Romantic Road trip in Bavaria : Füssen

Strolling through the old Town of Füssen where we spotted the famous Stadtbrunnen, depicting St.Magmus defeating an evil.

Sun, sipping coffe in Cafe´s , street music, with a view of the Bavarian Alps!

That is the mood we´ve seen once we´ve entered the romantic old town of Füssen.Many people overlook the charm of this town, because mainly, people think of it only as a stop over when traveling to Neuschwanstein Castle in the nearby Höhenschwangau area. That was my thought before.I was totally mistaken. Your Romantic road trip and sightseeing will not be surely complete if you don´t see the hidden gems of this famous 700- year old town.

Fussen is also located on the scenic German Alpine Road which crosses Bavaria from Lake Constance in the west to Berchtesgaden in the east.We went to Füssen from Nesselwang after we visited Legoland Deutschland last week in Günzburg. We spent here an entire half day after we visited the Neuschwanstein Castle .It was a short, quick sightseeing, but then it was all worth to stop by. I wish we have more time to explore more but then, here are some of my impressions on this lovely town.

Just look at the architecture of the old town buldings, even the normal Apotheke ( or Pharmacy) is so detailed and intricately designed!

Beautiful Architecture in Füssen´s old town, the Stadt Apotheke

Like a normal old town in Germany, this tiny city is charming, and exquisitely adorned with old carvings, Bavarian themed wall paintings, carvings and Alpine decorations. This town is famous in Bavaria mainly because from here, it starts the exciting trails to the world famous Fairytale Castle of Ludwig II, the Neuschwanstein. If you´re driving, you might even have a lucky glimpse of the foothills and there you can already see the magnet of this town, the castle´s peaks! It was almost hard to find a parking area since the streets is packed with tourists but after a while, we found a spot right just before the entrance of the city.So a piece of advice, if you are heading to visit here , better be off early.

Mädchenbrunnen in Füssen

Walking through the old city allow us to see its quaint little nooks and corners filled with statues, Biergartens, restaurants, street musics and of course, Bavarian flair!Füssen is located north of the Austrian border,

When you´ve spotted something as beautiful as this, you´ve got to get inside. Füssen is very laid-back, comfortable and warm in Summer. Despite the Corona restrictions, people flocked in the streets to sip their coffee, hear some lovely street music and well, people watching!

I saw the strance to the Stadtmuseum and we checked out the innercourts and it was lovely!

Beautiful churches in Füssen (Hospital Church of Füssen)
Loving the great window details in this South Bavarian town
Idyllic wall carvings and paintings

We walked for about 15-20 minutes away from the city to find the Lechfall and we were not dissapointed. The moment that I hear the water gush from the Lech river, I knew something spectacular is somewhere near and we will not leave this city unless we see it.Take note that this is also another very touristy spot and there is not enough parking so the best way to reach this place is by walking.

Through the quiet streets, we finally arrived at Lechbach , a man made waterfalls and Gorge. Normally we have seen Gorges in the mountains, but here, it´s right in the city! Look at the pristine cystal clear-waters! It´s opaque Torquoise blue, so clear and so beautiful against the sun!

The Gorge itself is magical. It´s slate grey stone against the blue waters is really a delight to see. This Gorge is small so you can visit it within 10-15 minutes. You can choose to explore it a bit further, and go down to banks as well.Because of Corona, we decided not to blend in with the crowds and continue to just admire this nature from the bridge.

The man made waterfalls of the Lechbach in Füssen
The turquoise Oasis in Füssen, the Lech falls

Of course, the main attraction of this place is going through the Romantic Castles of King Ludwig II. Both the Neuschwanstein Schloss and Schloss Hohenschwangau is just within a few kilometers away from Füssen. The High Schloss (Höhe Schloss) of Füssen is also not to be missed!

The Fairytale Castle of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Schloss Neuschwanstein

If you are a nature lover, then Füssen will not dissapoint you. You can hike through the virgin mountains of Säuling, and do the Pöllatschlucht trail where you can see the Waterfalls that won King Ludwig´s heart.

Another thing that made me loved about this place is the Food! We dined in a classic Knight themed restaurant—the Ritterstuben, its like we´re taken to a Middleage era, where Ritter (Knights) and Castles are the new reality! If you are in Bavaria, you´ve got to sample the delectable Bavarian dishes!

We found this restaurant directly in the old town´s city square .Since its almost lunchtime, most restaurants were already full and we haven´t found a place to sit outsid. But then it was okay since we have the restaurant inside all to ourselves! Don´t forget that because of Corona virus,we need to wear masks, and we are asked to sign up with our contact details everytime we visit a restaurant.

The “Lautermacherbrunnen” in the old town city of Füssen

If you have more time to spent in Füssen, you can check out more of the hidden gems that this city offers here. What about another stop over in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to view another beautiful Gorge? The easiest way to reach Füssen is by car. It takes around 1 hour 40 minutes from Munich, 1 hour 25 from Innsbruck and 2 hours 30 from Zurich.

Until next time, Tschüss!

Neuschwanstein Castle: A Fairytale land in Bavaria

Schloss Neuschwanstein, a Fairytale castle in Bavaria

Defintely a dream come true for me.

Since I came here in Germany, I put this castle in my top Bucket list to see.I was bent on seeing as many castles and Palaces anyway, so I think I just hit one of my top pyramids! Schloss Neuswanstein is indeed beautiful,unforgettable, charming,and a place that you should see once in your lifetime!

Have you ever seen a place so beautiful that you just can´t believe if it really looks the same in real?

Neuschwanstein is like that. It is something to pursue. It was not an easy trip to go there,nor short. It takes time and difficulty to see something like this….but then it was all worth it.

From the moment I saw a glimpse of it, I was really excited. I am fidgeting from the moment we drive through the Castle roads and enter the parking area. I have been waiting for this for a long time and now I can´t believe that I just had a peek of its towers hidden from the trees. It´s dirty white towering peaks and slender towers looked so graceful against the sun, she looked so fragile, so beautifully hidden in the trees, right up there on top of Säuling mountain, surrounded with beautiful lakes and nestled on top, with twonderful views of the Bavarian Alps. I love everything about Schloss Neuschwanstein, no question about it. First, I even thought that it is not real castle and only a product of multimedia drawing. Now I understand why Walt Disney was inspired to use this castle for his Disneyland fairy tale Castle for Sleeping Beauty. He himself and his wife visited this castle before opening Disneyland in 1955. He also had to see it first and believe!

Neauschwanstein Castle, the Castle that survived 2 World Wars

Just look at it…even from a far its a dream to see!

I still actually can´t believe that finally I have seen it with my own eyes. The rumors were true and photos from Internet didn´t actually do justice. It is real and not just a tell-tale inspiration from a Disney movie.Everything about this Castle is beautiful, majestic, unbelievable, and unique.Thanks to one and only —King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

If you see Neuschwanstein, you will think about King Ludwig II.

I live in Bavaria (or Bayern), the southern part of Germany, the land of Lederhösen and Dirndls, where Beer is gold and home of some of the world´s finest cars, where Castles and Palaces are as many as Sausages.This region is the largest “Bundesland” in Germany so knowing about King Ludwig II came naturally for me.He was so young when he ascended to the throne as a King at the age of 18 and start to build Neuschwanstein at age of 23.Bavaria is full of remembrance of him. Streets, Halls, Restaurants, churces, schools, Libraries,etc…all attributed to him.

One thing; He loves to build over the top, and beautiful things—and Neuschwanstein is his masterpiece.

He has a magnificent taste and vivid artistic imagination. He is not an engineer or an Architect but he had for sure a clear vision. Some called him Märchenkönig ( Fairytale King), and the Swan King, but then yes, He is born to rule Bavaria, he has noble blood, and he surely want a beautiful place to spent the rest of his life.His life did not have a” happily-ever-after” ending, since he died in a tragic way, but then He managed to left his legacy. He allowed us to enter into his dreamworld.the world he created where we can visit now.

Some call hime crazy, lunatic, eccentric King of Bavaria, but imagine if its not for him, then there would be no Neuschwanstein Castle to this day.

Just imagine that...

New Swan Stone Castle ( or Neuschswanstein)

Now I know why this place is definitely the number 1 tourist destination in Germany, (apart from Oktoberfest) and of course to the whole world!Every year, approx. 1,3 million people visited this castle in a year.More than 61 Million people already visited this castle since it was opened after King Ludwig´s death in 1886.We visited this castle in late Summer, so I know how it really looks with all the crowds. Despite the Pandemic, it´s unbelievable that as many as 6,000 thousand tourists a day rushed to see this beauty especially in summer season.

Even Corona virus cannot stop people from seein this beautiful castle!

Enough said, Neuschwanstein offers the majestic views of the German Alps.Perched on the top of lush greens of Säuling hilly landscape, it offers a panoramic views that can make anybody realize how beautiful the nature in this area.It creates an enigma, it can be mesmerizing to just gaze upon.

This photo I took while we are hiking through the Pöllat Gorge ( Pöllat Waterfalls). It was not an easy hike but looking at this castle above me kept me going.

It is crazy that this castle is as big as 65,000 square feet,but then it is built intended to be King Ludwig´s home.He wanted to live here, and make this place as his holy retreat ground, his dreamworld. It is even ironic that it has a Throne Hall inside, but then there is no throne at all.

Majestic views from the Marienbücke, the Höhenschwangau Palace, the Alpsee and the beautiful valley of Schwangau and Füssen, with the Alps in the background.
King Ludwig II certainly chosed an idyllic location for his Fairytale Castle.

I was really thinking why did he choose this location to built Neuschwanstein.But then, I know he has good reasons…just look at the views! and we know that it´s not only because of the views.

Probably this castle is his ultimate realization of his imaginary kingdom…

He was born in Nymphenburg Palace in Münich which is another beautiful Palace, with nice gardens. He spent most of his childhood in Höhenschwangau Palace, in Schwangau, near Füssen, in Southwest Germany. From Höhenschwangau Palace, you can view the Neuschwanstein , and same as the other. This palace serves as his family´s summer residence. It´s no wonder he got fond of the idyllic surroundings of the lush green Alpine foothills, Pöllat Gorge ( Pöllat Waterfalls) and the turquoise waters of the Alpsee, and the large Forgensee Reservoirs.

The Neuschwanstein Castle, the renowned 19th century Romanesque Revival castle, inspired by German Knights and Castle.
A lovelock attached to the historical Bridge over a Waterfall, the Marienbrücke ( Queen Mary´s Bridge)

King Ludwig even built a bridge named after his Mother, Queen Mary of Prussia, the Marienbrücke. This bridge is very important, its like a gateway to enter a dream of fairy tale that He created. Nowadays, this bridge is a place where people like me can see from a far that this castle is a work of man, nestled in a sacred sanctuary of the mountains and surrounded by the glory of Alps.This is one of the best locations to take postcard worthy pictures of the castle.Imagine that in Summer, thousands of people stand in awe in this bridge just to admire this castle.

On our visit last week, we viewed this castle with a mask, we walked through this bridge and forget for a moment about the scare of the virus and just felt thankful that we are still alive, and blessed to see such sights!

Neuschwanstein is on top, literally and figuratively.It´s the Number 1 Tourist Magnet in Bavaria, and in Germany.

If you ever wondered how does it look inside, then here is a sneak peek and more details how the interiors were built.

This place is indeed an escape from reality. It´s a great monument where dreams of one man became to life. It depicts the life story of a one man, a King who became engrossed with musicals, theater, poetry , opera and myths, but then created something that lives up up to this day. You can never avoid thinking about King Ludwig II once you´ve seen Neuschwanstein.It is impossible.

Neuschwanstein made me realized that Fairy tales, knights in shining armor, kings and queen, and horse driven gold carriages are tiny bits of dreams made into reality.During these crazy times of Pandemic, where the scare of Corona virus is larger than life itself, seeing this place made me feel grateful, hopeful and at least reassured, that there´s still more to this life. That the beauty of nature is healing, and one man can do great things. Despite the Corona restrictions, we had the chance to see this beautiful dream...even for one day…

I am sure this won´t be the last time that we will visit this Castle…

Chasing Castles and Ruins

A hidden gem, the Burg Eltz in Rhineland Palatinate

Do you love castles?

I grew up dreaming of it and hoping that I see some in my lifetime. The moment that I moved in Germany, this dream have became somewhat reachable, and doable.See, we don´t have much palaces and castles from where I grew up, and in Kuwait where I also short-lived, there´s not much royalty castles to visit, although there is the Bayan Palace, the grand palace and official residence for the Amir of Kuwait. I see it everyday on my commute to work but I never had the chance to explore inside. I remember as a child, I normally build castles out of sands from the beach and for me, those are awesome.

Anyway, in a short period of time that I am living here in Bavaria, I have discovered (some ) castles and ruins that are worth sharing. If you´re in the vicinity, you might try to visit them. Actually, its not easy for me to visit castles and ruins, given that I have a young child with me that easily gots bohred in closed places! With that in consideration,it´s actually not her “ playground” and she cannot run around especially when there are things bound to break . We avoid the long tours and we always take her into consideration whenever we have the chance to visit and explore one.A child easily gets bored and most castles have steep stairs, dark, and somewhat eerie for a child.Nevertheless, the display of Knights and royal mementos can somewhat amaze a young visitor!

Germany is definitely a land of castles, and ruins. There´s plenty of it that its hard to choose which one is the better than the renowned Neuschwanstein and the long list of other beautiful ones! What I found so interesting is that most castles in Germany are built in strategic locations—either on top of a mountain, hill, on a cliff, or to something of a hidden route.In most castles that we´ve seen, we always need to climb up, trek and do some hiking before we where there.It requires an effort but good thing most of them are accessible even to handicapped persons. Mainly because practically, they are built for defensive purposes, and yes, they are a symbol of power during Medieval times!

I can only share a few which we visited but I still have a long list of castles that I really love to see someday. Some castles have been well maintained, but then some are totally left in ruins.Anyway, let´s get acquainted with different German terminologies regarding Castles. You might find this very helpful why they have so many names about it where the rest of the world only refers to it as “castles“.

This view awaits after the hike to explore the ruins of Rabenstein Castle , the oldest of the three castles .Once you reached this far, you will have a magnificent view of the main Danube canal, Altmühl valley and the Prunn Castle from a far.
On top of the ruins of Rabestein Castle in Riedenburg, in the vicinity of Altmühltal valley in Bavaria
Not only Kings and Queen lives in a Palace, also Knights in shining Armor.

In Germany, we have “Burg” (Castle) which means strong, fortified buildings. Then we have” Schloss ” where a certain Royal family lives, a king or Queen have lived here. Schloss can also mean a large Manor House where noble families lives.” Festung” is Fortress, which by the name denotes means a fortified ,large and secured castle.It is normally surrounded with walls and built up on high place.

The first castle that I´ve seen and made me developed this quest is Burg Eltz located in West Germany, in Rhineland-Palatinate. I travelled here with my 1 year old daughter way back then. I love the mystery it holds, right upon the first time I ever saw it. It is well tucked in the middle of the forest and getting there is really something.This castle dates from 12th century.It is very well maintained and the tour inside is impecabble.This castle has been owned by the Eltz family. Location wise, it is a very beautiful castle.It looks so romantic, and really brings you back to Medieval times!I am glad I was able to see its 850 years of history! It´s not surprising that it is considered as a German treasure since it is once featured in a 500 DM note from 1961-1995! Writing this makes me dream again of seeing it once again.Here´s my fairytale trip in Burg Eltz.

Here in Bavaria, southern part of Germany, Schloss Prunn is known to be the jewel of Riedenburg, the heart of Altmühl valley. Prunn Castle is one the best preserved Knight castle in Bavaria.It is located 70 meters above the Altmühl valley so its famous for a wonderful panoramic views.We visited this castle during Corona times , we were the only guest inside the castle since we were early to avoid the crowds.The view from above is amazing!

On top of the mountain sits the ruins of Burg Randeck.
The neighborhood of Knights ( Burg Randeck)
Panoramic views of Altmühltal valley

After Burg Prunn, we drive in the vicinity of Essing to check out the ruins of Burg Randeck.This is another lovey area within the Altmühl valley where we see well preserved bridges.Burg Randeck is a well preserved castle ruins known to be ” Robber Knight´s nest ” which is now owned by Essing Market.Burg Randeck provides us once again with a marvelous views of the nature valley of Altmühltal.The ssuspension bridges against the blue green rivers are sights not to be missed as well as the quaint little town of Essing. Make sure to climb up the ruins up to the Castle dungeon and Hunger tower because it will reward you with breathtaking views especially on a clear sunny day.

My everday view, our very own New Castle here in Ingolstadt, here shown on the background photo from Klenzepark.
Falcon show at Schloss Rosenberg ( Falkenhof)

Another fascinating castle in the vicinity of Altmühltal valley is Schloss Rosenberg also known as Falkenhof.This is another castle situated high ridge of the Altmühl valley.We had a unique experience of seeing the Falcon show where we see amazing art of training Falcons, eagles and owls.There is an outstanding Museum about the history of Falcontry,as well as birds of prey and other local wildlife.

We did another hike and explohre another ruins which really took us by surprise.The ruins of the Rabenstein Castle is located on a mountain slope near Rosenberg.The trek was narrow but then the views are very beautiful, this ruins is from a small medieval castle, probably from the 12th century, and is the oldest of the three castle complexes in Riedenburg. It is believed that the builders were the Rabensteiners, since an Albert von Rabenstein was mentioned in a document in the 13th century.What is amazing is that we saw Burg Prunn and the quaint town of Riedenburg.

On a cycling tour to chase some castles in Neuburg an der Donau with this one!

We did a 23 km cycling tour to Neuburg an der Donau and here we saw “Jagdschloss Grünau“. The Grünau Castle is located about 7 kilometers east of Neuburg an der Donau and is in between the largest forest in Central Europe.This castle is an example of early Renaissance architecture.the Wittelsbach Count Palatine Ottheinrich had it builht as a proof of his love for his wife Susanna.It was originally built as a moated castle, but the trenches have now been silted up.

Grünau´s castle´s impressive Facade

Also in Neuburg an der Donau is another beautiful palace called Residenzschloss Neuburg.Some parts of it were under renovation during our visit but then there are so many highlights to be seen including the inner courtyard.This palace is an important early Renaissance building built by Count Palatine Ottheinrich from 1530 to 1545.The palace chapel is the oldest churh building in Bavaria and the Frescoes were done by Hans Bocksberger.The castle courtyard is equipped with a sgraffiti facade, which shows scenes from the Old Testament by Hans Schroer (after 1555).

Beautiful Frescoes in the Rezidenzschloss Neuburg
The beautiful town of Neuburg an der Donau

We made a daytrip and went to visit the Imperial Castle in Nuremberg. The historical “Kaiserburg” also known as the the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg is the most important symbol of Nuremberg. Though this city was heavily bombed from WW II, the city has restored most of its iconic structures including this castle. Just like any other castle, this castle holds an important part of history. This castle is in fact one of the most important fortresses in the whole of Germany and was first mentioned in 1105. From 1050 to 1571, all holy Roman Emperors resided in this castle. One of the largest and most modern youth hostels in Germany is located in one of the former Imperial stables.

The tower of Nuremberg Imperial Palace against the blue skies in Bayern.

Hiking this palace with a stroller is quite tough.It can be challenging gainst the warm summer so if you want to explore this with children, better to schedule your trip wisely.The views from above is worth the effort.

Nuremberg Castle

Notable things to check on in this Xastle is the Deep Well . The well house is located in the center of the outer Bailey. The shaft of the well was hewn into the rock to a depth of 47 meters. A highlight of the visit is also the round Sinwell Tower (“sinwell” Middle High German = very round), which was built as a keep for the Imperial Castle in the 2nd half of the 13th century; the topmost storey and the interior wooden roof construction were built in the 1560s.More about this Castle will be found on my separate Post about Imperial Castle Nuremberg.

Our very own Neues Schloss in Ingolstadt. Here standing like a magical palace beneath the snow during Winter.

Of course how can I forget about our very own New Castle located here in Ingolstadt.New Castle (Neues Schloss) is propably one of the most important Gothic secular buildings here in Bavaria.Now it is the home of the Armee Museum in Bavaria. One of the worthwhile things to see is the ray of unique Cannons with lion heads.

How about you, when was the last time you´ve been in a castle?As for me, I love castles, but not fairytales. I think we can never be royals, but then we can visit Palaces and Castles

Until next time on our new Expat adventures! Bleib gesund, stay healthy and Tschüss!

Life lately under Corona lockdown in Germany

The day people stayed home…

What goes around, comes around

The moment that the Corona virus arrived here in Germany, especially here in Bavaria, this saying had been hovering in my mind.Too bad that what goes around is something that we all doesn´t look forward to. It all took us all off- guard. Unprepared , confused, and scared, we slowly moved into social distancing. This saying is totally true in all sense right now. It´s been almost 24 days now that we stayed at home, and each day becomes a merciless repeat of yesterday’s innuendo. Amidst of this global Corona pandemic, we managed to stay safe, healthy and sane. This is the first time that I am personally experiencing this type of hysteria and yes, I have learned a lot. I guess these part of our lives will be set in history so I decided to made a journal about life lately under Corona Lockdown here in Germany.

Memories of past walks

The news are all scary, some data , especially the infections and death rates are even unbelievably unimaginable, but then it all boils down to one: Everyone´s health is at risk.From Asia to Europe, to Us and to far east and through out all parts of the world, the slow process of shutting down is still on its course. We don´t know until when. Now we are all under this big black cloud of wondering what will happen in the coming days and weeks.

March 16 was the first day that we officially ” go under lockdown” here in Bavaria because of Corona virus containment plan. I think Bavaria was even the first region to declare this emergency measure to prevent the spread of the virus.Supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals are open and limited office are on operation, and that includes my husband´s office. Yes, he still goes to work every day. He does most of the shopping and right now we can´t do anything about this situation. His work cannot be done thru homeoffice so we have no other choice. We practice proper hygiene,wash our hands frequently, shower immediately after he came home. I even sewed masks for all of us so we have protection whenever we go out.We wear masks and gloves when we go out and take precaution all the time.

Life under Lockdown

Outside, people got into panic. Everyone is buying toilet papers and doing ” Hamster kaufen” or simply panic buying. I heard from my colleagues that they did bulky grocery shopping and stocked up on potatoes, pastas, rice and other food. I couldn´t believe it.The shelves in supermarkets got empty. Even bread is out! Paracetamol is out from Pharmacies as well. Disinfectants and sanitizers were all gone.It was crazy.The Pandemic had arrived in Germany!Talking about masks, it was completely obsolete here.

Almost empty streets

Friday, March 13th, the government announced that effective Monday, March 16th, all schools and Kindergarten to closed up until Easter holiday. That would be almost 2 weeks!! I almost didn´t believed it once I heard about it! My worry during this time was who will take care of my daughter while we go to work. What is happening outside tells me that there is really something ” serious” going on. At work, more and more conferences were cancelled because of the scare of Corona virus.We were even advised that if we are sick, we should not report to work. The following day, the Hotel where I am working urgently announced that we´ll be closing for the meantime due to the Corona pandemic and all staff will be on ” Kurzarbeit” until further notice. Kurzarbeit here in Germany means short term work , or simply put as an agreement between the employer and employee about a temporary solution on a crisis like this.We´ll be earning less because we´ll have shorter hours of work, we won´t lose our jobs and part of our income will be compensated by the German government. On the other hand, I was relieved hearing about this, because it means my child will stay at home with me and therefore we will have less risk to be infected. Although it´s not the perfect situation because my husband still goes to work every single day. He´s still on the risk because he goes out everyday.

Someone mediated…someone prayed…someone met their shadow…

We feel the pressure of this and it is never easy. I felt that life outside is never safe anymore. I´ve went out a couple of times to get something from a store and it never feel safe as it is before. There´s really a big change

Today is Wednesday already, the 8th of April and on Sunday comes Easter. Corona suddenly changed the way we will be celebrating Easter.The “Ostermarkt” was already cancelled, together will all the other public events here in Ingolstadt. Days comes quick and ends without no doubt, fast and fleeting. We have sunny days over here and we spend most of our times getting some much needed sunshine in our little garden and my kid played in the Terrace , cycle or ride her roller. We hung eggs in our yellow ” Forsythia” bush and probably make an easter egg hunt in the garden.

We begin to think differently…

When I told my daughter what is going on and why we didn’t bring her to Kindergaten, she just said ” Oh then we are going to do the 30 days challenge Mama! ” She meant that everyday we need to do something creative, more playtime and learning exercises! Indeed we will and we ought to be. Day after day we get creative and bent on learning while Kindergarten is closed.Quarantine with kids is a lot of work but we try to stay positive. She´s supposed to start school on September so we busied ourselves and devoting at least 2 hours doing exercises. It is not always easy being stuck at home with an active child, but then I explained to my daughter what is going on and she slowly understands the need for social distancing. One day while playing in the garden, one of her friend passed by and the 2 girls wanted to hug each other and suddenly hesitated after a quick look…it all looks and feel strange now. I guess it would take a little while to go back to the usual norm.Probably soon…but definitely not yet now.

Spring arrived in the corner and promises the gift of healing.

On the other side, quarantine is by all means welcomed by myself.I see it as a time to go back to my roots and really dig in to what really matters.

Family matters…Staying healthy matters…communicating to loved-ones and friends who are far away is important. Caring during this time is important.

I am not going to deny the fear that I feel everyday. I think I´ve prayed more and more than I ever praxed in my life.The day after lockdown was announced, I got sick.I catch a bad cold and on the next day, my voice was totally gone. I have no idea what to do.I decided to call my doctor quickly and ask if I could visit for an urgent check up. In the clinic there was already an announcement that we need to observe ” Abstand” or social distancing. Meaning, we need to put space, a physical distance between others. In supermarkets as well this is very evident. There was a big bottle of disinfectant right on the door for the patients to use before and after leaving the clinic. The “corona scare” is totally evident everywhere. Turns out that I had an infection in my tonsils and went on antibiotic.I kept watching for other symptoms but that God I get better just after 3 days. In time of Corona, a simple cough is seen like a deadly stigma, it creates a wall and unsolicited looks and stare from others. It is an uncomfortable feeling. The feeling of isolation is totally different when you got sick in times like these.

I learned new ways of being.

The worries that my family, my husband and my little daughter would be put into the risk and everything kept me always on guard. Nowadays I think I am cleaning and disinfecting the whole house more than I did before. The more that I listened and watch news all over the world, the smaller my perspectives become so I tried to limit now myself from stress of media exposure. I decided to filter what I feed my mind and what I feel. I can still be well informed about the virus and not be stressed by it. When I have ” free time”, I absorbed myself with writing drafts in my Blog, I still have lots of unfinished stuff to be done. It´s been ages since my last post and I feel ashamed of this neglect. I painted a lot until I ran out of paints, cooked meals for my family, everyday we read more, hugged more. We always find ourselves looking for ideas to bake.I tidied up the garden and tend to my plants. That gave me unquestionable peace. I am grateful that at least we have a little space to breathe and my daughter has a place to run around.

A new life..new beginning

Living with plants have reminded me that nature has its own course to follow. They know the times very well. Their time to sprout new buds and leaves really signals growth and hope, reminding me that all of these, shall soon pass.The sunshine flooded our living room and terrace nowadays.It felt good to do some BBQ in the garden and quick chat with the neighbors.With short moments like these, I am reminded to be grateful, to move on and keep my sanity.

How about you? How was life lately under lockdown?

Guten Appetit! White sausage for Breakfast?!

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

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

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

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

What’s in their table for breakfast?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ein leckeres Frühstuck! ( A deliscious breakfast!)

What do you usually eat for breakfast?

What is the native specialty in your place?

More of the Food culture in Germany in these Posts :

The land with a thousand Sausages

870 -Year Old Historic Sausage Kitchen in Germany

Goodbye Oktoberfest, Hello Lebkuchen!

Have you enjoyed this post?

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

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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 !

Frostbite and Silvester

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Frozen Beauty in Winter

One more day and its finally Silvester ! We are on the last stretch of 2018 and soon a brand new year comes. Silvester happens on December 31st,  the last day of the year and day before New Year. This day is observed and widely celebrated here in Germany. I don’t know why but whenever I think of Silvester, I think of something sparkling, something flashy, loud and silver or gold. In real life, this day doesn’t come as flashy and loud as it seems to be. Believe me, after New Year’s eve, the streets are quiet and people are sleeping-in, most of us are staying indoors ( or if we’re not on the road) because its cold outside and nothing much is going on. It’s also the time where frost comes and covered  the decaying branches with blanket of snow and turns everything into something nice..to look at!  It’s a beautiful sight to watch but the inner side of me screams! I don’t even feel merry and bright  anymore when I think about snow and the freezing temperatures. I don’t like the cold much and everyday I am already dreaming of Spring. Can anyone relate?

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In the mood for some Outdoor ice skating

This is  gonna be our 3rd Silvester , time flies remembering our first Silvester here,  and last year while we celebrated New Year in Austria, in the mountains where we enjoyed the views of snow-capped Alps and ogling the crystals in Swarovski in Wattens.

There’s nothing new to tell about cold German Winter weather, it’s been cold, grey, cloudy and rainy almost everyday.We have minus temps but we haven’t had a white carpet of snow that we can officially called White Christmasor Winter Wonderland. This new tradition came like a surprise to me because normally, I haven’t even heard of this, it doesn’t exist in the East, especially in South East Asia.

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Frost came into town

For the past days after celebrating not only 1 but TWO— days of Christmas,  (December 25 and 26), days went lazy, slow, unhurried and just a series of eat, sleep, make a mess days for the little one. Meeting up with friends, eating and drinking on repeat and series of brunches outside and some year-end shopping spree  keep us motivated to wait for the new year.With almost 1.5 weeks of vacation, we had to think of something to do everyday, especially to entertain the little one.I personally needed this break but with a super active 4 year old  who wakes up early and play  Lego , Cashier and shopping, we can never sleep-in for so long!

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Throwback to really sparkling crystal world of Swarovski

Anyway, if you’ve missed my post about last year’s Silvester, here’s some tiny bits of info about it. The tradition of Silvester comes from a 4th century Roman saint: Pope Silvester I (before I thought it spelled Sylvester). Besides the fact that he served as pope from 314 to 335, there’s very little information in internet about Silvester, though several legends have sprung up around his name.  One, sown in a forged account called “Donation of Constantine,” claimed that he had been miraculously cured of leprosy.

The feast of St. Sylvester—that is to say, his burial ceremony—took place on December 31, 335. When the Gregorian calendar was reformed in 1582, the last day of the year was placed on December 31st, combining Silvester’s feast day with what we now call New Year’s Eve.  Despite the shared date, most German Silvester traditions actually stem from a far older pagan celebration called Rauhnächte.

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All white and frozen
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A Silvester kind of day in Germany

Here, just after Christmas, fireworks flooded supermarkets and each one has a special offers and sale! Fireworks is legal here in Germany but it is not so frequent to see large fireworks display. I suddenly remember the Guinness World Record Fireworks display in Kuwait where my neck cramped from almost an hour of unbelievable fireworks, all for the sake of Pyromania! Here on the other hand, fireworks are enjoyed in every backyard on New Year’s eve and  really just for personal satisfaction. You don’t feel like in a competition with your neighbor of who has the loudest, grandest and probably the eardrum breaking noise.Here I observed, some are not even bothered by it because the roller shutters of the windows are already down.

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It’s not too late to enjoy the remaining Plätzchen (little Christmas cookies ) while having movie-marathons!

Large fireworks display are happening mostly in  Berlin, where most of street parties for the countdown is also held, right in front of Brandenburg Tor, or in other key cities like Hamburg or Munich. What is interesting thing about Silvester here in Germany, right after the loud noises and firecrackers, people tidy up their  own mess, they don’t leave the streets swamped with fireworks litter. But definitely no people drive their cars with dangling cans and making noises! I saw in the news that there’s even a call to lessen the fireworks display in New Year’s eve to lessen the injuries caused by it and the issue of environment protection where approx. 4,500 fine dust is bound to be released in the air in welcoming 2019.

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Take your pick— Raclette, German’s favourite way to dig in during Silvester

Many restaurants also offers  many Silvester parties. If you are guilty of all the calories you’ve been gaining from all the christmas foods, then you can just opt for Silvester snacks, which is also a norm here.  Young people who party like an animal till dawn and dance the new year away. Another common  tradition for families as well is eating a la Carté “Raclette”! I love this way of dining together with  stove range or hot-grill stove in the center of the table and every one has each own pans and  the chance to “cooked”their own meal based on their choices. This reminds me as well of Korea’s Shabu-Shabu and Fondue which is also a favourite New Year’s choice.My first Raclette experience was in Netherlands this year with my Dutch family where we have  different  cut cheeses, meat cuts, chicken shawarma  slices, würsts (sausages) , champignons ( mushroom), omelette, bacon,salads, and veggies. It is super “Gezellig” (Dutch) and “Gemütlich” (German) . These are two foreign words means “coziness, homey , warm and fulfilling” of dining or eating. As much as I want to do Raclette  when I want, I just can’t because we are only 3 in the family! Raclette though applies to big families, or if you host dinner parties or brunches during holiday season!

Another common New Year threat in Silvester and New Year is Doughnuts (Krafpen) filled up with sweet marmalade or if you’ve got lucky, you have it in mustard sauce. My wish is that Krispy Creme opens up here in Ingolstadt then we are happy! Last but not the least, if it happens that you visit Germany in Silvester or during New Year, don’t panic when people greets you with these infamous yet really unique greetings:

Wir wünschen einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr”! (We wish you a happy new year.)

” Ich wünsche einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr ! “(I wish you a happy new year.)

So , how was your year so far? Are you ready to have a good slide in 2019?

What are your unique New Year traditions in your country?

Happy New Year everyone!

Until then , Tschüss!

Celebrating Christmas, the German way!

Ever wonder what makes Christmas or Weihnachten in Germany different from the rest of the world? Every country has its own traditions, but have you ever wondered how Germans celebrate Christmas?

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Life in Germany : Skating in ice while waiting for Advent and Christmas !

There’s no stopping time now, few more weeks and November is over and here comes the end of 2017. And yes, Christmas is really just around the corner. Snow came early to Germany and winter-feel is definitely in the air. As the fire in the sky continue to pull the days closer to the merriest time of the year, also the darkest time, Christmas  or Weihnachten is heavily anticipated not only here in Germany, but also in the rest of the world. If you are planning to have a white Christmas or visiting Germany in the summer, you can now have the chance to learn about the unique and surprising  German Christmas traditions in the Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town, also here in Bavaria.

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Local sightings in Christkindlmarkt : Beautiful hand crafted Christmas figurines

It’s almost a decade now that I don’t celebrate Christmas in my home country, the Philippines. Time really flies,and it feels even surreal. I totally missed the way we do it as a family, just like in the old times. It’s quite the norm from where I grew up that once the calendar months ends in-ber, say from September, it signals the start of Christmas frenzy!We start to hear Christmas songs played in the radio, the shops are flooded already with Christmas decorations, and yes, office Christmas parties are planned. The raffles, the never- ending exchange gifts, and yes—the most awaited Christmas bonus! I will never forget the evening mass and “Noche Buena“, the Kris Kringle madness, the jaw-dropping Christmas foods, and the crazy traffic during Christmas shopping! Everything is just so festive!

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Only in Germany : Angel or what??? This is the Christkind , the star of German Christmas markets

For the past years, I have seen so many differences in the way that other culture celebrate the most colorful time of the year, and for Catholics, it’s probably the most festive. When I was still living in Kuwait, although it’s a Muslim country, the spirit of Christmas can still be felt, unfortunately only in the confines of private accommodation and flat. At work, we were also granted with a holiday from work during Christmas Day. I even attended the midnight mass once. I noticed that more and more shopping malls have their Christmas decor and it is being talked about. The large number of expats in the Middle East is the reason, why  even miles away from home, you can still celebrate Christmas with friends and families. I had my first German Christmas last year here in Bavaria , with full anticipation (since I am very curious). I found many interesting German Christmas traditions that is worthy to document here in my Blog as part of my Expat life.

If you want to know how Germans celebrate Christmas the German way, then you might find this post helpful. So keep on reading and stay with me.

Here I wanna share with you  the surprising German traditions for Christmas that I personally love!

Christmas in Germany is beautiful, unique, homey and very warm!  

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Adventzeit : Light it up…!

The Advent Wreath or Der Adventskranz

The moment I saw these wreaths and candles, I know that Christmas is near. Back in my home country, I see these decorated wreaths as purely decorational, of course, minus the lighted candles.They are used to adorn the doors, and add to the already overwhelming Christmas decorations together with all the garlands in the walls, stairs etc. Not so here in Germany, because  Advent  time is important for Germans.

The German Christmas season officially starts at the first Sunday of Advent, roughly 3rd of December. The Advent wreath (or Adventskranz) is adorned with four candles, one of which is lit on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The first Advent wreath, which appeared in the mid-19th century, had 4 larger candles and 19 smaller ones. Each day, one additional candle was lit to help the children count the days until Christmas. Today only the four larger candles remain. Many Germans love to decorate their Adventskranz up to their own taste but there are also so many different designs of ready-made ones sold in almost every shop.

Adventskalendar —the sweet way of Christmas countdown.

During Advent season, you will never miss the sight of tons of Adventskalendar , (literally a Calendar with small boxes) almost overwhelming  in many designs, colors, and yes, all with yummy goodness chocolates or sweet goodies. This is one of the obvious signs that Christmas is coming. This is a delight for children and the child at heart. In the Adventskalendar, there are 24 “windows” that reveal a picture, poem or even part of a story – often the story of the Nativity – each day through December right up to Christmas Eve when the secret behind the largest window is revealed. Seeing Germans do  panic-buying of Adventskalendars especially when they are on Sale is a typical sight as early as 2nd week of November! This is totally German thing!

Weichnachtsplätzchen or German Christmas Cookies 

You know it’s the Advent season here in Germany when your nose is filled with heavenly delicious German Christmas cookies. Germans are very into home- made baking. They really appreciate if  you made the plätzchen  yourself and not  store-brought. They are great bakers of cookies and other treats.There are lots of baked treats that will surely keep your mouth-watering. My favorites are vanillekipferl (vanilla crescent cookies) Lebkuchen, Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), Linzer cookies and Spekulaas as well.Germans love to use lots of almonds, hazelnuts, butter flavored marzipan and cinnamon in baking. Believe me, German cookies  are too beautiful and heavily decorated to eat!

Weihnachtsmann Schokolade or Chocolate Santa Claus

Its only here in Germany that Chocolate Santa Claus  ( or Weihnachtsmann) floods the shelf of all supermarkets here in Germany. Prior to Christmas, St. Nikolaus is celebrated on the 5th of December and so most Germans get this yummy figures in many sizes. If you have a child, I am sure you will get this one as well.

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Christmas in Germany

Christmas Tree or  Der Tannenbaum

With over 400 years in history, the Tannenbaum or the Christmas Tree is the real thing in Germany! The German Tannenbaum is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve, though some families opt to put up their tree during the Advent season. Please don’t tell anyone, but we already put up our Christmas Tree! Maybe my neighbors are shaking their heads when they see our lighted tree from our windows! I also see my neighbors starts to decorate their windows and garden with white lights. Who doesn’t? For us, Weihnachtsfreude  (Christmas Joy) comes early! In Philippines, this is also the norm.

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German Christmas markets

I grew up in adoration of Christmas Tree. Traditionally, I think it’s not complete when we don’t have a tree. Recently, on my research of German inventions, I found out that Christmas trees or Tannenbaum, actually originates here in Germany. I saw the biggest tree that I have ever seen in my  life, to top it all— a  REAL Evergreen Conifer , decorated with glass baubles, covered in real snow. Although there are lots of varieties for the plastic ones, most Germans still opt to put up the traditional real tree. During Christmas season, almost all town put up a giant tree in the city center adjacent to the place of Christmas market.Decorated with beautiful, handmade balls, and usually adorned with white lights.Compared to the Philippines, here I noticed that they only use white lights instead of colorful, blinking Christmas lights. And NO— they don’t decorate their whole house with lights!It’s also fascinating to know that it was German immigrants who brought the Christmas tree to America.

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Christmas Baubles, authentic German Christmas ornaments

In Germany, Christmas balls are not just an ordinary tree ornament. Where most of the  modern Christmas ornaments and plastic balls  nowadays are made in China, USA or Mexico, the origin of these “baubles” or Glaskugeln came from Germany. The old town of Lauscha in German Thuringia is said to be the place of the handmade, glass-blown Christmas bauble.

Below is the photo of  the family Weschenfelder work on Christmas balls in their combined living room and work space in the small village of Lauscha.

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Image Source   

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These are some of the pretty Baubles I saw in the Christmas market

Christmas Markets  or Christkindlmarkt

In Germany, despite the freezing temperatures, almost all towns are converted into one colorful, festive, unique Christmas wonderland during few weeks before Christmas day. Our local Christkindlmarkt  is open since November 23 up to Dec. 23.  Every place has its own attraction and each one has their own special features that draws attraction to everyone. If you want to have a glimpse of what is Christmas market all about, check this and it will bring you to a winter wonderland!

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O Tannenbaum!

Today there are over 2,500 Christmas markets across Germany. One of my dream came true when I experience Christkindlmarkt last year. Famous ones  are in Nuremberg, Munich and Rothenburg. Most markets are open also on Sundays and draws lots of visitors from neighboring places.This is the best time to see Germany in its most colorful and unique display of celebrating Christmas with the highlights of the Christkindl —the German equivalent for the world-renowned Santa Claus and depicted as an angelic figure with blond hair & wings. It’s really not time of the year without a Christkindlmarkt here in Germany.

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Heart-shaped Lebkuchen or German Gingerbread  cookies.

St. Nikolaus and the Christkind

Santa Claus originated as a Catholic figure. The Christkind was created by Protestants. Christkind transformed from a suggestion of Baby Jesus into a blonde, female angel. In Nürnberg, each year a teenage girl is chosen to represent the Christkind in the weeks leading up to Christmas. She is known as the Nürnberger Christkind and, much like with Santa, children take pictures with her and tell her what gifts they would like for Christmas. The highlight of each Christmas markets is the German’s famous mulled wine or “Glühwein” or hot spiced wine, the Krippenweg, the beautiful craft stalls, and lots of traditional German Christmas food. There are so many attractions for kids like carousel, trains, carousel and the ice skating rink. One thing worth mentioning is the efficiency of  Germans in their way of setting up the whole place into a big arena  winter wonderland within weeks or so.

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Only in Germany : Forget Santa, meet the Christkindl and Saint Nicholas

 Sankt Nikolaustag ( Dec. 5 or 6)

I grew up believing the magical tale of  Santa Claus as someone who is a bearded old man, with a big belly, dressed in red outfit riding the sleigh with sacks of gifts. All the way from the North pole giving gifts to children. But in Philippines, we don’t have snow neither reindeer or chimneys, so this makes me cringe now.  For many children, sitting in the lap of Santa Claus while being photographed is one of the most unforgettable time during Christmas. They either scream in anguish or shriek in delight! Here in Germany, there is no such thing as Santa Claus, only the Weichnachtsmann who is a favorite among children during St. Nicholas Day! My daughter will be celebrating her 2nd St. Nicholas in their Kindergarten this year.

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My daughter’s first Nikolaustag ( St. Nicholas )

In Germany,  December 5th is a very special night. Many children put their cleaned boots and shoes outside the front door on the night of 5 December. They believe that St. Nicholas fills the boot with nuts, oranges, gifts and sweets overnight. Sometimes the Nikolaus also visits the children at the Kindergarden or in the school and asks them if they have been good.My daughter already hung her sock in their Kita for the upcoming St. Nicholas. In Holland, as similar to this celebration, Sinterklaas is also a big celebration before Christmas.

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Frohe Weichnachten!

Christmas Eve – Heiliger Abend (also Heiligabend)

December 24 is still a regular working day here in Germany. But around 2:00 pm, often even earlier, businesses, and most shops are close in preparation for the holiday celebration, a large part of which occurs on Christmas Eve in Germany. The traditional evening meal includes carp and potato salad, but nowadays it varies from what each family loves to prepare. Families sing Christmas carols together and may read the story of Christ’s birth aloud.This is the counterpart of our traditional “Noche Buena” without the roasted pig, Christmas ham and Queso de Bola ( Cheese ball)! Compared to the Philippines and other countries, I don’t see  Christmas Carollers here either that goes from house to house, at least not in our neighborhood.Probably because its hard to sing and be out at night when its freezing cold at night.

Family members exchange gifts and children are typically the focal point of the gift exchange. Here in Germany,  opening gifts on Heiliger Abend is the normal way, compared to other countries who opens the gifts on the morning of December 25th.

I grew up attending Midnight Christmas mass or Simbang Gabi. We usually attend evening mass on a 9-day series of mass up to the” Misa de Gallo “or ( Christmas eve mass) . Here in Bavaria, I only went to the mass on Christmas Day, German families – whether Protestant or Catholic and even those who are not regular church-goers – often attend mass or a church service. While the mass traditionally takes place at midnight, in recent times the services have moved into the earlier evening hours. It is terribly cold around midnight or in early morning so the schedule of the mass usually happens around 9 in the morning. The mass is in German and it was a great experience for a first timer like me who listens to Christmas songs in German.

Second day of Christmas ( or St. Stephen Day)

Here in Germany, you have an excuse to sleep in after the big party from Christmas. Yes, Germans and other countries in Europe including the Netherlands have 2 days of Christmas, both are legal and widely celebrated holidays! This is a mellow day, a quiet day to recover from the hustle of  everything. Depending on the weather, people are still very active, running, jogging and doing sports during the 2nd day of Christmas. For typical Germans, they spend the second day of Christmas with their families, visiting Grandparents, enjoying seasonal threats and of course–ruhe or enjoying some peace & contemplation.

Also, do you know what else Germans do after Christmas?

Christmas won’t be complete without shopping!

They go shopping to grab the year-end clearance sales and buy everything on a decent price! Yes, Germans are practical, and spend their money wisely! Last year, we got our 7- foot Christmas Tree on sale for half of its original price!And we will be on the lookout once again for great things to buy this year!

How about you, do you also have unique Christmas traditions?

How do you prepare for Christmas for your family?

 

Sending you some warm cheers for the coming holidays!

 

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