Flying Soon : Airbus Citybus flight taxi

The Airbus Citybus flight Taxi launched in Ingolstadt, Germany

This is actually a late post but I am glad I had the chance to witness and took some photos from my phone during the incredible show-off or demonstration of the futuristic Airbus “Flugtaxi”or flight taxi happened last month here in Ingolstadt in Bavaria. I am planning to create a series of posts about recent local sightings we have here in our old town of Ingolstadt and what a cool way to start this series with this eye-catching CityAirbus Taxi!

Have you ever imagined riding in a electrically-driven Cityairbus taxi? Take note, it flies without any Pilot with an approximate speed of 120 km/hour.

Flying to the skies soon!

As an Expat here in Germany , I am already happy that we have a great network of high speed trains for long distance travel, the Autobahn, excellent road system and public transportation is amazing compared to other countries. I am saying this because in my home country, traffic is really a headache and public transportation is a nightmare.So when I see something like this, I can’t help but to be curious.

Will it really fly? How safe it is? and the most important thing is that “Is it really for public or only the rich and famous can afford it?

Anyway, I came home from work and I saw in my feed a photo of a gigantic drone parked in front of our local Rathaus (or City or Hall ). It happened to be the public demonstration of Airbus Flugtaxi! I headed quickly to see it by my own eyes and yes,it was really impressive. It looked like the ones I’m seeing in futuristic movies, those drones and sleek automobiles flying in the sky like jet planes.

Airbus “Flugtaxi”launch in Ingolstadt in Bavaria

It looks very modern and something like “toys for the big guys”. I’ve flown twice with Emirates A380, the biggest commercial airplane so far and it already feels huge, but this one, only has 4 seats compared to 853 seats with 8 rotors which takes off and lands vertically !I think that soon, we will really fly soon in the nearest future now that prototypes are being analyzed, tested, and Airbus has now presented its Air taxi and test flights will be done as tests going on further. In the not too distant future, electric air taxis will be operated manually or autonomously in the city.

The pilot project in the Bavarian city is supported by the Ingolstadt Technical University, the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and various companies, including Audi.

Flying soon !

As a press release, the test flights will be announced soon and its just a matter of time. The maiden flight is planned at the airport in the German city of Manching near Ingolstadt – about 60 km away from the development site at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth. Once this happened, I am sure I will write about it here in my Blog but for now, thinking about the Airbus Flugtaxis is already a step to the futuristic life ahead of us all.

What is your opinion about City Airbus Taxis? Do you think this will solve all traffic dilemmas?

Tschüss !

Berlin secrets : Trains to life ,Trains to death

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Kindertransport | Frank Meisler

One station, two destination

October 3 is the German Unification Day or the Tag der Deutschen Einheit , the day that commemorates the unification of East and West Germany. In line of this holiday, I wanted to write something about  Berlin and how it reminds me of a fascinating, and yet sad “secret”I have found from our last trip in Berlin. The story itself is not a secret, it’s not on the top 10 tourist destination in Berlin, but rather, a must-see for anyone who wants to deviate from stereotype Berlin, or dvelve unto something different.

Personally,whenever I am in a new place, I try to discover some off-beaten tracks or beyond the usual-touristy spots, at least if I have the chance.Sometimes, what appears to look  ordinary, plain, and insignificant held quite a mystery, a profound story behind it. But only the keen eyes sees it.

Last time when we were in Berlin, we don’t have an itinerary. We want to make it spontaneous and explore it like a local. Surprisingly,  I don’t feel like a tourist anymore. I felt like I can blend more easily , since I finally got a hold of  my German  and I can understand what’s going on around me. I find it easy now to navigate and read the signs which happened to be all in German, not like a year ago that I basically don’t have an idea what does it mean.I got to ask my friend Google translate for a help!

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Berlin’s secrets : Trains to Life, Trains to Death

One of the Berlin secrets that I discovered is found just outside  the busy station of –Friedrichstraße–the known entertainment center in Berlin. It’s located in the Mitte of Berlin and adjacent to the street that crosses the Spree river.  It’s an important station in Berlin because of many reasons. First, this station was the station used during the Nazi regime to transport the Jews to many deportation camps, or to worst, to their death camps. In the same location can be found is the “Tränenpalast” or the Palace of Tears where East Germans said goodbye to family and friends going back to West Germany. From 1962 to 1989 it was the border crossing for travellers by S-bahn, U-bahn and train between East and West Germany.It is a place of tears, and woeful goodbyes!

Secondly, for all visitors in Berlin, this station is known to  tourists to famous destinations such as Unter den Linden, Brandenburg, and the Reichstag or the Deutscher Parliament.During the cold war, Friedrichstraße station belongs to East Germany and the major border crossing between the East and the West.

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One Station , Two destinations

While waiting for my cousins, we get on to Friedrichstraße  and kill our time. I didn’t expect to find some fascinating discovery—The monument of “The Trains to Life, Trains to Death” built by  Israeli Architect and Sculptor Frank Meisler in November 2008. Meisler himself travelled with a 1939  children’s transport from Berlin-Friedrichstraße to England called “Kindertransport” ( Refugee Children’s Movement ). Imagine, out of 1.6 million children murdered during Holocaust, only approx. 10,000 of them had a luck to escape and saved their lives through the help of Great Britain. The children traveled in a sealed trains, sometimes children carried babies as well.After arriving in Great Britain, they were transferred to Foster homes or reception camps and most of them never see their parents again.

 

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Kindertransport monument by Frank Meisler, Berlin,Germany

It’s  easy to miss this memorial monument especially when you don’t pay attention to details around you. It bears inscriptions both in English and Deutsch and mentions “In gratitude to the people of Great Britain” .When we are out from the station, I was trying to look around to look for landmarks but what I notice is a plain wall with this inscription in the information panels ( Stiftung Denkmal) –” Züge in das Leben, Züge in den Tod ” ( Trains to Life, Trains to Death), upon reading this, I was really struck, moved and my mind fixated on the inscription and was trying to read the rest for me to understand what’s the story behind it. This time, I happened not to look at the Bronze sculpture yet. There was a lady sitting on the side of it, she probably waiting for someone. I noticed that few people were photographing in front of us and I was telling my daughter to clear the spot. I found the story of the Kindertransport very intriguing, it is not your ordinary memorial. This memorial is for children. It’s hard to accept the fact that innocent little children were victims of the horrific Holocaust. Whether you are a parent or not, this piece of story is disturbing.

Then my daughter walked on the other side and decided to climb the statues. It consists of 2 groups, with seven figures of children. On their coats they wear yellow stars. The bronze colored statues , a boy and a girl facing the Spree river symbolise the lucky ones who escaped and were transported to Great Britain. The greyish-bronze group had another destination–they represent the unlucky ones who were transported to the Death camps in the East. What caught my attention was the empty suitcase with a broken doll inside it. The doll has is abandoned and there was a withering violet flower lying beside it. My daughter was saying “Mama, die Puppen ist schon kaputt!” was is passiert?!  ( the doll is already broken, Mama! what happened?!)

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Empty suitcase

I couldn’t find words to explain to my daughter…it is hard to explain.

This is probably the most disturbing memorial, and yet the most moving monument that I have ever seen in my whole life. It really touches you,provokes you, unless you are immune to human feelings. I am not born yet on this dark times in Germany but reading about the stories and seeing all the memorial sites for all the victims of Holocaust made me appreciate life even better, and understand it. Never again, it should never happen again.

My visit to Berlin is not only filled with photographs, or busy tourist spots, it was also full of valuable lessons. This is one of the Berlin secrets that is worth to explore and find. Frank Meisler remind us with this monument that life may lead you  in different destinations, some path leading us to life,the route to safety, or sadly some path leads to death.

This experience encouraged me to see the other “Kindertransport”works of Frank Meisler–one in his hometown in Danzig, Poland, “Kindertransport the Arrival” in Liverpool Station in London and the “Channel of Life “at the hook of  Holland , in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

How’s your travelogues lately? Have you discovered anything sort of “secret” ?

Have you heard about the Stolpersteine or stumbling stones?

If you happen to visit Berlin, make sure you drop by in Friedrichstraße Station, you’ll not regret the experience. If you’re interested about Kindertransport story, here’s an interesting read about it.You’ll find as well some of the famous Jews children who told their stories about their experience.

 

 

Bitter- sweet Marriage Carousel Fountain in Nürnberg

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The “Ehekarussell ” fountain in Nuremberg depicts the tyrannical symbolism of the ups and downs of Married Life.

Have you guys been to Nuremberg?

I’m going to share with you with my series of posts about my travel experience in the second largest city in Bavaria, Nuremberg. This city is known for the  home to Europe’s first printing press – and astronomy , Nicolaus Copernicus’s  and his most famous work  that was published  in 1543! I tell you, this city is more than its delicious Lebkucken and Nürnberger sausages. Let’s start from what caught my attention while strolling in the busy, very touristy inner city of Nürnberg.

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The Marriage Carousel created by Prof. Jurgen Weber, according to a poem by Hans Sachs in 1541: “Bitter-Sweet Married Life.

 

Nuremberg city is a very walkable city. Most of the attractions are on walking distance from each other and I noticed immediately that the city is heavily ornamented with intricate details of houses and buildings, statues, monuments, fountains and impressive artwork. So impressive considering that it was heavily bombed from WW II. There’s so much to see, the streets are so alive.

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Giant granite heart containing the lines from the poem by HANS SACHS, 1541 about Ehekarusell.

We start exploring Nürnberg by foot last weekend, and I immediately love its city vibes. No wonder it’s a hub for tourists!  I saw  this fascinating fountain in front of Weisser Turm called the “Ehekarussell”. If you can read German, you can see the engravings in the giant marble heart at the foot of the fountain which tells all about what are these statues  for.The text of the poem can be found within the fountain, it is incised on the granite heart that points towards the tower. HANS SACHS describes the ups and downs of marriage; his wife is sometimes the angel, sometimes the devil to him, just like in movies, but his description are rather lucid, and some find them so vulgar. Anyway, an artwork that makes a lot of noise and controversy has something, that’s why its being talked about!

The streets were full of tourists, crowded, hot and very alive. We were rummaging ourselves through the crowd and then there’s a rally going on in front of the busy shopping area .This fountain is really extraordinary and very vulgar in its sense. At first I was captivated by the great artwork. The artist created a masterpiece with fierce facial expressions and I can see the enormous detail on each statue.

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The woman busy feeding her children depicting one serious stage in married life.

 

The “Marriage-Merry-Go-Round” was erected directly in front of the White Tower in 1984.The work, created by Jürgen Weber, relates to the poem “Bitter-Sweet Married Life” by Hans Sachs, who in bold words described marriage from the first stages of ardent love leading to exhausting marital rows right through to the deathbed. It’s kind of disturbing, especially when I saw the statues with skulls and almost skeleton. I even thought that its morbid at first glance. They say that art should please the viewer, but then a sight like this needs a deeper interpretation.

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The Marriage Carousel created by Prof. Jurgen Weber, according to a poem by Hans Sachs in 1541: “Bitter-Sweet Married Life.

The Marriage Merry-Go-Round (Carousel) fountain is an interesting and controversial work. Situated in a pedestrian shopping area next to the White Tower, it was built-in 1984 at a high cost.The large fountain, a dramatic portrayal of married life from courtship to death, was part of the storm wrought by the design.

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A man was cooling down in the cool  waters of the Ehekarussel fountain in Nuremberg

My daughter was so busy trying to dip her feet in the water while me & my husband study each statue. I saw so many passers-by doing the same, eating ice cream while sitting in front of the fountain, probably trying to cool down because of the heat. In my opinion, this  sculpture attempts to describe the sweetness and tribulations of married life that Sachs describes in his poem. The couple progress through life as beautiful happy young people, change into older people with attitudes, and finally turn into skeletons.

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A close up shot of the tragic end of the horrors of marriage like strangling to death.

Hans Sachs described the various stages of marriage from ardent love through exhausting struggles, ending with the death-bed. The fountain’s sculptures reflect this text in all its beauty and horror, while Hans Sachs is depicted dancing above a goat and a virginal beauty.

It might appear so negative in a sense that the sculptor seems to specialize in the horrors of marriage with couples strangling each other; couples where one is huge and stuffing her face, while the other is starving and skeletal; couples surrounded by demanding children; couples where one wants to be quiet and the other is blowing a trumpet in her face.

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Weber selected six scenes from Sachs’s long list. He designed a roundabout with six carriages, each in the shape of an animal that matches the scene:

– the loving young couple in the swan bed

– the older man holding his wife in chains, tearing off her dress, seemingly ready to take her by force

– eternal fighting of an old, almost skeleton-like couple on a giant lizard

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– the caring mother feeding her children in a pelican who, referring to an ancient Christian legend, tears open her breast to feed her offspring with her blood

– the fat woman devouring cake after cake and her desperate skinny husband, carried by a wolverine (in German: “Vielfraß”)

– the young beauty, rising from a shell-like Aphrodite, and the admiring trumpeter and the billy-goat that represents the lust.

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On top of the sweet corn cob, Hans Sachs the poet is shown dancing. The nymph of the fountain is kneeling in the water basin below. The rose column on the opposite side shows the names of the artist and his second wife.

If you are visiting Nuremberg, this huge fountain won’t miss your eyes. It sits right in the middle of the main road with a tower behind it and it is right before you get to Elisabethkirche and St. Jacob’s Church. Make sure to take a closer look and try not to rush only for selfies.

For me, fountains like these makes strolling even more worthwhile. The story behind each artwork is something to ponder and not just built as a stumbling block.

What can you say about this fountain? Do you like it or not?

 

Stay tuned for more of my stories about our trip to Nürnberg. Happy Monday and wishing you all a great day! If you are planning to visit Nüremberg, you might be interested to check out the Ehekarussell,  Imperial Palace or the Kaiserburg and the wonderful Dolphin show in their Tiergarten.

Hey, If you are in Instagram, make sure to follow my Instagram to follow our Expat life adventures here in Bavaria and have a look at my personal Artworks and Aquarelle paintings HERE.

 

 

 

 

The Heat is ON in Bavaria

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32 degrees today! What Summer feels in Bavaria

This is the real thing now, the heat is ON in Bavaria !

What Summer fun are you engaging now?

Nevermind  the plague of Wasps and bee season, summertime is finally here and in Bavaria, in my old little city, everyone is just feeling ecstatic of the fine summer breeze, or rather, toasty winds since we have 32 degrees now!

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A very inviting Lake where we had picnic and splash. This is just one of our pit-stop from our cycling en-route (35kms) .

Have you seen summer flowers yet? They are blooming, giving us perfect backdrop for outdoors. From our garden to the nearby parks, summer flowers can be so exotic just like the Echinops Ritro!

I came to Germany last Summer, and I’m telling you, this season is probably the best season to enjoy Bavaria. To make the most of beautiful nature, lots of sun and water fun is essential. This week we have temperatures ranging from 18~32 degrees C . With this we have all the reason to spend time outside given the favors of so many holidays. Staying in when the weather  is perfect as this  is  definitely a S-I-N. Generally, Germans, or the typical Bavarians, adore the sun. Soaking up under the sunshine until the last ray of the sun until 9 o’clock at night. You can see them  sunbathing in the banks of the river Danube, lying in the grass in the parks, or just right in their balconies.

With the kick-off of the festival season, the Spring Pfingstenvolkfest,  Die Welt is bunt, Bürgerfest, and strawberry season, it feels like summer arrived early since we have a very sunny spring. I have written countless times that from the moment the day breaks, people here are out, (including US!) and ready to explore— and yes, with their dogs, clad in outdoor clothing, in their bicycles, with their walking sticks, off to the lake, and drinking beer in the bier garten promptly at 10 a.m on weekends!

So here I wanna share with you some of the fascinating things  about ‘Summer Feels ‘ here in our region. Whether you are just visiting tourist or a local, sure thing that you don’t wanna miss out on these activities!

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We do BBQ like the German way!

Grillsaison ( or Grilling season)

Summer is not complete without BBQ and Germans really take their grilling to the highest level! You know its summer when you breathe in the smell of BBQ in almost every house on a fine weekend. Since we have 9pm sunsets, this is a perfect way to bond. Be it in an open park, garden or in the tiny balconies of apartments, German take their grilling time seriously. Months before summer starts, we are flooded with different kinds of grill paraphernalia, from the garden tents, lounging seats, and yes, ‘the meat and wurst‘. About 70% of Germans have BBQ every  weekend and its typical to see a grill machine in every garden. Pack a picnic, a mat and  head to the lake, throw a piece of sausages ( wurst) and meat cuts into the charcoal grill and drink beer. This spells the perfect “Gemutlichkeit “or what the Dutch called “Gezelligheid” .

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The Grillsaison has finally begun!

Poppy fields  and wild flowers everywhere!

When summer time comes, in between wheat fields and every single empty space is filled with this fragile reddish-orange wild Poppy flowers. When I run and cycle, I can’t help but to stop and just be amazed by how  these simple wild bulbs can change the whole neighborhood and the way I feel. Sure, Tulips are my favorite flowers , but then there’s something about a field covered in Summer poppy blooms. It looks so calm, peaceful and so pretty!

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Close up encounter with red Poppy flowers last week when I was cycling.

 Eis Eis Baby! 

Who doesn’t like Ice Cream?

Ice cream parlors and shops are finally open here since late Spring. On warm, sunny days, there’s even a huge line outside. You really need to sweat out first before you enjoy their wide selection of Eis ( ice cream). My daughter is crazy about the richly flavored popsicles and ice pops which comes out in watermelon, kaktus, and yogurt ice cream. One is not enough, eating ice cream is definitely a threat we always enjoy during summer especially after we are all sweaty from cycling around.

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Eis Eis Baby!

Make sure to eat “spaghetti eis”: We promise it’s only a stupid name. This concoction is really just a strawberry ice cream sundae with vanilla “noodles” and strawberry sauce with white chocolate flakes standing in for the cheese. Guten Appetit!

Sunbathing in a make-believe beach!

This is the photo of the Donaustrand, a place made to look like a beach beside the river. It is the platform located in front of the river Danube and facing the New Castle. During summer, this place is a magnet for Germans and all outdoor lovers to enjoy a relaxing time, especially during sunset. This is a place a for  open-air concerts and the ” Live Orchestra Nights” where you can enjoy live music, drinking with friends, and lounging in recliners and sunbathing like you are in the beach .This is such a cozy place.

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A shot I took while lounging in the Donaustrand and enjoying sunset drinks.

Hanging out your clean laundry outside

There is nothing like the smell of clean laundry, hung out to soak up the fresh air. Hang out your sheets before the drying racks take over your apartment for the winter.We have a huge space in the garden and I just love how the sun do wonders on the sheets! I love this since it really saves time from tedious long cycles of drying. Natural is always better!

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Skinny dipping in some lake

Skinny dipping and baring it All !

Oh yes, Germans are very liberal and no-nonsense people when it comes to nudity. In some lakes, there are areas which are particularly allotted for “nudist”. Here, people are no hang-ups in baring it all and soaking up the sun from dawn to dusk.Germans think nothing of stripping to sunbathe. They do it on beaches, by lakes, and in heavily frequented urban parks. It’s very common to see unclothed people on regular park lawns or topless on balconies. Germany is one of the few places in the world where naturism occurs not just in secluded areas, but in the heart of major cities. German-style public nudity, known as Freikörperkultur (or “free body culture,” and usually shortened to FKK), dates back to the 19th century; it’s not just an activity, but a culture intended to reshape behavior.

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Pack a picnic and your mat and head on to the secluded fresh lakes!

For some people who are not into this and for families with children, there are lots of areas in the lakes for them to swim.We love to discover lakes where my daughter loves to play and here, they are just plentiful!

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Running through the Lake with this view.

Fitness everyday

In summer, I see a lot more people getting active and staying fit. People do things “manually” and live more. They love to do things by themselves. Mowing the lawn, tidying up their garden, people here loves to do things—no maids or house helpers! People run and cycle no matter what the time and temperature. They walk more and use the car less as much as possible. With abundant jogging areas, nature can be best enjoyed while getting fit. Germans adore the  “pig”and heavy pork-lovers, but even if they sit in the Biergarten everyday and eat sausages, seems that they don’t get fat! Everyone looks so impeccably fit.

Summer Cocktail Drinks

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PROST!!!

It is very typical to see bunch of people hanging around in the lake, or in the park enjoying a nice picnic and sharing summer cocktails. Of course, the beer is always the easiest way to create a cozy gathering but cool drinks and smoothies are always something pretty special. When it comes to picnics, Germans can be proud of their lifestyle!

What about you, what do you love to do during summer?

There are more on this post so I think I will make a post #2! Stay tuned.

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?

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

A walk into the Old town

One of the perks of being an Expat is living like a tourist everyday, or on a tour without a tour guide.Sightseeing is absolutely free, unlimited and you’ve got full access to discover the less-touristic areas which makes a place special.You can explore the neighborhood and outskirts like a curious tourist and be amazed of the hidden gems around you, without the rush.Of course there would come a time that you’ll get used to seeing the buildings and structures around you,and suddenly it all becomes a normal sight. You won’t think of it as worthy of a second look, but then, it is because you have discovered something else. Something even more grand, something worth of admiration.

And the best way to do this, is by foot- walking, at your own pace.

 

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The Old Town (Altes Rathaus )  of Ingolstadt : neo-Renaissance  style by Gabriel von Seidl in 1882 which serves as the seat of the Lord Mayor.Also known as the Four Houses in One simply because 4 old houses were joined together.

For the past months that I am doing lots of walking, (both figuratively & literally) into my new town, I have found so many interesting history and tales that is way beyond the written reviews in Trip advisor or any tourist site in the net about this place. It is not as big as Munich or Berlin, but it has its own identity, and rich cultural heritage. No wonder there is so much mention in this place. In this little old town of Ingolstadt, that certain” Bavarian ” spirit is in the air, everywhere. From the locals who walk the streets  in their traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls, up to the details engraved in their beautifully restored gabled houses, picturesque Architectural ensembles in different periods and up to their imposing gateways.

One particular Bavarian character of this city  that I noticed ever since I step on this place is their impressive fortifications, which, I can say that has become the Old’s town’s charm. The “Schanz”( a series of fortifications) has a reason why it has been built and preserved up to this day.  Indeed, Ingolstadt is a Medieval city of towers and gateways.

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Details of the Altes Rathaus

The church Liebfrauenmünster or also called the Minster to our Dear and Beautiful Lady  is definitely a must-see. I love its exterior and even more the details found inside. When I spent a day on top of the Pfeifturm, the town’s watch tower, which stands beside the city’s oldest parish church, of St. Moritz, the prominent roof of the cathedral stands out.It is one of the largest late-Gothic church of this kind in the whole region of Bavaria, even in Southern Germany.According to records, about 7,000 tree trunks were used in its construction.

 

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The Liebfrauenmünster 

 

Do you like the Audi car?

I’m telling you, Ingolstadt is a city more than just Audi. When you walk down the street, you can see that the locals really loved their cars, their sleek  Audi cars as they loved their Bavarian beer. Of course Audi is a prominent landmark in this town, where almost everybody drives in style. With 566,646 cars built in 2015, the Ingolstadt parent plant is the Audi Group’s largest production facility and Europe’s second-largest car factory. Globally networked, Audi Ingolstadt is the company’s flagship plant in terms of its technological prowess. This is where the Audi A3, Audi A4, Audi A5, Audi Q2 and Audi Q5 car lines are built. One of the biggest magnet for this city is the Audi Forum, which attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year.

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Stone and Bronze architectural detail

Another distinctive detail I saw in this town is the Bronze and Stone façade. From the memorial plaques in the Franziskanerkirche, valuable and unusually well-preserved memorial plaques adorn the walls,the pillars, and the side chapels. This old town is home of the impressive Asam’s Church of Maria de Victoria. This hidden church boasts of the phenomenal ceiling fresco by Cosmas Damian Asam , the most famous Bavarian Baroque artist. His phenomenal creativity  is shown in the largest flat ceiling fresco in the world at 42 m X 16m which can be admired by walking round it. I could stare at this ceiling for hours. When I walk, the image seems to move, simply amazing.Now I know what is perspective painting means. If you want to know it, you’ve got to see the ceiling fresco of Asam’s church of Maria de Victoria or the Asam’s church in  Munich which is also work of the Asam Brothers.

 

Another treasure found in this church is the  Lepanto Montrance– a filigree work of art, set in gold and silver, which represents the Christian’s victory over the Turks in the sea battle in Lepanto. It is a unique battle portrayal on the most valuable monstrance in the world.

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Then there’s the impressive Neues Schloss, (New Castle) a fortress type castle which stands in the middle of the city centre. It is built by Duke Ludwig the Bearded in the first half of  15th century. I love the picturesque view of this castle when I am on top of the bridge above the Danube river. Inside this castle is the magnificent vaulted, elegant interior that accommodates the Bavarian Army museum where it displays the historical weapons, armaments and tin soldiers.Outside this castle are the decorated 17 richly decorated cannons,the Scherer and the Schererin which guards the Neues Schloss. It weights more than 9 tons each.  Right in the castle courtyard  you can also view the Baroque Clocktower. This location is a major touristic area along Paradeplatz  square where the fountain and statue of Ludwig the Bavarian can be found.

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The face of the Cannon in the courtyard of Neues Schloss 

 

 

 

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Beautiful gable Borgeuois town houses

 

My walks have also took me to the outside of the medieval town walls as far as the Taschenturm tower, which used to be one of the minor gates in the Town Wall. The city’s most famous landmark-  The Kreuztor, is the most beautiful of all the preserved gateways that leads from the west into the old town. Four small corner towers and sparingly used limestone decorations embellish this red brick gateway tower from the late 14th century. It’s name came from the leper house with its chapel “to St. Cross” that used to be here outside the town.

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The Taschenturm Tower

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Narrow fronts,high gables of the Bourgeois town houses located in the city center

As I continue to explore the city, I admired the beautiful architecture of the narrow gable houses. They are colorful, unique and has a distinctive feature that really makes this city a worth while to see. If you’ve seen the gable architecture where Amsterdam is famous for, then you know what I mean. It certainly gives an identity to the city. The houses of the old town, in which councilors,guild masters and professors once lived, and which have been witness to a great deal back in the old days, are still full of life up to this day. I wanted to photograph each one of them because every single house is unique.

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Beautiful architecture in the old town of Ingolstadt

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It is very obvious that Ingolstadt is a city with strong fortifications. These Schanz were built by Leo von Klenze have resisted many attacks over the centuries. That is why these fortifications are still so visible, intact and well maintained up to this time. At any given time, you can see the unique, open-air museum of German fortress architecture especially if you walk through the Rose Garden of  Klenzepark where you can see the Turm Triva, which is the home of the Bavarian Police Museum. It is right inside of the lush green oasis with the view of the River Danube.

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The Turm Triva, the home to the Bavarian Police Museum

I was wondering what is Turm Triva when I first saw it. At first I thought it was an open air arena, but then I didn’t realize that it was part of the Bavarian fortifications. Then I’ve learned that the wall complexes, with the Baur and Triva round towers (Turm Baur & Turm Triva)  and the Reduit Tilly in the classical style build just at the bridge head of the Danube river were built for the refuge for the Royal family.

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A display of a Bavarian armor along the Anatomiestr.

For a fact that apart from all of these architectural sites, Ingolstadt also is very green. I can say that its one place for a lover of nature and for someone who wants to walk and enjoy the slow pace of life. Over the few months, I began to adapt to my new routine in this city. I knew now why the locals love outdoors and when its sunny and nice, everyone just hop on their bicycles roaming around the city like crazy. There’s always something to do and see.

When I did the walking tour to find all the Stolpersteine here in Ingolstadt, I appreciate this old city even more. For me, the best way to explore a small, traditional city like this is by foot.  Not only that I feel belongedto it as I walked around , smiled, greet, and nod to the old folks whom I found to be so active, and to the busy people in the streets, but also, I can easily feel the beat, or the vibe of the city. So all in all, it was always a great walk around the old town.

Have you’ve been to a walking tour?  How was your experience?

 

 

Achtung! Stumbling Stone {Stolpersteine}pt. 2

 

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Wandertag quest : Finding the Stolspersteine in Ingolstadt, Germany

I was really looking forward for the weekend so I could have  time to find the rest of the Stolspersteine in Ingolstadt. Yesterday was Sunday, as usual a Ruhetag here in Germany where practically half of the town is still sleeping around 8 a.m . We began our Wandertag-Sonntag to look for the 5 Stolspersteine . I like this time because the streets are quiet and not crowded. I previously wrote about this fascinating art project by Gunter Demnig that has been regarded as the largest memorial project in the whole world. I am grateful at the same time feeling fulfilled that I was able to see these ‘stumbling stones’ in  my own eyes.

All that travel could give you, more than delight is the  priceless experience of  exploring the charm of this quaint Bavarian town of Ingolstadt. It’s really more than Audi cars, Neues Schloss and the  Donau River.

Here’s the trail we did to find the  5 Stolspersteine’s sights. Most of these stumbling stones are laid in the old town and within the city center of Ingolstadt.

Beckerstrasse 27

Paradeplatz 5

 

Theresienstrasse 28

Griesmülstrasse 6

 

Luftgasse 2

 

We ended the trail by visiting the memorial site in the Luitpoldpark by Dagmar Pachtner to honor the victims of the Nazi regime in Ingolstadt.We discover this during one of our strolls in the woods.The blue panels are not hard to miss if you are either cycling or just passing by Luitpoldpark.

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Nazi victims memorial site in Luitpoldpark

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Project initiated by Dagmar Pachtner for National Socialism ‘s victims in Ingolstadt, Germany.

 “A person is only forgotten, if his name is forgotten.”

{Gunter Demnig, Artist -Stolpersteine Project }

How did you spend your weekend?  Did you do anything fun?

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Forbidden Fruit | Fun

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Forbidden Fruit in the Labyrinth Garden | Ingolstadt

As I go on with my  Wandertags, I passed by again to my favorite ‘Labyrinth Garden’and found out something funny, yet interesting piece hanging right there in the Apex or center of the Garden. I looked closely and found a skinny, polka dot yellow-green thong swinging along with the Dream catchers and Apples.

I bet this is the Forbidden fruit.

I dunno who’s the owner of this thong but sure thing He/She has reason to put it there.It’s one of the eye-catcher in the Garden for sure!

Have you seen anything ‘Fun’today? What’s your idea of fun?

This post is in response for this week’s Photo Challenge |Fun!

My daughter’s Love-Affair with Pretzel

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Lekker..pretzel – new Toddler addiction | by Justbluedutch

Toddlers are notorious picky eaters. My daughter is one. But recently, we found something. We’ve just moved to Germany, and surprisingly, my daughter fell in love with this dark brown, crispy, salty crust, and inside a soft dough bread. It has a plump “body”, and thin, crispy  crossed “arms.” Locally known as ‘Pretzel’or here in Bavaria, it is known as “Brezn, Brez’n, or Brezen“. Well who doesn’t? It’s delicious, especially when its fresh & warm.Typically German thing and its so good. Breze are part of a typical snack German culture and even on any meals.Additionally it is irreplaceable as side dish with Weißwurst and Leberkäse.

Maybe she’s fascinated by its unique shape and color. But one thing for sure, she loved its taste. This has been part of our morning walks and whenever we are out in the park. We go to the nearby Backerie {Bakery}, our favorite was one from Backhaus Hackner ,   and we’re all set! She can finish one big Pretzel in one sitting and could asked for more.

I noticed  that even from one bakery to the other, there are slight variations of the pretzel shapes, and of course, taste. For example, in Bavaria, the arms are shorter and attached closer to the top (thin part) of the pretzel. In Swabian the arms of the pretzel sit very low on the body.

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A Pretzel a day makes one fine Toddler’s tantrums away. | by Justbluedutch

Pretzels today continues to be formed by hand as has been done throughout history. Bakers spend years perfecting the pretzel-forming technique. First, the dough needs to be rolled out. Both ends of the strand are held up, and through a quick swing, the center of the strand is twisted. The ends are then pressed onto the body of the pretzel. This process, when perfected, takes only seconds, but it needs a lot of practice to get it right.

I personally also liked it. The first time I have tasted it is when we are on holiday in Trier and I was curious to know how does it taste. In Philippines, I can only remember that Pretzels are very tiny, chocolate-coated crispy biscuit and not as bread like this. Here, I have seen both young and old eating Pretzel daily. With beer, White sausages and often with herb butter on it.

Germany is a land of Breads and as part of getting to know its rich varieties here, I was surprised to learned that Pretzels were invented by mistake! { A great story!}  Now it’s not a new thing  that many dishes  were created out of a mistake but indeed, pretzels has been one of the traditional German food for ages and until now.

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Freshly baked Bavarian Pretzels

If you are curious like me, you can read about Pretzels and its history and although in other regions of Germany have their stories of how it was invented, the Laugenbrezel is accredited to the Bavarians. The story goes that one fine morning of February 11, 1839, Anton Nepomuk Pfanenbrenner, the baker for the Munich Royal Café, was preparing some sweet pretzels for his guests. He wanted to brush the pretzels with sugar-water, but accidentally used the Natronlauge, the sodium hydroxide solution being used to clean and disinfect the bakery kitchen countertops. The baker decided to bake the pretzels anyway.

Lye can be toxic in high concentrations, but is also commonly used for curing foods like lutefisk. Most bakers use food-grade lye, which is the chemical equivalent of drain cleaner, but is produced and packaged in a clean, regulated way.Since the lye dip is heavily diluted and the pretzel is baked after dipping, it won’t kill you.

The pretzels came out of the oven with a unique brown crust, soft center, and delicious taste. His guests were very pleased and he became the “pretzel hero.”That’s where it all began.

There are so many varieties of Pretzels that we are excited to try. There’s the New Year’s pretzels, sweet pretzels, Oktoberfest Pretzels {Wiesnbrezn }   which are baked larger than the original size,and lighter in shade and the special Lent Pretzel (Fastenbrezeln)  which are baked during the 40 days of Lent. For sure I’ll be writing about these things soon.

Have you ever tried German Pretzels? How was your experience?

I would love to hear your  story in comments below.

If you like this story, then you might also love to read about fascinating facts about Arabic foods we like when we are living in Kuwait or follow our Expat Life stories Here.