Baggersee and wind of Changes

When life gives you a picture-perfect lake, then write your thoughts about it.

Here comes the sun and it’s finally June!

I am welcoming this month with an open arms because it’s a beautiful month. With sun and sunshine, summer flowers, BBQ and grilling! My plants are happy and back to life again, and the best thing of all, I can finally wear shorts and sleeveless, minus the chill. Oh June, how elusive you are but you are the month that is the gateway for summer! It’s been a cold and long winter here in Bavaria but smiles are returned on all our faces now—-we’ve got sunshine finally!

See the photos below, aren’t they stunning?

This is Baggersee , before a reclamation area and turned into some kind of green oasis located in the western part of Ingolstadt. This is another private gallery that I wanted to share with you guys. This lake is a special lake ( or See in German) that is super close to where I lived. It’s about 10 minutes by bicycle and a 15 minutes lazy walking distance. It’s the second largest lake here in Ingolstadt with about an area of about 50 hectares. It is connected to the Donau ( Danube) river and offers a beautiful cycling path that connects Ingolstadt to other neighboring Bavarian cities through the Donau Radweg.

I often mention this lake here in my Blog. This place can be boring for others but for me, Baggersee is a perfect family getaway . It’s actually an advantage that we have it so close to us. It’s the venue for annual Triathlon in Ingolstadt , Kids for Run, and Fishermen’s Festival. There are Biergartens, water play areas, playgrounds, sports activity areas for volleyball, tennis etc., Wildpark or a reserve for wild animals, restaurants, BBQ & grill areas, lounging areas and so much more. You can actually do everything here, even camping! People enjoy so many water sports like kayaking, canoeing, swimming and diving. This place is turned into a winter wonderland when it is covered with snow! I once walked on this frozen lake and it was an unforgettable experience.

I thought of this subject because I’m using the photos I’ve took from my last visit to Baggersee. This place reminds me every time of the winds of changes that I’ve been through and going through. Time flies so fast, I can’t believe that I’m already three years living here in Germany. Anyhow, I have seen this place in every single season but my favourite time to visit is during summer! This lake is so peaceful, a nature haven and the feeling of tranquility is all over the place. It’s beauty is raw. It’s an image of pure beauty, unfiltered. I usually do a 5.4 km walk-jog-run thing here whenever I have the feels for it and going through this lake brings me to a whole lot of meditation and spiritual intercourse which brings me back to sanity. It’s actually my first-to-go-place if I wanted to go closer to nature and cycle.

A sight of migrating birds in Baggersee
It’s all about perspectives!

After all, not all Bloggers create stories about their experiences, sometimes, they just plainly write about their life.

Here in Germany, it seems like we missed Spring. It was not like last year where it was more cooler , warmer and sunnier. For the last two weeks we were drenched with heavy rains , with cloudy and grey weather every single day. The waters of the river Danube was on the highest I’ve ever seen! It’s actually quite a sight to watch the raging waters from the dam. I was already wondering if the sun would finally come out.

The serene beauty of the river Danube in Spring. This photo is taken from one of my early morning cycling.

I have been away for so long that I haven’t written so much and updated this Blog. This is actually my first post once again after a long period of blogging hibernation! I have been so busy nowadays and squeezing time for writing, blogging, painting and working is such a dilemma. Sorry that it’s only now that I discovered the feedback and contact options of WordPress. I didn’t know about it so it’s only now that I’ve read the messages you guys are sending me. Thank you so much for all the feedback and appreciation for my writing. I truly appreciate your support and comments. For those of you who keeps on following this Blog and sticking out with me, thank you. I realized that you really need to find time for all the things that you loved—that’s it, no excuses!

Anyway, here’s another shot of the beautiful sunny day photo from Baggersee. As I watched the fishermen doing their own thing, the Nordic walkers, and the glamorous sunbathers kill their time here as I did, I just thought that I’m really grateful to have access to this place.The winds of changes blows here wild on a cloudy, cold winter day, but in Summer, this place is something else–an escape, an oasis, a lounge for tired souls.

The magic of watching sunrise and sunsets.

There’s so much things that happened to me personally for the past months.I am checking up on my Blog and wanted to complete all my drafts and write about so many things but the moment that I’m sitting behind my laptop, the ideas seems to fly and I can’t squeeze it out and directly going to bed.I missed blogging and being in touch with my other fellow Bloggers and reading about their writings. I wanted to write comments to many articles that I’ve read but I was just too tired to complete them. I think that when it comes to Blogging, you need to be in a community– with interaction, and motivation to be involved .You can’t blog all for yourself. You need other people to read your stuff for you to survive. It’s not a one way track.

Anyways, since last year, I am back to working and I am trying to balance my time as a working Mama. It feels great to be back again and have another purpose and reason to get up every single day.After I finished my German course and passed my exam, one month after I got the chance to work . What I love about working in Germany is the privileges of a working mother. Here, you can work part-time and you don’t feel the social stigma. I noticed that most of German mothers are really investing their time on the first 3 years of their child and work less and focus more on their family. This setting fits me perfectly because afternoons are for my daughter. My daughter is 4 ( Oh how time really flies! ) and she goes everyday in the Kindergarten. She was often sick last Winter and took a long time to recover so it really gives us a stress. She always bring home the germs from the Kindergarten and most children are always sick so it’s a kind of one thing from another.Honestly, it’s really difficult when your child is sick and you need to go to work. We are alone here in Germany and we don’t have any relatives living nearby so we don’t have anybody to ask for a helping hand . The weather doesn’t help either. When its rainy and cloudy everyday, I just want to stay in and it makes me feel depressed.

The winds are blowing hard sometimes and I can’t help but to make a pause, a sort of a much needed break.”

Lakes of Dreams –This is the place where I often meditate and think about the brand new life I have now here in Germany.

Going back to my daughter, she was total rolling ball of sunshine. She got to dressed up as an Astronaut last Kinder ball or something like a Carnival, dressed up party here in Bavaria. She is in love with superheroes like crazy. She doesn’t want ever to wear a dress because she thinks that it’s not cool. Lego and Ninjago were her versions of being cool. For her, Kindergarten was fun, she really made a breakthrough this year. She speaks perfect German and English and she can now read and write, and scribbles a lot! She made quite a number of friends in the Kindergarten and she knows all our neighbors! She calls them all whenever she see them. She is very friendly, talkative, active, and the best of all— now she loves to ride her bike! Did you know that it’s a parent’s milestone when you finally taught your kid to ride a bike?! It was such a joy to see her cycling on her own pace. She even wants to cycle even when its raining and going to school. One special thing that she did yesterday was to cycle from home to Baggersee–on her own and back!

My little monkey doing the Tree-climbing activity in Baggersee!

Do you also have a special place to go to when you just needed a break?

Thank you for reading my friends and hope you come back again for another worthwhile read! Thank you for following this Blog and have a wonderful weekend!

In German we say it “Tschüss!”

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Breakfast with Harley-Davidsons and Ferraris

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Ogling for a Ferrari

I’m not so much of a car-fanatic but there’s something I’ve discovered lately this year. I told you, my town is so small and yet so full of hidden facts that are just waiting to be discovered. And yes, not too late to share but—I found a place where you can have a thrilling one-of-a kind experience of having a breakfast with Rolls-Royce, Harley Davidson, and crazy beautiful sleek fast luxury branded sports cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini. All set in one great ambiance in the business Hotel called Classic Old Timer Hotel! Germans are crazy about their cars but here in Ingolstadt, with the giant Audi HQ set within few kilometers away , everyone is just crazy about cars.There’s no doubt that anyone who visits the old town will probably head to Audi Forum!

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Big bikes are on display!

For car enthusiasts, this is something appealing. Even if cars is not your thing, seeing the showroom from a glance is quite an experience, best of all, its free and open to the public.The showroom is actually a private collection of Mayer Classic cars and it is adjacent to the Hotel premises of Old Timer Classic hotel.

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Mayer Classic cars

Few of the worthwhile collection includes a Ferrari F488 GTB, Lamborghini Aventador, Porsche GT2 RS,F458, and so many more luxury branded cars. If you fancy anything and you’ve got the money, you can even buy it because some pieces are for sale.Unlike the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt, this collection is private and more on classic and luxury branded cars.

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Vintage Wall art 

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Located in front of the Saturn Arena, with just few meters away from the lush Klenzepark and the old town . With its premium location, it also holds  various Rock concerts, fashion shows, and other events .The hotel itself offers a conference room and most of the clients are car-related business as well.

The architecture and design are typical of Hotel standards and the concept of combining the Automobile charisma with the business hospitality of a modern hotel is something new and an absolute win. Not only this place ideal for car lovers, but also for adventure seeking and someone who loves the one above the ordinary.

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The grand showroom of Mayer Classic cars

As I’ve written before in many of my posts, Ingolstadt is a small town here in Bavaria,( approx. 80 km)  away from Munich where the Audi Headquarters is  located.Known for the ancient tales of the secret group Illuminati and the birthplace of the fictional Horror character “Frankenstein“, it offers a lot of diversity and cultural highlights that makes it worthwhile to visit. I can say that for almost 2.5 years of living here, I must say that it does not have the big city vibes like Berlin or Munich, but we feel at home here. It’s safe, clean and we feel at home!

I’ve also visited the Audi Forum  and I am totally immersed to this Automobile culture. This hotel  and the Mayer Classic cars is no exception because even the rooms are designed with car decors. Whether you’re a classic car collector or enthusiast, or simple car lover-admirer, then you should not miss this place.Some regards it only as an additional amenity. The important thing is you got the value of your stay from what you’ve paid for!

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Breakfast with a view!

Hotel guests can enjoy  their breakfast in grand buffet with a view because its free. It’s also a nice place to meet friends and enjoy coffee, or beer in  the Lobby or Reception area.The Reception area  as well shows a lot of car collectibles and vintage decors.

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Bright colorful lamps in the Reception area of the Hotel

There’s something for the stomach and there’s something also to please the eyes. Both senses are fulfilled ,visually and gastronomical. I can tell from my own experience that the breakfast experience is also commendable and worth all the cost. The buffet offers a wide range of choices, from traditional Bavarian breakfast of Kaisersmarrn and weisswursts, Brezen  to american or continental breakfast choices of  cold cuts, muesli, cheeses, salmon fillets (Lachs)  breads and assorted salads. The hot drinks includes numerous Tea variations and coffee, and fruit juices.

When was the last time you’ve experienced something unique and out of the ordinary?

Wishing you all a happy weekend and until then!

 

Tschüss!

Tour guide : My Town in Winter

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My Town : Morning after the snow in Bavaria

Mind you, I am already looking forward for Spring but then from the last few days, I woke up once again with all the streets, houses, and trees all covered in snow . I was dreaming that Winter is finally over, reminding myself once again that to love the cold and winter is a privilege. When its winter, my  own little town is transformed into a wonderland. Well, for people who work and have enormous errands to do, the sight of snow in their doorstep is never a sign of good morning, let alone for me.

Just in time for this week’s Photo Challenge | Tour Guide, let me share with you some photos of what it looks like over here in Bavaria.

As much as I have been mesmerized by the view of my town in bright sunny day on top of the Pfeifturm, seeing it from above once again covered in snow is also a great experience.

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The Danube in Winter time

The still waters of the second longest River in Europe, the Danube ,is a sight to behold, it is like a reflecting glass. Sometimes when I looked over the bridge, I’m thinking what if the river freezes? How nice it would be to be able to walk on top of it.This panoramic sight is such a splendor to see while the seasons change its course.

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Winter mood in the woods

The  morning after a night of snow gives an outstanding stillness and silence . It is so peaceful.This is a path I always pass by almost every single day.The river is sleeping, covered in icy cold fog.

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There’s still beauty even when everything is covered in snow.

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It’s like a scene from a movie that I cannot recall anymore.

Winter is like a dream. You know that soon you need to wake up and realize that reality is just around the corner. On normal days, I don’t see anything special in this place. In Winter, it’s almost like walking into a dreamland, everything is so white. The trees and its wilted branches are quiet witnesses of the cold yet they remain peaceful,  agile  as ever when the snow embrace them once again, all over again.

This path is always frequented by morning joggers and runners, but this time, the path is deserted. I was quite early. I parked my bike a bit further to capture this serene state. It amuses me that there’s not a single footprint or dog footprints yet.

Undisturbed beauty, unparalleled serenity of German long cold winters.

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I love patterns and natural accents.

Beware of walking into the streets, it can be slippery. I’ve seen many people slip and slide through the snow. It’s not a funny sight.

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Nature comes so close, no matter what the season.

One of the things that I love personally is encounters with nature. I love to photograph nature and living here gives me the access for all of it. The thing about Winter in Germany is that people go by all means what they want to do. As the saying goes “Es gibt kein schlechtes wetter, nur schlechte Kleidung” or ” There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing “. This is so true here.Winter is a season to experience, not a time to slow down the time. People still go out, walking and exploring, as they do when the sun is out.Only the type of  outdoor clothing changes.

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What weekends are made of

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Ingolstadt sewer cover : Always remember where YOU Step!

I find it truly special here in Germany that they have an impressive Manholes ( or sewerage system covers). From where I came from, I don’t see anything fascinating about looking down at these manholes. I don’t recall seeing a fascinating one in my times in Kuwait! They are often dangerous especially when its flooding, or dirty, and mostly broken. But when I came to live here, I came to appreciate the great engineering behind it. The craftmanship and history with its logo, the seal ,the coat of arms of each city that I’ve visited. Maybe for others its nonsense, but for me, they are quite extraordinary. So in Winter, of course, there’s still the Bavarian pride!

This post is inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | Tour Guide

La Grande Schmierage V { Hall of Fame Graffiti Art Spray Party}

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Es lebe die Schmierage! 

All for the love of Graffiti Street Artworks !

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Hall of Fame Street Spray Art in Germany

Do you like Graffiti Art? Do you even think its an Art?

Fo a fact, I must say that from a point of view of an artist, you can never contain Art.

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Just like this 250- meter old boring walls of an underpass bridge that becomes a world spectacle of art, talent and spray bottle becomes the medium of artistic expression. I love how a simple place like wall bridges turns into a beautiful display of unique designs and artistic expression—all in a form of the rebellious GRAFFITI!

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This morning , we went with our weekly Wandertag and hop into our bikes. It’s a cloudy Sunday and we have high hopes that it won’t rain.On our way , we made a little detour and it was a lucky start I must say, because as we are approaching the underpass of Unserherrn, near Ringsee, we saw people gathering under the bridge and Graffiti Artists are already absorbed in their work. We made it into the “La Grande Schmierage V “, Hall of Fame, the biggest Graffiti Spray Party happening now in Germany!

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Yes, the boring underpass becomes so alive and colorful with all the life-size wall sprayed- artwork of the talented artists, it was like walking into a street gallery!

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Artists came from  different countries — from Montréal, Barcelona, ​​Moscow, Bergamo, Slovakia and various cities in Germany, also from top-class artists of the international spray scene. From yesterday,  1st of July, and today, they all meet in the so-called “Hall of Fame”  to redesign the 250-meter wall surface of the underpass bridge. 

Graffiti  is something illicit, more like a rebellious symbol of expressing one’s ideas through drawings, writing or scribbling on public areas. Not everyone like it. If someone sprayed on your beloved personal wall, I bet you might be furious. You can never call it an art, its more of an invasion of your private place.

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Spraying can be an assault and may cause  damage to property. Others find  lubrication and illegal spraying so invasive and illegal, whether for the sake of  so-called hip art form , it’s still  something vulgar and oppressive. But not so here in Germany, here in our region in Bavaria, Graffiti spraying is legalized. Legal Spraying and Graffiti Art has established itself increasingly in urban areas as an expression of lifestyle and worldliness .

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As early as 1995 the gray concrete walls of the railway underpass were cleared for graffiti by the city of Ingolstadt and the spraying in the Hall of Fame was legalized. Since then, the walls are constantly being sprayed again, the hall often changes its appearance – and still counts as one of the largest legal halls in Germany.

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Meet the Artists through their artworks!

They are bunch of normal, messy, hip-looking men and women you can see in the streets. But once they hold their Spray, the world is their audience. Notable artists for the 2017 Spray meeting are as follows:  Five Eight from Montréal, Saturno from Barcelona, ​​Kram from Barcelona, ​​Zmogk from Moscow, Verbo from Bergamo, Kaisy from Slovakia, Omsk from Saxony, Bond Truluv from Leipzig , Rusl from Constance and Dater from Koblenz. In addition, two sprayers from the partner town of Kragujevac are expected. 

You can see their full profiles Here.

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I am so thrilled that even though I don’t know them each by their faces, I have seen them in their spray action. They are really amazing and full of talent! I could watch their drawings and draw unlimited meanings. Once you see their work, you will never see the same “old boring walls”the same as before– it’s like they have brought something to life. People stop and take a look, and observe. These walls deserve a look. No wonder it’s an international event! Some of notable Graffiti work that are worth to see are Here. My favorite was the work of Inti, a giant Don Quixote mural in Quintanar de la Orden, Spain.

The La Grande Schmierage graffiti meeting was launched in 2008 under the organization  of the City Youth Initiative and in close collaboration with Boris Schmelter. The organization and support of the artists are located at the FRONTE79 Youth Cultural Center in Ingolstadt.

 

Do you like looking at street wall art? Which one is your favorite?

If you want to read more about the La Grande Schmierage, here are some useful links:

www.schmierage.de

www.tumultfestival.de

 

I made it! My First Biotope- Cycling tour in Germany

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My cycling-mania is still ON over here !

To think that the cycling season have just started  here in Germany and summer is still a month away, more fun begins as we continue to enjoy cycling .The other day, I’ve written about how we are falling in love with our bicycle and guess what—–we joined our first cycling tour!

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Biotopradwandertag 2017 route map

Yes, with my husband and our little Adventurist, off we go for a Biotopradwandertag for a sweet 30 kilometer cycling tour. This is my very first time to experience going on a bike tour like this so I’m definitely excited. The distance and the event itself is all new to me. At first I was hesitant, thinking that maybe my daughter will get bored and as always, I kept worrying about the weather.What if it rains, or  what if she gets  cranky because its her nap time as well.

But then we made it to finish line!

Sweating, hurting my ass, but totally energized. My knees where shaking when I am doing the uphill part and my heart is pounding at some points during the trip but my stamina is still up. I don’t wanna give up. My endorphins are on high and I am very glad that I made it. I haven’t cycled for years and to be able to participate in an event like this makes me feel so at home here in Germany.

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Active Germans ready to cycle!

Believe me, cycling can do wonders on your mood.

The Biotopradwandertag is a cycling tour to promote awareness of the region of a habitat associated with a particular ecological community all around in Ingolstadt and the regions surrounding it. This year was the 29th Biotope Cycling Day ( May 21, 2017) and was personally organized by our city mayor. This Bike tour is an annual event in any weather.

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In my first Cycling Tour !

I saw this ad in the newspaper and after googling a bit and translating, I asked my husband and few friends to join this tour. Good thing it falls on Sunday, and the weather was perfect. A bit cloudy in the morning but up until the end, we cycled under a carpet of beautiful sunny skies.

The tour started at 9 AM, we get the tour map & information from the Stadt theater and I was really impressed how organized the event was. The trails were properly signed, there were visible sign posts for the directions for the cyclists. Along the way, there are guides who helps us go in right direction. For a fee of 3 Euros per person ( kids under 16 are free), all Finisher receives a gift, drink & food vouchers that they can enjoy after the tour. Major sponsors are Willner/Farradzentrum, Nordbrau and Sparkasse. Emergency help lines are also set-up.

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Pit stop in this beautiful lake.

Along the way, the scenarios are really beautiful. So fresh, and the air feels so clean. Acres of Rapeseeds, a sea of wildflowers in different shades, and  very clean neighborhoods. I didn’t expect that Bavaria can really be so green ( literally!), with hills and fields, and to discover all these while cycling is the best way to enjoy our Sunday.

My mind is meditating, relaxing , my muscles are working, and  my body is rejuvenating.

After 2.5 hours of cycling, at about 2/3 of the trip, we had a pit stop in the check point where we have time to stamp our papers, get free drinks and food, and a bathroom break.I saw Germans of different ages, from toddlers to the not-so-young anymore, but are still very active in cycling. Everyone is having a great time.

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There is always a reason to stop because I see so many sights and I don’t wanna miss it.We finished the tour on time and we had  lunch provided by the organizer. The whole Stadt theater was converted int a Beer garden where people devoured their beers, Schnitzels, potato salad, bread and assorted drinks!

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Bikes and All Bikes!

Cycling with toddler stress-free is possible here in Germany and I am glad that my daughter has the chance to experience this on such a young age. Children should not stop us from doing what we are passionate about. I am sure I’ll be doing this again next year, maybe a bit more farther!  If you have the chance, I highly recommend to join this type of outdoor activity, it’s healthy, fun and it’s best enjoyed with your whole family! I think more than the hype, it’s all about doing what you enjoy and what makes you feel good.

 

Have you ever engaged in a tour of your favorite sport ? What are your favorite summer activities?

 

If you enjoyed this post, Make sure to follow my Blog for more of my Expat Lifestyle stories and if you are in Instagram, please connect with me to see more photos of my adventures here in Bavaria.

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?

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

 

 

 

 

 

A Reflection: The grass is greener in Bavaria

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Reflections at the Baggersee : My Expat Life in Germany  from a year’s perspective.

 

My favorite lake here in Bavaria shows amazing reflections in the water today. I took this photo with my iPhone only at around 5 P.M, no filter needed, only pure beauty. I could stare at these mirror-like reflections for hours and still wonder what did I do in my life that I deserve to see this.

My heart is filled with warmth.I couldn’t help but to reflect into my past  life, realizing that from last year—living here in Germany is actually one of my ( and my family’s )  dream that came true! 

“Remember, life is an echo. It always gets back to you. So give goodness.”

Today, I feel so grateful. I want to be grateful because I have many reasons to be thankful for. I can’t help but to appreciate goodness in life.

As we make a pit-stop from cycling and gaze at this view from the lake today, my heart is grateful that I had the chance to see this place, with all these  myriad of beautiful nature, right at my doorstep.

I still remember that at this same time last year (May 2016), we squeezed our lives in 2 cargo boxes , my travelling hand carry bags are tightly packed and ready to leave Kuwait, with 3 luggage on tow and an active toddler on a 20+ hours flight, alone,jet lagged, and yet so excited to cross time zones for a life changing move. From the time our plane landed at Schiphol in the Netherlands and the 6- hour train ride going to Bavaria, my mind can’t rest until I step on to our new home. I was truthfully exhausted,at same time,  I can’t wait to see our new place, our neighborhood and our new home, where we begin a new chapter in our lives.

Everyone dream of becoming rich, well, maybe not all in material terms. For me, I didn’t dare of dreaming about big houses, high-end cars or a grand lifestyle, let alone living in a culture different from where I was born with. I love to travel but I don’t have the luxury for it. The only reason I go abroad was for work purposes. If you must know, so many Filipinos get out of the country mainly for work, especially women and mothers. Leaving your baby across the miles is a huge pain in the heart of any parent, a sacrifice as others call it. A big population of the OFW’s ( Overseas Contract Worker) are women, with small kids & families left behind in Philippines.They work under contract for years and years to earn money and support their families back home.

Back then, I was one of them .

Almost all Expatriates along with their families aspire of a better life in another country. Some move because there is a job opportunity, some with a lucky chance to immigrate naturally. If you got the opportunity, both for a better future and a high quality of living then life abroad becomes bearable…and enjoyable”

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Life echoes through the reflections

“The grass is always greener on the other side (of the fence)…”

Staring at the clear waters with the reflections of a blue skies, I still couldn’t believe that I am actually living in here in  Germany. Imagine, for the past months, I  had my first taste of Summer, Fall, Winter  and Spring for the very first time in my life!

If you follow my Blog, you surely know it because I write all about them here.

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Local sightings : Kayaking in the Danube river in Germany

My husband thought of looking for a job in Canada but then life brought us here. I don’t like the cold so much but then the moderate climate helps me to appreciate my new life in seasons. Kuwait was not that bad, the cost of living is high for Expats but the balance between work and family is so bad, you always work for longer hours. In Germany on the other hand, to think that my daughter will have a better future in this amazing country is too much for me.Quality and balance living is achievable.We don’t live in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, but we almost have everything here, within reach. My daughter will start in Kindergarten this coming September and she’ll grow up speaking multiple languages, getting better education, and having the opportunity to explore the best of both worlds as a Third culture kid.

Germans in general are very nice, friendly and hospitable people, ( at least from my own experience) the typical and traditional Bavarians who adore  Ruhetag  (Sonntag/Sunday) sincerely, my neighbors who are overly kind and all helpful. Our neighborhood which is just a stones’throw away from the Danube is full of simple wonders everyday. My little town here in Bavaria, Ingolstadt is a quaint, rich, lush city  full of kaleidoscope and charm. I couldn’t ask for more. ( Well, maybe a branch of Krispy Kreme someday…and Ikea! )

Germany is a beautiful country that welcomed us wholeheartedly. A place where Expats are treated not only as ‘Auslander’( or Foreigners)  but giving us a chance  to fully integrate into their culture,we felt at home at first sight. The moment I stepped out from the train, all I could say is that it is so green. I breathe in Life.

They say that people migrate with so many “pull” factors, and where the grass is always greener…

Literally & figuratively speaking, Yes, the grass is greener here in Bavaria.

 

 

This post was inspired by this week’s WPC Photo Challenge | Reflecting

First signs of Spring ( Frühling) in Bavaria

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Wildflowers in bloom  in Neues Schloss : Early signs of Spring { Photo credit to Sabine Hartmann

A week ago, we tossed our heavy winter jackets and opt for our light jackets and surprisingly,  we managed to enjoy outdoors sans our gloves and bonnets but only when the sun is out. Last weekend, my daughter was back in the saddle and enjoyed cycling once again. After the Karneval season, it seems like the temperatures started to creep high, at least now it’s not negative and no more Glatteis. We’ve had one to two days in a row of lovely sunny days, but often times it’s  still grey and cloudy. The sharp winds brought chills and rains visits us occasionally and you know how it feels when it’s cold and raining at the same time–It sucks!  Weather can be so unpredictable as ever! The snow has  finally melted and the frozen lakes were back to its current again. Despite the obvious signs of spring, winter is still all over here in Germany, especially here in Bavaria.

Although the true arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere does not happen until the spring equinox on March 20, there are signs of the end of winter and the arrival of warmer weather. If you’ve been out, I am sure you wouldn’t miss it.

And yes, our winter gears needs to stay a bit longer more…

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Pussy willows ( Palmkätzchen) ,usherettes of Spring and  the first bush to blossom.

These ‘Pussy willows‘ are all over the place and they are sold everywhere. The best ones are in  the weekend markets. They are perfect home decoration for the coming Easter celebrations. Every Bavarian household makes an ‘Osternbaum‘made of  twigs from ‘Palmkätzchen‘ with plastic Easter eggs hanging on them. I saw these wild  bulbs on our way to the park  last sunday and I couldn’t resist but to take a close up shot!

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These lavender lovelies gives such a happy vibes to the brownish almost barren gardens.

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And look what I’ve met the other day, a gorgeous snowdrop among  bunches of dried leaves in the garden! I am looking forward to find a field of these little beauties. It is so refreshing to see them after the long cold winter days and their color totally remind me of the Winter wonderland in Austria !

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Fresh lilac Crocuses

So many wildflowers are sprouting and starting to bloom. The lilac Crocuses are little wonders, small as they can be. But for the bees, they are the source of inspiration for the coming warmer days.The other day, I saw my daughter playing with a ladybird (Marienkäfer) in the garden and a wasp is hovering over her.

Wilkommen wasps! (or  Bees ) your season will soon be  here!

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Oh wow! Sprouting Daffodils  in our garden!

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Bird houses in every tree!

If taking a hike in the middle of the  woods is your thing just like me, you will be rewarded with an amazing orchestra of the singing birds. A sure sign that feathered animals are coming back and start to nest once again. Bird houses are a common sight as well, even from the porches and balconies of apartments. Also, Wildlife watching is one of the prettiest sights  I have seen nowadays. It’s my first time to see real black swans here, crazily fighting over the breads we tossed, they are prettier than from the ones I saw in movies or internet. Wild birds are in frenzy manic chirping, perhaps they rejoice since they can easily find food nowadays .

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Bright sun shining day !

Daylight saving time  (DST) will soon be back (March 26)  and Huuuuurrayyyyy that the sun is up until 6pm now.Here in Germany, when its bright and sunny like the photo I took last Saturday, everyone is out, walking, cycling, running and exploring like crazy! Germans go out in herds! I see people in scarf and eating ice cream and I have the same cravings as well.

Do you know how Germans look forward and getting ready for Spring?

They are up early, clad in boots and gardening gloves with a rake, cleaning up their gardens and mowing their precious  lawns, and on Saturdays, they all rush to Dehner to grab new planters and seedlings! Yes, it’s true, my neighbor just did this.

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While waiting for Spring : Enjoying a Leberkäse sandwich with some sunshine 

With all these early signs of Spring, who wouldn’t be excited?

I can’t wait for my first German winter to be over and to start shedding all these winter clothing in layers one by one. Unfortunately, most trees are still bare and leaf-less, beer gardens are still not in sight and yes, Brrr,  it is still cold outside!

What about you, what’s your favorite sign for Spring?

 

 

 

Fasching and Kinderball

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My daughter in her first experience of Kinderball 

Did you know that Germany has a version of Mardi Gras?

It’s called Fasching, Karneval, or Fastnacht  which all refer to the pre-Lent season, locally known as Faschingzeit and also referred to as the Fifth Season, mostly in German-speaking countries.  These celebrations date back hundreds of years, rooted in both Catholic and early Germanic traditions.

I notice this from mid- January, when all shops changed their displays from Christmas theme  into a wide, colorful arrays of costumes for young and old, masks, and various kinds of dress-up materials. And no– this is not Halloween.

Although there are carnival observances all across Bavaria, it should be noted that Fasching customs vary from place to place. Franconia (northern Bavaria) is where most of the action happens, but the capital city of Munich (München) has one of the largest Fasching fests in Bavaria – although the Sunday Fasching parade in Würzburg is Bavaria’s biggest. After the crowning of the Fasching prince and princess (das Faschingsprinzenpaar) in mid-January, everyone prepares for the start of carnival in the week before Ash Wednesday.

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Faschingzeit in Germany

Here, Fasching is not that big compared to the ones in the neighboring regions. Most clubs have a Fasching party but I don’t know how does it looked like since I have never been into one. We don’t have those big parades and street party. But they have this big event for the Little ones, where kids and the kids at heart enjoy the festive and cozy dress-up celebration. Kinderball is an event organized by Narrwalla, where kids and their parents are all dressed up in all different costumes. Most of them also have a Fasching event in their Kita and Kindergartens.

 

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Kinderball 2017

If you’re a parent, this kind of event is something that you would want to bring your child to enjoy hours of concert, singing, dancing, entertainment, and socializing. The kids jumped happily and more, interested to see the tricks played by the clowns, the light show, and of course there’s the Fasching songs that makes it so exciting. My Little Pumpkin surely loved this event.

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My Little Pumpkin 

The locals dressed up seriously and it’s obvious that they really enjoy it. Fortunately, it falls on Sunday so most families are there. I originally planned to dress up my daughter in a princess but she keeps on eating the sleeves so I decided to changed it into a Pumpkin where she personally choose. There was a service from the restaurant so Fasching food and drinks flooded the tables.There were cold cuts, sandwiches, different cakes, ice cream, potatoes, sausages and much more.

There’s a nice gallery posted online about this event. You can check it out Here.

What is your favorite costume to dress-up?

 

A walk into the Old town

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Details of the Altes Rathaus

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

 

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The Liebfrauenmünster 

 

Do you like the Audi car?

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

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Stone and Bronze architectural detail

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

 

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

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

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The face of the Cannon in the courtyard of Neues Schloss 

 

 

 

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Beautiful gable Borgeuois town houses

 

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

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The Taschenturm Tower

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

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

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Beautiful architecture in the old town of Ingolstadt

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

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The Turm Triva, the home to the Bavarian Police Museum

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

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A display of a Bavarian armor along the Anatomiestr.

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

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

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