The Beauty of Manholes

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Manhole cover in Amsterdam,Netherlands

The title says it all, this post is all about my fascination of Manholes or drainage covers.

Well, since I came to live here in Germany I got hooked into looking down , staring for a couple of minutes and just marveling at these drains.I find it  interesting to look down and taking photos ( if I have the chance to do so…) of unique water drain designs and the way every city has its own pride, normally it shows the city’s  name and the official seal.

But the big question is why?

In my home country and way back in Kuwait, it is quite different.Manholes are usually plain, dull or somewhat far from sight of the pedestrian or I’m just oblivious then. From the time I remember, I heard about accidents involving people falling off crazy in these filthy holes.With traffic crazy streets in Kuwait, no one stays longer in the streets or you’ll be ran-over ! Ok, maybe I sound a bit dramatic but the thing is, the culture says it all. For me, in Philippines, manholes never appeals to me because I grew up never having the “liking”into it or it sounds dangerous  and traumatic experience especially during rainy season and heavy flooding. People falling into a manhole may sound funny but actually it is NOT. It’s a serious accident.

I guess it shows how different each country value the water drainage system and its covers here in Europe especially in big cities. In a very touristic areas here in Germany, most inner cities observed car-free , therefore encouraging more people to walk, rather than drive into the city. So it means, we have more means to explore by foot at our own pace.

I must say that here in Germany, I have seen quite few interesting manholes. I haven’t had the chance to photograph them all , or I forget about it but this post will be updated from time to time once new updates are available. For starters, here are some of the fascinating manholes I’ve discovered.

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Manhole in Münich , Germany
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Welcome the Dutch  Royalty, Manhole from the Netherlands
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Manhole image from  Nürnberg, Germany

Sometimes it’s easy to spot them on but sometimes it’s also hard , especially when we are walking in a hurry or traveling by car.I know it’s not  everyone’s fancy , but one thing I noticed, in social media, I see so many photos of feet selfies, or shoe selfies . They all show a sort of individuality and personal choices.For photography, It’s all about our choice of subject and we have all the right to take photos of anything we want as long as it is rightful and doesn’t harm others. But here in Germany, public photography has some limitations as well.

So, why manholes?

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Looking down on a manhole in Berlin, capital city of Germany

First I got this habit of looking down where I walked into the streets when I ventured into exploring all the Stolpersteine or stumbling blocks or stones— those artistic stones for the victims of Holocaust and murdered Jews. I am living in Germany and I have learned these things in my class and everyday, as I explore the historical places, It is impossible not to be aware of the dark past of German history including the stumbling stones. It made a great impact on me to stop for a minute and think ..“Oh, there’s a victim of Holocaust who lived here…” I think its a very decent way of paying respect to their story and being grateful that war is finally over and hoping “Never again...”

So, back to my old habit, whenever I walk around into a new place, I took particular notice of where I’m stepping into. There’s so many landmarks, engravings, plaques of memorials, grave stones, or some sort of legendary marks which is imprinted into the ground for the sake of  history  and remembrance . One thing for sure,  you can learn so much from it.

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Caught a glimpse of the Manhole in Regensburg, Germany

Just like standing over a precious stone or a border mark, it has a profound effect, like “I’m walking over where a great war happened ,where heroes dies and fought for somethingor “I’m standing where the  wall of Berlin before stands “. So just like taking a minute to appreciate manholes, I also took time to admire an important city’s  landmark. I realized that what they do underground is as much as important as what they do over it. The street’s quality are also differ from place to place and the way they build it. Normally, these manholes are built with high-end steel, painted or engraved, or just personalised to city’s parameters.

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Walking through the cobble stone pavement in our little town of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany here shows the official seal .

There’s also something nice about looking at manholes through each season. Here in our old town, summer time is the time where road maintenance is being done and road works are really important especially the “Fußgängerzone” or walking path. Manholes or drain covers withstand the never-ending change of weather and seasons.

I therefore conclude that It takes a good government to pay attention of where the normal people drive, cycle, walk, and run into. So it goes with drain covers. 

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Looking down on a Manhole in Ingolstadt during first layer of snow last year’s Winter
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While exploring the oldest city in Germany, Trier

Do you also have a habit of looking down while walking?

How does the manholes in your area looks like?

Want to participate in a global project?

If you ever seen an interesting Manhole in your area, please feel free to send me a photo of it or a link so I can include it here in my list. My goal is to collect as many as possible depending where my feet leads me to.

Send me some photos in my Email : justbluedutch@gmail.com.

I hope you find my story interesting and something to ponder about. Over here, Autumn season has begun here in Bavaria and I am excited to wander off in the streets and continue exploring!

Wishing you all a happy weekend…Tschüss!

Glow of the Dawn

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Morning day break ( Bavaria, Germany)

This is the best shot from my phone camera  out of a rush this morning. As we prepared to go on with our day and about to bring my daughter to Kita, I couldn’t help but to stop and admire this glowing  daybreak— the real Autumn pink skies are back! I am no fan of using filters in my photos, but this one is no exception—no filters needed.

Within 2 minutes, there is this amazing slide show of the sky.  The glow of the Dawn. What a glorious day break. It was pink, glorious orange, against the bluish grey skies and the fluffy clouds looks like a watercolor wash painting I am trying to replicate many times! This is the first time I captured for this season and I am sure will be more to follow  in the coming days as we approach Winter.

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Autumn palette

Even my daughter was smiling while she’s gazing up in the sky. Trying to describe the natural beauty that she see. But after like 2 minutes or so, the sky is changing once again in its hues. The grey clouds are starting to form into darker shades , hovering the sun.

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Morning slide show

Just like that and the skies showed us one fleeting moment. I’m just grateful that before we finally go through our day, the glow of the dawn shined upon us, within 2 minutes!

Have you seen something like this lately?

 

Inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge |Glow

How to fall in love with your Bicycle this Spring

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Cycling through the golden fields in Bavaria

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

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

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

So, I am inspired by this.

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

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

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

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

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

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Toddler and adventures kind of day!

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

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

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

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

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Always looking forward to the next cycling adventure!

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

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

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

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Orange poppies can be so lovely!

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

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

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

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Having some quiet time along the river

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

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Discovering the beauty of Peonies

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

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

 

Do you like cycling?

What’s your Bucket list for Spring?

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Keukenhof in Pink!

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Gorgeous Pink Impression tulips in Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, April 2017

I know what you’re thinking…

I know, I know, forgive me for spamming you with my posts about our recent trip to the Netherlands but I can’t help it, Keukenhof is just too gorgeous!  One photo  wouldn’t do any justice and a single post is an understatement of my amazing experience there. The flower arrangement , the garden shows and the different exhibits showcases the epitome of beauty of the flower-mania  in Holland. For flora and fauna enthusiasts, it’s definitely a must-see during Springtime in Europe!

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My daughter adores some fine pink Tulipa ‘Menton’

 

After seeing all these beautiful spring flowers in the most beautiful spring garden in the world, my standard for nature has been elevated. My impression about Tulips in general has become so great that I have  now high regard for this wonderful piece of nature. I didn’t know that flowers could have such an effect to humans in general, and not only to gardeners, landscape designers, and flower enthusiasts.I have great respect for the artistic mind and tremendous hard work and  labor of the people who make Keukenhof a place to show this grand beauty.

To give credit to this amazing place, this time I’d like to share with you some photos from Keukenhof gardens once again, in pretty  Pink floral colors and it’s symbolism  to tell about your love to someone. Pink Tulips symbolizes the ” Awakening of Love “!

I have seen thousands of tulips coming in different shades of pink, from dark ones, almost purple, and with some bright tints of whites and red. Pink Tulips are a symbol of caring, attachment (not as strong as love, like the red ones) and good wishes. They would be appropriate for a friend or family member.

Here are some snaps of my personal favorites so far!

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Pink Double Blooms
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Tulipa Negrita

Close up with ‘The Negrita” -Though it’s not as darkly colored as its name suggests (“nigra” means black in Latin), the purplish-pinkish color looks great in the garden with almost everything.

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Bi-colored peach-pink standard Tulipas!

Pink tulips  express happiness and confidence. This makes them a very good choice when congratulating a friend on a new job or promotion. It’s an ideal gift to have them sent to someone’s office as a warm first-day-on-the-job surprise. I was obsessing photographing them in layers because I just love how they are aligned with each other and how they create a striking sight!

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The pink impressions in Keukenhof gardens
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Pink-reddish lilies!
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Pink roses in the Flower show in Oranje Nassau Pavillion
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Up close with some pretty Pink Pearl Hyacinths
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Pink Double  Blooms, eager to blossom
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Parade of pink beauties!
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Beyond words…

Beautiful, isn’t it?

I must say that If you really have the chance to visit Holland in Spring, make time to get into Lisse, in the Netherlands to visit this garden. A day filled with colorful flowers can brighten anyone’s burden and who knows, It might change the way you see life.

Do you like Tulips? What is your favorite color so far?

If you’re interested to know more of different types of tulips, you can read it from here.

 

 

 

Holland, as I see it!

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Holland, our second home , as I see it!

Even from my countless visits, I am still charmed by Holland. It has its endless enigma that is so unique, so complicated and yet so unforgettable. This country behind its countless dikes, polders, and gazillions of bikes, is enormous. There’s a lot to enjoy and really worthwhile to explore, especially for families and for all ages.

For the first time,we spent our Easter holiday with my parent’s in-laws and my husband’s relatives and as usual, it was  a nice time, always ‘Gezellig‘. Though the sudden drop in temperatures dampen our moods for a while, the crisp winds, hail and rain came as a surprise but not for long, we managed to roll and live like a local.

So, aside from my recent Tulip-coma from the gorgeous Keukenhof gardens, here I share with you some of the things that still caught me by surprise.

This is Holland, the Netherlands, as I see it! Enjoy…

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Spring in Holland : Tulips everywhere, anywhere. I saw these bunch of  red beauty right along my in-laws neighborhood.

Easter egg hunt right in Opa’s garden!

Just like in Germany, Easter in the Netherlands was a blast. My daughter and her cousins had lots of fun hunting for eggs and of course, we had an overload of Osterhase ( Easter bunny) and chocolate eggs.

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Easter dinner with some fancy appetizers

Talking about the wind and Dutch Cloudscapes

The photo below is a typical Dutch cloudscape. I snap this  photo while I was in the attic and opened the window during dusk. You can almost feel the wind in the higher parts of the sky; the strips of clouds they call “wind feathers” . I know I am in Holland when the clouds makes an exhibition of their fluffy, airy, and colorful palette.The ‘cumulus’ type of clouds is as typical as the tulips and used as inspirations by artists in many classic paintings in the Netherlands. If you have time, Google ‘ Solomon Van Ruysdael’ and you will know what I am talking about.

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Phenomenal sky in the Netherlands, April 2017.

The Kissing couple  

I love everything Delft, and this one is far by my favorite second to the Tulip vase that I’ve seen from our visit to the Rijksmuseum. I can’t find any history of this but this little piece of a Dutch farmer kissing his wife in the fields is really something very-Dutch. It come in all sizes but they are typically in the blue and white color which means that they are made of Delft Blue (or Delftware) – a Dutch version of Chinese porcelain.

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Only in Holland, The Kissing Couple

Crystal clear water reflections

I know that I am in The Netherlands when nature is visible in any bodies of water. The water is super clean and clear that you always have a mirror-like reflections. I am obsessed photographing all these reflections. I took this photo  from one of our walks in the city center where the small river lies along the green trees and a castle. It always seems like just a few meters away and I am taken away to another place.

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Crystal clear water reflections

Flower power  spectacle in full colors

Need I say more,when it comes to colors, the Dutch have a reputation to defend. This applies to famous painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh, two of my favorite painters, whose work can be seen in several Dutch museums. One of my unforgettable experience was seeing the “Night watch” in Dutch –De NachtwachtBut Holland is best known for its spring flowers, especially Tulips. They are gorgeoussssss!!!

My recent trip to the Keukenhof left me with a flower-coma but I’m telling you, by Springtime, a sight of tulips  are seen ordinarily in every Dutch household. Actually the flowers are just a by-product, it’s the bulbs that counts and is exported all over the world.

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Keukenhof Gardens, Easter (April 2017)

The Dutch Tulips, and the season of Spring in the Netherlands is something that you should not miss if you are visiting this country. If you wanna know why these flowers causes the first financial crisis in Holland, you better read it Here.

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Pretty in bright, red tulips, the queen of Spring season.

I have a kid who is obsessed with animals and in Holland, the wild animals are typically seen up close. You can see herds of cows, goats , chickens and sheep as you drive along the highway. There is always a country-farm feel like even in the midst of a busy city. I think I have seen so much horses and stable in my entire life every time I am in Holland. Here, deers are still 100% natural. In the Veluwe, a protected wildlife park, there’s always a chance to run into one. My daughter enjoyed her up close encounter with huge deers that she can feed and with the petting zoo in Keukenhof gardens.

 

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Huize Almelo 

Our lazy walks lead us to this castle, just a few meters away from the city center. Huize Almelo is a castle ( manor)  in Almelo which is owned by the family Van Rechteren Limpurg. It is not open for public access but of course you can view it from a distance.We love walking around here as it has a beautiful greenery and clouded with trees with a nearby lake and ponds.

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Local sighting- a herd of cows lounging in the fields

The taste of Dutch cheese

Need I say more? Gouda is the type of cheese that is known worldwide, but the famous cheese market is held in the town of Alkmaar, north of Amsterdam. I don’t know about my husband why he doesn’t eat cheese, but as for me, I adore cheese and I could eat this everyday!

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Delicious Dutch threats 

My sweet tooth indulgence when I am in Holland is elevated to the max. I can’t resist the delicious goodies like the  stroopwafels, gevuldekoek, kozakken,  Dutch Apple pies and bonbons. Though the Netherlands is famous for its ‘Frites’ and bitterballen, you can never underestimate the Dutch homemade dishes. My parents-in-law always spoiled us with so many home-made cooking that I can’t describe farther than ‘Gezelligheid’. It is always served with lots of love. And yes, even in Holland, it is Spargelzeit!

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Having a Gezellig time inside the Bolletje ” bakery and museum where the Apple pie is as good as their spiced biscuits and the all time Dutch favorite—Kruidnoten!

Our visit to Holland is not  complete until we had coffee and a slice of warm Krentenwegge ( raisin bread) and Dutch apple pie with a window view of  spring violet pansies, for which is truly relaxing. This bakery which dated since 1867, is a home to my husband’s favorite- raisin bread and Kruidnoten.

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If you see bikes  everywhere, then you know you are in the right city and you are definitely in the Netherlands! Either tucked in the central station, if not on a bridge, they are firmly locked over a canal or  in front of Dutch houses.

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Ik voel me zo ( I feel so..) Miffy figurine design created by Artist Mies van Hout. One of the life-size decorated Miffy  we loved during the Art parade on 60th Anniversary (2015) in Amsterdam.The fact that Miffy rarely shows her feelings allow children to project their own feelings on her.The red line that winds its way around Miffy is made up of faces that expresses all kinds of feelings.

Her name is Miffy, and  she’s older than Hello Kitty !

Nijntje, is a shortening of “konijntje,” which means “little rabbit.”Oftenly mistaken as Japanese because of it’s ‘kawaii’ features but actually she’s Dutch. Sanrio even got sued for copying her design; the court ordered them to discontinue their “Cathy the bunny” character.

Dick Bruna released his first bunny book in 1955, followed by over 30 more. This year, Dick Bruna passed away but left a legacy with this white bunny character loved by children all over the world, even adults. We were lucky to witness the Miffy Parade last August 2015 in Amsterdam for its 60th Anniversary where 60 artists decorated a life-size miffy  (1.8 metre high) from creepy goth to rubber ducky. My daughter adores Miffy  since birth, and I am thrilled that we brought home one of the limited edition’s design.

There’s still so much to write about but I don’t want this post to be a novel . But do you wanna know what’s my priced souvenir from this family trip? This…

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Finally, my own Dutch Potato masher!!! I am completely Dutchie-FIED!

You know you are completely Dutchi-fied when you have this in your kitchen!

 

Did you enjoy reading this post? If you’d like to waste more time reading about stuff Dutch people like, make sure to follow my Blog  for more stories like this and hey, If you like to support my artwork, please like my facebook page JustbluedutchArt  which I created just recently.

Are you in Instagram? Please follow me in JustbluedutchArt and let’s stay connected!

 

 

 

The Gable houses in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam canal houses

Even before I’ve met my husband, seeing Amsterdam is already on my bucket list. I love how different this city is and how unique the architecture you’ll see once you walked through the narrow cobbled-streets of Amsterdam. Oh yes, the bikes are another thing ! The first time I’ve visited Amsterdam and looked from the plane’s window, I was totally surprised by how different the landscape compared to the “brown, desert scapes” I saw when I first I came to Kuwait. Holland is flat as Kuwait, but at least with green landscapes.

Yes, The Netherlands is a flat country same as Kuwait, no mountains or valleys. Literally, about 27% of the country lies below sea level and tracing back the history, very prone to flooding.This fascinating country of my Dutch man  falls into three natural topography, the dunes, the lowlands or “polders” , and the higher eastern section of the country. But Holland is not only world renowned by bicycles, colors, thru Van Gogh and Rembrandt, or from its Tulips spectacle, but also with its capital landmark ; the remarkable Gable, and leaning  houses along the canals of Amsterdam.

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Reflections in the canals of the Gable houses in Amsterdam

“A leaning standpoint “, this is my first impression when I saw how crooked and odd the houses looked in a row. Some houses appear not to be standing straight, some really are!

When I explored Amsterdam and walked along the canals,even with a toddler in a tow, I really noticed that some of the houses are tilted, and wondered why. Maybe they just follow the previous pattern of houses. I know that it’s not only me, most of the tourists observed this. It was hard taking a decent photo if you follow an aligned perspective.Amsterdam houses are leaning forward, they tilt to one side and some look like they might fall over. The vibes in this beautiful city is really wonderful, very diverse and totally laid-back. I could spent hours and hours walking on the small alleys, admiring the quaint cafe and shops, and the details of the houses. Everything is just so pretty!

Amsterdam has more than one hundred kilometers of canals and its charming Canal District holds the city’s hidden gems; elegant canal-side mansions. From research, I’ve learned that the cost of living in Amsterdam is high, let alone renting an apartment along the canals. Amsterdam is known for its luxurious canal houses and it’s famous for the series of canals that encircle and crisscross each other throughout the city. From 17th century, locals built their houses along the canals which also served as their business offices, the basement and attics are used to store goods to be sold.

The architecture of these houses is very unique and particular and the intricate style shows the talent the carpenters had when building them many years ago. The 17th-century canal ring area was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010.

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Beautiful houses in Amsterdam, a world heritage site ( UNESCO)

These Canal houses are known for being slim, high and having interiors that run deep. Due to the danger of flooding, the front door was usually built higher up and only reachable via stairs. The floor of the main story was a few steps above street level for this same reason. One of the things that stands out in Amsterdam are the big windows and charming gabled façades, many houses that seemed tiny from the outside opened up into beautiful spaces within.

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Every street along the canal is picturesque, unique and vibrant.

It is these very gables that are an exclusive Amsterdam design! When looking up at these majestic houses, you can see that many of the gables are adorned with a hook. Although it may look like a decoration, the hook is there to enable tenants to pull large, bulky objects up and into a window at the top floor. Canal houses were built slightly leaning forward so that the gable was further out into the street, in order to make it easier to haul everything in via the hook and window. A special beam or pulley installation would be located in the attic to hoist up valuable goods. You can see this method being used today as the pulleys are still used for moving furniture in and out of houses.

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A postcard from Amsterdam

Also,many old Amsterdam houses  are leaving forward towards to the street. This leaning is not an accident. Amsterdam houses were built leaning forward intentionally! In Dutch this is called ‘op de vlucht bouwen’. Amsterdam was a typical ‘staple port’. This is a place where merchants make money by trading all kinds of goods that enter into the city, usually by boat. And speaking of boats, there are so many boat houses in the canals, most were privately owned and adding to the “charm” of the rings of canals flowing all throughout the city.

 

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Amsterdam canal houses

The thing about Dutch houses is that the large open windows  don’t have any curtains, which guarantees zero privacy. The sheer size of them and complete lack of drapes illustrates the openness of Dutch society and how its people show that they have nothing to hide. Having one’s possessions out in the open for everyone to see isn’t very common, with many closing their curtains at night for privacy or security reasons. This idea of transparency is a key social element and shows how comfortable they are with being completely open.

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Throughout the centuries, the phased expansions of the city of Amsterdam were thoroughly planned. The plots of land along the 3 main 17th century canals (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht) were initially quite small. Each plot was 5 to 7 meters in width. Probably they chose to divide the land this way because that way, a maximum amount of houses has an entrance on the waterfront, the most important means of transportation in the late 16th century.

Amsterdam houses might seem narrow, but they are quite deep. In the back there is a large garden hidden from view and often the rich had a carriage house in the back.If you want to experience a chance of “Dutch’s Gezelligheid”, take a peek of their lifestyle the next time you roam around and walk through the small alleys. Amsterdam sure thing is a busy city and literally never sleeps, but you can’t afford to miss the beauty that this city holds!

 

Have you visited Amsterdam? What do you like from your travels?

 

 

Magical Evergreens

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Magical  Evergreen – the only plant that has leaves that stays green all throughout the year.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

The days are getting colder & colder. I am now enrolled in the course and art of layering. There’s a sharp chill that I am not used to but I am getting through it beautifully. I grew up in a tropical country and spent almost a decade in one of the hottest country in the world, so cold is not something that I am not familiar with. The same thing with real Evergreen plant, or the tree used for famous Christmas trees or as Germans called it Weihnachtsbaum or Christbaum. We all know that Christmas is one of the biggest holiday celebrated by Germans and now I know why.

I didn’t know that there are so many types of pine trees here in Germany– right in front of our garden stands a giant one, almost every 400 meters I see  beautiful shrubs, line of  Evergreen conifers, my favorite so far, and there’s the spruce, pine, fir and all others that I don’t know the names! Among all the bald trees now in the woods, they stand proud, lush, resilient, like a wizard who awaits for his time to shine.Its leaves stays green all through out the year,no matter what the season is.I remember arriving in Germany last summer and these Evergreens already enticed me. Seeing them for real is like walking in the field of dreams.

Now my dreams are slowly coming into reality.

The market square slowly turning into a magic land– building the Christmas stalls and ice skating rink, all in preparation for the upcoming Christkindl Markt or Christmas Market. Call me crazy but the sight of these and pine trees gives me pure excitement like a kid.When I looked into the shops last week, I ogle and drooled at the beauty of the ready-made Christmas tree and decor displays, all so gorgeous! So hard to choose, and also so  very expensive.

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Finally, our Evergreen conifers

But now, I love the fact that we can have real Christmas tree, I can make my own wreaths, and garlands made out of real Evergreen conifers and pine cones. There’s something about its needle-like leaves, its scent, and the feel beneath my fingers that I haven’t experience before.

Pine trees, Evergreen shrubs or the special  Weinachtsbaum, or whatever you call it, during this holiday season, they become special and transform into something magical.

When was the last time you had a magical moment with  SIMPLE things you have seen for the first time?

This post is in response for this week’s Daily Post photo challenge |Magic

Did you enjoy this post? Let’s hang out, make sure to follow me in my Instagram to follow my Expat life in photos in our first Christmas here in Germany! Thanks!

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.

 

 

First sign of Autumn | Wandertag

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Wandertag : Chasing cobwebs on first signs of Fall
Hello September!

It’s Wandertag today and as usual, we  set off to explore new places and prepared ourselves for another worthwhile trek in the woods. It’s a chilly sunday morning and yet I don’t mind it much. We started our hike going through the woods, exploring footpaths and chasing the sun.Passing through the Dam of the Danube River I noticed that its waters are as calm as the azure blue  sky. Why does the birds crazily having an orchestral chirping now? Oh Yes, Autumn is just around the corner .The season of changes.

As we inhaled the crisp air, I noticed more and more the evident signs of Autumn. It’s just around the corner, arriving soon.Looking through the rows of trees, the fall colors are slowly starting to show, and I am so ready to be amazed by this.

Have you watched how the leaves are falling in a synchronized motion? The smell of the grass suddenly becomes so pungent.

 

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My morning backdrop today. A palette of bright earth colors and a stadiums of cobwebs.
Wandertags have taught me that looking up in amazement makes you feel like a child gasping for wonder, delighting in simple things that nature gives.But looking down as well, gazing through the ground level could bring up charming surprises, unexpected wonders especially during this time that  the seasons are changing.

The first signs of Autumn shows up once more, just look at these amazing artwork in the grass. Bunches of webs trapped in the morning mist.Look at the intricate wild patterns that are pure wonders of nature.For some its just a bore to reflect on this , but for me, I regard them as gorgeous form of artwork.Spider silk is truly amazing . I look forward to see and find a spider that actually making a web . I would love to watch carefully how it’s constructed.

If you want to see things like this, wake up early,go out there and chase them not later than 8 a.m in the morning or then they’re gone soon.

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Cobwebs  trapped in the morning mist -Wandertags

Are you prepared for the time of change?

How did you spend your weekend?

Are you on Instagram? Follow my Expat Life in photos and more on Wandertags in my Instagram page Here.

A peek into Liechtensteinklamm | Narrow

 

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Gorge of Liechtenstein in Sankt Johann Alpendorf

Narrow cut above one’s Head 

The Liechtenstein Gorge is not only one of the most beautiful, it is also one of the longest and deepest accessible wild water ravines in the Alps. This magnificent natural phenomenon is well worth a look.Everyone who visited this place left amazed by this wonderful natural rocks.

The rock faces rising up on either side are so constricted in places that the sky is visible only as a narrow cut above one’s head. This natural wonder so fascinated visitors that in 1875, through generous donations by the Prince of Liechtenstein, bridges and overpasses were created for the wider public. More than 10 million people from around the world have since visited this magnificent natural phenomenon,  enchanted by the almost ghostly exchange of light and shadow created by the steepness of the rock walls and narrowness of the chasm.

So not all Narrow things are annoying, something like this can be quite fascinating!

When was the last time you really squeeze yourself just to gazed into wonderful views of natural rock formation as this?

*This post is in response to this week’s Photo Challenge *

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