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!

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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!

One of a kind: Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt

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Falling in love with the Glühwein tradition in German Christmas Markets

One of my wishes came true this year and that is to visit the world-famous Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt, or probably the best Christmas market in the world, as far as Christmas markets are concerned. It’s one of the oldest, grandest and also the biggest ! Yes, I am saying it’s of world-class— and simply one of a kind, unforgettable and extraordinary Christmas market-fair-trade-fest rolled into one!

I cannot use too many more adjective for it but it is really worth a visit.From an Asian like me, I love everything about Christmas Markets! As an Expat, its one of the culture that I have fully integrated and loved. Despite the cold weather, everyone should try to experience this if they have a chance. I say this because I am totally thrilled and pleased with the experience of seeing everything that I’ve read in internet in full life and colors. Just like Oktoberfest—another magnet here in Bavaria, Nuremberg set a world record of number of visitors during Adventzeit. The crowd is simply overwhelming!

It’s a shame not to write about it since it’s really on my Bucket List–something that I never expected to be. I can’t get enough of the nostalgia from the Bitter-Sweet  Marriage Carousel so we end up exploring the Christmas Market and we were really blown away!

 

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Once in a lifetime experience in Germany’s Christmas Market

Maybe its a mistake when we decided to visit Nuremberg on the second week of Advent because it was packed, crowded, beautiful,charming and definitely exhausting! The crowd was something that I never expected to be. Despite of the grey , cold, windy, storm-ish winter weather, people, old and young, on different ages flocked to the streets of the central Hauptmarkt  square to witness the grand and only one Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt!

We arrived at around 11:30 am but we were lucky to find a table for lunch only around 2pm! Everything was packed, but the atmosphere is really something different. People are smiling, the vendors in the stalls are courteous and everyone is just in jolly mood.

 

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Not a Winter Wonderland, but still beautiful
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Creating memories in Nuremberg

We visited Nüremberg before  but the atmosphere in Winter is something different. The surrounding is filled with Christmas decors- in fact, what’s make it unique it its very traditional decors made of copper, wood and one-of a kind materials! Bright lights and the colors of Christmas is seen everywhere. Every shop compete with its own unique charming decors. The smell?— Oh your senses will be filled with the aroma of cinnamon, pastries, fruit cakes, Bratwurts, Nuremberg sausages and Glühwein. The taste of Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt!

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Aniseed, cinnamon, Lebkuchen and more Lebkuchen!

As a child, I can’t recall a Christmas market experience. I remember, we attended the midnight mass during Advent and there are few stalls of vendors selling traditional “Puto bungbong and Bibingka” ( sticky rice cakes) outside the church and nearby is a Carnival where we play and had fun rides. But nothing like the Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt in Nüremberg. For little ones, the rides, the grand carousel and the overwhelming threats for children is so tempting. From chocolate covered fruits to kinder punches and tasty threats that are beautifully displayed in every stall.

The first time I’ve ever tasted Lebkuchen from Nürnberg is when my husband brought some when he had a trip in Germany while we are still living in Kuwait. The taste of Spekulatius, cinnamon and Lebkuchen is unforgettable. I have tasted different Lebkuchen and Ginger breads here in Germany but I must say that I would always come back to Lebkuchen Schmidt.Highly recommended and worthy to bring as a gift to your love ones. Only be wary of the long lines especially during peak seasons! It’s not only their Lebkuchen but their cakes and Pastries are mouth-watering too!

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I’ve visited Nuremberg in Summer and my neck was cramped looking at beautiful old architecture, and the old city has always something to offers. The streets of Nuremberg during Christmas season are endless, chaotic,but really unforgettable. There’s always something to explore, to see and even if your feet already aches from walking, then just take a break and melt into the crowd.

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Christmas decors, balls and other Traditional Christmas ornaments made from different materials.
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Crowds in Nuremberg Christmas market
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Frohe Weihnachten

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Time to rekindle your childhood in the Kinder Weihnachtmarkt.The fairground is beautifully decorated with Nativity stalls, snowmen, sleighs and a winter wonderland for children. It offers lots of food stalls as well as toys stalls so it’s a perfect timing for gift buying too. I went to this Kinder Weihnachtsmarkt when the Christkindlesmarkt is too crowded for my daughter and I am even afraid to get lost!

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Happy writing— Giant pencils as a gift for the Little ones.
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Mistletoe!

Or kiss your Honey while taking a quick stop on this Mistletoe bundle!

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The world is your Oyster when it comes to food while you are in the Market. You find every type of food depends on your taste. The only downside is if you get a place to sit! On our visit we tried dome Balkan food and despite that its quite expensive, we were not disappointed with the taste.

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Tropical dried Fruits ! Yumm…
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Take the Carousel ride rain or shine!

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One happy little visitor!

There are thousands of Christmas Markets all over Germany and you can never have enough or shortage of it. Even our local Ingolstädter Christkindlemarkt can never be ignored but then if you have the chance to visit a Christmas Market, then go to something that worth the travel–and that is the Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt! I’ve just read that it’s almost 400 years old since the earliest writing about it was since 1628!

Nürnberg left me an impression and continue to do so… I wish it does the same to you. Maybe on my next visit, I’ll discover something else. From the mystical Kaiserburg Old Castle up to the overwhelming Tiergarten, I’ll leave you with endless options. My writing is not enough , you should be able to experience it with your own eyes.If there’s a market that I would like to bring my family in Philippines to see–then it is here.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What do you think of German Christmas Markets?

Here in Germany we have 2nd day of Christmas so here’s wishing you all Happy 2nd Day of Christmas and a Happy New Year! Until next time.

Tschüss!

 

 

The beauty of Autumn in Germany

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Autumn in Bavaria, Germany

I owe this post to the raw, pure and simple beauty of Autumn, the season of layers and golden glow. The season where I  created my Art gallery series “The rhythm of Crimson“and the “Hues of Malachite“. As much as I love nature, I think its just proper to document these moments and share with you some snapshots around my neighborhood . It’s been in my drafts folder for a week now and it really deserves to be published.Today, I finally squeezed some time to sit behind my laptop and search through my photo archives to complete this post.  I know its been a while since I write about my Wandertags , but yes, I  must confess that time is super precious, and life really happens when you are in constant motion. No day-off,in lay man terms!

But when we are silent, it doesn’t mean that our lives are boring, it’s just means that adventures are happening.

I’m sure many expats like me can relate to this.Though I grew up in a tropical climate and live almost a decade in a dry, hot climate, I began to appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons here in Europe. Someone even told me that it must be  heaven or paradise living in Germany. I humbly retorted — there is no such thing as paradise. Your happiness doesn’t depend on places, let alone tangible things. Though I love summer and I get cold easily, I am such an Autumn person. Give me a quiet, serene place with a simple view of gorgeous colorful trees and leaves on a bright, chilly autumn day, with warm socks, big sweaters, and a pocket of time to paint, then I will be in all my glory. My soul would be happy.

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A typical sight in Germany— a Farrad ( bike) amongst the fallen leaves.

As me and my family entered into new routines and big changes, we are colliding with changes in nature as well. October is the time comes to dressed up in layers once again.Everyday, my feet stepped into a myriad of colors, the streets are covered in yellow-brown mosaic of leaves, it is really beautiful! As I go out in my day, in a rush but kissing and chasing the fog relentlessly. I am fully embracing my life in layers. With the beginning of late sunrises, and dark nights, I find comfort knowing that my life continues to eveolve.I won’t lie, it is a struggle to wake up 5:30 in the morning every single day. It is still dark when we go out, with crisp air, cloudy, wet and very foggy. It’s like the sun is  also too sluggish to put on a show. I am most ecstatic when the sun starts to shine, because I know, it gets better  during the day when its sunny.

Anyway, here I wanna share with you my side of the world , these photos reflect the life we have as an Expat family here in Bavaria, the south of Germany.This is what my everyday life looks like. As much as we love the European summers, I love the serene, quiet evenings, chilly mornings, and a soulful meditation that the Autumn weather brings.

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Autumn (or der Herbst) means walking back to nature. Taking walks plays an important role in German lifestyle. Here, I’ve seen the other side of walking. Back then in Kuwait, I see walking as a penitence. With the dry and heat, walking is never enjoyable.Whilst here, it’s a physical activity, exercising your self-wellness . During Fall, walking is even more special on  a carpet of  crisp fallen leaves. Nothing beats the “Psithurism“or the sound of the rustling of leaves,  the graceful descending movement of  leaves falling to the ground, obedient to the course of gravity. The sound it makes is raw, making each step exciting. The different shades of leaves creates a unique mosaic, which only nature can do. I have tried to replicate the textures when I made some “Painting with Leaves”.  I find the sight of the fallen leaves on the ground a pleasant reminder that even though everything is dying and falling  during Fall, life can still be beautiful.

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Chasing the fog

“All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried “

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Foggy mornings, maybe a future painting inspiration.

Do you like foggy, hazy mornings?

Have you ever tried chasing a Fog? Another thing that makes Autumn in Germany special are the chilly, foggy mornings which starts from late September and can last up until November. The fog here stays up until 11 am!Have you ever tried cycling in the fog? Or just take a walk through the foggy forest on an early Saturday morning?

When I see fog, I feel like I am into a quest. I remember last year when I was so engulfed with these foggy mornings and crystallized spider webs, making me spent most my weekend mornings chasing the fog. There’s something about it that is so eerie, so mystical, and mysterious . The cast that it makes on the trees and surroundings is a sight that is imprinted in my mind. I love photographing these moments. In this photo,the Donau river almost disappeared, it’s unseen because of the thick fog, but you know it’s there.

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Of course if I talked about Fall in Germany, Oktoberfest and every city’s Volksfest will surely cross your mind. All these festival are almost legendary. Just right before the chill creeps into our window sill, we enjoyed once again the warmth inside the beer tents, with a Breze (Pretzel) in the hand and danced through the groove of  traditional volk music. Our Herbstfest ( Fall Beer Festival) is one of my favorite festivities,the carnival, and the total coziness of celebration is really one of -a-kind, especially in our region, the beer capital of the world—Bavaria!

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Foggy, hazy mornings

What I like about taking time to observe nature during the morning rush is that you can capture it in its raw form. When I passed by to this street everyday, it is full of students, in a hurry, everyone is chasing the time. These trees itself are witness of time,  enduring the cold, and obediently abiding to the call of nature to shed all its leaves in order to give way to another growth. Through all these process, she cast no worries.

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The golden shadow cast of Autumn

Since the time that my daughter started in the Kindergarten, Fall brought us a new meaning as well. It signals growth and moving forward. The time for Big Little steps to be made, and taking the leap on second chances. I, too, had been moving forward in my life. It was not an easy, or comfortable one, but then this is where I find meaning of my daily purpose.

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Big Little Steps of a Third Culture Kid
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Purple bloom against the fallen leaves

Just like this flower in between the fallen leaves, it still stands out and  bloom. Autumn is her season to shine. A purple one against the browns. Sometimes, life’s challenges comes like a contrast and its the way we respond that resonates with our surroundings. Lately, my family is plagued by the challenges that my daughter faced in her “Eingewohnung” in the Kita ( Kindergarten). This is the phase where she faced with so many new things and her skills are challenged, she, herself is being challenged physically, emotionally, and most important —socially. As parents, we feel the stress as well, but then we decided to hold on to each other and stand out.

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The orange , red and yellow leaves in constant transformation gives me glorious sight everyday, invoking positive vibes and encouraging resistance. The cold, long German Winter will come soon, but we are staying still.

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If you might wanna know, there are so many things that comes up only in Autumn, a seasonal thing I must say. Like for example these clouds of mushrooms, they are everywhere, almost invincible! Our streets are also full of chestnuts, acorns, pine cones, and beautiful twigs. We have adorned our home with the pumpkins we’ve got from the fresh market and yes, my plant sanctuary gets even more cozier with the addition of colorful callunas!Germans are crazy about their gardens, and indoor plant sanctuaries are as common as Biergartens!

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You know its Autumn in Germany when almost all house is adorned with these beautiful Calluna Vulgaris plant.
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Clusters of mushroom I saw during Fall
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Autumn in Germany
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Pumpkin patch

German Autumn won’t be complete without the warm orange shades of Pumpkins. The warm colors of Fall —the burnt orange, reddish, plum, and burnt sienna are my favorite shades .A parade of pumpkins or Kurbis is every child’s delight. Pumpkin pie, Lebkucken, Stollen, Apple picking and cozy sweaters are always a hit everywhere. The smell of freshly baked goodies, gorgeous warm glow of candle lights while tucked into warm socks–all these are simple comforts for the soul during Fall.

One thing that I have learned lately  in my life is to be content, with what I am and with what I have. Autumn in the same way is the season where I appreciate the contentment in my own home by paying attention to what I already have. A time when the year is on its last leg and it doesn’t do you good have regrets. Lastly, we don’t have Fall season in the Philippines and so I am grateful that I have this “privilege” to live in this place.

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“The Trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go…”

Have you enjoyed this post? If you live in a place with a season like Fall, what do you appreciate the most during this time? and if you have one photo that describes your life right now, what could it be?

Would it also be fallen leaves?

Feel free to share your thoughts about your favorite moments during the changing seasons.

Thank you for reading my friends! If you have more time to kill and you want to see more of my personal Art Gallery like my current obsession now, the art of Fluid Painting using acrylics,  please add me in Instagram. I share and post there my current artworks and I think its worth the follow.

Tschüss!

 

How I embraced my new Life in Seasons

Last year ( June 2016) was the start of my life in seasons and this month is the mark of my 1 year stay here in Germany.Yes, time flies, it goes fast.

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Expat Life in Germany : Enjoying outdoors and getting active

I’m into running lately and the other day, I went for a run and as I chilled down in the garden, my husband commented : “You’re running now, you’re like the Germans..” I laughed and replied : I”m also like the Dutch, I cycle now more.. a lot…also I eat potatoes and sausages more than I eat rice”.

Mind you, I grow up in a completely different topography, climate of only 2 seasons– rainy and summer with a humidity that can make your blood boil.First time that I’ve seen a real snow in my life was last year in AustriaThis alone makes a whole lot reason why my Expat Life now in Germany is a life-changing one. For those of you who are following my Expat Blog stories, I am sure you’ve read in my posts and seen in photos how I embraced all these changes in my life. Ironically,  seeing all the different seasons here have changed me, at least from the way I look at life right now.

“Just like  seasons…people change..”

Now I  dressed differently and more functional, totally very -German-like, always prepared for the rain. I totally learned how to dress myself for what the weather calls for, every single day. I never imagined before that I needed separate jackets for winter, for summer, and spring or fall. All the heavy bundles of winter clothing and never-ending layers…and shoes for walking, trekking, hiking and for snow. My life before from 50 degrees Celsius  heat to frigid negative temps is something that I always recall and laugh how I’ve learned to appreciate each moment. Sometimes I feel that the weather really affects the way I go about my day.Can you relate?

I realized that just as the seasons are important in the nature’s cycle, it is also important in my own life.My days before were only composed of rains and heat, humid, stormy and for quite sometime, a scorching summer and delirious dust storms.

The thing is, experiencing a life in seasons is totally different when you only see it while visiting another country.  It’s another story when you’re just a tourist and wanting to experience snow in Winter compared to actually living in it everyday. The cold, long German winters and fickle weather drives me nuts but now I get used to it. I guess that if you’re an Expat like me, you would agree that adjusting in new seasons is always part of any Expat life.

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My first sights of Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria and in the Netherlands. Definitely a very beautiful first season of blossoms.

The current season of my life now is Spring ( or Frühling) , a few more weeks and comes Summer. I had the privilege to enjoy Spring to the fullest by seeing it in full Dutch colors, and that was made possible by visiting Keukenhof Gardens last Easter in the Netherlands. I really love tulips but they are very expensive  both in Manila &  Kuwait, it’s very rare to find it, sold  only in big flower shops. In Holland, they are an ordinary sight, like weeds, growing in every household and empty spaces.Before, I only feast my eyes on it in internet or in magazines and thought they were so beautiful to be real. Seeing all the spring flowers in bloom and watching how the plants & trees regain their ‘life‘ made me understand about the time of recreating myself, first allowing the growth to pinch in, so I can be a better ‘Me’ . Spring is a beautiful season where I rekindled my passion for drawing and painting. It’s like a part of me had resurrected and my dreams were completely infused with colors.

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Nature never fails to amaze me.This beauty is one of the early blooms in Spring in Germany along with the yellow Daffodils in our garden.

I believe that Spring is the season in our life of new growth. It is the period of our lives where we clear out the old to make way for the new. It is a time where we create new beginnings for ourselves and our lives.

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Summer adventure : Trekking the crater of  a Volcano in on one fine Summer day last year.

Then comes Summer. I arrived in Germany last summer. The heat without AC is also something I got used to. A 30+ degrees heat can also be  toasty here.Germans love the sun, oftentimes sunbathing and swimming. Germany is pretty in a sunny day with lots of outdoor activity to enjoy. Summer season is the return of the Dandelions, like a season to enjoy ourselves. It is a time sitting in Biergartens ( Beer gardens) , grilling and BBQ parties in the garden! During this period we feel bright and happy.

We are loving life and reaping the rewards for the positive changes that we have made.

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Discovering nature: The Echinops Ritro and wasps are a typical sight during Summer in Germany

Last summer after I left Kuwait and before going to Germany, I squeezed some time to visit my family in Philippines and let them see my daughter for the first time. I managed to get some adventure with my friends by hiking and trekking along the crater of a Volcano. It was a long time dream as well. I missed home and my island -hopping adventures . Summer has always been my favorite season, but not much during summer months in Kuwait and Ramadan period.  Summer in Germany has been a fascinating one as well. The 9 PM sunsets are always magical, long summer days gives us more time to wander around. I discover the Bavarian lifestyle and the enigma of Biergartens, German sausages and lots of outdoors. I tasted new dishes and explore our new home like crazy. I can’t get enough of the thought realizing that I am eating my dinner while the sky is still bright where in other parts of the world, it would be pitch-black already.

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Nothing beats summer sunsets, especially when seen behind bodies of water. I have watched numerous sunsets here in Bavaria where the sun turns the sky in pink and orange glory .Summer was and would always be a happy season in my life.

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Catching some amazing sky one fine Autumn in Bavaria

Oh then there comes Fall. Another first time for me .

I love all the nostalgic feelings I had watching the trees lost its leaves and everything just turned into golden, yellow rustic beauty. The sound of the crisp dried leaves when I walked on them is so therapeutic.The views in our old town is breathtaking during Fall. I have been obsessing in photography and its a time I appreciate nature even more. I have indulged myself in baking Apple pies and my first carving of a real pumpkin. My daughter enjoyed her first trick or treat, Fasching & Halloween here in Germany. I struggled with the language barrier and tried to integrate into the German culture so hard that everyday seems like a hurdle for me to overcome. Another life-changing experience was cycling with my daughter, another first time for me and having a taste of  Oktoberfest by seeing our local Herbstfest here in Ingolstadt. The Beer culture of Germany is really a pride and Bavarian culture is truly unique in this region. I love everything about the traditional German Tracht– Lederhosen and Dirndls!

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The pride and beauty of Traditional German Tracht ( Dirndls)

Autumn is the season of our life where change occurs and we need to let go of the old. During this period of our life we recognise and feel the need for change in our lives. In order for us to change we need to let go of things from our old self, just like the leaves falling from a tree. We may for example need to let go of negative feelings, bitterness, the past, limiting beliefs and traditions,and the most important — limiting forgiveness.

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One of my favorite photos of the beautiful Autumn  here in Bavaria
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A pavement of old self…giving way to a new season.

It was never easy. It is hard integrating into a new culture, especially when I can’t express fully what I want since I don’t know German yet.  I know that failure to let go causes me to remain stuck in my  life and hinders any positive change.  I needed to shred  my old self to finally give in to a new me, and Oh yes, I got my Aufenhaltstitel! I am now holding a legal and official  residency here in Germany. Just like the trees that undergoes harsh pruning time during Fall, their leaves must fall in order for them to grow. Pruning time comes in a natural way.

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My new life starts here…Bavaria, the land of Lederhosen & Dirndls, where the River Danube flows–my second home.
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Nostalgic moments in One fine sunset in Souk Sharq in Kuwait

This photo shows one of my favorite places in Kuwait. This was taken by my friend who made our wedding photos. This is the dock where the traditional ‘Dhows’ and fishing boats lazily docked after a busy fishing day. Just like the orange-red skies during Autumn in Germany, Kuwait has beautiful skies approaching Ramadan season. Remembering ‘Ramadan’ and my life back in Kuwait makes me grateful that I have the chance to see the best of both worlds.

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My first view of the great mountain, Alps in Austria.

Then comes Winter.

I was not really looking forward to the cold. I don’t even have winter clothes.My first Winter Wonderland experience in Austria has been unforgettable as well as exciting as we welcome the New Year . When I told my husband that its my first time to experience snow and winter, He really made sure to bring  me to a place where I had an unforgettable snow-coma! It was a pleasure seeing my daughter eating and jumping in snow for the first time .My first Winter is totally unexpected, exhilarating, freezing, but then it changed my views about snow and the long cold winter days.Do you know how hard it is to push a stroller in snow? or walk into an icy street that shouts “Achtung, glatteis!”

Honestly, I like snow, but not the cold. The cold makes me feel depressed and very un-motivated to do anything. Everywhere you see is white, gloomy and my feet is freezing plus the stress of dressing up a toddler in heavy winter clothes is always a struggle!

Winter is the season where we experience challenges and difficulties in our life. It can feel like a cold and lonely time. Our life may appear bleak. We may be dealing with storms in our life which creates fear and anxiety for us. However, we need periods of winter in our lives.

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Watching frozen berries with the Alps in the background.

These winter times provide us with important learning and understanding. It is through the challenges and difficulties in life that we learn our most valuable lessons. Winter also helps us to appreciate and be grateful for what we have. Without periods of winter in our lives we can take for granted all of the goodness that we experience.

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Christkindlmarkt ( Christmas market) and my first Christmas in Germany.

My first Christmas market experience, our first Christmas in Germany and my first time to make snow man with my daughter makes this season a festive one.This is also the season where I got so sick, both me and my daughter had colds, flu, and we felt like the grey winter is totally dampening our moods. Another highlight is the time when we walked on top of a frozen lake  which is  so nerve-wrecking !

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There is a time and a season for everything…

Indeed, time flies and I realized that soon, by next summer, at the end of this month, I will be 1 year here, I will be a year older, wiser, and integrating fully in my new culture and loving life in new intensity. I feel so much more at home now here, because I embrace the changes, I let myself grow. I have come to love “Ordnung“( or Order ).

Every season has special memories that makes me the person that I am now.

Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever relocated to another country? How was your experience? Are you also affected by the seasons?

 

 

The Green windows of Failaka’s Heritage Village

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Green windows in Failaka’s Heritage houses

I visited Failaka Island in Kuwait sometime during one Eid celebrations.I think I have been to almost all of Kuwait so one time, out of boredom, we booked our trip for Catamaran under Heritage tours to visit Failaka island. I love island hopping and beach getaways but a trip to Failaka is totally off-beaten.

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Heritage houses circa 1950.

Well,if you don’t know, Failaka is an island , 20km off the coast of Kuwait city.Before the war, people used to live there.This island was totally deserted by its inhabitants since the Gulf conflict and when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.It literally looks like a ghost town, totally different from the skycrapers of the Kuwait skyline as you approach the city. If you are into war relics, desert life and archeology, Failaka might give you a pleasant experience.Of course, seeing the wild camels and eating inside a traditional tent is also a treat!

One of the memorable sights I have seen in Failaka was visiting the Heritage Houses with green windows  and doors as well.In Failaka Heritage Village, there are 40 Heritage houses. Visitors who wanted to spend a day or more here can rent these houses which can accommodate 5-15 guests.

The architecture is totally different, mostly made of timber, wood and rough finish. It’s the green windows that really captures my attention since it is so simple, really a cultural heritage.Heritage house is the typical Kuwaiti traditional house, it is the norm of dwelling for local Kuwaitis since 1950’s. These vacation rental houses can’t be considered as hotel or even star awarded due to their very heritage nature.They are periodically enhanced and restored by skilled craftsmen to retain its character.

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Green windows, a unique architecture feature in Kuwait’s Heritage house.

The traditional houses are the only genuine article in Kuwait and also GCC countries. They are all set into the village streets (Fereej) , all the streets and houses having their own names.Look at the shadow cast from these windows, totally enchanting.In the hot, humid summer months, the sight of green windows and doors can give a refreshing look.

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Green vine, green windows 

Notice also that in Kuwait, the use of grills (or bars) in windows is very typical. When I saw this, I felt like I am behind bars, making you feel like a prisoner.These type of windows are called “double casement”which opens from the middle.Totally closed, maybe for functional use because of the climate.

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Heritage house built in 1950’s.

When life was slower and simpler, these type of houses gives warmth and comfort to the locals.Placed against an earth tone wall finish, it looks like a breath of life.

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Green windows in the Heritage house in Failaka, Kuwait

I would recommend to visit this place if you are in K-town. It may not be a super attraction, but it is really a place where the past speaks louder than the sights. The war-torn almost barren landscape, the rusty war tanks, the bullet shots in every wall, and the memories of the war is actually the air you breathe.

Green color is the color of life, a symbol of renewal, of nature . Just like these windows that reminds me that out from a gloomy past, the future could still be bright, that life in Failaka can still be safe.

Also,want to know why you should not miss the sunset in Failaka?Read more Here.

How do you feel when visiting war-torn places? How was your experience?

 

This post is inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge :It IS Easy Being Green!

10 Reasons why I love Austria in Winter

 

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Feasting on this  view every single day on our Winter Wonderland adventure in Austria

Would you do anything to have this view? Well, I would!

This year started right by making another check in my Bucket list, which is seeing the Alps up close and spending a Winter Wonderland in the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena with my family!

Austria and the  Alps is not only for Wintersport , but  it is also for the enjoyment of the whole family, young and old! Last week, I am so grateful that I had the chance to cross the border and explore Tirol this winter. Though I am not used to the cold, my first Winter Wonderland experience is a dream come true and is filled with overwhelming experiences especially  that we have a toddler traveling with us.

Austria on a cold freezing winter with a 2 year old? Yes– It’s possible! So here I want to share with you  why it’s totally worth your time and money, after all, it’s a beautiful country.

My 10 personal reasons why you need to visit Austria in Winter and have a 360 Panoramic Holiday !

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People of Austria – A day in the life of shoveling the snow.
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Exploring Tirol in a horse driven carriage

1.Because there is SNOW!

Powdery snow. Snow-capped mountains. Lazy strolls in a Winter Wonderland in a post-holiday season. Beautiful glistening white snow against the bright sun. More & more snow! Everything is covered in pure whiteness. There’s so much snow that even the light posts got icicles. I was taking photographs where my feet is in knee-deep snow and if you follow my Instagram, there you can see that my daughter had her snow-coma moments eating,rolling, lounging, and playing in the snow! She has the whole village as her playground.

If you want to experience a winter wonderland, you need to go to where the snow is.

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Frozen berries and the Zugspitz mountain

2.Because the Mountain  is calling!

The Tyrolean Wetterstein mountain ranges and the highest peak,the Zugspitze is one of the most beautiful scenic views you could ever had if you visited the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena.Personally, I am overwhelmed by its beauty. Seeing it everyday can totally change your life. Need I say more? You need to see it by yourself and then you will know why its an enigma to the world.

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Cable car ride with a toddler!

3.Because there is the Wintersport!

Do you like Skiing? or cross-country skiing?Snowboarding or snowshoeing maybe?

Tirol is a haven for Wintersport all year round! Anyone can enjoy skiing in so many Ski Resorts. From 07.01 up to 05.02.2017, there is the Superskiwochen (Super Ski weeks) and from 18.03 up to 21.04.2017 anybody can enjoy Sonnenskilauf (Sun Skiing).If you’re itching to try a new thing, you can even try the ‘Nachtsskilauf‘ ( or Night Skiing). More than 210 km of slopes, 88 lifts, 110 km of cross-country skiing trails—This is the definition of a real Winter Wonderland during Wintersport Season!

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Snow capped pine trees during our hike

4.Because getting there is so accessible.

Going to Tirol has never been so easy and convenient, even with a toddler.  We reached Ehrwald from Ingolstadt, Germany only within 3.5 hours via the regional train.With the new Arena Express Bayern-Tirol, there’s even a Free train connection for guests and locals between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Vils. This region in the west of Austria is easily accessible by  its modern transport network. Travelling by train or bus is one of the most relaxing ways to reach Tirol, be it from other parts of Austria or from countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Driving to Tirol in your own car is also easy, whichever direction you are coming from.

Important Tip:

If you travel by car, make sure you have the Motorway toll sticker (“Vignette”), while all other roads are accessible free of charge. Whichever route you take, fantastic views are guaranteed! Guests planning to arrive by airplane will find direct flights from many European cities to the Innsbruck-Kranebitten airport. Some airlines even operate a daily service to Innsbruck.

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Local sightings during our adventure hike

5.Because your stomach will be pampered!

A Culinary experience is a big part of any travel experience. Tirol is an amazing place to eat and drink, serving up some of the best food in the world. While in Tirol, seek out some of the country’s quintessential foods served at roughly 130 restaurants brandishing the “Tiroler Wirtshaus” (“Tirolean Inn”) logo, indicating locally grown produce on their menus. Our days are filled with awesome goodness from a warm Breakfast buffet offered by the Pension House where we’ve stayed and after a day of sightseeing and hiking, we feast on local foods in the restaurants in Ehrwald & Biberwier.

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Schnitzel with pommes – my mini version since I can’t even finish eating the adult portion!

Where to Eat :

Sonnenspitze Restaurant – Try their Veal Schnitzel with fries which my husband loves, the delicious Spaghetti Bolognese and The Zipfer Austrian beer is also worth a try. A visit to the Tiroler Haus (In Ehrwald/Zugspitze ) from a break from skiing while enjoying the views, you can try their signature and Original Tirolerhaus Kaiserschmarrn (Dramatic pancake)  served with apple sauce & cherry jam.

6.Because getting around is so easy and convenient.

In Tiroler Zugspitze Arena, you can enjoy the place car- less. Visitors are encouraged to travel without their car. The public transportation is so easy and conveniently accessible during sightseeing & hiking around into the mountains. Transportation within the region is free and according to your schedule (Ticket = Tiroler Zugspitz Arena’s Gust Card + guest) .You only need to provide a valid photo ID and you are free in all rides. All buses are stroller- friendly and even people with disabilities can access high altitude areas without any problem.  Totally amaaziiingg right?!

If you’re a guest there, you’ll get a Gästekarte and you’ll have many benefits such as discounts from the destinations and free access to Family pool in Ehrwald, Ehrwalder Almbahn,selected Guided tours in Winter and Summer and so much more. For the complete list of your Guestcard benefits, you can check Here.

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Local sightings in Kirchplatz, Ehrwald

7.Because Nature here is something Surreal.

Up in the mountains or down in the valley, the Zugspitz Arena offers a magnificent nature vistas. From the wonderful trekking and adventure hike we did, I was able to see steaming springs, small lakes, and a forest-covered in snow which looks like a dream. I am sure that in Summer, this place is transformed into a new paradise. There are hiking tours offered for free to explore the villages and seeing the local culture of each neighborhood.

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A Bucketlist : Zugspitz mountain

8.Because you can reach the Zugspitze peak within 10 minutes!

The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain at 2,962 metres above sea level, has been easily accessible since the first cable car was built in 1926. The most modern incarnation leaves from Ehrwald ,the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn transports visitors up onto the mountain quickly and comfortably via three mighty metal pylons driven into the rock. Once up at the top, crossing over from Bavaria in Germany to Tirol in Austria couldn’t be easier – the border runs directly through the middle of the Zugspitzhaus hut on the summit.

It goes without saying that the views from the Zugspitze are spectacular: down into the Inntal Valley, across to the shimmering green Lake Eibsee near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, over to the Hintertux Glacier – and on clear days even as far as the TV tower in Munich. The views looking up are just as good.Even babies,toddlers in strollers & people with disabilities can enjoy the 1,725 meters of mountain view in just 10 Minutes! The journey in the 100-passenger capacity cabin with its panoramic views is an amazing experience. 

Travel Tip :

Make sure to take this trip on a clear sunny day to enjoy the views of the mountain peaks ranging from 2,000 m up to 4,000 m and across 4 countries ( Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria) reaching as far as the Eastern Alps!

Here’s a teaser of their live webcams so you can have an idea what kind of view you can expect when you are in the Zugspitze peak! Go for it!

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Signage in the adventure trail to Ehrwald, Lermoos & Biberwier

9.Because Winterwandern is amazing!

I love wandering around and exploring by foot and Tirol did not disappoint me. With the right clothing and the sturdy stroller for my daughter, we were able to wander around so freely, even with the heavy snow.Thanks to Intersports-Leitner Rent– where we got the perfect Kinderwagen for my daughter.If you don’t like to bring bulky Winter sports gear and accessories, you can also rent from them.Everything you need to enjoy a winter holiday can be found in their shop as well.

Winterhiking in the Tiroler Zugspitze Arena is something that I really look forward during our holiday. The foot paths  and hiking trails are with proper signage, and everyday, there are various programs arranged by the local Tourism for the guests to enjoy. While hiking, we saw horses, goats, alpacas,and donkeys. The local architecture is very unique and I admired the wood cabins in the foot of the mountains.

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Exploring the Winter wonderland village of Biberwier

10.Because it is a destination for the whole Family!

I got a fair amount of stares when we rode the bus going up to the mountains where it is filled with people in ski boots and doing Winter sports. Maybe they are wondering what on earth can my toddler do up there in the mountains. Though we didn’t ski, while my daughter is too stubborn to sit on a sled, this place is best for families. I find the people so friendly and they have made us feel at home during our stay.

If you have a chance to spend a winter holiday , I highly recommend you consider going to Tiroler Zugspitz Arena. It’s a 360 deg. panoramic holiday that you shouldn’t miss!

Highly recommended place to stay is the Gästehaus Panorama where I find to be super cozy, affordable & value for your money. It’s like a home away from home. With our wonderful host Katrin, our stay was filled with enchanting views, great service, and a comfortable place that takes care of all our needs.

Stay tuned for my review for this place and more about our Winter Wonderland holiday in Austria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Ode to Alone Time

 

“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the world.”

~Marcus Aurelius

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The Astronomy Park and Garden I recently discovered from my morning time walk.

Do you acknowledge your need to recharge?

Have you ever tried to be happy by spending time alone with yourself?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not an introvert type of person, actually I am the opposite. But over the years I spent my life as an Expat, I have learned one thing , one specific need of my mind, body & soul – the need to recharge my self by time spent alone.You see, I have noticed that in fact, so many people who don’t take the necessary time to recharge end up feeling isolated, despite always being with others.

This is very common. You are there, but you’re not actually IN THERE. I knew this feeling very well because I’ve been in his black hole before.

When I became a mother of a very active child, I have never felt so little time for myself more than I’ve had in my life.I felt that I am always needed, always need to be there for this little human who keeps on tugging on the edges of my pants and shirt. When I am sitting down, she climbs up to me as fast as the lightning goes.

The times that I actually slept for more than 8 straight hours seems like a dream for me. It happened once, but I couldn’t remember anymore how does it felt. I always give in to this excuse that there’s so much things to do, yet so little time. I was completely wrong.I’m denying myself of one of life’s precious gift!

There are many times where I’ve been “out of it” while hanging out with friends , or just being socially active because I haven’t taken time to recharge. So what are we to do?

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I snap this photo of a man sitting in a bench watching the sun set along the River Danube in Germany. So simple, yet so fulfilling. You don’t really need constant entertainment. Nature is enough.

Life changes are real.When you are in a different place,  you literally don’t know anyone yet, or you basically don’t know the language, you just had a baby , and this leaves your mental ability to cope comes to a test. Haven’t you realized it yet that there won’t always be people around for you to hang out with, so you’ll need to learn to be happy by yourself anyways.

Are you one of the millions of people who doesn’t like to let go of their FOMO? or their Fear of Missing Out?Do you find yourself constantly hooked on social media and felt like you are missing out a lot?

I knew these feelings. But lately in my life I have chosen to acknowledge my need for a time spent alone and the results were far better than I imagined.This is time where I made an active effort to get to know myself and my values. I am are alone because I choose to be alone at that moment, and I know that I can enjoy myself even without company.

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A photo I took while I am watching morning rays in this path walk in the Astronomy park & garden. This garden is all about planets and the solar system. Just like this path, it leads to more discoveries.

So how am I doing it? Here are some things I love doing in my Alone Time.Most of these things are cheap, inexpensive and free. You just need to have the right motivation.

1.Spending time outdoors appreciating nature.

There’s so much lovely things to enjoy everyday if we will just go out & look. Even in Kuwait that is so hot & could be raining with dust, Nature has been my source of inspiration. A walk in the park, admiring flowers, or beach combing in the beach, or simply just watching the sunsets.There are a lot of beauty out there, so don’t miss out!

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Have you ever wondered how many types of roses there are?

2.Minimize yourself to exposure to Negativity

Do you like news? Yes, we appreciate what is going on globally. But too much absorption of all the negative messages is a sure way to kill and worsen your mood. Would you believe that I can actually say I can live without TV. The only thing that we can watch for more than an hour now is the nursery rhymes videos of my little girl :).

3.Meditate on your Values

When you are alone, spend some time considering whether you are happy and if you are acting congruent with your values. Not only will this increase your overall happiness, but it will also help you use your time better.I love doing this while I’m taking a walk and asking myself If I really like what is going on in my life. Sometimes I even do this while I push the stroller and waiting for my daughter to sleep.You can even try doing this while you are preparing your dinner .Unless you hate cooking and tidying up the kitchen then you might get a reverse answer.

4.Alone time means -Take care of ME!

This means exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to manage your stress. The most common excuse for not taking care of ourselves is that we don’t have enough time. Combine this with your alone time and you will for sure feel better about yourself.

This will also have a positive effect on the time you spend with your friends. The better you take care of yourself, the better you’ll be in your relationships with others. The next time you meet with your friends, they would just be dying to know more about you.When you feel good about yourself, it will show.

You can also try to be involved in new hobbies. I do look forward to doing some art works soon , learning a new language, writing and spending more time in the garden. I am personally grateful that in our new place here, we have our own garden.I knew that some people like people watching, or pretend as tourists. It doesn’t matter, as long as where you find inner peace for yourself, then its your own personal time.

The time I spent with my husband and my daughter are precious. They always make good memories. The time I spent with my faraway friends either online or physical are always good times worth remembering. They make the days go by. But the time I spent alone for myself is good for myself.

I leave you with these words — make something more scarce, and it will grow up. Simple economics.

 

Thank you for reading and I wish you find joy for some quiet time with yourself.

 

 

 

Kuwait from A to Z

 

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Kuwait from A to Z

 

As the time I leave Kuwait comes near, I thought it might be a great tribute to posts more about this fascinating country which has been my home for the last 8 fruitful years. If you want to know more about what’s it like to live here, you can also check out  how to survive Kuwait  and my top Expat tips to enjoy the hot summers here.

So, how can you describe Kuwait alphabetically  from A to Z?

The only way for you to enjoy living in a foreign country is to embrace its culture & open your mind for changes. It won’t be easy at first, but experiencing any culture is the best way of learning. I have come to know  many facets of this country and here I share with you the A to Z of Everything about Kuwait  alphabetically. Enjoy!

AAVENUES – The world-renowned super-mall in Kuwait. It has beautiful architecture, and wide ranges of restaurants and shops of worldwide brands for all taste preferences.  The Avenues is among Prestigious MEED Quality Awards for Projects 2013 for Leisure and Tourism Project of the Year and The Avenues Among Prestigious Arab Town Organization Award (ATO). This place has becoming the modern touristic icon in Kuwait. I love this place and everything in it. It totally revolutionize the whole mall concept!

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The Avenues-designed by international  designer & Architectural London-based firm Gensler

A-AL-HAMRA TOWER – The Al Hamra Tower is a completed skyscraper in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Al Hamra is the tallest building in Kuwait and the 23rd tallest in the world. Another beautiful piece of architecture visible in Kuwait skyline.

 

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Al Hamra Tower

B BAKALA – The Arabic version of mini-stop or 711 convenience store in every corner of Kuwait neighborhoods.This is an original Kuwaiti thing.People just need to honk from their cars and the storekeeper will bring his order.Bakala always saves my day when I need boxes of water & eggs for my pancakes!

BAKLAVA-Kuwaitis loved sweets, so do I! It’s a part of their culture and Baklava is one comfort food in Kuwait that is present  in every corner, there is a nearby sweet shop selling this and this is the ultimate Ramadan dessert.

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B-Baklava,Kuwait’s favorite dessert during Ramadan

C-CARS – People in Kuwait loved Cars. I’m telling you, they have a serious love affair with cars here. SUV’s , Hummer,Maserati, and almost all brands of  luxury cars, you name it, its here.They are as common as people having 3 smartphones ! Cars like Porsche, Lamborghini & R&r are just parked out in the sun, out in the dust. Pink limousines parading in Gulf road is a typical sight. During New Year’s eve, people drive in their cars, into the desert, even into the shores of the beach. Unfortunately, Kuwait has  the highest accident rate in the world, because people drive like a maniac, once again topping global records.

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How to drive a Porsche Cayenne in Kuwait

D- DATES (Tamr ), this exquisite & delicious fruit from the palm tree which is abundant in the whole region. This is my favorite and I love bringing these to my  love ones in Ph & NL. An experience in Kuwait is not complete without eating this. During Ramadan, dates are usually the ones being eaten first after praying & breaking the fast.My daughter loved eating dates .This is for sure one of the things I will be missing from Kuwait.

E-EXPAT POPULATION -Did you know that Expats in Kuwait  make up 70% of the total population?Yes, from Westerners to neighboring GCC expats, they are here. There are so much cultural diversity in this tiny yet oil-rich country.

F-FAILAKA ISLAND– Failaka Island is  about 20km off the coast of Kuwait City, tiny Island that stands as a constant reminder of the Iraqi invasion a quarter-century ago.Prior to the Gulf War, Failaka was reportedly home to about 2,000 residents, but they fled when the Iraqis invaded and most did not return. Over the years, the homes and offices they left behind have crumbled, many still scarred with bullet holes from the war.Today, much of the island lies empty and in ruins, although a small tourism industry has emerged – with boat trips, overnight accommodations and cafes springing up on Failaka for curious sightseers. Failaka is also still used today for military exercises by the Kuwaiti army.

 

F-FRIDAY MARKET- or locally known as Harag.This is the famous Expats & local Flea market in Kuwait.The place to buy a secondhand dress, an Afghan coat or an illicit antique from Iran, this enormous semi-covered market is a shopping extravaganza – but, more importantly, it offers a look at contemporary Kuwaiti culture and cross-border relations. Five minutes shuffling between dusty textiles and sipping the coffee of a good-natured vendor delivers more in the way of insight into the complex web of Kuwaiti affairs, domestic and international, than you could absorb in a month of lectures on Arabic culture.

F-FAREEJ SOELEH-If you want to experience an authentic Kuwaiti dishes & dining ambiance then you need to go to Fareej Soeleh just before Marina mall in Salmiya. This place is so unique in its decor and seating arrangements. The restaurant’s entrance has an old Ford pickup as a permanent fixture and have become its landmark. First thing to make a note of is that dining area for bachelors is on the first floor and for families is on the second floor.

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Logaymat-Kuwaiti sweet balls

They say you can tell how authentic a local cuisine restaurant is by the number of locals who dine there.  Freej Soeleh is packed on the weekends, especially on a Friday after prayer services.  They serve a sample portion of logaymat as soon as guests are seated which is a nice touch and always makes  you want to order more at the end of the meal.

G-GRAND MOSQUEThe 8th largest mosque in the world.On 27th Ramadan year 2008, around 180,000 worshippers attended the night prayer. With such a huge crowd, the mosque was overflowing with people praying in the streets.the architecture of this mosque is world renowned and the intricate details of the Islamic calligraphy is highlighted in this prominent structure. This mosque is open even for non-muslims to marvel through its arranged tours.I love this mosque so much that I visited it almost 4 times!

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Green Island in Kuwait– once before a reclamation area, now a beautiful island.

G-GREEN ISLAND is a man-made island right beside the Kuwait towers. It’s a haven for beautiful landscape & a home for migrating birds. The design of the Green island is unique and has been a famous place for family picnics, leisure spot and tourist destination.The Green Island is located along the coastline, extending from Al-Shuwaikh to Ras Al-Ard, spanning an area of 785,000 square meters. It is surrounded by natural rocks brought from Al-Fujairah Emirates. In fact, even the sands at the beaches of the Green Island is said to have been imported from other countries. Established on 22nd February 1988, and owned by T.E.C, the island includes about 50,000 coloured shrubs and seedlings planted here, and with all the colors and greenery, it doesn’t render the feel of being in a desert country.

H-HARRIS– Your second landlord in Kuwait. The good, the bad and the Ugly are typical face of a Harris (aka guard/janitor/caretaker).

I-INSHALLAH !  ( If Allah wills it ) You know you are in a Muslim country like Kuwait when you hear this word. Inshallah has no English equivalent; it just simply means “If God wills “. In the Quran S18.A23-24 it says “and never say of anything , “Indeed, I will do that tomorrow” unless adding “inshallah “. Since a person cannot predict the future,Inshallah is said even for something expected, like coming home for dinner.

J-JUICES – or locally called  Aseer is a daily staple here. There is a huge variety of juices available  in Kuwait that becomes handy especially during the hot summer months. there is a juice shop in every corner or even can be ordered online through Talabat or in some cases, the brochures just dropped in your doorsteps.What I love is the abundance of flavors. I didn’t expect to find even the tropical fruits  like coconut, soursop & pineapples , but you can see them here or even in supermarkets.

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Colorful, healthy world of Juices in local Kuwait.
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Kuwait Towers

K-KUWAIT TOWERS – An iconic landmark of Kuwait. The face of Kuwait and its best Architectural heritage.After being closed for almost 5 years, it reopened again to public last March 8. This is a must-see for every visitor because the view from its viewing deck is magnificent.It has been closed for quite sometime but last March, it reopened again to public.

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K-KUBBAR ISLAND -Among nature’s best spectacles is the well-known Kubbar Island, relatively Small Sandy Island in the Persian Gulf located in close proximity to Fahaheel. Kubbar is located approximately 29 kilometres off the coast of Failaka and 30 kilometers off the southern coast of Kuwait.  Kubbar Island is a serene getaway that gives the nation of Kuwait its pride in picturesque locations. The island is nothing short of spectacular and is unspoiled in every way. The sparkling blue waters and grainy crystal sands make the beaches on the island so enticing for the tourists. Even though the island’s infrastructure remains yet to be developed,  Kubbar Island local tourist industry is beginning to flourish; it provides boating, sailing, swimming and water sports.

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A trip to Kubbar island for fishing, snorkeling , boating & diving is one of the tourist attractions in Kuwait by westerners & other Expats.

K-KUWAITI DINAR – or KD  for short is the currency of Kuwait. Its one of the strongest in value in all world currency . 1 KD is equivalent to approx. 3.32 $ US.

K-KUBZ ARABI  – Kubz is a type of short bread, flat baked & is widely staple food in Kuwait. Kuwaitis and all other Muslim expats enjoy eating Kubz with their favorite dishes.Your experience in Kuwiat won’t be complete unless you eat grilled meat, lahem, shish tawok with tahini or hummus with a warm Kubz bread.Yum!

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Kubz or Flat bread in Kuwait

L-LINGERIE shop in the Basement Miya Miya stores. You won’t believe this but Kuwait has its own Red Light District Lingerie shop located mostly in the basements of a Miya- Miya stores (Dollar thrift shops).There are variety of sexy lingerie, costumes, and scantily clothes you could ever imagined displayed here that would makes you wonder what sort of fun the one who wears these are engaging. This is Victoria Secret & La Senza’s local rival.

M-MUTLA ‘A RIDGE located on the further north of Kuwait, this place is famous for its rather rugged desert terrain and if you are in for a real desert experience, you can have a glimpse of this place from the  360 virtual tour of Al-Mutla Ridge. Thank you Alex Dennis Bolado.

M-MUBARAKIYA – this is the country’s renowned market infused with traditional Kuwaiti & Arab culture & design. From clothing, perfumes, carpets, fruits & veggies to shoes,everything is ever-present in Mubarakiya. There are old restaurants inside that still baked their bread in the stone-ovens.This is a must-see for every visitor and Expat here.

M-MASHRABIYA – a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second storey of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass. The mashrabiya (sometimes shanshool or rushan) is an element of traditional Arabic architecture used since the Middle Ages up to the mid-20th century. It is mostly used on the street side of the building; however, it may also be used internally on the sahn (courtyard) side.

N-NATIONAL MUSEUM – Kuwait boasts of a National Museum that houses various antiquities and ancient collection from the past of this country’s historical past. One of the interesting sights is the Failaka Antiquities Room which shows relics and archaeological finds from the island. Designed by French architect Michel Ecochard, visitors can enjoy this historical museum, which represent the Kuwaiti life in the past, their everyday activities, the rich trading history of Kuwait and its traditions.Kuwait National Museum also houses the adjacent Planetarium which have astronomical shows which I personally love.

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O-OIL RESERVES in Kuwait this is what  makes Kuwait where it is now.  Oil reserves in Kuwait make up 8% of the oil reserves in the world. Kuwait is OPEC’s third largest oil producer and claims to hold approximately 104 billion barrels (16.5×109 m3). This includes half of the 5 billion barrels (790×106 m3) in the Saudi-Kuwaiti neutral zone which Kuwait shares with Saudi Arabia. Most of Kuwait’s oil reserves are located in the 70 billion barrels (11×109 m3) Burgan field, the second largest conventional oil field in the world, which has been producing oil since 1938.

P-PEARL MARZOUK ( Al Marzouk Pearl ) One of the most prominent structure in Kuwait and one of the few who have been undergoing restoration .Recently, Kuwait Real Estate Co., have commissioned the rethinking and redevelopment of this significant modern housing complex to PAD10, an architecture and design firm known for their excellence in design and attention to detail. The team is headed by an amazing person which I personally knew, Mr. Naji Moujaes. The renovation began in 2011 and is slated to complete in 2013 .Pearl Marzouk is located along the green lawn & promenade of the Scientific Center overlooking the sea that gives the residents an outstanding view of the Arabian Gulf.

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Pearl Marzouk in Kuwait

Q-QOUT MARKET – The travelling & hippest market trend happening in Kuwait. They are a very trendy group of artists, farmers, bakers & home-based artisans who gathers together to share their passion with the local community. They recently have their venue in Pearl Marzouk and I was personally impressed by their community.

R-RAMADAN – The Holy Month of Ramadan is one of the highlights of Muslim festivities celebrated every year.This is holy observance of Fasting & prayers of all Muslim worldwide. It is such a great experience to see & partake in this wonderful festival.I always love the atmosphere during Ramadan. The working hours are shorter, people are all friendly & the joys shared during Iftar & futoor. The delicious sweets during Ramadan is also not to be missed along with the spirit of giving.

S-SHAWARMA – Now if you’re in Kuwait, this yummy sandwich is not to be missed. You just need to try it because its delicious. They have so many shawarma shops in Kuwait, almost in every corner of the neighborhood. My personal favorite is the one in Wadi Rum, just in front of Marina Mall in Salmiya and the chicken shawarma of Kurdo. They come in a meal of fries & a drink and side veggies.

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Shawarma sandwich or roll

S-SADU HOUSE – Sadu House or Beit Al-Sadu is a very prominent Textile heritage cultural center of Kuwait.The Al-Sadu project started in 1978, as a private initiative by a group of concerned Kuwaitis with the aim of preserving the traditional art of Bedouin  weaving. In 1991, the project was transformed into a weaving Craft Co-operative Society whose shares are owned by the weavers and artisans themselves.

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I love the whole ambiance of this center. Its full of creativity and Kuwaiti culture infused in their traditionally woven materials.they have an Arts & Crafts shop that displays a wide range of local artist’s  and artisan’s work inspired by traditional weaving. They offer a wide range of gifts from bags, wallets, & diaries to traditional camel bags, rugs, wall hangings & home furnishings.They also hosts workshops and weaving courses and has a Library where there is a digital records of all the traditional weaving textiles & traditions of Kuwait are available for researchers, artists, students, and cultural organizations.

S-SHEESHA –  (Hookah ) the only form of nightlife you can have in Kuwait.Sheesha Parlors are widely available in Kuwait but some restaurants have this service for costumers who wants to smoke  while dining . For Expats, trying out in a Sheesha Cafe might surprise you, there are various flavors to choose from and the crowd inside might just be what you need to kill time, play billiards, chat with friends or just watch Football game.

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To smoke or not to smoke sheesha ?

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Arabic figurine of smoking Sheesha spotted in Mubarakiya Souk in Kuwait

T-TAREQ RAJAB Museum-Another highlight in my stay in Kuwait was the visit to this beautiful privately-owned Museum. I have never imagined that this type of collection ever existed in Kuwait . To be able to see the vast amount of collection from antiquities to jewels  is really a beautiful experience.

The Tareq Rajab Museum houses a collection of over thirty thousand items collected over the last fifty years, of which approximately ten thousand are on permanent display. Tareq Sayed Rajab was the first Kuwaiti to be sent abroad to study art and archaeology.

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T-TAXI – In Kuwait, Taxis have become so handy & affordable. Since there is no good public transportation Kuwait, having a Taxi so easily quite become a convenience. My observations though are; they don’t have meter ( or they choose not to operate it ) , they have fixed amount for every destination and the drivers tends to chat you up, otherwise they are just friendly. You can roam around in your favorite supermarket or to nearest mall by 500 fils or just 1kd fare. Taxi drivers like to give away their phone numbers and you can contact them the time you want to go out & they are waiting at your doorstep. Not like in Holland that Taxis are expensive and there are only designated place where they are located.Riding a taxi is one of the experience that every expats should have. You just need to choose wisely so you don’t end up inside a smelly car & crazy driver!

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Expat Guide -How to survive your first Taxi ride in Kuwait

U-UBON– Ubon is a trendy  Thai bistro at the center of Kuwait City by architect Rashed Alfoudari. This place’s signature Pendant lamps , the black and white furniture and the small area kitchen is at the back of the restaurant covered by mirror wall. The space is a bit small , enough for 10 tables , but the food is brilliantly delicious as well as for the service by the owner himself Mr. Rashid , a vibrant young architect with his architect team , whom they’ve developed the whole concept of designing the bistro and bringing real Thai food to the market , the location is in the heart of Kuwait city , opposite Abdullah Takki store , no reservations , you have to show up.

V-VIMTO -This flavorful non-alcoholic drink is the flavor in every household in Kuwait purchased especially in the days of Holy month of  Ramadan.I have to try it for me to get convinced and surprisingly, it was good.

W-WAFRA FARMS – Kuwait is not all Desert. There are vegetations as well,just like in Wafra Farms. A trip to Wafra is a worthwhile drive.Wafra is the southernmost area in Kuwait. It is part of Ahmadi Governorate and is well known for its fertile soil andfarms. It is parallel with the Saudi border. Wafra and Abdali in the North, are the only two cities in Kuwait known for farming and the animal sector. Wafra Farms are fed by the underground lakes. The farms have a very original cone-shaped mud dovecotes with hundreds of birds. People tend to visit the Wafra Market to buy fresh vegetables.

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Road to Wafra Farms

W-WASTA System – A colloquial term used in Kuwait for a “special sponsorship or backer system “. It is not what you can do that matters, but its actually who you are. This is very rampant in Ministry works and transactions. If you have a “WASTA”, then things are in favor in your way. It could be done in seconds while if you’re the unlucky one, you’ll wait for days, even to nothing. As an Expat, I don’t know if this is favorable or not, since its a real pain in the ass if you are the one needing the efficient service and you can’t get it in a legit manner. Wasta system sometimes just sucks!

X-X-CITE – One of the biggest Electronics shop in Kuwait which is under Alghanim group of companies. They sell almost everything from mobile phones, computers, electronics, and appliances up to cars & household items.

Y-YACHT SHOW– A popular annual event for yacht & marine enthusiasts in Kuwait.Where else would be the best venue to showcase the huge 15,000 +  private owned yachts & boats than in a prestigious show in Kuwait Yacht show held in Marina. I have written about life in the sea in Kuwait that shows how Kuwaitis love marine life and has been an integral part of their culture.

Z-ZUBAIDY FISH – Pampus argenteus, often called either the silver or white pomfret, is a species of butterfish that lives in coastal waters off the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. This is one of the common favorites for Fish in Kuwait along with Hamoor (Grouper).

 

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Fish vendor selling Zubaidy fishes in Mubarakiya Fish Market

So, how do you well-know your own country in alphabetically speaking?

So,there you go, Everything Kuwait from A to Z. I hope this post helps you out if you are planning to start your Expat life in Kuwait.

Thank you for reading!

 

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