The Beauty of Manholes

amsterdam NL
Manhole cover in Amsterdam,Netherlands

The title says it all, this post is all about my fascination of Manholes or drainage covers.

Well, since I came to live here in Germany I got hooked into looking down , staring for a couple of minutes and just marveling at these drains.I find it  interesting to look down and taking photos ( if I have the chance to do so…) of unique water drain designs and the way every city has its own pride, normally it shows the city’s  name and the official seal.

But the big question is why?

In my home country and way back in Kuwait, it is quite different.Manholes are usually plain, dull or somewhat far from sight of the pedestrian or I’m just oblivious then. From the time I remember, I heard about accidents involving people falling off crazy in these filthy holes.With traffic crazy streets in Kuwait, no one stays longer in the streets or you’ll be ran-over ! Ok, maybe I sound a bit dramatic but the thing is, the culture says it all. For me, in Philippines, manholes never appeals to me because I grew up never having the “liking”into it or it sounds dangerous  and traumatic experience especially during rainy season and heavy flooding. People falling into a manhole may sound funny but actually it is NOT. It’s a serious accident.

I guess it shows how different each country value the water drainage system and its covers here in Europe especially in big cities. In a very touristic areas here in Germany, most inner cities observed car-free , therefore encouraging more people to walk, rather than drive into the city. So it means, we have more means to explore by foot at our own pace.

I must say that here in Germany, I have seen quite few interesting manholes. I haven’t had the chance to photograph them all , or I forget about it but this post will be updated from time to time once new updates are available. For starters, here are some of the fascinating manholes I’ve discovered.

munich manhole cover 1
Manhole in Münich , Germany
netherlands manhole
Welcome the Dutch  Royalty, Manhole from the Netherlands
nürnberg
Manhole image from  Nürnberg, Germany

Sometimes it’s easy to spot them on but sometimes it’s also hard , especially when we are walking in a hurry or traveling by car.I know it’s not  everyone’s fancy , but one thing I noticed, in social media, I see so many photos of feet selfies, or shoe selfies . They all show a sort of individuality and personal choices.For photography, It’s all about our choice of subject and we have all the right to take photos of anything we want as long as it is rightful and doesn’t harm others. But here in Germany, public photography has some limitations as well.

So, why manholes?

IMG_0437
Looking down on a manhole in Berlin, capital city of Germany

First I got this habit of looking down where I walked into the streets when I ventured into exploring all the Stolpersteine or stumbling blocks or stones— those artistic stones for the victims of Holocaust and murdered Jews. I am living in Germany and I have learned these things in my class and everyday, as I explore the historical places, It is impossible not to be aware of the dark past of German history including the stumbling stones. It made a great impact on me to stop for a minute and think ..“Oh, there’s a victim of Holocaust who lived here…” I think its a very decent way of paying respect to their story and being grateful that war is finally over and hoping “Never again...”

So, back to my old habit, whenever I walk around into a new place, I took particular notice of where I’m stepping into. There’s so many landmarks, engravings, plaques of memorials, grave stones, or some sort of legendary marks which is imprinted into the ground for the sake of  history  and remembrance . One thing for sure,  you can learn so much from it.

IMG_6351
Caught a glimpse of the Manhole in Regensburg, Germany

Just like standing over a precious stone or a border mark, it has a profound effect, like “I’m walking over where a great war happened ,where heroes dies and fought for somethingor “I’m standing where the  wall of Berlin before stands “. So just like taking a minute to appreciate manholes, I also took time to admire an important city’s  landmark. I realized that what they do underground is as much as important as what they do over it. The street’s quality are also differ from place to place and the way they build it. Normally, these manholes are built with high-end steel, painted or engraved, or just personalised to city’s parameters.

IMG_6882
Walking through the cobble stone pavement in our little town of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany here shows the official seal .

There’s also something nice about looking at manholes through each season. Here in our old town, summer time is the time where road maintenance is being done and road works are really important especially the “Fußgängerzone” or walking path. Manholes or drain covers withstand the never-ending change of weather and seasons.

I therefore conclude that It takes a good government to pay attention of where the normal people drive, cycle, walk, and run into. So it goes with drain covers. 

snow
Looking down on a Manhole in Ingolstadt during first layer of snow last year’s Winter
IMG_0525
While exploring the oldest city in Germany, Trier

Do you also have a habit of looking down while walking?

How does the manholes in your area looks like?

Want to participate in a global project?

If you ever seen an interesting Manhole in your area, please feel free to send me a photo of it or a link so I can include it here in my list. My goal is to collect as many as possible depending where my feet leads me to.

Send me some photos in my Email : justbluedutch@gmail.com.

I hope you find my story interesting and something to ponder about. Over here, Autumn season has begun here in Bavaria and I am excited to wander off in the streets and continue exploring!

Wishing you all a happy weekend…Tschüss!

Lost in the forest

The forest is filled with magic and secrets.

What do I feel?

I am thrilled yet excited to be in the forest.I can feel the nature embracing me, in a big warm welcome.Trees that are reaching the skies, dwarfing over me. A silent spell was cast.

DSC08587
Adapt the peace of Nature.Her secret is patience..

What do I see? 

I open my eyes and see green all around me, mostly trees and algae rotting the bushes.The grass beneath my feet are breathing out life.Gasping for knowledge. Only the grass knows who have set a journey in the same spot I am standing on.

DSC08601
Steep rows of pine trees in the valley

What do I hear?

I hear the birds chirping, the frogs croaking, and other mysterious nature sounds. They have an orchestra here,a myriad of tunes & melodies in harmony. Did you know that the earth has music for those who listen?

DSC08607
Nature is not a place to visit…It is Home.

What do I smell?

I smell the earth, the scent of the fresh blue sky,its rays piercing through the pines, the leaves have an intoxicating scent that goes in and out of my nose.

 

DSC08675

What do I taste?

I taste the flavor of the beauty of nature.The rain nurturing the leaves. The dew that kissed the shrubs. Its pungent.Its all raw.

All my senses are alive. It got lost in this paradise. It got revived and my soul finds healing.I want to leave all my fears behind.Its only in the still silence of nature that one will find true bliss.

This is my Day- 4 humble take on the challenge posed to me by Stella of the Blog SimpleDimple in response to her 7-Days Nature photo challenge. Stella  has always been bubbly &, spreading warm love in the great community here in WP. If you have time, please do pass by her page & get to know her through her soulful posts.

Stella, Thank you once again for  mentioning me in your post and giving this challenge.

*The rule of this challenge is quite simple: Post a nature photo and nominate someone else per day for 7 days.

For today, I wanted to pass on this Nature photo challenge to one of my inspiring friend, Liz of Little house in Missouri. She is one of the few Expat Mamas out  here that I can totally relate to and have given enough encouragement in my posts. She has been posting powerful content that really comes from deep insight on raising her 3 multi-racial kids.She is very passionate about well-being, women’s issues, social justice,homeless/food bank & the arts. She also enjoys nature & embracing the changes of being an Expat family.She have been a great inspiration on her take on parenting as well.  Even without this challenge, I would always look up to her page and would recommend for you to give time to check her awesome but relatable Blog.

To Liz, I know time is precious in our world, but if you would take on this challenge, I would appreciate it so much.If not, I still want you to know how much I appreciate you.

Thank you and I hope you have fun & enjoy the next 7-days writing about nature.

 

 

Corregidor : Gibraltar of the East

Do you like seeing war ruins? or old battlegrounds?

Stories about war are never aesthetically appealing but very emotionally moving. When I watch clips about the WWII in Europe particularly in Germany ,my heart & my mind cannot comprehend well enough why things such as these happened. It’s heartbreaking.It is sad. War ruins are always gloomy . But learning from history is good. This is the reason why I made a choice to visit one important war battleground in Philippines.

This fascinating trip I have made in Philippines is touring Corregidor island. Its one-hour boat trip away from Manila. Corregidor is a small rocky island in the Philippines about 48 kilometers west of Manila which is strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay. This island fortress stands as a memorial for the courage, valor, and heroism of its Filipino and American defenders who bravely held their ground against the overwhelming number of invading Japanese forces during World War II.Seeing this place in real  is indeed better than what I have read from books in school when we study History.

Officially named Fort Mills, was the largest of four fortified islands protecting the mouth of Manila Bay from attack and was fortified prior to World War I with powerful coastal artillery.

DSCN0279
A very scenic sight in Corregidor Lighthouse

Corregidor is a Spanish term which means corregir“to correct”. The Spanish lighthouse and the marker nearby, as well as the flagpole at Topside taken from a Spanish warship, are witnesses to the fact that before Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in 1898, after the Spanish-American War, Corregidor Island used to be a checkpoint for vessels entering Manila Bay. A marker reads in part: “Corregidor Island became a part of the Spanish Crown on May  19, 1571 after its occupation by the dauntless Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, who found the City of Manila. Due to its strategic position, Corregidor, which was a Spanish island for 327 years until May 2, 1898, served as a fortress, guarding Manila Bay.”

DSCN0287
Corregidor offers majestic views of the sea as viewed on top of the Corregidor Lighthouse

Also known as “the Rock,” it was a key bastion of the Allies during the war. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941, the military force under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur carried out a delaying action at Bataan. Corregidor became the headquarters of the Allied forces and also the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth government. It was from Corregidor that Philippine President Manuel Quezon and General MacArthur left for Australia in February 1942, leaving behind Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright in command.

DSCN0294
Ruins of the War
DSCN0299
Mile long Barracks : So much history in the Ruins,if only they will speak

Although Bataan fell on April 9, 1942, the Philippine and American forces held out at Corregidor for 27 days against great odds. On May 6, 1942, their rations depleted, the Allied forces were forced to surrender Corregidor to Lt. Gen. Homma Masaharu of the Japanese Imperial Army after having successfully halted the Japanese advance on Australia. It was only two years and ten months later in March 1945 when the Allied forces under the command of General MacArthur recaptured Corregidor .

DSCN0311
Lying in Ruins,the tales of courageous Soldiers who fought the war

 

 

 

DSCN0310
So much History to tell,war ruins.
DSCN0316
Giant Batteries: Corregidor  Giant memoirs of War

Mortars at Corregidor’s Battery Way could be rotated to fire in any direction.

It had been firing for 11 straight hours amidst constant heavy firing from the Japanese, killing over 70% of those manning the station and seriously wounding Major Massello. He is thought to be the most decorated soldier of the Philippine campaign.

DSCN0319
Corregidor ‘s memoirs of War

Batteries of Corregidor : Battery Way, with its four 12-inch mortars, was constructed between 1904 and completed in 1914. It can fire up to 8.3 miles (13.135 kms) in any direction.

DSCN0301
Mile long Barracks Ruins

The Middleside barracks could accommodate 3,000 soldiers—1,000 on each of its three levels.

These big guns of Corregidor are now silent and the ruins of buildings, structures, and tunnels in the island tell a very moving story of a war that has claimed so many lives. A visit to this former battleground is a memorable experience especially for those who cherish and value peace and freedom.I am not a war buff or an avid historian, but looking at these ruins and learning the story behind it makes me grateful that I am a free Filipino now and I have this privilege of freedom. This place speaks so much of the brave men who fought for my country and with that I have great respect to any war-zone-torn down places.

A daytrip to Corregidor is being arranged by various tour companies. We opted to get Sun Cruises and we were not disappointed. The boat trip was a swift,calm journey. The whole program of the tour itinerary caters to everything that we needed to know & see in this island. We were taken care of very well & the sumptous lunch served in Corregidor Inn was also delightful. This trip offers a lot so if you are interested to explore this place, you can check out their packages & offers Here.

Does war memories fascinates you?

Abaya : Fashion or Function

IMG_5373
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.

297155
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.

July-2011-MADAME-FIGARO-ARABIA-Marriam-Mossalli
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?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The mills of Kinderdijk (A Dutch icon)

Do you know the old  tale about the windmills in the famous Kinderdijk in Holland?

The name Kinderdijk is Dutch for “Children dike”. In 1421, during the Saint Elizabeth flood of 1421, the Grote Hollandse Waard flooded, but the Alblasserwaard polder stayed unflooded. It is said that when the terrible storm had subsided, someone went on to the dike between these two areas, to see what could be saved. In the distance, he saw a wooden cradle floating on the waters. As it came nearer, some movement was detected. A cat was seen in the cradle trying to keep it in balance by jumping back and forth so that no water could get into it. As the cradle eventually came close enough to the dike for a bystander to pick up the cradle, he saw that a baby was quietly sleeping inside it, nice and dry. The cat had kept the cradle balanced and afloat. This folktale and legend has been published as “The Cat and the Cradle” in English

[ Excerpt derived courtesy of Wikipedia ]

IMG_1396
Cycling in Kinderdijk

This is one of the fascinating things I have learned about mills & Kinderdijk  when I explore Netherlands. Seeing these original, iconic & wonderful windmills for real and up close  is really a great experience with my daughter & our  family. This is absolutely a top family destination, definitely a place for young & old to enjoy cycling, biking, hiking or just have a lazy stroll while learning about the mills’s history. It has complete amenities such as tourist vessels, water buses, group tour arrangements, restaurants, museums, restrooms & souvenir shops. I am  sure your kids will thank you for exposing them to world-class  sights such as these.

If you come during winter, they have a special threat to warm you up. In the souvenir shop “De Molenhoek” of Kinderdijk you always can eat or drink something you like plus
they will  serve delicious warm pea soup. This is the time to experience another Dutch gastronomical delight, the typical Dutch pea soup.

13840bb0867b2b6efd8e0ec6c36d2403
Dutch Pea soup  (Photo courtesy of Kinderdijk)
ad56d4823abdc1a085cba2557804f004
UNESCO World Heritage Site , Kinderdijk in Holland (photo courtesy of Kinderdijk)

When it comes to beauty, the 19 polder draining windmills of the Kinderdijk are top one. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a masterpiece of water management in a typical Dutch landscape. In 1997, the windmill complex of Kinderdijk was added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list because of its unique character. UNESCO considers the polder area with its dykes, boezems, mills and pumping stations to be proof of human inventiveness in reclaiming and protecting the land.This is worldwide recognition of the fact that this unique area must be preserved for the future.

IMG_1411--
A journey through time with the mills.

The nineteen (19) mills in Kinderdijk  were constructed around 1740 as part of a larger water management system which prevented floods. Now they’re a symbol of Dutch water management.

c1590de36a0d416de572d62ade441927
Old photograph of the mills in Kinderdijk (photo credit : Kinderdijk)

We got inside the Museum Windmill Nederwaard and we are so grateful that we did because we learned a lot how a real Miller works, let alone seeing a REAL one!  There is a short film about the history of it and inside it was a full-blooded miller and we are able to explore the mill, which has been preserved in its original state, from the inside and from the outside. If there is sufficient wind, the mill might even be set in motion! Fortunately my daughter was just busy tumbling down the chairs and doesn’t mind the loud noise from the movie. It was dim inside because of the film so we were not able to took some photos. There is a distinct motor sound that would really identify a working mill. I could still hear it in my ears. When we got inside the real windmill in the Museum Mill, we are able to see what’s  in an authentic Windmill which can be traced from 1950’s. There is a steep ladder going to the top, and I was able to climb only up to the 2nd floor because I wear my baby in a sling & I find it difficult to enter the small passageway with other people trying to get in. The original bedspace areas, or called “Bedstede” (alcove bed ) was still preserved. We were even lucky to see the local Miller, and he’s wearing Dutch clogs of course!

11af978d5057448bfea0a0f6b0f55cb2
Old, yet still standing through time: Kinderdijk Mills  (photo credit :Kinderdijk)

I have dreamt of seeing a windmill someday. When I was young, I used to daydream that I would be able to visit Holland and see a real one. My dream came true. Finally, seeing it for real is even more meaningful because I have learned an important culture of the Dutch people. Before I only see it as a landmark, I have no clue that it has an important function, Re: preventing floods. When I knew about this, my mind was opened and appreciate its beauty even more. I have great respect for the pioneer who engineered these masterpiece.

There is so much more to say and write about Kinderdijk and mills, but its all up to you to see it for yourself and create your own story.A visit to the Netherlands won’t be complete without seeing this. If you wanna know more about Kinderdijk and how to explore this place, they have a wonderful website with all the information such as the tickets, opening times, location etc that you need to know. You can check it Here.

Do you want to experience the life of a Miller?

If you are adventurous enough , then in Kinderdijk  you can have the chance to  get an exclusive look into the construction and maintenance of windmills. You will also get to know more about the profession of a miller such as how to build a windmill,maintain it or what is it a day in a life of a Miller? You can really be in a real threat because It’s an unforgettable experience in a typical Dutch environment.

What’s in your Bucket List?

What was the last Unesco World Heritage Site you’ve visited?

Hope you have a wonderful time making your dreams a reality just like I did. Thank you for reading & Safe travels!