of Dr.Frankenstein, there is a special tour for this. The story of Frankenstein is something that is only in Ingolstadt &  The Frankenstein Mystery Tour is specifically arranged by the Ingolstadt Tourismus and runs from August to October.This is a very interesting one-of a kind tour that you can have in your life if you are fond of such things.

Tell me, what’s your favorite Halloween character?

Have you ever wonder about the stories behind the famous Horror characters that you like?

Happy Halloween everyone! have fun &  and don’t forget to follow our Expat stories by clicking the follow button below!