Tour guide : My Town in Winter

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My Town : Morning after the snow in Bavaria

Mind you, I am already looking forward for Spring but then from the last few days, I woke up once again with all the streets, houses, and trees all covered in snow . I was dreaming that Winter is finally over, reminding myself once again that to love the cold and winter is a privilege. When its winter, my  own little town is transformed into a wonderland. Well, for people who work and have enormous errands to do, the sight of snow in their doorstep is never a sign of good morning, let alone for me.

Just in time for this week’s Photo Challenge | Tour Guide, let me share with you some photos of what it looks like over here in Bavaria.

As much as I have been mesmerized by the view of my town in bright sunny day on top of the Pfeifturm, seeing it from above once again covered in snow is also a great experience.

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The Danube in Winter time

The still waters of the second longest River in Europe, the Danube ,is a sight to behold, it is like a reflecting glass. Sometimes when I looked over the bridge, I’m thinking what if the river freezes? How nice it would be to be able to walk on top of it.This panoramic sight is such a splendor to see while the seasons change its course.

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Winter mood in the woods

The  morning after a night of snow gives an outstanding stillness and silence . It is so peaceful.This is a path I always pass by almost every single day.The river is sleeping, covered in icy cold fog.

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There’s still beauty even when everything is covered in snow.

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It’s like a scene from a movie that I cannot recall anymore.

Winter is like a dream. You know that soon you need to wake up and realize that reality is just around the corner. On normal days, I don’t see anything special in this place. In Winter, it’s almost like walking into a dreamland, everything is so white. The trees and its wilted branches are quiet witnesses of the cold yet they remain peaceful,  agile  as ever when the snow embrace them once again, all over again.

This path is always frequented by morning joggers and runners, but this time, the path is deserted. I was quite early. I parked my bike a bit further to capture this serene state. It amuses me that there’s not a single footprint or dog footprints yet.

Undisturbed beauty, unparalleled serenity of German long cold winters.

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I love patterns and natural accents.

Beware of walking into the streets, it can be slippery. I’ve seen many people slip and slide through the snow. It’s not a funny sight.

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Nature comes so close, no matter what the season.

One of the things that I love personally is encounters with nature. I love to photograph nature and living here gives me the access for all of it. The thing about Winter in Germany is that people go by all means what they want to do. As the saying goes “Es gibt kein schlechtes wetter, nur schlechte Kleidung” or ” There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing “. This is so true here.Winter is a season to experience, not a time to slow down the time. People still go out, walking and exploring, as they do when the sun is out.Only the type of  outdoor clothing changes.

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What weekends are made of
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Ingolstadt sewer cover : Always remember where YOU Step!

I find it truly special here in Germany that they have an impressive Manholes ( or sewerage system covers). From where I came from, I don’t see anything fascinating about looking down at these manholes. I don’t recall seeing a fascinating one in my times in Kuwait! They are often dangerous especially when its flooding, or dirty, and mostly broken. But when I came to live here, I came to appreciate the great engineering behind it. The craftmanship and history with its logo, the seal ,the coat of arms of each city that I’ve visited. Maybe for others its nonsense, but for me, they are quite extraordinary. So in Winter, of course, there’s still the Bavarian pride!

This post is inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | Tour Guide

Wetland wildlife watching

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Ever tried Duck-face?

Well Hello March!

Couldn’t believe we’re already on the final stretch of  winter. German winter is surely  long, freezing cold and grey, but it’s definitely a beautiful season, especially here in Bavaria. I love snow, not the cold, but there’s so much more to the whiteness all around. I saw some spring buds sprouting already in our garden and looking closely at the trees, I know that Spring is just around the corner. One of the things that I am enjoying nowadays are the wild sounds of the birds and wild life animals. Who needs music while running? It’s amazing! Walking in the woods, the silence is golden, with only the twigs crackling beneath my steps  and the crazy hooting, chirping, and orchestra of wild birds enough to make me hum.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed this winter was wetland wildlife watching. If you live near a wetland natural areas, such as lakes, rivers, wildparks and reservoir dam, these are really great for spotting ducks, geese and swans in winter. I remember on  sunny days in January and February many wildfowl are displaying with drakes flashing their bright colours, bobbing their heads and calling noisily. A great winter wildlife spectacle.

Our favorite is when we bring a pack of stale breads and just tossed on them and it’s a crazy frenzy party there in the water.

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White swan

I am so grateful that I live in a place where nature is close by. A 25- minute walk, then I am into a different world where I have close encounter with wetlands, forest, wood park, lakes, river and wild life animals. I love this since walking outdoors with my toddler on weekends are more enjoyable especially during Sundays where most shops are all closed. What a great way to show to her in real life the animations she love to look  millions times already  in her favorite book “Alle Meine Lieblingstiere ” ( All my favorite animals) and Gonnie gaat varen.

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Survival of the fittest

I have learned that most of the wildlife cannot deal with the harshness of high-altitude winter conditions. The snow also makes it easy to spot animal tracks as well as the animals themselves. In summer, these creatures spread out to graze grassy mountainsides, munch leaves in the woods, or hunt for prey in the hills. But in winter the animals mass in the lower elevations.

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Walking in grace

Winter is tough for wildlife – food is in short supply and the days are short. But as leaves fall from hedges and trees, birds suddenly become much easier to spot and winter can be a good time to look for tracks and signs left by animals. One of my favorite sight was watching how the ducks waddle and float while the swans are  fierce, proud and flipping its wings. When it flies to catch something, it’s a time I normally just watched in silence.

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Wild ducks and birds
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Birds of the same feather…
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Flirting in the frozen waters

You see, the best things in life are free, and on the sidenote, have you ever wondered why bird’s feet and those of the ducks don’t freeze?

 

Any thoughts? Have you ever tried bird-watching in winter?

 

Walking on a frozen lake

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Walking on the frozen lake
Would you walk  on a frozen lake? Or what about running after your kid in it? Well today, I just did. But hey,  its a Frozen lake! 

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Germans walking their dogs in the Auswaldsee
The past weeks here in Bavaria has been cold and temperatures are negative. Really freezing cold.Now mother nature have done something during these times, somewhat surprising us with a frozen delight to appreciate the cold.The waters in the dam turns into ice, with zero current. I was totally clueless this could happen, more because I’ve never seen such thing before. I didn’t expect that the Baggersee and the Auswaldsee will get frozen! Last summer, I remember walking around the lake and we had an amazing time exploring the nature around,watching the deers, enjoying its blue waters on a sunny day. I also cycled here last Fall and watch how it turned into a nature paradise of trees in their colorful  leaves. Such a beautiful scenic place! Its typical to bring a picnic, camp, and  some fishing enthusiasts flock in this lake to fish, sail a romantic boat and watch the time goes by.

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Meeting up in the frozen lake
But I never really expected that one day, I would be walking through the lake, walking on normal ice.It is an amazing experience, but scary as well. Especially when you are walking with a two-year old. I don’t even want to imagine a rescue scene here so it took guts to finally step on it.

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Lazy sunday walks is perfect on a frozen lake

Today was another day that’s still cold, still negative temps but at least we had some sun. You can tell that it’s a good weather today compared to yesterday where in we freeze our asses out in the cold.We needed to be out  the whole day since we look into the 5 prospective Kita for my daughter.A day like this, as usual,the  Germans are out, doing their usual routines. I already noticed that the waters of the dam were frozen ice. There is no movement  anymore and it reminds me of the movie ‘Frozen’ when Elsa freeze the fjord . Its my daughter’s favorite movie so yes, I know it!

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A game of Eisstockschiessen, It’s a Bavarian thing!
It was so nice breathing in the crisp winter air, enjoying the scenery . It’s always a great time to just be out and stay under the sun. People are walking in their heavy bundles, carrying backpacks with thermos. Some are still braving the cold cycling, and of course, since this is Germany, people run, jog and do Nordic walking. We were surprised to see so many ducks, swans, and birds gathering there in the thin ice. People start to feed them with bread crumbs so they flocked on one side while the rest stay on the other side, having a nice sunbathing. I love to watch in silence how the ducks and the swans swim in the icy cold waters.

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Enjoying some wildlife scenery
I tell you, I was apprehensive at first to do this. What if it cracks?  I didn’t know how thick the ice could be. What if I step on a thin ice and it breaks? Would I survive from the cold?

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The birds are chillin…A typical sight in the the frozen Auswaldsee
I see so much fun around me. People are playing Eistocks schiessen and broom hockey. Kids are ice skating, sledding with their parents, and enjoying the experience of being in the icy lake. I walked with my daughter as well, holding her tight because she keeps on falling. I am so sure I’ve stomped on my feet just to check if the ice is really that hard! It felt so different,really surreal, but then so fun!  You really need to wear the right shoes or else your toes will freeze as well.The scenery of Baggersee this winter is what the Dutch called as Gezelligheid, different and overwhelming. A different winter beauty worthy to see.

Watching the families frolicking on the clear frozen lake, some running after their dogs would surely brings a smile on anyone for sure. It’s so crazy that parents even brought the stroller there.No matter how tempting and thrilling this experience, I recommend to be always be on safety especially if you don’t know the nature of the frozen lake. Make sure that the lake is frozen enough to enjoy!  It can be scary if you underestimate the thin ice on frozen lakes.

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Just a duck
Another helpful hint is to monitor any cracks in the ice. Ideally they should look about four to six inches or deeper, although people have skated on three-inch thick ice. Also, dark, fresh ice is safest. And remember that occasional rumbling and cracking are normal.

Don’t let a little cold weather stop you from enjoying the sun on a cold freezing winter days! 

Now did this awaken your interest? Personally,I admit its bucket list for me since I grew up in a tropical country.So here are some tips for you to enjoy winter days in a frozen lake if you are planning to visit one. Best of all, most of them are free;

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One fine hazy afternoon in a frozen lake
Ice skating. The most obvious activity is also the most timeless. No need to pay for an indoor or small outdoor rink.

Broom hockey. If you have actual hockey gear, by all means have at it.  Broom hockey is a fun team-based activity to enjoy on the frozen water, with or without skates.

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Reflection of the sun in the ice
Ice stock Schiessen. Also known as Bavarian Curling. In German, it is known as Eisstockschießen. Competitors slide ice stocks over an ice surface, aiming for a target, or to cover the longest distance. Ice stocks have a gliding surface, to which a stick (ca 30 cm) is attached. This is a new sight to me so I really enjoyed watching how they play the game.

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Bavarian Curling or Eisstockschiessen
Photography. I’m no expert. But a frozen lake may very well be more beautiful and majestic than a thawed lake. I’ve shared here some of the shots I’ve made today. All stunning. So why not catalog and capture your own impressive views of the lake?

 

Wildlife observation. Not all birds fly south for winter. So take a pair of binoculars and listen to the sounds. Admittedly, you won’t encounter flocks of species in the winter. But with the refreshing silence, you’ll immediately know when you encounter something of interest. And you’ll be reminded of how delicate life can be. Watching the ducks and swans can even be therapeutic.

 

Enjoy the silence. In the mountains, like our winter wonderland in the Zugspitze Arena enjoying the Alps  the surroundings as well in the lake is so serene. So relaxing.So peaceful because you are close to nature. The only sound you hear probably is the ohhhs & ahhhs when you are about to slip! Be careful!

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The art of capturing the winter beauty
Weather watching. Before you roll your eyes, know this: weather conditions at lakes are something fierce. Weather conditions at frozen lakes can be even fiercer, so it’s easier and more impressive to observe. Case in point: Fog banks, ice crystals, sunsets, and ice floes, all of which make their appearance this time of year. A dam that is completely zero current–that’s quite a sight!

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A small fall near the dam
Dog sledding, etc. This is what I knew Germans to be doing 24/7, no matter what the weather! Walking with their dogs is considered as a habit here, so why not let him do some fun adventure as well. Dog sledding is new hype.

Can’t believe that January will soon be over,time flies. How are you surviving the cold?

Have you ever tried walking on a frozen lake?  Do you remember doing some thing for the first time?

Thank you so much for reading my friends. Wishing you all a great week ahead.If you enjoy this post and want to see more of my photography , follow me on Instagram and my Expat stories!

 

 

 

A Silvester kind of day in Germany

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind …”

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A Silvester kind of day in Bavaria, Germany

Guten Rutsch!

My German friends are sending me greetings with this German phrase and I’ve learned that it means to have a good start of the new year. We all deserved to have new beginnings. This is a typical greeting during Silvester day for Germans. I didn’t even know that New Year’s Eve is calledSilvester here and  if you don’t know Krapfen ( or doughnuts) then you are simply not from Bavaria ! The bakeries are flooded with these goodies so I had to try to taste it as well. It has a soft fried dough with a fruity filling and perfect for coffee & tea. This year-end festivities would not be complete without these.

Silvester is the German name for New Year’s Eve – owing to the fourth century Pope Sylvester I. Eventually made a saint by the Catholic Church, his feast day is observed on December 31. So today was my first Silvester Day!

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The river Danube on Silvester day, Dec.31,2016

I decided to take my last walk for 2016 and have final glimpses before the year ends. For those of you who follows me, you must have seen my posts about my Wandertags and seen the how the season changes in my eyes. The freezing air calls for warm functional clothing and my gloves are ready to keep my fingers warm. My Wandertags during the past weeks are filled with A Touch of Frost here in Bavaria and have been a delight to me no matter what. Today was no exception, and I’m glad to have a breath of fresh air even though its bleak and grey.The trees are covered in white frost that makes it totally different, almost ethereal. There are few leaves still hanging, like frozen survivors. Everywhere I look, I see an image of resilience, of how nature is doing its own metamorphosis in its own cycle.

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Frozen cobwebs

Though the year is ending in a few more hours, the promise of nature and its course is still unlimited. There’s still so much beauty in the barren coldness and despite the stillness. The water in the Danube river is so calm,yet showing its full of life.I see families taking their stroll with babies as in normal days. Couples are walking hand-in-hand ,and children are running around in their thick parkas.Everything seems to be taking their own pace to spend their day.

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The best is yet to come…

Walking through the woods has always been therapeutic for me. I enjoy the peace where the only sound I hear is the cooing of the birds and the crisp sound of my steps that makes me feel like I am walking in a wonderland.Today, the sun is nowhere to be seen. It decided to stay cloudy and grey all day and yet, my last glimpses for this year has been worth the walk. A Silvester kind of day indeed.

What is so interesting about living here in Bavaria is that all year around, the festivities are full of interesting stories and legends. Like for example instead of recognizing a single day as the winter solstice, the Germanic tribes observed twelve Rauhnächte – hairy nights, so-called due to the furry forms of the deep winter demons – or Rauchnächte – smoky nights, due to the practice of smoking the spirits out of one’s house on January 5. Bringing very little sun to the northern regions, the twelve Rauhnächte were considered days outside of time, when the solar and lunar years were allowed to re-synchronise. Silvester took place right in the middle of the twelve Rauhnächte and was the night of the god Wotan’s wild hunt, a time of particular commotion and celebration.

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Where the time stood still in the woods

The belief that the sun was slowing to a stop also led to the German tradition of doing no work on New Year’s Eve. The shops closed today at around 4pm and everyone seems to be taking their time, doing last-minute errands, shopping and taking walks. Everything is standing still. I watched the birds standing motionless in the middle of the Danube and I have this calm feeling inside me, being carried away too. I look forward to see some fireworks later and see more how my neighborhood turns the last page for this year.

And,as weird as it may sound,  they say that  no one should do any laundry, because the god Wotan made his rounds with his army of devils for a wild hunt during Silvester and would be terribly angry if he got caught in any clothes lines. So our laundry can wait too!

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The Path where it begins and ends

In a few more hours and we are on the countdown to midnight where we greet the coming new year. We got the Wunderkerzen for my daughter to enjoy the fireworks since I’m sure she will be snoring by midnight. I know its weird but I made an Apple pie, I know Fall is over but I have this craving for an apple pie so that has to grace our New Year’s dinner as well. This is what happens when you get bored of all the eating during this holiday. Me & my little family is ready to start a new chapter, a new chance in our Expat Life, a fresh beginning.

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See you all in my Wandertags in 2017!!!

I have made a truce with myself to leave all the negativity and dramas of 2016 and embrace new beginnings on a clean sheet and carry only positive vibes.

How about you, how do you prepare for the coming New Year?

“And suddenly you know..its time to start something new and start the magic of new beginnings..”

 

Cheers to a Happy New Year, for a brand new 12 chapters, and 365 new Chances!

Wishing you all with Peace, Love and lots of laughter in the new year. I hope to see you all here in 2017! ~Christina