After I saw them last year , I swore that I will be back again…and now I set my feet once again to the Golden Fields of Rapeseeds .
At this time of the year, from middle April up to mid May where we have mild Spring weather, acres and acres of golden sunny yellow bulbs of Rapeseed is my favorite Spring backdrop. And what´s not to love about them?They don´t cost a penny, but the experience is really nice. They are shiny, beautiful, glowing golden yellow in the bright sun! Everything about nature, especially the raw ones is a genuine stress reliever for me,and personally , I needed a different view aside from being contained at home for the past 42 days now! Due to Corona lockdown here in Germany, we stayed at home, maintained social distancing, don´t go out for unnecessary errands. We are not prisoners, we try to live as normal as possible.We are allowed to get out ( Only if we want to..!) to take a short walk with family members,exercise and do sports outside or just have a quick breath of fresh air because its also good for us ! Staying under the sun can boost your immune system.
I looked forward to see the Rapeseed fields as early as the first days of Spring. I know that better and warm days are bound to come as soon as I see yellow bulbs in our neighborhood. With the daily stress of worrying on keeping ourselves protected from the deadly virus, and isolated, I have found refuge with nature. Here in Germany, I see people are living as normal as possible. Of course we are diligent in following the rules, but then I observed that people here are really disciplined, organized and bound to fight the spread of the virus.They also take care of their health, people of all ages exercise and move as much more and do something active.Yesterday, I felt really grateful living in this place where the government really care about the citizens. We finally received free masks !
And this is what the message I get whenever I view the Rapeseeds, they remind me that these too, shall pass.Just like these fields, one stem of this flower can´t bloom without the others. They need each other to make an impact.
If you are an expat like me, I am sure this is one of the typical landscape views you see here in Germany.One of my favorite is seeing people cycling beside the fields and the view in the early morning where calmness plays a big role. If you happen to visit Germany during mid Spring , you´re in luck to see these natural wonder yellow fields. Most vegetation in the outskirts are beaming in yellow during Spring time, even on the sides of Autobahn! This landscape is also typical in other neighboring countries like Netherlands, France, Denmark,Poland and Belgium.
The good thing about lockdown is that we have more ( or at least a bit!) free time to do our hobbies, or things we loved to do…aside from eating and snacking! Anyone else gained weight ?! 🙂 Weekends are special to us so we tried to make it special despite the isolation. I totally enjoyed taking photos of my daughter and family to share with my friends and family abroad. After our walk, we cooked Spargel ( Asparagus) with potatoes and ham ,the traditional Bavarian dish that is in season , and enjoyed a bit of music in the garden.
Weekend is almost over and tomorrow is another week. Can´t believe it´s May soon. Back to work again and for some students here in Ingolstadt, especially the graduating class, it´s the first day starting tomorrow after the long break from Corona quarantine. I am really wondering what will be the effect of the easing of measures in our region.Another thing, tomorrow, 27th of April is the “Maskenpflicht” or wearing a mask is legally enforced here in Bayern.
How was your week so far? What fun things have you´ve done lately?
Until next time my friends, I wish you all a lovely week ahead, stay safe everyone!
That is the exact words from my friend whom I sent a couple of photos of what my neighborhood looks like at night. She said it´s unbelievably absurd…and yes crazy, but then it is quite cool!
It started last week, a few days before Easter. The music from upstairs starts to play and it was a little bit louder than the usual range. First they played some soft rock songs then they start to play Queen songs. I got excited because yes…I am a big fan of Queen!!
When they play “Don’t stop me now” and then “Bohemian Rhapsody“…I know exactly what my daughter will do. Immediately, she ran up to me and said ” Mama, it´s Queen, one of your favorurite songs, Mama, let´s listen!, let´s go out! ” They are having a party, let us join them !!!
…and so it begun…
We live in a family house with three apartments built together creating a roundabout of balconies. We live on the Erdgeschoss ( main floor) so we see all the balconies from other apartments. We are blessed to have an ample place to lounge in the garden; a terrace and a place for my daughter to ran around and play. It has been a great help during the lockdown since we can`t visit playgrounds. Once I saw the ropes connecting to each balconies with tiny bags on each of them I knew exactly what is going on. It´s like ” Repunzel, let down your hair!!!”, a modern connection made possible by the Corona lockdown. But how could you have a party with social distancing ? No problem, we can still say “ Prost! ” ( or cheers) even we are on a distance. My neighbour from upstairs always give a warm surprise to my daughter and she adores them and we love them as well. Of course not because of their gifts ( but sometimes she really does…) but they are totally sweet, kind and very symphathetic, very genuine neighbours and we are blessed enough to have open minded people around us. They would let down a tiny basket with chocolates, toys and many more. As with my other neighbours, I personally don´t know each of them, I really don´t have any clue. Before, only a quick Hi and Hello in the garage to some of them or bumping into each other along the pathway is our only connection, not more than that. Not until the Corona balcony party that I´ve seen some of their faces and knew them a little bit more. The moment my daughter is out in the garden, she starts to call them and chatted with them, as if she knew them for a long time. It is unbelievably so easy for kids to win friends!
But how do we do it? Distance is really not a problem, it makes things even more exciting. We are not heavy drinkers and I think I am already too old for partying :-). We are happy when we enjoy a beer during Spring festivals and a glass of wine on some nights but definitely we love music and hearing them when children are already tucked up in bed. The brilliant idea of connecting a rope to each balcony to send things like drinks, snacks or a simple baked goodies in lieu of social distancing paved way to new friendships and connections, especially during dire times of lockdown. We´re not allowed to get together so this makes things possible.We stayed in each balconies and terraces, separated by hedges and thin fences. Mind you, here in Germany, especially here in Bavaria, they value their personally privacy so much. And there´s of course the ” Rühetag Sonntag or the Quiet Sunday. You need to think twice before playing loud music and partying especially surrounded with some strict neighbours and traditional Bavarians. I think respect to others is self explanatory so no harm done.
For a change of hearing daily all these awful dreadful Corona virus death toll and news worldwide, we opt to recline in our chairs and enjoy a drink even for a couple of hours!
We created a Whatsapp group in order to communicate with each other effectively.We have a DJ who control the playlist and we can request songs that we love to hear. Each one put on some colorful lights in the balcony ! I realized that we cannot do this during Christmas season and enjoy bright lights because it would be too cold to sit down outside.One of my beautiful neighbour even played the guitar and sing for us. Now everyone of us knows this song about Dinosaur! Actually, it´s just like one of those Grill parties that we normally do during warm long summer days, where its still very bright even at 9 PM. The difference now is that we stayed in our balconies and don´t personally mingle. This situation made me realized that it is also essential to have a healthy relationship with your neighbours regardless of the situation. By now we should accept that this will be forever written in our history so why noht make the good out of it, after all, we are still alive. What I appreciate from my neighbours is that we checked up on each other , considering that we have couple of old people that would probably needing help in case anyone got sick. If anybody is not in the mood for loud music or chilling out in their balconies, they can just simply not join in and we make sure that we play tolerable volume of music and definitely not on Sundays!
We don´t know yet until when will this crisis last, so why not think outside of the box…? whatever it is, either a simple drink or just a quick break from your normal hysteria, or watching the sun goes down while listening to your favorite music, it doesn´t matter, it´s your inner peace, safety and sanity counts!
What do you think about this idea?
How is your neighbourhood coping up with the lockdown?
Until next time my friends, take care and stay safe!
Today, 3rd of October is a national holiday here in Germany. We are commemorating the “Tag der Deutschen Einheit”or the German Unification Day. The day of coming together of Germany as one country. The time when the Berlin wall fell and East and West Germany finally reunited to become one solid nation as it is now.No more cold war. No more divisions. As the whole world know, Germany had a share of tragedies, morbid war stories and dark past. But now everything is different. It is a new Germany and became a home for many migrants, foreigners, including me. But then this post is not about history, its all about Food! Food that Germans and Ausländer like me enjoy here everyday!
So I thought of writing something about this land that became my home for the last 3 years up to now. Germany is really more than Football, great cars, castles, and Autobahn. This beautiful country has lots of worthwhile places to see, things to do and great nature and yes—lots of delicious food that meets more than the eyes and appetite!
Do you want to know another special about Germany? What do Germans eat for breakfast?
What’s in their table for breakfast?
Beer, cheese, sausages,musli and bread, lots of dark, seedy breads; these are the staples in every German table every day. I am also a certified convert now. I have been converted into this German, or rather Bavarian diet. Believe it or not, I think I eat more bread now than I eat rice!
But do you know that somewhere down south, people eat something “unusual” before they start their day?
I am living now here in Bavaria ( or Southern Germany) for almost 3 lovely years now and one thing that really caught my eye is the traditional Bavarian “Weisswurst Frühstuck“or in English we can say it as “white sausage breakfast”.
This beloved Bavarian breakfast is composed of white sausage boiled in water, lots of sweet mustard (senf) , freshly baked Pretzel and yes– would not be complete without a Weissbier ( or wheat beer!). Some omit to drink beer but normally you can always find this breakfast meal in restaurants, bakeries and during Volksfest or festivals. During weekend markets, there is always a food stall that sells these combo and it’s pretty cozy to see them eating this way. Add the fact that people here are seen in Dirndls and Lederhosen almost as often as they enjoy sitting in Beer gardens!
Every country has its own delicacy when it comes to breakfast and main dishes they eat everyday. Way back home, we opt for a warm breakfast. This means our love for everything with “rice” seemed to be a normal choice. Fried rice, with sunny side up eggs and hotdogs, sometimes with “Tuyo” (dried fish) ,a cup of Coffee and a slice of mango or bananas . In Holland, I’ve learned to eat bread with “Hagelslag”or chocolate sprinkles. I remember my days in Kuwait, we eat lots of Khubz (or Arabic bread) with almost everything , of course with milk, Chai and Gahwa coffee.
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
What is the native specialty in your place?
More of the Food culture in Germany in these Posts :
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Yesterday was the first day of school here in Bavaria, for most parents like me, it’s one of the times we anticipate. We can’t afford a vacation of more than 6 weeks so we’ve survived the “Urlaubzeit” (or summer break) by doing “small vacations“. Budget wise and travel-wise, it’s all our deal to keep the little one busy and for us to keep the day going keeping with our day jobs!
We’ve been to the Hops fields which get us up close and personal about the raw material of German beers, One of the most memorable thing we’ve done was cruising into two rivers in one day without breaking our budget!And yes, toddlers enjoy boat trips as well!
But first, what do you think of the view below?
Yes, we sailed by boat through this Gorge! On the heat of summer , we discovered another nature adventure, and yes, we didn’t need to travel so far. Just approx. 1 hour max. (55 kms) drive from Ingolstadt, we head towards to the tranquil city of Kelheim. Kelheim is another beautiful town here in Bavaria which is known for its Kings, Celtics and Dukes and the relaxing boat trips along rivers of Bavaria. Thank God for the Dutch husband that discover this excursion trip, if not for him, I wouldn’t be able to see the hidden beauty of the Danube Gorge! Kelheim is also famous for its natural attractions because of its nature reserves, adventure hiking trails, cycling adventures, and the city’s cultural heritage. It lies within the proximity of the Danube river and so close to the Naturpark Altmühltal. Together with my parents in law and my ever active 5 year old story teller, we got our Tickets and boarded our boat ( MS Ludwig the Kelheimer ), that’s going to sail us through two rivers — the Danube and the Altmühl!
We decided to take the ship and explore the Danube Gorges up to the Monastery of Weltenburg but the weather kept on bothering me. But then we stick to our plan and off we go. In the middle of the trip, we were greeted by fleets of heavy delusions of rain that we almost cringed and wanted to go back home! How on earth can we have a boat trip in this rain? But then we continue driving. Tell you frankly, this trip reminds me so much of the boat trip we made when we are in Regensburg where we made an excursion up to the Walhalla, or the German Parthenon!
For those of you who doesn’t know, Southern Germany is famous because, it is Bavaria, the only Bavaria, the beautiful region in southern Germany where Castles and dreams go together so good. Plus, we have King Ludwig. When he is on his rule, he kept himself busy building his dream castles. He is really a one of a kind.The king of sky- is- the limit , and has extraordinary imagination and lover of great architecture. In Bavaria, he built so many beautiful Castles, Halls and gigantic monumental structures that made Bavaria a tourist magnet as it is now.One thing, he likes to build either on a high hill, on top of a mountain. It’s always like we need to climb, hike, travel by boat or with a Bergbahn or just walk, in order to reach his memorable hideaways!
Schiffahrt Kelheim and Personen Schiffahrt im Donau & Altmühltal are some of the companies who runs the boat trips and departs from the dock of Kelheim on a close schedule, daily ( Summer schedule, from May to October).For the updated boat trip schedules, do check their detailed Fahrplan in their website. Their prices is pretty decent and affordable. For this Summer vacation, they even have discounts for students and if you’ve got a grade of 1, then you can even have a trip for Free! If you’re interested about this, you can check the full information Here. Our ship was pretty full. Aside from the normal group of tourists and elderly people, I noticed that in our ship that its full of cyclists with their bikes, mountaineers, and families with small children. It’s really an adventure trip for all ages! A trip to Kelheim offers cruising the Danube narrows , trekking , rock climbing, canoeing, paddle boat rides , swimming and exploring the nature reserves and cycling with a view until your Adrenalin drops! Your pets are even welcome on board!
The Weltenburg Barock Dunkel is a dark bottom fermented beer specialty is being served in Weltenburg for generations.Where else can you see a Brewery, restaurant, Biergarten in a Monastery in front of a benedictine church?— Only here in Weltenburg!.. and yes–Only in Germany!
It was quite an enjoyable smooth boat ride with only occasional showers and soft winds.Inside the boat is a restaurant which also serves different refreshments and dishes so you won’t really worry about being hungry on board. There is an audio guide Tour on run so we are informed on every significant details of the boat tour. Right on time, we made it to the Monastery of Weltenburg after 45 mins. and we hopped off from the ship to explore the oldest Benedictine Abbey in Bavaria. This monastery was built by the Asam Brothers who are famous with their Baroque masterpieces. I’ve seen quite some of their works in Asamkirche here in Ingolstadt and the Asam church in Munich. If you love Baroque, then you must really see this church
It’s almost lunchtime when we arrived in the monastery and just in time for us to grab some bite at the Weltenburger Wirthaus-Bladl. We are in Bavaria so even after a boat trip, we sit ourselves in front of the Asam church which is adjacent to the restaurant. What’s so special about this restaurant? It is actually the oldest brewery in a Monastery, and famous for its dark beer. Here you can enjoy the famous Kloster dunkel bier ( dark beer) and Bavarian traditional dishes such as the Weiss wurst (white sausage eaten with sweet mustard), Klosterwurst, Klosterkäse ( Cheese), and their Klosterkaffee.
What kind of family adventure have you’ve done lately?
If you’re in the vicinity of Regensburg, you can combine this nature adventure trip with a boat trip along the Danube, and to its neighboring town of Riedenburg where you can see the largest Crystal group, or if you are in the mood to discover some amazing Art while drinking Beer, then you can head on to Abensberg to see the Kuchlbauers Kunsthaus . You can also check more on Here.
Thank you for following my Blog and until then, see you again in my next family adventure! Tschüss!
Recently the little wanderer is into stones. She loves to collect stones, especially the shiny ones , or something with texture. We have a handful of collected stones at home and she is into crystals and gems nowadays that we want to feed her curiosity. She even have a name for them all. She said she dreamed of having stones from volcano! How are we going to have that! I think she got so fascinated as well by the sedimentary rocks we’ve seen in Stauseen in Austria and now, everywhere we go, we pick up a stone, in short; we are stone collectors!
Today, at around 8:30 a.m, the little wanderer is wide awake and wants to play outside so after everyone got refreshed and showered, we packed our cameras, backpacks and off we go on the road again.We had a great time last night in Metallica’s concert in Munich ( which she really entertained the crowd nearby to where we sits!) and today we want to do something relaxing, quiet, and not so stressful. Destination as decided by the Dutchman, so off we go to Riedenburg and visit the Kristallmuseum, which houses the biggest crystal groups and stone gems collection by far here in the region of Bavaria.
Riedenburg is around 40 kms away from Ingolstadt and we drove there for approximately 40 minutes because this time we took another road away from the Autobahn. The road was hilly and full of curvy edges overlooking the hills and green forests. The scenery and landscape around the countryside is so calm and we almost have the road to ourselves.One of the perks is a stop in the Sunflower fields which I really love. For me, summer is not complete without sunflowers!
I haven’t finished writing my blog post about Kelheim where we took an adventure cruising along the Weltenburg narrows . In there, we took a boat and ogling through the Gorges and through the oldest Monastery of Weltenburg Abbey and what a surprise, we saw once again one of the ship gliding in the Altmühltal while we were there in Riedenburg. The museum is located along the banks of the Altmühltal river and the boats going to Kelheim on a boat tour.
The Kristallmuseum is a private gallery museum situated in Bergkristallstrasse in Riedenburg. We arrived around lunchtime so the Restaurant Fasslwirtschaft is already packed with guests, visitors, bikers, cyclists and families with kids eagerly enjoying the relaxing saturday afternoon. There is a playground which immediately catches the attention of my daughter , a mini-gold area for the whole family, and the Kristall museum !This restaurant serves traditional Bayerish food and the ambiance is really good!
We first seated ourselves in one of their traditional barrel huts (or Fässern in German) and ordered lunch. The prices were decent and the food was excellent! We played some minigolf and then explored the Crystal museum.
In the Kristallmuseum, I saw a great collection of crystals , gems, precious stones, and so many pretty shiny things that I have never seen in my whole life. I love beautiful stones and handcrafted jewelry and here I’ve got to see and admire. Here you can see the Turmalin Collection from Madagascar with over 600 pieces in varieties. If you are fond of Horoscope, then this place have a special treat for your own Zodiac sign where you can press a button and the ceiling ( or the Sternhimmel) will illuminate for your preferred sign.The artistic side reminds me of the House of Mirrors I’ve seen in Kuwait.
What’s so special also in this place is that they have the replica of the biggest Diamond and more than 300 gemstones and their stories. The 7.8 tons, 3 x 2 meters Crystal group is something that would really catch your attention. It was discovered in Arkansas, USA in 1981. It’s big, shiny, gigantic and really a complete wonder. The Scholz Family brought them to Riedenburg and built the foundation of the Kristallmuseum and since then, Riendenburg became their home. Nowadays, it is one of the top tourist attraction in this town.
I was asking myself how did this crystal grew this big? Now I need to do my research and feed my curiosity.
Anyway, if you are looking something family friendly destination around Ingolstadt and can be done in a halfday out of town, then this place is really something you can check out. It is open from March to middle October from 10 o’clock but they have a Ruhetag (closed) on Mondays! If you’d like to visit them on Winter, you can find the details in their Website Here.
Yup it’s officially Autumn here in Germany but let me ask you, what’s the most unforgettable experience you did last summer?
This is a late post but last summer, we did our first Donau Radweg Cycling adventureas a family! It was pretty special, because for me, that was the farthest I’ve cycled non-stop in my life! And yes, we cycled with my daughter along and she behaved so well. I haven’t written much about what have I done for the past months mainly because lack of time and I am sorry for lack of posts and updates.This Blog is still alive and I wanna say a quick Thank you for all of you who paid a visit in my page and left some sweet comments.I’ll do my best to respond shortly soon!
So anyway, last summer felt so different from last year here in Bavaria. First, the temperature was warmer than I expected and as I have seen, so many fields and plants were ‘affected’ by the heat, even our garden was not spared. It’s kind of scorching and for quite sometime uncomfortable, reminding me of 40 degree-ish we had in Kuwait.This leaves us with only few options to enjoy leisure times outside. Best option we’ve had is anything with water. Swimming here and over there, and yes, even the pool in the garden had been a constant companion for my daughter.But aside from water activities, last summer was unforgettable because we’ve made it through our first Donau Radweg tour!
So how about doing a long-distance cycling? Oh yes, to start, approximately 23 kilometers, with a normal bicycle, with a 4-year old child in an Anhänger tagged along with us!
As I’ve written before, the moment I’ve moved to Germany, I think I have cycled more than I have ever cycled in my entire life! I ride my bike in every season, even when its winter and minus temps. I have heard about the classic Donau Radweg but I am always b intimidated of doing it, first, because I thought that it could be exhilarating plus I don’t know how would my daughter deal with it. Second, am I fit enough to do it? or would I cycle back home after 10 kilometers back home?
What if I had a tire burst?
But then long distance cycling for me is something different, it’s an adventure. I wanted to do something that is new and also fun. There’s something about reaching a goal. I guess I managed to integrate in the cycling culture here. When you live in Germany, you’ll be amazed to see that cycling is a very normal lifestyle. Everyone here I think owns a bicycle and cycle at least every day. It’s healthy, easy, practical and the best of all, environment-friendly. Add to the fact that Germany , or at least here in Bavaria, they have a superb cycling paths. I have read one time in the newspaper that in our city alone, its kind of look like Amsterdam now because of the number of bicycles that they are planning to build more bike stands.
Another thing, cycling tours in midsummer is no joke, but since we finished our first Biotope Cycling Tour last year, with almost 30 kms within 2 hours, I knew it can be done. I was inspired when one morning, my teacher came to our class and shared that she had cycled from Neuburg to Ingolstadt, a sweet 23 kms within an hour to go to work and back!Okay she had an E-Bike, but still, I had great respect for the adventure part. It’s what I wanted to. Cycling through the Danube is a dream come true for me.
Before the Radweg tour
We planned to start early morning and prepare our way to Neuburg an der Donau. Neuburg is famous as the “Renaissance City”along the banks of the Danube.When I saw photos of this city, I knew I wanted to see it by my own eyes. So my goal is why can’t I combine a small city tour and a cycling Tour?
We searched about our cycling path and we were confident doing one of the old-time favorite tour along the Donau river, the Ingolstadt to Neuburg, with 23 kilometers over Weichering road. The only thing that is not sure is the weather. We checked the weather numerous times, it’s a little bit cloudy, but enjoyable enough to cycle. We brought along the daughter but this time she sits in an Änhanger, German’s version of the Bakfiets! It goes easy for her because she can read, eat, or sleep while we cycle. We packed very light, with only few snacks and water in our side packets. My Dutch husband cycled with an additional 40kgs ( total weight of the Änhanger +Natalie).Of course we had an emergency kit with us, and a huge packet of determination and crazy energy!
The Radweg tour
We started off cycling very light. The path is almost flat and through green forests. This bike path runs south of the Danube through the Danube floodplains, partly on paved roads with little traffic, partly (in the woods) over well-paved dirt roads, partly asphalted separate bike paths. Lots of nature, riparian forests, avenues, meadows and even resting benches along the way.
The first of the three sections leads from Ingolstadt to Weichering. The second section runs on rather long-curved-curvy Weldwegen to the castle Grünau. From there it goes with a paved separate cycle path next to the road without detours directly into the center of Neuburg. I knew we are almost in our destination when we were in front of the old castle of “Grünau”. Our journey begins at the Baggerweg and runs close to the Danube along the direction of the Baggersee, where the Danube is crossed.I find the path very enjoyable, with plenty of fields and greeneries to watch while cycling. We came across with so many cyclists, everyone is loaded up with adventure packs. Along the way I was smiling to myself because I can’t believe that I’m doing this!
Reaching our destination
Of course I need to make some stops when I see something worth photographing.After the Caste Grünau I thought we were almost in the city but I was mistaken. I need to cycle for at least 8 kilometers more! My daughter keeps on shouting “why is it so far?”where is the playground? ” But then once we see the beautiful architecture and the Donau river, I was completely excited.It’s even prettier than in the photos I have seen.We parked our bikes just beside the river and off we go to explore the city.
What is fascinating about cycling tours is that you can explore a new city by foot and that gives you more windows to explore– especially the hidden gems of the city.Neuburg an der Donau is a historical city which has a lot to offer, both to locals and visitors. The city hall itself is situated above the town proper, on a hilly top so it also requires stamina add challenge of cycling on a cobble stone pavement. The Hofkirche is situated beside the Residenz Schloss ( Residence Castle) which is quite an impressive architecture.It is quite a norm in this region to be wedded in a Castle, like a fairy tale dream. In Ingolstadt, I often watched a wedding where almost all the entourage are dressed up in a traditional Bayerische Tracht ( traditional clothing) ,with Lederhosen and Dirndls, but the atmosphere of a wedding in a castle is something different.
Enjoying summer holidays with a family doesn’t need to be expensive. I realized that when you’ve never even tried something that intimidates you then you can’t even say if you are capable of doing it or not. I am so grateful that I have the chance to explore Bavaria through a cycling activity like this. Every place we go is really unique and worth telling.You don’t need expensive equipment either. Just make sure your bikes are in great condition and you are physically fit as well. Start slowly and take your time. I always remind myself that it’s not a race and to have lots of fun along the way! If you are looking for things to do next summer then you might try long-distance cycling as well!
How about you, did you spent an active Summer?
When was the last time you’ve challenged yourself to do something for the first time?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
It has been revealed by Internations, and there’s no denying that Germany is probably one of the best place on earth to raise a family. I am a first- time parent and raising my child in a culture totally different from where I grew up with, has been the focal point of our expat move. Of course I know that all parents ,in general, desires the best for their child, and this is the reason why I wanted to share my personal experience why despite of the crazy weather and difficulty to learn the language, I think Germany is a better place to raise a kid and be a child!
You might be surprised, having a child is Germany seems more of a blessing, an enjoyable reason to defray the first-world country problems that weighs every family on a daily basis. With its excellent health benefits and support to parents, both financially & socially, raising a child here can be rewarding!
Raising an Expat child, which has windows to multiculturalism or rather, raising a Third Culture-Kid child in Germany is a privilege . Aside from the extensive leisure activities, safe environment, a more play-based educational system in the early years, every child has their own allowance up until they reached the age of 18.
My three-year old daughter has a monthly income of 192 Euros that goes to our German bank account paid by the German government. So simple as it sounds and yet so generous. When we came to live here in Germany and heard about this, we are extremely happy. Happy in a way that as parents, we all know that every single Euro matters when you are raising a child.Kindergeld is a great help to our family budget.It is granted as a tax refund, primarily to meet the constitutional rule that income is untaxable up to a child’s subsistence level.I am not talking about the amount itself, but as an expatriate parent like me, this amount is really something tangible, with this I can feel that the government “cares” about my child, and to every single child living here.
I am sure that I’m not the only one who is grateful for this. Although it seems to me that this country is an advocate of “Ordnung“( or order) and everything seems to be ruled by rules, I see that hard work really pays off. All taxpaying expatriate residents of Germany are, like Germans, entitled to Kindergeld if they have children. Also called as” Child Benefit“, the German government give all families, expats included, to help defray some of the cost of raising children. It can run from €190 to €221 per child per month, and is usually made by a fund transfer into a German bank account. We all know that raising a child is expensive. From diapers to milk, Kindergarten expenses and other essentials, plus the never-ending cycle of buying toys!
Just about any taxpayer living in Germany with children can get the Kindergeld, whether employed, self-employed or independent. You get it as a rule that until the children turn 18, though it can continue until they are 25 if they are still in school or meet other requirements for an extension.
This amount also varies depending on where region in Germany you are living.
Kindergeld amount 2017 (standard amount):
Child benefit for the first child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the second child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the third child: 198 Euros per month
Child benefit from the fourth child: 223 Euros per month The child benefit amount will be increased by 2 euros per child compared to the end of 2016 for 2017.
If you are a parent and planning to move to Germany or living here and about to have a baby, then this is good news for you! If you’re interested to know more about this, you can check it Here. I will share to you the steps we took for us to avail of this benefit. It was easy, smooth and practical in all sense. The child benefit application must be submitted in writing and signed. Note that all the forms will be in German . Applications may also be submitted by an authorized representative, who must submit a written power of attorney (for example by members of the tax-consulting professions). An oral application, for example by telephone, is not possible
Anmeldung ( Application) – Open to all family members. This is to prove that the family is living in Germany.
Birth Certificate : translations of them if they are not in English / German. If child is born in Germany, a birth certificate is issued separately to apply for Kindergeld, which should be attached in original. We translated my daughter’s Arabic birth certificate into Dutch & German languages because her nationality is Dutch. We also brought along the originals with the attestations showing it was legalized both from the German embassy in Kuwait and the Netherlands embassy there.
Take the Haushaltbescheinigung, and your passport to your local KVR/Rathaus (The place where did you registration/anmeldung)
Officer will verify the form and pay the applicable fee. You will be issued stamped Haushaltbescheinigung.
Put in the envelope:
Antrag auf Kindergeld (filled in)
Residence permit copy (Aufenhaltstitel)
Post it to the office of Familienkasse belonging to the city you live in !
That’s it. You will now get your Kindergeld in 3-4 weeks. Keep the letters from Finanzamt safely for future references.
More than the benefit itself, I am really grateful that my child is growing up in a place where the family oriented lifestyle is very high.When I am writing this post, I am not actually surprised that Germany is considered a great place to raise a child and live abroad. Generally speaking, Germany is an economically strong nation, it’s a hard-working nation, and it’s a nation where the people feel a strong pride in their country. Right from the beginning, from childhood, they feel important !
Back in my home country, we don’t have such things as child benefit. You as a parent is responsible to allot savings for your child. I grew up in a culture where there is an endless pressure on “getting rich” to be able to afford everything, seeing money as an achievement or a social standing. As a child, I don’t have such as this “benefit“. I have other siblings who, along with me, strive for all our needs to be met along with all other basic necessities.
I saw both the joys and misery of raising multiple kids and I realize the effect of poverty and the support from government, or the lack of it. Families with more children struggles to meet both ends.I think that beyond the cost, it is also the reason of advocating Family planning.
Kindergeld is a form of love. There’s so much love for children here in Germany that I cannot sum up in this post. I will try to write more in my next post about this. Anyhow, Children are special gift, with tantrums and all their screaming, and Yes, they deserved to be raised in the best way that we can give to them.
Have you ever had a “child allowance”when you were a child? How did it make you feel?
The last few days, it feels like summer already here in Bavaria. People are all over under the sun , engaging in any outdoor activity you can imagine. Swimming , doing Sports, devouring Eis ( ice cream) sunbathing in their balconies, grilling, children are playing without shirts all day in the playground, BBQ everywhere, cycling til they drop, walking their dogs, lounging in Beer gardens, crazy over running & Triathlons, and yes, sleeping under the sun!
With the long weekend holiday celebrating the Ascension Day last May 25th, the same date as the ‘Vater tag'(Father’s Day) here in Germany, we’ve got the perfect mood and weather for it. As I always share in most of my posts, Germans love to be outdoors the moment the sun is up. We are having a simmering 25-32 degrees C nowadays and I can tell you, this pool season is also a signal for the Wasp season . This is one thing that I observe to plague Germany, especially here in Bavaria when the temperatures gets warmer.
In summertime, the flowers are blooming and super radiant. Our little garden is already full of roses and colorful flowers, I love this season! But if you think that Wasps only hover on any pretty flower, then you are mistaken.
Sweet Spring memories
First bloom of Roses in our garden
One fine sunny day in Spring
Flowers in Bavaria
Field of summer flowers
Flowers in Bavaria
Two years ago sometime in August, I first met the nasty crazy German wasps. On our trip going to Moselle and Trier, we had a stop over in one of the restaurant and we decided to eat outside since its very warm. My daughter wants to walk around and I already noticed so many critters flying.It’s hard to ignore them especially when they are literally hovering all over you.Also,it is very rare to find a restaurant in Germany that has an air conditioning. This is one of the times where I really missed the all year/all day AC we have back in Kuwait. When summer comes, it can really feel toasty here, added the annoyance you get from the flying wasps. Inside the restaurant, there are ornaments filled with wasps and bugs caught by the sticky fly swatter and nets.
How can you eat when in your sight is a giant plate-full of wasps, flies, and critters?
Wasps love to fly over your food and they can really sting badly. This is why I don’t want to mess up with them. As a kid, I had been stung by a bee and it’s something I don’t wanna experience again, let alone watch them sticking to my Schnitzel, or to my curry sauce. I am very careful about this because I have a daughter who is crazy about critters, lady bugs and spiders. She thinks they are cute ‘toys’ and she is chasing them!
I know you might wonder, what’s the difference between Wasps and the normal bees?Though both wasps and bees are relatively harmless unless provoked, it is good to know the difference between the two.The German wasps – called yellowjackets – have a nastier sting than the common wasp and are currently at their angriest.
Wasps are members of the family Vespidae, which includes yellow jackets and hornets. Wasps generally have two pairs of wings and are definitely not fuzzy. Only the females have stingers, but they can sting people repeatedly.German wasps are bigger than normal wasps but smaller than hornets, have three black spots on their face, and can sting repeatedly.
Bees are fuzzy pollen collectors that almost always die shortly after stinging people (because the stinger becomes embedded in the skin, which prevents multiple stings). Bees don’t die each time they sting, though; the primary purpose of the stinger is to sting other bees, which doesn’t result in the loss of the stinger.
You might be interested to read on these basic facts ;
If you see German wasps in your garden the nest is usually less than 500 metres away. The cold kills the wasps, apart from the newly hatched queens in the autumn. They look for a warm dry nook to hibernate over winter. If you are planning to enjoy your coffee and cake in the outdoor cafe, don’t be surprised if you have someone to share it with. They just love to destroy summer picnics and cling on to any sweet fruit or fermented drinks.
I hope the above info could help you be aware of this. 2015 was a terrible year of wasps in Germany and thinking of the rising temperature, they are bound to be hovering everywhere and swarm over your face! So, don’t let the bug carried by these wasps destroy your summer mood.
Have you enjoyed this post?Tell me, have you ever been stung by a bee? or a wasp?