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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Abaya : Fashion or Function

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Veiled Woman in Black Abaya
What’s your perception when you see women dressed in Black Abaya?

In Kuwait, traditionally & culturally, the clothing for women is the Black Abaya, while men wore the Dishdasha or Kandoura. For men, the color of Dishdasha ranges from beige, gray, off- white, white and during winter, they wear the Black ones. Now,there is a simple explanation while Black is the choice for color or this type of clothing for Muslim women here. It’s not because Black is a fashionable color,although I personally agree on this, but rather simply that it is most concealing. The sun is the most brightest here in middle east. It shines so bright and the heat is real and struggle.You cannot wear thick clothes in the summer and so many layers is also a no-no, rather you need something to cover your skin from burning at the same time for your skin to breathe.The Abaya or also known as cloak covers your whole body from your arms up to your legs and thus giving you ultimate protection from harmful rays of the sun.

The color black relates to the hidden, the secretive and the unknown, and as a result it creates an air of mystery. It keeps things bottled up inside, hidden from the world.In color psychology this color gives protection from external emotional stress.Wearing this black cloak relieves you from unwanted attention from lustful eyes and gives you a sense of protection.This is the whole concept of Muslim modesty. Women wear the black Abaya that totally disclose everything underneath.

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Abaya : Fashion or Function
If you knew the controversial photo of the late Princess Diana before about the see-through skirt that evokes too much attention then this is the absolute reason why white is not appropriate color chosen for Abayas here in the Middle East.

Now on the daily life of Muslim women here in Kuwait, wearing Black Abaya is more of a functional way, It is more than a culture behind the cloth. It is easy to put on, you don’t even know what they wear underneath. Some even wear their pyjamas or casual clothes. If you are a busy mom, then Abaya comes handy like rushing to get the kids to school, going into the grocery shop or even just a quick run down to the Bakala across the street. This saves so much time in putting on decent clothes. I have tried wearing the Abaya on certain occasion  when we entered the Mosque and it was a great privilege at the same time experience. I have great respect for this culture.

The origin of Abaya can be traced immemorial. Since the ancient times, people who are nomads in the Desert are wearing cloak type garments that protects them from the arid climate, strong winds & freezing cold desert winter.Through times, the style & evolution of Abaya in Fashion becomes a worldwide statement for the Arabic nation. Nowadays, Abayas are available with stylish embroidery, some even with Swarovski crystals, and tailor-made for the owner. In Kuwait alone, there are hundreds of shops particularly only for fashionable Abayas and its accessories. With this country’s ever – changing lifestyle, wearing the Abaya has become a Fashion statement for women together with their Arabic Oud perfumes, stilletos and luxury handbags.

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Cultureshock : For the love of Covering-Up.
How about you? What particular cultural aspects in Islam do you appreciate?  Or have you ever tried trying out foreign and local customs from your country?

How was your experience?

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Oh God, My Husband is Dutch !

This is not a romantic love story post, Nope, On serious note , I found myself to be lucky to find &  marry a wonderful Dutch guy, & here I share with you my impressions and things I found to be special and so typically Dutch .

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Beautiful canals in Amsterdam.

When you are in an interracial marriage, habits and your partner’s interests are the top things you notice. Either it’s totally  crazy, out of this world , weird, or annoying but then it shows a lot of their personality.

Tell you frankly, I haven’t got any clue about anything Dutch. We were completely from different cultures. I wouldn’t ever know that Hagelslag ( or Sprinkles)  could taste so good on toast after I met my ex-boyfriend , now my husband who is Dutch. Hagelslag is chocolate sprinkles that Dutch spread on their toast.It’s quite a moment to watch how they do it. It’s like a magic routine every time we seat together during breakfast .They spread it on a plain bread with  butter or margarine.  Their love for Hagelslag can never be taken away from them wherever they are right now. We were living in Kuwait but we have Hagelslag during breakfast, And Yes, I gave my In-Laws a big Thank you for bringing it over here during their visits. It’s totally a Dutch thing. This is a staple on every  household and kids form some sort of attachment to it because they love it until they become adults. So Yes, I became a convert on this one and I’m sure my daughter will love it too.

When we had our daughter , we had  Beschuit met Muisjes It’s a tradition  in  the Netherlands once a baby is born. It’s a crispy biscuit with sugar-coated Anise seeds  shared with guests. They come in pink & white for girls  & blue & white for boys .I love the uniqueness & everything about it. We never have something like this in Philippines or even in Kuwait.

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Typically Dutch threat when a baby is born -Beschuit-met-Muisjes

Who loves potatoes the most?

Dutch people are top-notch on this one. They adore  potatoes. It’s like rice for Filipinos. They mashed it, fry it, steam, boiled ,baked it but their favorite is the Patat Friet. Patat Friet is  a well-known snack , they are usually served in a paper cone, topped with mayonnaise. Different types of toppings are usually available including knoflook (garlic) sauce, tomato ketchup , frietsaus (a less fattier version of mayo) or the peanut sauce. My husband enjoys this on all occasions.

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So typical Dutch , Hagelslag on toast !
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 Windmills, a typical scenery in Dutch countryside.

Dutch people have a serious love affair with their bikes (Fietsen)  before they were even engaged or got married. Sounds crazy right?  but really, I was dumbfounded when i saw how many bicycles in The Netherlands , let alone Amsterdam itself. It’s HUMONGOUS!

The bicycle culture  makes Dutch people stand out. I mean,they don’t just bike to kill time, their lives revolves through it. They have one of the best Public transport system and yet people opt to cycle as their #1 preference of transport.You see mothers with their 3 kids on it with their famous  Bakfiets  (or cargo bikes) plus bags of groceries, cycling to work, exploring the countryside riding their bikes , and many tourists discover Amsterdam and all through out Holland by bikes. The Netherlands is the most-Bicycle friendly country with about 17 million in population and 20 million bikes! Picture that !

An average Dutch rides his bike 2.5km per day. I have cycled with my husband for 25km in one day and it was great. Another thing that I find so interesting is that they have a very active lifestyle with it. I have seen even older people riding their bikes. A typical household owns 3 bikes and children learn to cycle at an early age. I find it really inspiring when I see my in-Laws (already in their 70’s)  riding their bikes together for errands or so.

In Netherlands, multi-level parking areas for bicycles is normal sight. It is Huuuggeee. You can see tons of bikes parked in the train station and its amazing how people find their bikes with ease.

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Multi-level parking area for Bicycles in Amsterdam.

My husband loves to makes Lists , schedules and has the most organized Calendar. He really does it especially during grocery shopping. Dutch people are really living by the Diary. Birthdays and other important occasions are carefully noted in their calendars. They even have a Birthday calendar.

YES! you read that right, a calendar for Birthdays. They normally hung it in their guest bathroom. It’s totally Dutch thing. Imagine that you are a guest and while you do your business in the loo, you can be amused by  the thoughts and sometimes it even comes with photos in  it. Sure thing, they have no excuse to forget birthdays !

One important  character of Dutch people  is punctuality. This is as per my observation from them. They are also very straightforward and direct. They don’t beat around the bush.Some may even misinterpret this as rudeness,but actually, they are just so direct in speaking their opinions.

Have you heard about Papadag? Dutch men are very involved on parenting. I love the fact that my husband has high standards for family time. Dutch people have high priority on family and quality time spent with it is important more than any leisure activities. In Netherlands, fathers have a certain half-day off during the week to take care of the kids. Isn’t is amazing? In an interracial marriage, it’s very important to have compatible values, especially on family. I’m so happy that my daughter has the privilege of being raised with Dutch values to ensure overall well-being as a child. The Netherlands holds the spot of only country ranked among the top five countries in all dimensions of child well-being . You can see the full report Here. It is very heartwarming that Dutch kids stands as  the happiest kids on the world. They have wonderful childhoods.

Prior to the negative implication of the term “Going Dutch “,which is economical,thrifty Dutch way of thinking, I don’t see my husband as cheap, being prudent is not bad, He spends money wisely. Dutch people are very helpful & charitable and this is regarded  as great national value. The Netherlands ranked #14 in Top 23 Richest countries around the world based on GDP per capita and its amazing how Dutch people  are so involved in helping others, either national and international, who lag behind economically. There is a general kind of sense that “everyone should have the same”; equality in the economic sense is almost a value. During the typhoon Haiyan tragedy in The Philippines, Netherlands donated EUR 36 million as aid to the victims.My parents-in laws are living example, they have been helping a poor Polish family .

Lastly , with Dutch , there is always a feeling of Gezelligheid . Don’t ask me to define this in literal meaning because I can’t. Just picture this : Lovely ,beautiful gardens on each houses, with curtain-less wide windows adorned with most simple ornaments that looks directly to sidewalks , people having picnics & strolls in the park, Saturday morning frenzy at the city centre ‘s wet market,gobbling on delicious  Dutch treats such as Stroopwafels , those tiny houseboats along the canals in Amsterdam , people walking and talking about the weather ,  sitting in benches reading the news , and so on. There is total way of cozy conviviality around.

A fun, comfortable way of everything. For foreigners,it could be perceived as slacking off, but really, they just enjoy and take life in a normal way.

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I was grabbed at first sight on the experience of all of these. There is this unfamiliar taste that surrounds everywhere. No wonder tourists come back after visits to the Netherlands. They are really more than the windmills,tulips & clogs. There is so much more to learn and to explore with their culture. I have come to embrace Dutch culture, not only because I married one, but because of  Dutch’s unique approach in everything . But I excuse myself on liking the Drop & Haring!

At the end of my day, I still groaned and remind myself, “Oh God,my Husband is Dutch !”

Have you’ve had any encounter with Dutch people? or the Netherlands ?Do you have any fascinating impressions about them?

Please feel free to share your views . I would love to hear it.

Thank you for  stopping by & reading this…and Doei!