O’zapft is ! my first Volksfest experience

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My first Volksfest experience as an Expat

Finally, I had my first taste of Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest is the largest of Volksfest celebrated in the whole of Germany ( and of the world) along with travelling carnival and fun fair. For the neighboring cities around Munich,each one has their unique Volksfest. Since 1946,  Ingolstadt had its first festival after  WW II, and from then on ,there are two major festival to celebrate. One in Spring and one in Fall. I had always been curious what is all about Oktoberfest and all these hustle and bustle about beer.  I am not a beer drinker but having been able to see how this beautiful festival is celebrated is probably one of the highlights of my days living as an Expat in Germany.

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Parade highlights -there are 93 group delegations who joined the parade.

If you are visiting Germany, you’ve gotta love this! The whole place is so alive and  flooded with colorful people wearing their traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls waslking in the festive vibe of Volk musik.

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Highlight of this year’s festivities is 500 years of the Bavarian Beer Purity Law!

Last Friday, September 23, the Volksfest in Ingolstadt started and will last until 3rd of October. As the renowned legendary and traditional ritual of tapping the first barrel of Oktoberfest-beer is one of the things that I really looked forward to see, by my own eyes.There is something great about seeing it for real compared to the ones that I only saw in internet. Since 1972, Volksfest in Ingolstadt  is held in Volksfestplatz just beside the ZOB.

Volksfest with a toddler? No problem!

Aside from no entrance fee,Volksfest is for the entire family. I was having doubts how would  my daughter would behave during this time because of the crowds  and the volk-musik was continously played by the stage band. I was quite surprised that  Volksfest is kid-friendly. There is something about a father & daughter sharing food, and old couple happily enjoying lunch, and of course, sharing a mug of beer. Volksfest is defintely a disabled-accessible,most especially with people with disabilities and in wheelchairs.

We managed to find the big tent where the tapping of the first barrel of beer would be held. This is known as  the “Schottenhamel” beer tent. I found a very nice place directly in front of the beer kegs but my daughter started to get bored and whining. But even if I had to change my position after my husband take her, I still managed to get an arm’s length from the spot were the barrel will be tapped.Soon, the Mayor Dr. Christian Lösel and his entourage arrived and  began the ceremony.

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Inside the tent filled with happy Germans drinking and enjoying a nice,cold Beer.
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O’zapft is!!!

As usual, the first thing He spoke into the microphone was “O’zapft is!” ( “It is tapped!”) and wished everyone a peaceful celebration of Volksfest. As protocol demands, the first mug of beer was passed on  and with that all the other beer tents could start selling beer as well.

Volksfest has officially started!

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Our first mug of Bavarian Beer! Prost!

Volksfest star of the festivities is the Beer. And oh, the famous Bavarian beer. They’ll serve it to you in a size smaller than a Maß (which is one liter, same as the one in above photo) but if you order anything smaller you’ll be mocked, so don’t. You can also get Radler (half-beer, half-lemonade), water, and soda, but drinking those things is what all the other days of the year are for. Unless you’re a recovering alcoholic! In which case the water and soda are great and Oktoberfest is probably not that fun for you! Waitresses your grandmother’s age will be carrying eight or ten Maß at a time, which is impressive.

 

Talking about food?  You will drool at the sight of food during Volksfest. Order Münchener Weißwurst immediately! Since we are in Bavaria, we soothed our taste buds with threats that is definitely the food for the gods at this time.

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My favorite so far is the simple Bratwurst ,fries, and of course,my daughter’s Bretzel! The size of the Pretzel is so huge that we only share a piece. From the cheeses,breads,sausages, roasted chicken, pork slices and grilled meats were also among the favourites. The smell of the food stalls are just heavenly!

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Old time favorite. Curry wurst with pommes. A perfect combination with Beer.

Outside was a place of colorful Carnival. One of the highlight was the  daring roller coasters, giant Ferris wheel which goes high as 40 meters  and gives you rare views of the whole city, children’s carousel, and so much more.  I’ve heard that this year, a number of rides were new such as  the “Spinning Coaster”, Rollercoaster Crazy Mouse, the rapid jungle giant swing Konga with an altitude of 45 meters and a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour, also 4G gravity. All not my kind of fun and not for the faint-hearted! Just looking at it makes me sick, but for others, it is sure a thrill-filled ride.Me and my daughter enjoyed our very first train ride and it was absolutely fun!

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Train ride for kids!
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Pretty ladies in Dirndl.

The whole fair ground was a full of  families, young & adults enjoyed a week-long festivities. It’s not just about drinking beer. It’s a whole more than that. A true legacy that defines German character and culture. Through the years, beer culture of Germany have been attracting so many tourists and now I know why.

I was even more impressed that the security was heightened by checking the bags,the strollers and there are always roaming guards to ensures public safety.Inside the tent was a no-smoking policy is observed and everything is in order even the public bathrooms. Animals are also  not allowed inside the Volksfestplatz.

 

Have you had a taste of Oktoberfest?

How was your experience?

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Achtung! Stumbling Stone {Stolpersteine}pt. 2

 

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Wandertag quest : Finding the Stolspersteine in Ingolstadt, Germany

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

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

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

Beckerstrasse 27

Paradeplatz 5

 

Theresienstrasse 28

Griesmülstrasse 6

 

Luftgasse 2

 

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

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

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

{Gunter Demnig, Artist -Stolpersteine Project }

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

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Achtung! Stumbling stone! {Stolpersteine} pt.1

IMG_1436 “A person is only forgotten, if his name is forgotten.”

{Gunter Demnig, Artist -Stolpersteine Project }

Have you heard about ‘Stolpersteine’?

Neither did I.

The other day,  my ever-charming husband and I were talking about random things about Germany, and then he mentioned it. For a minute I asked him, ‘can you spell that for me?’ He sent me a link in English (of course!) then my mind travels and marvels on  this interesting project. He said I could write about it but I replied : ” I cannot write for something I do not know, seen or experienced.”

To tell you frankly, I don’t know anything much about Germany , Nazi and Holocaust either. I mean, I am from the Far East, on the other side of the planetI know Germany is nice,beautiful country with great cars & sausages that’s it. My knowledge about WW II’s aftermath is not as wide as the concentration camps and astounding stats of the victims. What has been taught to us in school ( from what I remembered ) is the battles with Japanese & Americans, and the Battle of Corregidor. The ones lingered in my mind is Pearl Harbor, Douglas  MacArthur & Japanese invasion but NO- Never I have heard of Holocaust.

I’ve watched the films ( and I loved them) The Pianist & Schindler’s List but I never imagined that travelling could allow me to gain knowledge about what happened in the past along with my eagerness to learn about German culture & History now as part of integration. When I told my mother that we are moving to Germany, she clumsily retorted – ‘ Hitler,  Germans are cruel-or bad people! ‘ Same with the comments I’ve got from my friends. They don’t know anything either. Please excuse this ignorance. I couldn’t blame them. I was once like this and these events happened long before I was born.

You see, when you begin to learn something about what happened in the past and relate it to the present then your mind is being opened. You begin to understand. As a tourist  you don’t dig deep on those inscriptions in the monuments or memorials. From a short trip you only bring home photographs. But History is a great thing.

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Stolperstein –A person is only forgotten -if his name is forgotten.

But  from what I have observed here, it’s not publicly talked about, nobody wants to open old wounds. Even the mention of “He who must not be named and talked about ” is not something you talk over a cup of tea or beer. Stolpersteine let me understand more the symbolic way of learning about the dark past of Germany & Holocaust victims. From zero knowledge of the Jews and National Socialism, I began to understand.

‘Stolpersteine’ ( stumbling stone in English)  are literally stones, plaques, or blocks–whatever you may call it but it’s mainly a Holocaust memorial stones laid across Europe. They are special stumbling stones. The English translation is relative of course since it’s basically laid on the ground and in the place where the victim’s last home. Laid along a path with busy traffic of people walking around, to ‘stumbled on’. I find it interesting that the artist thought of these stones as depicting the victims of Holocaust were humans-with names ( and not just a number in the stats) who once walked the same paths were the stones were laid . Same path I was walking now.This is by far the largest decentralized memorial project in the world!

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Stumbling blocks nothing special on the outside. Gunter Demnig says: You are not Forgotten unless your name is forgotten. So true.

These 4 inch² brass plaques indicates Holocaust victim’s name, date of birth, date of arrest, camp(s) deported to and fate. The Stolpersteine project began in 1996 as a symbolic art project by German Gunter Demnig. Although this project is to commemorate all Holocaust victims, most of the Stolpersteine are dedicated to Jews. Since then it had grown to around 50,000 Stolpersteine have been placed across Europe, from Norway to Italy,and from The Netherlands to Ukraine.
Gunter Demnig has always been aware that it will never be possible to lay  Stolpersteine for the millions of victims of the Nazis – thus his project remains symbolic.
Each Stolperstein is made and laid by hand. Michael Friedrichs-Friedländer makes and embossed some 450 Stolpersteine a month . The artist,Gunter Demnig travels across Germany and Europe and  personally lays them.

Today, I was out  doing some errands and I decided to take my daughter to the nearby ‘Trampoline’ in Paradeplatz  opposite of the New Castle ( Neues Schloss ) .We’ve been here numerous times since she loved it there. From the time we decided to head back home, my daughter’s pacifier fell on the ground and while I was about to pick it up, I stared at the cobbled stone ground that I was standing on and shrieked in surprise. Stolspersteine!

I’ve found one.

I saw one of the Stolpersteine. In Ingolstadt. In Paradepltz 5.

There are more  “stumbling blocks” in Ingolstadt. This was initiated by history teacher Dr. Fritz Schaffer with 14 students of Christoph Scheiner-Gymnasium. You can found our trail for finding the 5 Stolpersteine in Ingolstadt Here.

Do you live in Europe?  Do you want to search and see for yourself the Stolspersteine? You can check this Timetable for places you can find them.

Maybe it’s just in the streets  where you pass every day. I know in The Netherlands , there are special tours for viewing all the Stolpersteine  in Amsterdam. You can check it while you visit Anne Frank’s house in Merwedeplein 37 . I would definitely look for this If I visited Amsterdam again.

Tell me, how can you say you’ve not forgotten someone if you can’t even remember his or her name?

Thank you for reading my friends, If you have your own quest stories like this please feel free to share it in comments .

 

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Labyrinth Garden and Wandertag

 

 

 

“The point of a maze is to find its center. The point of a Labyrinth is to find your center . “

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A bee is feasting on nectar of the flowers in Labyrinth Garden

Sunday is a ruhetag (day of rest) here in Bavaria and  observed in all Germany. Everyone is having a quiet & serene  sunny rest, and having time for Summer walks and hiking (Wandertag ) is the norm.The scent of the grass is in our skin as we found another new place to explore. We found ourselves in the maze of bushes, colorful flowers, myriad of shrubs and different plants  in a circular path forming like a maze, a puzzle-like wilderness.In the center of it was an Apple tree with colorful  “Dreamcatcher” hanging so nicely.We found ourselves in the Labyrinth Garden!

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Labyrinth garden in Klenzepark

In front of it was an old-fashioned water pump, overlooking the river Danube with the peak towers of the Neues Schloss (New Castle ) , the Kavalier Dallwigk , on the other side of it was the Bayerisches Armee Museum , all of this  provide the perfect setting of this garden.There are benches nearby suitable for family picnics, a quiet meditating area, a foot path, and the towering green trees.

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Trying to find the center in the Labyrinth 

Walking through the circular paths inside will let you  discover the amazing things around you. You become conscious of other living things that has been a part of your journey of discovery. The plants, the insects, the weeds, the budding flowers, the cobwebs, the earth, all in unison.From the narrow gate with the vines creeping on it, you are welcomed to start a journey of discovery. Its like walking through a circular forest.Your body becomes active, your mind is wandering, your senses are stimulating your spirit. You feel life.You breathe in all these inside you.
They said that  the center of the labyrinth is considered the apex of the path, where death is transformed into new vitality.Do you believe in this phenomenon?

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A Dreamcatcher is hanging in the tree planted in the center of the Labyrinth Garden
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A wooden post with beautiful paintings and memoirs.

 

The Labyrinth garden in Ingolstadt was established in 1992 Landesgartenschau as part of Klenzepark on the southern bank of the Danube.They said this project started by  Zurich women who had started an international project with the aim to bring to life again the labyrinth idea at as many places.

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The Labyrinth Garden

The form and shape of the garden seen from above reflects the medieval town of Ingolstadt with important landmarks of this old city like  the Kreuztor in the West, the outer and inner ring road, the four city districts with its winding alleys, the Moritz Church and Schliffelmarkt in the center.

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Yellow wonderment

The Labyrinth as a symbol used for landscaping a garden is quite fascinating. Even in the early times,the labyrinth is an ancient symbol of humanity.

In the classical Greek Mythology, a labyrinth is  a vast maze built in Crete by Daedalus, at the command of King Minos, to house the Minotaur, a monster, the offspring of Pasiphaë and the Cretan bull, that had the head of a bull on the body of a man.

 

It can be found at places of worship around the world like in cemeteries in Scandinavia, in churches like the Cathedral of Chartres, with Indians of North America, where women gave their children, at a height stands where today are Lighthouses in the prehistoric parts of ancient Crete in the legend of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur.

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Partnership in nature

The message of the labyrinth tells us that, there is only one way, my way, the way of life.It’s like a spiritual journey. You need to find that way.
Today, this special garden is the place for  regeneration of nature. A place to commune and social gatherings are held to strengthen the bond of a community. Locals , guests &  volunteers are welcome to participate and be involved in tending the garden as part of this project.They have a year-long series of events to be held in this place so I am excited to take part in it. I love the whole concept of the Labyrinth garden and its cause. Below are just some of the interesting events coming up .

* Sundays in August: “The early bird catches the worm” Wellness at Eight
* Saturday, August 13, 15 pm: “Grab some blessing the house” herbal Kranzl-binding
(Christine Rottmair u. Johann Dasch)
Saturday, August 20, 17 pm: revalued Ancient knowledge:
* Smoking with local herbs (Sigrid Holzer)
*Sunday, August 21, 18 pm: Symbolism of the labyrinth. Guide with Franz Suchy

Their website is in German & is very informative and you can learn more about them Here. They have a beautiful gallery of photos and I am glad we have something like this nearby. Just in case you live nearby and wanted to volunteer to help out in gardening the maze, Here is their monthly schedule :

Monthly work dates from April: Every 1st Saturday from 9.oo,
Every 3rd Wednesday from 14.00 (June to August. from 9.00)

Another beautiful lesson and insight from Labyrinth Garden. Another day of life.

Thank you for reading and see you again in our next Wandertag!

Architecture Above :Liebfrauenmünster

Germany is not only famous for its beautiful nature, dreamy castles & Burgs,UNESCO-world- heritage sites, sausages,Oktoberfest, Football & beer. This country is also a home to many beautiful churches & life-standing Architecture.As I recall my experience while seeing the great DOM Cathedral in Trier, I was in awe seeing another hidden gem  in the small city of Ingolstadt,in Bavaria, the Liebfrauenmünster. If you walk into the old city center, you can’t miss not to see its towering beauty.

Last Saturday, I was grateful that finally its open. The first time we visited, it was closed so we tried to visit again. This church was constructed in 1425 and was completed in  1525. The Architectural style is Gothic and it has 2 Towers with heights of 62m & 69m.

 

 

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I love everything about the facade and exteriors of this church. Its beautiful in the outside but the interior is another thing. As soon I opened the door (photo below ) ,I am perplexed of the harmonious musical chants from the pipe organ  (Klais Organ) which has 4 manuals, 106 ranks, 70 stops, 5,436 pipes.

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The doors of Liebfrauenmünster

The pipe organ was built in 1928 with 84 Ranks / 61 registers (+ 6 Ext. / Tr.) on 3 manuals reusing many old Bittner register by Steinmeyer (D, Oettingen)
1977 technical properties reusing some Steinmeyer Register from 1928 through Klais (D, Bonn).

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The pipe organ in Liebfrauenmünster in Ingolstadt,Germany

The cathedral also has a choir organ with 60 ranks / 44 registers (+ 1 Ext.) On 3 manuals (Wegscheider 2016) and a chamber organ with 6 registers on 1 Manual (Jann, 1986) and an apple shelf.

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The gigantic columns of the church.

Another intricate detail is the base of the columns which are quite interesting.

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Decorative column base (Photo credit to my husband)

Another remarkable feature of this this beautiful church was its Vaultings.As I did my research, I found out that its  included in the listings of the South German Late Gothic design & building Praxis  which mainly features the selection of finest & complicated parametric modelling study of late Gothic vaults chiefly in Swabia, Bavaria, Saxony & Bohemia.

Begun in 1425 Chapels (c. 1512–1520) by Erhard Heydenreich, Baumeister between 1509–1524 A Staffelhall church (like Dinkelsbühl), certainly most famous for the bizarre, varied, and profuse vaults of its six chapels by Erhard Heydenreich; the most iconic of which is a double-layered vault in which the flying ribs of the lower vault take the shape of branches. Bucher describes these vaults as symbolising “the last stand of a dying style.” “They are still based on a disciplined geometric grid which explodes into fireworks of incredible technical and design sophistry. The Renaissance was to reject these games with a vengeance, very much as the Bauhaus was to obliterate Art Nouveau.

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Intricate vaulting design of the Liebfrauenmünster in Bavaria
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Beautiful door facade of the church

My daughter enjoyed marvelling the inside of this church,although I am not sure if she will behave if we attend the mass here one day. But I am glad to know that they have separate timings for kinder (children) together with their parents .

It was a great afternoon well spent visiting this church and I am looking forward to explore it more. Maybe climb the towers to have a great view of the city someday?

How about you, do you explore the culture & history beyond the sights you see in the places you visited?

For me, I have learned that whenever I looked up into something beautiful, I made sure I got a piece of history of it.Churches may serve its religious functions,but we must learn to appreciate the great effort & artistry of the people who built it , let alone who designed it.

Ingolstadt is lucky to have this church.It’s a gem. Indeed, something that the locals should be proud of !

This post is in response to today’s photo challenge : Look Up

Look Up

Danube River

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The Danube with the view of Neues Schloss (18-19th Century)

Back then in Kuwait, I have the view of the Arabian Gulf from our bedroom window and just 10 minutes, we can dip our feet into its shores. It has become our haven.It was great living so close to the beach.

But how nice it is to live so close to one beautiful River? To gaze at its mellow stream? to gaze at its serene flow? I am so grateful that we have the river Donau (Danube) just  5 minutes away from where we live now .

I have seen the Mosel River but the Danube has its own charm.We fell instantly in love with it.Who doesn’t?

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The Donau River from Ingolstadt,Germany 

The Danube is the most important stream of Europe. With its 2.857 kilometers from the well in Schwarzwald to the Delta in the Black Sea it is the second largest river of the continent. 2.488 kilometers are navigable and connect 10 neighbor countries namely ; Germany,Austria, Slovakia, Hungrary, Croatia, Serbia,Bulgaria,Romania, Moldavia & Ukraine.

The nature along the Danube changes from hills and wild canyons to flat land. Forests, fields and many river coasts are living space for many animals and plants. Many of the pretty landscapes are verified as National parks and Nature reserves.

I can’t wait to explore more of the wilderness along its banks.