Bavaria in 100 days!

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Picture perfect German childhood : Bavarian kids in Dirndl and Lederhosen

2016 was a year of changes for me and yes,today , is my 100 day-mark  living as an Expat in Germany.

Last summer,we have successfully  touched down & settled in our new ground. We have a decent place to live, a garden of which my daughter is so happy to roll over everyday,  a 5- minutes walk and we’re standing in the middle of the woods, with  lots of nearby playgrounds and finally living-out our European dreams! I call it  European-dream for myself– because this is actually my first time to  live in Europe. I tell you, it is so different from being a visiting tourist compared if you are an Expat living here. If you are an Expat -Mama relocating to Bavaria, you should read this for you know that Germany has wonderful pros for raising your kids. Here in Bavaria, it has so many playgrounds for children and the education system is of global competence. Something that I would really love my daughter to have.

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The colors of Fall 

So forgive me if I flood my Blog with things that are all new to me. Only with 2 months of preparation, we left Kuwait , sold our furnitures, sent our important stuff to Germany and moved to Bavaria.You can imagine my overwhelmed self when I saw how life is different from Kuwait compared to here. Talking about the efficient public transport system, did I mentioned that its my first time to ride in a German ICE (Deutsch Bahn high speed train ) and my daughter totally loved it?!

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German breads, dark and dense and oftentimes have seeds.There are over 1,200 varieties of Brötchen and loafs that you can see here in Germany.

Everywhere I look, it’s all new and different for  me. Almost everyone is fair & blonde, Deutsch is a strange  language in my ears, the amount of sausages, the dark breads, the overwhelming calcium in the water, and who won’t be intrigued with volk musik and festivals?  For the first time in my life, I have cycled with a tiny human behind me in two-wheels, and it felt terrifying,at the same time a total new experience for me. Yes, we managed to get home in one piece,safe and sound!

Everyday is a step to slowly integrating into German living. I even managed to learn some German in slow-phase and helping me to stay sane.

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My first taste of Volkfest…also the first time I tasted the Bavarian beer..so far,so good!

Everyone is so comfortable with cycling around as the easiest mode of getting around, to work, to do errands, or just getting active in any time of the day. Where else can you see people who shop in their wooden baskets and carries tons of bottles for recycling?Germans drink more sparkling water than tap water. Yup yup,only in Germany.

I’m happy I can stay out  for hours without the soles of my shoes burning. Finally a decent temperature, well at least for now. Ever the air that I breathe is new to me. It felt clean and friendly to my lungs. I love the German way of protecting their environment and keeping everything in order. I haven’t even heard cars honking, only rings from the cyclist! Sorry Kuwait, you’re so  fine,I missed the Baklavas and dates, but I had enough of dust storms and honking maniac drivers.

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Lederhosen  and the Volk music, It’s totally a Bavarian thing.

I can’t think of a better way to mark this day but by listing out things I have seen within 100 days of living here..but first, let me tell you first a bit of something about this place called “Bayern “.

Bavaria–  is the region in the southeast part of Germany . Close enough to Austria & Switzerland , Czech Republic & France. The largest city in Bavaria is Munich or München ( and also third among most-populated city  next to Hamburg & Berlin) and  is the center of Beer festival known as ‘Oktoberfest‘. I thought it was just a get-wasted with beer festival  but realized that  it’s more than  that. Excuse my poor mind!

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Beautiful gardens and parks

1.Bavaria is Green.

It’s always been my  dream to live in a place which have  a city vibe & modern and yet with a foremost country-living feel. This is where Bavaria falls into. Ingolstadt is a city surrounded with vast green, it is so verdant that you always have a reason to spend the day outdoors. Historical old towns surrounded with green  forests, medieval fortresses, beautiful architecture and lush gardens, you name it, it’s here. From hiking in the or cycling in the forest you can be in cobbled stones within 20 minutes. Bavarians love their nature and enjoy it relentlessly. I felt so close to nature here. I feel lucky that it’s always within my reach.

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German women in Dirndl

2.Bavarians love their National costume with pride.

How often did you wear your country’s national costume or dress?

I cannot even recall for myself. Maybe only once, at school loooong time ago!But in Bavaria, it is different. They wear it as often as they drink beer and there’s a sense of pride when they wear their ‘Tracht I’. thought I was still dreaming when I saw men in Lederhosen and pretty  women in Dirndl in the crowded streets in Munich and so much more here in Ingolstadt. Before I only saw them in internet and now I see them before my eyes. I need to pinch myself sometimes to be reminded that they were real. I am so surprised by just how strongly the locals kept to their traditions, and just how many walked around wearing traditional Lederhosen looking so comfy, with knee-high socks and alpine hats, on a daily basis. From the young kids to the old ones.

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Germans enjoying an open air classical music concert  with Toddlers, bottle of wine and everything.
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The view of the city and the majestic Cathedral, Liebfrauenmünster from the historical tower,Pfeifturm.
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A distinct Architecture  gable roof detail typical in Bavaria

3.Bavaria have Old, historical & beautiful beautiful Churches 

I love beautiful architecture and visiting old churches. It has so much history in there and always a great work of art. Here in Bavaria, they have a unique culture, more of being a conservative ones since most are Catholics ( 52%). This explains why they have so many beautiful Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance churches, all in the same place.

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Baggersee reflections in Summer

4.The best beer in the world is here. The liquid gold from Bavaria.

Even if you’re not a beer-drinker, you’ve got to love the Bavarian’s cozy way of relaxation. Enjoying a mug of beer after a hard day at work is the best form of solace. Biergartens are not only for Beer drinkers but have become an attraction for all ages.Have you heard about Biergarten having a play yard adjacent to it? It’s true.

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I am not a Beer drinker but I can say that Bavarian beer is good. Prost! { Volkfest in Ingolstadt }

Bavaria  is  regarded as a wealthy region, and people tend to take time to enjoy themselves. And the best way to enjoy is to sit in a cozy Biergarten ,to meet with friends, or just have a night out with your partner. It’s a lifestyle. The ‘Reinhetsgebot‘ (or the Bavarian Beer Purity law) which can be traced since  1516 originated in Bavaria. On average, a  typical Bavarian consumes from birth to the grave some 150 litres (40 gallons) of beer per year  so it’s no surprise that  Bavarians are at top of the beer consuming list of states in Germany.

What is the best way to show their undying love for beer? through Oktoberfest  and Volksfest of course! In our neighborhood itself, I found 3-4 Biergartens.

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A place where you can see old-gabled buildings and houses well-preserved . An architectural detail that is almost evident as you walked through the old town.

5.Bavaria is the birthplace of many innovations, famous people and events.

There is so many things that can be associated with Bavaria. Just like everyone loves a good pair of sneakers, but did you know that Adidas was founded by the Bavarian, Adolf “Adi”Dassler? while his other brother, Rudolf Dassler founded Puma. Famous Bavarians include Pope Benedict XVI, Richard Wagner, Richard Straus, Thomas Mann, Levi Strauss, and Rudolf Diesel to name a few.  If you’re a football fan I’m sure you know  Bayern Munich, which is the most successful team in the Bundesliga , and having won  European Champions League four times (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001).

Should I add having one or two of the best luxury cars in the world? 

Bavaria has the largest economy in all Germany. This Bavarian pride comes being the Headquarters of car giants BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG)   in Munich and Audi AG in Ingolstadt.  Bavaria is the  region of one of the best-selling cars around the world! Anyone visiting Bavaria should visit the BMW Welt in Munich  and the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt to see just how big these giants are. Really recommended for car-lovers!

Bavaria has a good standing when it comes to economy. So I am not surprised why this region is a magnet for Expats. Aside from having an affordable cost of living, the quality of life is high.

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Architecture in the old city of Ingolstadt

6.Best of both worlds for Expats

Bavaria offers great opportunities for Expats and their families. Even expat kids have financial allowance given by the German government and not to mention the Integration class with encouragement to learn the language for better integration to their culture. This is what Bavaria is. A place of new opportunities and culture-learning so an Expat doesn’t feel a forever Alien. My experience in the Rathaus ( City Hall) is very pleasing.The immigration process and paperwork for an immigrant like me is very tedious and yet, systematic. The locals are very friendly and  accomodating. Contrary to what they say that Germans are cold, I find them rather open and very kind.

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A wurst in a bun! 

Ah yes,lastly, after contemplating about living in Bavaria for the last 100 days, who can’t be intrigued with their food? A sausage in a bun for snack,lunch or dinner. Indeed, welcome to Germany!

 

Are you an Expat too? What part of another culture is hard for you to get used to?

 

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Baggersee reflections |Mirror

Last weekend we went on a hike and we find one perfect place that practically take our breath away, the Baggersee.

Just look at these these photos and you will know why.

 

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Feeling romantic? Get a boat and dream away while watching the sunset in the Auswaldsee   { Baggersee, Ingolstadt} 

These photos don’t lie.

If you would ask me, I still feel so summer. Summertime means staying outdoors and having exciting Wandertags. Baggersee is a beautiful oasis that practically exist and can be reached within 20 minutes away from where I live. A nature recreation area  approximately 150 hectares and with a lake  in the middle where you can have a panoramic view of the wild forest but not really feeling isolated. It is situated 1.5 km  southwest from the old town of Ingolstadt. I have written how much I adore ‘Wandertags‘ and this place did not disappoint me.

You can leisurely stroll with your kids, trek with your friends, hike, have a morning run, jog after work or just do some Nordic walking or cycle for the whole length of 5.4 km. If you love these activities, then this is the place you should be hanging out.

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Weekend view from the Auswaldsee, I love how the reflections in the water create a magical world. Nature indeed never fails to amaze me.

The whole place is so green and won’t disappoint any nature lovers. Perfect for weekend family picnics and meet-ups.The lake is surrounded with wooden dock areas and padded slabs where you can  do yoga, sunbathe, or  take a quick dip and if you’re an experienced swimmer, you can swim across the lake as long as you want.I noticed that most Germans walk with their dogs in Baggersee. It’s no surprise that there is even a designated bay for your dog if you want to swim with them, amazing right?

This place is packed with visitors especially during Summer season. It almost have everything that is ideal for a nature recreation activities. I noticed that the whole stretch of the shadowed areas are ideal for campers and they have areas for BBQ activities.If you are feeling sporty, there are volleyball courts nearby as well as Mini golf course for the little ones.

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Reflections in the water are almost picture perfect ,Imagine them in Autumn colors. {Baggersee, Ingolstadt}

The reason why we went to this place is because we wanted to see the ‘Wildpark’ inside this area where you can see wild animals such as deers, wild boars, and the mighty Bison.The Wildpark has a whole area of 10 hectares on the further rear end which is publicly accessible, with adequate signage so it’s easy to find. Take an hour or so to explore this place with your kids and you won’t regret it.

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Namaste! Yoga after cycling? Everything is possible.With the Water reflections as a backdrop, Zen is just in front of you.

There is a Lake house ( Seehaus ) and other Biergartens where anyone can enjoy lounging in rack chairs enjoying these beautiful views. The ambiance in this place is so nice and quiet, quite resembling a beach terrace lounge where anyone can enjoy  great music while enjoying the view, or after work meet-ups having a coffee & cake or a glass of wine. Seehaus is a perfect venue for any given occasion such as weddings or family banquets. They have Grillschule for anyone who is interested in taking Grill courses ( BBQ courses, winter barbeques and the like ) that is available almost everyday.

In the middle of the lake there are  2 environmentally protected islands that serve as habitat for ducks, swans, coots, herons and grebes.If you feel more adventurous, you can hire a boat and just sail romantically in the waters or do some fishing.

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German efficiency – Wasserspielplatz
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For the Little Ones with little hands and feet

While parents enjoys a cool drink in the wooden benches, kids can have a grand time playing in this beautiful  Wasserspielplatz, overlooking the lake. It has a sandy area where little ones can enjoy playing in the shallow waters while making sand castles. One fascinating about this playground  is that they have water pumps  where adults   can do some exercise to pump out water to flow into the waterways. It is very efficient. No need for motor or electricity. My daughter adores this place and I am sure that we will come back for more. I am so thankful that nature lives so close to us and it never fails to amaze me, every single day. If I have a friend or a guest, I would definitely bring them up here.

If you’re visiting Ingolstadt, make sure to visit this place because it’s really worth it. The walk from the Dam from the Danube River is quite fascinating too.

What is your ideal weekend getaway?

In response to this week’s Photo challenge |Mirror

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25 Surprising Facts about living in Germany

 

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Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Germany. Deutschland. Alemanya…

This is the place where I called my second home now. The land famous for its scenic landscapes, Beer and Sausages ( Wurst).Known for its long winters and beautiful Christmas markets.Well,  everyone knows that Germany doesn’t need any introduction about their cars. The name speaks for themselves. BMW. Audi, Porsche, Mercedes- Benz, and Volkswagen .

Before I came here, my knowledge about Germany is so little and living here now, I have found so many odd  (new!) things that I found surprising that eventually becoming a second skin to me.

Just like what they say ;  Wie wollen wir  leben ‘? or  { How do we want to live? } .

The German way. Like for example, do not wish anyone a ‘Happy Birthday’if its not yet their actual Birth date because its considered as Bad Luck!  These things are based on what I have encountered from the locals and observations from day-to-day living here. Most of what I’ve wrote are stereotypical local sightings here in Bavaria, a very traditional German neighborhood.

Here’s a post that I hope would help any Expats learn about  Germans and their way of life.

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Pretzel with Würst and Beer -Typically German
  1. There is just so many Wurst (Sausages). So.HUGE selection.From Weisswürst, BrühwurstCurrywürst to Salami and the very well-known Bratwürst. They love pork so dearly.In different sizes and colors and shapes. The cold cuts (Aufschnitt)   and sausage section in the supermarkets are way larger than any areas inside any supermarket I have ever seen in my entire life.
  2. Germans love Sparkling water or Seltzer. They loved to mix it with apple juice, beer & wine.Expect a huge line of mix-up drinks in the beverages section in the supermarket like  Spezi (Cola +Fanta ), Radler ( Beer + Sprite or 7 Up).  In a restaurant, don’t wait for the waiter to serve you water, you won’t get any.Better order a bottled water and you need to say if its carbonated or not.
  3. A Frankfurter or commonly known as Hotdog is actually not the same as Bratwürst
  4. Germans take their Recycling SERIOUSLY. Expect to have at least 4 Bins in your house and learn how to do it properly and correctly. I am still learning and still at my wit’s end many times. When its time for collection, the bins are out there, standing in attention in the sidewalk.Glasses are sorted as per colors. The brown glasses have a separate bin out there, walk a little bit further in your neighborhood and you’ll find it. Nobody throws drinking bottles, its being returned with refund from the supermarket you bought it so you can use on your next purchase.
  5. Saying Hello upon entering a shop and Tchüss ( Bye) upon exiting is like an automatic voice prompt . Not saying these words will give you crazy death stares sent directly at you.
  6. Be quiet on Sundays (Ruhetag) or else…Jeder Tag is Ruhetag!!
  7. Nobody JAYWALKS! No one. Shame on you if you beat the red light.This Little Green Man is the Boss .
  8. Everything is closed on Sundays. Yes, so you better get your supplies on time.The busses barely run,the whole town becomes so silent. It’s tough when you found out you ran out of bread!
  9. There’s no Bagger in the supermarkets in Germany. Expect that the Cashier already finished scanning all your goods even before you grab your wallet and get your bag. Be quick or else you’ll receive  deadly stares from the persons behind you.
  10. Walking is a lifestyle. You walk .Even the old people keeps on walking.Everyone takes a walk, serioulsy, everyday.From the parks or to just around the neighborhood.The dogs are being walked even in the rain. You need to walk everyday. It’s healthy.
  11. Don’t think that all those in the Carrier (Kinderanhaenger farrad) attached in a bike are babies. Some of those are for beloved pets like dogs being taken for a walk in the park .
  12. Oktoberfest is not in October. It’s in September, ends the first weekend of October and it’s also not only celebrated in Munich (however, the Munich one is the largest).
  13. The amount of Public Holidays is so many compared to other countries. This is also depending on the  state you are living in. In Bavaria, they tend to have more.
  14. Germans work when its time for work and relax when its time to relax.
  15. The public transport is excellent. The busses are on time and the trains are reliable . Everything is so convenient from  A to B.All buses have handicap and baby friendly with an assigned place for strollers.So convenient. Even the taxis have child’s car seat handy if there’s a child passenger.
  16. Riding your bicycle becomes your most prefered method of transport from A to B. Children as young as 3 years old learns to ride a bike.
  17. Children in school normally gets out from the classroom and takes morning walks and city tours as part of their school activities. Talk about outdoor education!
  18. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!
  19. Beer! You will drink lots of Beer. Prost!
  20. Germans love to go in Biergarten ( An outdoor seating /garden while drinking beer & enjoying a meal). Even toddlers are welcome to join in there.
  21. Germans apologize for speaking not so fluent English, but in a way they are speaking just well.If you’re an Expat trying out your German skills, expect that they will reply in English!
  22. The Public toilets and bathrooms are  CLEAN. There are baby changing rooms in almost public shops and restaurant.
  23. Don’t forget to bring your own bag, basket or backpack whenever you shop or else you’ll end up paying for each plastic bag you need for your purchases.
  24.  Germans love gardening and making their garden so cozy. No matter how small it is, It’s always nice to see each houses with plants and flowers.
  25.  Nobody loves BBQ more than the German does. Every sunny weekend, expect that you smell grilling right outside from your window.People having BBQ even from the upper balconies. We joined this bandwagon and get ourselves an electric grill too!

So ,what do you think of German living and lifestyle? Do you think you can live here? Have you ever tried their famous ‘Pretzel or Breze ‘ ?

If you knew of anything that seems like a culture shock to you,or clarify anything, feel free to write in the comments below. I would love to hear yours!