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!

Silence | If Statues can talk…

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Bronze statues in the Hofburg church in Innsbruck

Innsbruck has been marvelous so far, as it offers us complete diversity of things to see and explore. So far, we didn’t just marble on the magnificent snow-capped mountains , and devoured plateful  of  delectable Kaiserschmarrn, but we also found ourselves silenced and impressed by  these 28-larger than life Bronze Statues inside the Hofburg church, or formerly a Court church located in the Altstadt of Innsbruck, but now houses the cenotaph for one of the most important person in  history —Emperor Maximilian I, 22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519] the Holy Roman Emperor or also known as The King of the Germans.

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From what I’ve read and seen in this museum, He seemed to be a very  important person, just look at how grand his cenotaph is and considering the numerous tributes for him. Actually, the Hofkirche ( Court church) is built by his Grandson, Emperor Ferdinand I as a memorial for him,  and also houses the tomb of Tyrol’s  national hero, —Andreas Hofer.

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If Only statues can talk…

These large statues (200-250 cm) are really impressive. Compared to the white-washed busts we’ve seen in the Walhalla, these bronze statues are actually the ancestors, relatives, and heroes during the lifetime of Emperor Maximilian I. My daughter was delighted to see all of them. She keep on asking me who are they and what are their costumes? She is not even scared. I felt eerie for a moment especially looking at the fierce faces of the women, and the strength these figures emanates. They are even larger than I am so its really like seeing them for real!

If only  statues  can talk and tell stories by themselves…

 

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The cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian I lies in the center of the church

The great thing about visiting places like this is the experience itself. It is so much better to see this place rather than just reading about them. I know that it’s quite normal everyone that during Museum visits and the like, silence is observed, noise is forbidden most especially for religious relics like this.

Yes but how can you even make noises while visiting a cenotaph or a tomb?

The moment I stepped into this place, I was silenced by its beauty. The grandeur and  solemnity of this church, the architecture itself is a history in the making and the story behind this church. Imagine, the cenotaph itself took 80 years of construction!It is so true that when we are in awe, we are silenced.

Silence  is  golden for statues like these in Hofburg. Since only through silence that we can be able to fully appreciate the art behind it, the legacy of their existence and their part in history and in our modern times.

Silence is respect, paid in full, and observed in willingness.

It is just right that they have a place in history and we marvel in them.We should be silent. We can’t add anymore for their life story, it has been written and impregnated through their magnanimous effigy.

But then, If only statues can talk…

 

 

 

Inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Silence

Unforgettable Winter Sightseeing: Innsbruck

 

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Fancy finds in the Christmas Market in Innsbruck

Before the year ends, we had the chance to explore and visit Innsbruck in Austria. It was actually a spun in the moment , nevertheless, Innsbruck is the beautiful capital of the Alps, a city framed within the gorgeous rings of snow-capped mountains, an Olympic place for the Winter Sports and the famed Olympia Skiworld. I’ve learned that Innsbruck is the first city to host the Olympic Games a third time (Olympic Winter games in 1964, 1976, and the Olympic Youth Winter Games in 2012).

But more than a winter sport magnet, Innsbruck is such a vibrant city. Well, not everything looks inviting especially in Winter time but I wish I could find more words to describe this city, so far, its one of the most diversified cities I’ve ever visited. We are traveling with a toddler so of course our interests are best fitted for her needs. It has by far the most modern architecture in the Alpine region, rich historical sites, stunning nature views, and a winter paradise for all ages. Quite impressive that within minutes you can reach the highest mountain peaks, marvel at the Glacier, and come down to the sophisticated town surrounded with great splendor of Tyrolean rural heritage and history.

I have seen so many photos of Innsbruck in Instagram and I had wished to see this place. It came true and I couldn’t be thankful enough to marvel at the Alpine adventure at the start of this brand New Year. Our New Year spent in Schlick 2000 Wanderzentrum is really unforgettable, especially for my daughter.This beautiful city nestled in between the Alps mountains and the Inn river makes a winter getaway, especially with children something that is enjoyable for parents as well.

Here are some of the sights we’ve visited and the photos I took while we explore the city and the nearby villages in this place.We were standing in front of the Triumphforte facing Theresien Str. with the gleaming mountains and planes passing by, I knew that this city has a lot to offer!

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The Golden Roof ( Goldenes Dachl) in the Old Town

” Use every moment, dance every dance, you can’t take anything with you.”

We stumbled on this square with the giant Christmas tree in front of it and loaded with tourists. I found it  fascinating that this structure is still  impeccably preserved centuries up until the modern times.  I read that the scroll on the relief of this famous Golden Roof  bears this beautiful quote.  This, however, is mere speculation as the writing remains undeciphered. The Golden Roof is decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles (all still original). Some were stolen but reappeared. One was replaced with a wooden tile while a hay barn was adorned with a shiny one. The exchange was reversed. The Goldenes Dachl in the Old town is still one of the most important gem of Innsbruck.

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Maria-Theresien Str. /Annasäule right in the Innsbruck Centrum

From where we stand and explored Innsbruck by foot.In New Year’s day, where almost all shops are closed, this street is still filled with tourists and locals celebrating New Year. Innsbruck  Christmas Markt still noticeable in the far end corner and I can still smell the glühwein and baked goodies.

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Bergisel (Sprungschanze), Ski Jump

The moment we stepped into the city, this is the view we get. The gorgeous Bergisel floating amidst the fog on a cold winter day. A day before we left, the city was already packed with tourists for the upcoming Winter Ski-Jumping  World Cup tournament of Vier Schanzen Tournee (Four Hills Tournament) 2018.This eye-catching tower is designed by Architect Zaha Hadid, the “Bergisel Sky” panorama restaurant and the panorama terraces.It takes only 20 minutes ride to conquer 2,000 meters.This is definitely one of the best Alpine experience you can have.

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The 28 larger than life monuments guarding the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I inside the Hofkirche

We continue walking through the narrow streets and as we reached the Markplatz,we decided to walk through the Hofburg. I am so glad that visiting the Hofkirche is not boring for my 3-year old daughter and not “too historical” for her age. I was surprised that she actually enjoyed marveling at the 28 ( Twenty-Eight) larger than life Bronze statues guarding the cenotaph of Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I.

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Swarovski Crystal Christmas Tree in front of Markhall, facing the Inn river

We noticed that the sun starts to shine so we head off to admire the beautiful country side near the river. Of course we didn’t miss to admire this Swarovski Christmas Tree in front of the Inn river facing the Markhall.This one really shimmer against the bright sun. We had a pit stop inside the market and had coffee. Compared to the Markthal in Rotterdam, this one in Innsbruck is smaller and not really touristy.

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Cobbled stone streets going to the historical inner city of Innsbruck.

It was a cold day and yet we enjoyed all the surrounding sights along the Theresien Str. with all the Baroque architecture and heavily ornamented buildings and shops.This street is so full of charm and the rows of tempting shops are full of  high-end brands, Christmas displays, enticing tourists and showing that sophistication and modern fashion is totally into this city amidst framed by the mountains.Take for example this unique facade of the Taxispalais. For a second you would think what’s inside.The Taxispalais is a Kunsthalle with an international exhibition profile.Its mission is to debate contemporary life through art and cultural discourse.If you are into Arts, you should not miss to explore this place.

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Taxispalais : Blue men in the building in the busy shops along the Maria-Theresien Str.

Innsbruck is definitely a city with a high-end Architecture! Another eye-catching landmark unique to Innsbruck is the Nordkettenbahnen cable railways, designed once again by famed Zaha Hadid. This is totally the jewel of the Alps.The new Hungerburg Funicular was officially opened in 2007. The funicular set new international standards for modern architecture due to the extraordinary design of the stations. According to Zaha Hadid herself, she was inspired by the ice and snow landscapes of the region. As a result, the four stations, Congress, Löwenhaus, Alpine Zoo and Hungerburg resemble icy glaciers, giving the impression that the nearby mountain is right in the heart of the city.

The contrast between the arched shape of the roofs and the firmly anchored concrete bases make the stations unique, and gives them an almost magical sense of weightlessness. If you’re in Innsbruck, I highly recommend to check this out!

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The modern Nordkettenbahnen cable railway station
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The quaint villages at the foot of the mountains along the Inn River
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Mariahilf, a historical site in Innsbruck

At the end of Theresien Strasse, I was intrigued at the row of colorful houses along the Inn river, just in front of the bridge and the Markthalle because it reminds me of the leaning houses along the canals in Amsterdam. With the background of the mountains, this is definitely a postcard worthy of visiting!

 

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Narrow Areas, thousands discoveries

To cap off our #MyInnsbruck sightseeing experience, we head off to Wattens to visit the headquarters of Swarovski. The trademark image of Swarovski, The Giant is the face guarding the entrance of the Chambers of Wonders. Multimedia artist André Heller created a world of wonder to celebrate Swarovski’s hundredth anniversary in 1995. Heller’s thematic centerpiece for Swarovski Crystal Worlds was the shape of the Giant. And he developed the story of a Giant who set out to experience the world and all of its treasures and wonders.One of the highlights of our Crystal experience is seeing the enormous 800,000 crystal jewels hand-mounted in the Crystal Clouds!

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The Giant, guarding the entrance to the Chamber of Wonders inside the Swarovski Kristallwelten

Even if the weather was not hundred percent perfect for our winter sightseeing, we really had a great time exploring all the sights that Innsbruck had to offer, especially for families. Visiting Innsbruck is totally a kid-friendly place and there are further more attractions to try on our next visit.

Of course, not only our eyes have feasted on this trip, our tummies as well. I can’t leave this place without trying once again one of Austria’s pride ; the Kaisersmarnn!

Have you ever visited Innsbruck?

Do you also take time to explore a city and its historical sights?

 

 

Thank you for reading my friends! Wishing you all a lovely start of a brand new week!

 

Tschüss!