No, I´ve never met the Queen of England, though I would love to say Hello to her if I´m given the chance. On the other hand, I am a certified fan of Queen, of Freddie Mercury´s music, especially his Live-Aid performance, I can´t get enough of it: I have watched it actually a million times.
But then, this Post is not really about the Queen, although…
I´ve met a very special living thing, a couple of months ago. Her name is Viktoria, spelled with K in German and with C in English. She is not like my everyday normal green friend like my Monstera Deliciosa or my Pilea Peperomioides, but rather a special one, a rare breed of a kind.Münich is the place we´ve met and throughout the entire time, I can´t take my eyes off from her.
Look at her huge leaves, like huge Paella pans, I mean even more bigger than that.Viktoria plants are really one of a kind wonder. Have you heard that they can stand a weight of 2 human beings?!You´ve got to see what´s under it´s leaf, it´s an example of nature wonder.
How on earth do they keep on floating? Not an exaggeration but it´s leaves are perfect in diameter, the radius is exact in perfection…
Coming from the family of Water lilies, Nympaeaceae, even their names are too hard to spell and remember.As a kid, I have seen a lot of water lilies, but not this type. I´ve seen them as quite fascinating for a plant. The common ones I played in the little pond of my Grandmother. We would poked the leaves for us to clearly see the giant Kois and golden fishes, the waterlilies are just sidekicks.
Never I have seen such a wide-leafed variety. Certain type can be 3 metres (9.8 ft) in diameter, on a stalk up to 8 metres (26 ft) in length!
I mean , I thought the Anahaw palm (Saribus rotundifolius) can be that wide, around 1,2meters, enough to cover your head like an umbrella when it rains, but this one is even huge, aide from the fact that its floating! They say a baby can even sit on top of it ?…I wonder if it´s true though… but Wikipedia helped me to confirm this.
“The leaf of Victoria is able to support quite a large weight due to the plant’s structure, although the leaf itself is quite delicate: so much so that “a straw held 6 inches above and dropped perpendicularly upon it would readily pass through it”. To counter the fragile nature of the leaf, the weight needs to be distributed across the surface through mechanical means, such as a sheet of plywood. This allows the leaf to support up to 32 kilograms (71 lb).”
Amazing, right!??? But hey, would you risk putting a baby on top of it?
This types were coincidentally named after Queen Victoria of England.Which made me wonder if they have some Victoria plants in Buckingham palace.Well at least right here in Nymphenburg Palace in Münich, they have lots of Viktorias! They lie flat on the water, have an upturned hem and on the underside a network of strong, prickly and air-filled ribs. A toddler can easily sit on a sheet of paper. My favourite so far is the green one with an upturned hem, the Viktoria Amazonica, the largest of water lily species in the world and a native from the Amazon River basin. No wonder, it´s kinda exotic and wild.
Something about them that really fascinated me. Again, I seek the help of Wikipedia, the lily, with ribbed undersurface and leaves veining “like transverse girders and supports”, was Paxton’s inspiration for The Crystal Palace, a building four times the size of St. Peter´s in Rome.
My visit was even made fabulous when I´ve met some more of the exotic flowers in the Viktoriahaus. I don´t really remember their names, but they all look weird, crazy and exquisitely beautiful.Do you know any of them ?
When I married a Dutchman, of course I got curious about Dutch culture and life in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, we don´t live there but somehow to it´s neighbour ,Germany.Although through the journey up until now, I find so many quirky things about “How-Dutch-people-do their-things” compared to the German culture that we´re living right now.Still, I have found great fascination with many typically acclaimed “Dutch” things.Let´s take for example their beloved “Molens” or windmills.
The Dutch love their windmills so much that they have even dedicated a special dayto them. Apparently, every year in mid-May, the country celebrates National Windmill Day, for which windmills throughout the Netherlands are decorated with flowers, figures of angels or Dutch flags, and doors are thrown open to visitors. Hmmm, probably they will serve some freshly baked Dutch apple pies then.
The National Mill and Milling Day is an annual event on which more than 600 wind and water mills and pumping stations are open.
I got properly introduced to Molens in my first visit to this country. Arriving in Schiphol, I was greeted with Dutch icons–tulips, clogs, windmills and cheese! While exploring the local neighbourhood, and looking for a playground, I saw that many gardens with miniature windmills in their garden. I find it really nice.With a toddler in my hand, we had a quick hike, climbing up to the oldest Windmill in the area nearby.I have seen one fine old Windmill, there´s no doubt! It´s not operating on the time of our visit but was good enough to explore.In Holland, the sight of traditional windmill is just as normal as seeing cows, sheep and goat pasturing freely in the countryside.I find it idyllic though.
Seeing rows of Windmills in the Unesco World Heritage site “Kinderdijk“, translated as Children Dyke a few years back brings me back good memories.One thing, it is very windy, very very windy. Of course, there are approximately 19 huge windmills in this area.But then, these windmills produces very little turbulence. I thought for a second that they generate a sort of wind power, but then I was mistaken.
Kinderdijk is also the site of the old St Elizabeth’s flood, where Kinderdijk actually means ‘Children’s Dyke’ after a cradle had been found bobbing up and down in the water after the flood with, what is assumed, the house cat keeping the cradle steady.That´s how the history started.
I guess these polder makes this country so unique. Even without the UNESCO enlisting, these Windmills serves a common purpose.I find it quite interesting how the Dutch approach to prevent and control floods.This was necessary because the Netherlands is 26% below sea level. Windmills were also used for sawing wood, grinding grain and spices, making paper, and pressing seeds for oil.
I was reading the book that my husband gave me and was surprised to know that there are more than thousands of these windmills are still intact today.Now that´s another reason to explore the others.
I had the chance to see what´s in side of the windmill. There is also a tour for visitors to take and learn more about the mechanism and the art of operating it. Pre-Corona times, it comes easy and no hassle.Visitors can actually climb up, see the pumps and see what´s going on in there and I found it all super interesting. My daughter would probably never remember that visit but she had fun there. There was an interactive museum, a place with some farm animals or we called it little zoo , and a local neighbourhood where you can have a glimpse of the old days.
The place is very picturesque, even better in a fine clear weather. Unfortunately during our time of visit, it was summer time but the weather was like in Autumn, with lots of wind and grey.
The oldest from the windmills here is the “Blokker” which is actually dated from 16th century. Up until now, it´s standing there. One thing I noticed were its unique sails, they are mosty open and wide.They said that the sails were used before as a means of communication between the millers.On festive occasions,such as Dutch´s King´s Day, locals would decorate their windmills with flowers and colorful flags.
My parents in law were locals but it´s actually their first time to visit this place with us. They even thanked me that I have found this place online and urged them to visit this place together as a family. I guess seeing tulips and windmills were their everyday cup of tea but a little trip won´t hurt.But no, they were never able to wear a real wooden Clogs in their lives.
For them, windmills are part of their lives and will always be…
Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water.“ – Frida Giannini
This is a very late post about our visit to Venice but really worth sharing. Let me start by sharing some photos that I took myself with my camera and share about our wonderful experience in this city .I had a secret wish after this holiday.
“ If I have the chance to choose another place to live, I would like to live in Venice…“
Venice, as I see it!
The first word that I have heard when we entered ” Veneto ” is Ciao and Prego. We had a quick stop to look for a Gelato shop , you see we can´t wait to have it.Me and my daughter are having fun looking out for signs if we are in Italy already so when we finally see the sign “Veneto” , we are super excited! She can´t stop saying “Ciao, bella Venezia!” of course, with an accent.I think they are lovely words, don´t they. Not like all the stiff German words that we speak everyday. Very appropriate for daily conversations with the locals, like Ciao Gelato, Prego Salami Pizza or Spritz, and yes, Grazie!
Venice is incredible. Although you may have seen it in pictures, you can’t grasp how beautiful it is until you visit.
Our first sights of Venice were the speeding boats, the canals, and the architecture. The Grand Canal, the autobahn of Venice is busy.View from the train is just a normal port, docks, and a koleidoscope of parked cars and motorbikes. I need to pinch myself reminding me that all of what I am seeing is real. The architecture is sublime. The Gondolas are beautifully crafted. The stillness of the lagoons are far even better than the pictures.The magic starts when we walked through our first Bridge–Ponte della Constituzione.We call it the glass bridge because it seems like we are walking on glass, with fishes underneath.
In front of us is a rush of Venetian BaggagePorters, or the Portabagagli.They have this cart where they carry heavy luggages in their back for the tourists who decides to stay in the city of Venice.I heard the price can range to 50Euros per luggage and another 10Euros for other extras. I kinda ache when I see them. Those bags are heavy and needs to be carried through all those steps.Their job is to carry your trolley bags through the 400+ bridges, depends on the location.I only carried a backpack, my camera and water and yet I got tired of it. But these people need to earn their living and thrived on Tourists.
When I seek another word for ‘music’, I never find any other word than ‘Venice’.- Friedrich Nietzsche
It´s hard to describe Venice in one word, but the word beautiful will do, in many many ways.It´s also complicated but very mysterious.Anyway, for me Venice is unique, eccentric, and unforgettable. Why?, I used all these adjectives because I think this place really deserve it. There are millions of articles and stories about this place also travel blogs written about it, but I guess you´ll never really understand it unless you see it with your own eyes. The moment we get out from the train in Sta. Lucia, the smell of Venice is quite different, it doesn´t stink at all as what I´ve read about.The Lagoons, the port, the boats, the crowds, and the hustle and bustle in “Rialto Bridge” is really amazing, plus everybody is just happy and smiling, at least people are not bothered by Corona anymore or at least they remove their masks while doing selfies.
We visited in times of Corona so we took it really slow, walking low key and opted to escape the crowds as much as possible.At least in the secret alleys where few people gathers, we can have all the photos we like.It only takes a few minutes then people would come out, our teritory is not ours anymore. But we can´t resist as well the charms of the grand Palazzo Ducale and St. Mark´s Basilica in the famous San Marco as well as the colorful island of Burano.We even found a garden, a little park but the playground were fenced. I guess it´s not our lucky day to play in the playground.
A challenge though, finding the narrowest alley can be tricky , maybe yes, or maybe not, google maps might not work.But then if you managed to do that, then you are definitely enchanted by Venice. In the end, it´s okay to get lost.
The trouble is, walking in Venice becomes compulsive once you start. Just over the next bridge, you say, and then the next one beckons.
–Daphne du Maurier
When I read the quote above, I knew that it explains exactly what I felt. The moment we started walking, we always ended up to these famous places, as if we are really destined to see it.It comes naturally like we don´t care.It´s crazy because when you walk in between the tiny streets,looking up the charming Venetian houses, it´s like a big labyrinth, a maze that you can only solve if you continue to walk, it´s actually the only way to know your bearings.
The Gondolas have their own charisma, that is really a fact. The thing is, you are not in a romantic movie, you are in Venice.Isn´t it amazing to see nowadays a boat being manually-driven? A boat which makes so little sound and you can´t hear a single motor roar? Watching them smoothly glide from the narrow canals and lagoons is really interesting. The Venezian masks and Gondolas were like a page in history and yet seeing them for real was like a time-travel for me. The romantic ambiance in this city is just so real and yes-unfiltered! Watching couples doing selfies always fits in every bridge, in every corner.
We parked our car in Tronchetto and we rode a train to go in Venice and at this point I still feel that we are in a normal city.It´s still amaze me that everything in Venice is navigated only by boat, water Taxis, Vaporettos and Gondolas. There are no cars, no bikes, no scooters, no train or bus.Rain or shine, winter or fog, any weather, people ride their boats and commute on water.
After all, Venice is best seen through the waters.
Many times during the day, I have seen an ambulance (in a boat form!) numerous times speeding through the Grand Canal and all the other boats are making way for it, just like in the normal highway and Autobahn. Surprisingly, water traffic is also real and was amazed that they also have speed limit .In general, vaporettos (water buses) and traditional wooden boats tend to take it slower than water taxis.
As far as colors are concerned, well Venice is a great pallette.The colors of Venice are very rustic, gold, and the houses along the canals looked old, rugged but it it just the way it is, since they are almost 2000 years old! Every little nook, quaint tiny windows where the Gondolier´s uniform hang is quite a magical sight to watch. There are no cars but you can see different boats . I have seen many abandoned houses which kind of looking creepy, but then I wondered why it was abandoned. The rent is so steep that the locals can´t afford it anymore or they are just driven out of it?Sad truth though…
Imagine living in one of these houses in front of the Grand Canal and witnessing the daily chaos everyday? But first, any day won´t be complete without “Gelato“.We found this little nook, totally forgot it´s name, but their Gelato were really good. I am not so fond of ice cream here in Germany but ironically I love Gelato.I´ve heard that most Italians prefer their Gelato as a late afternoon snack and after dinner treat.The person in a “Gelateria” serving it is called “Gelati”.
And why eating Gelato three times a day is like a dream for children, and adults too. Of course, we can´t say no to this region´s pride-Tiramisu!
Why every corner, every nook is different from the other?Many times I though I´ve already seen it, but then it´s just different from the others.
Tourists and locals going on along like an endless charade, a real life Opera. Inside the water bus, I stand beside an old lady with a little girl which I think at age of 10. They have been shopping,as I saw the plastic bags full of vegetables, fruits, and other grocery stuff. They both wear mask as we did. They are headed probably back home or might need to do another stop-over. Across me were a young couple, they speak Spanish and needed help with the camera, they wanted to make a selfie but couldn´t find a right angle.While the rest of us are busy clicking our cameras and admiring the houses by the Grand Canal, they are living their everyday errands.
I wonder if they are also amazed by how wonderful their city is? For them , a boat ride means doing things to be done, and for us yes, sightseeing, an exhausting time to see what´s need to be seen, collecting amount of photos and memories.
I am a lover of Architecture and in Venice, I have seen what I can handle, well almost, but I think I haven´t seen everything. My favourite so far was the Doges Palace. It´s the place where the ruling council resides. We had a tour of this Palazzo (thanks to the rain!) and I was totally even more amazed by it´s history and interiors. Grandeur is an understatement to describe this place. The bridges who connects houses, palace, gardens and people is an enigma to me up until now. Inscripted in the walls of the Palazzo Ducale is NVNQVAM DERELICTA, means “Never abandoned”.These words stands rightfully to Venice, considering how many siege it endured.
And if you look closely, some sights really have fascinating stories. I didn´t know that the Bridge of Sighs , the Ponte dei Sospiri connecting to the Palazzo Ducale to the New prisons over Rio di Palazzo has something interesting worth telling. It´s in this bridge were the prisoners have their last beautiful view of Venice before they go to their cells, as Giacomo Casanova tells in his memoirs. An old tradition also says that if a couple kiss in a gondola beneath the Bridge of Sighs in Venice at sunset while the church bells toll, they will be in love forever.
I hope to see Venice once again, with it´s vibrant life, probably see it more in the nightime or in not so busy summer days, with its charm and less tourist drama.I spended 3 days in this city and yet I am still curious. My time was so short compared to this city´s time span-400 A.D! I think it´s impossible to truly understand Venice´s immense history and culture within a short timeframe…maybe in that time I would understand why the locals tend to always talk with their hands, why drinking Espresso is a golden time and why their masks seemed so alive.
Time had passed so quickly….so there it goes, Venice, as I see it.I, not only love Venice but the Veneto region as well. It´s pretty vineyards,charming old medieval town landscapes, and of course, who can´t fall in love with the Dolomites?
The fast few days were cold over here in Bavaria and it´s in the forecast for us to have the first snow this weekend.The air is freezing cold, especially in the early mornings . As you can see from the photos, we had a bit of Frost.Good thing I already took my plants inside which are sensitive to frost.The garden is ugly,only my Mums and the `winterhart Silberdraht ( Calocephalus Drownii) and Olender stays unbothered by the cold. I don´t have the energy anymore to rake the fallen leaves once again. Let them turn into soil this time.
Yesterday I took my morning run and brave the cold, minus 5!I took a couple of short breaks and look around. Most trees are now leafless, withering.Standing in the middle of the forest where I usually run feels eerie, the silence is really something. The surroundings are bleak and grey.There´s nothing much really to admire these days.In a few weeks, I know that this place will all be covered in white, and yes…colder.
I used my iPhone to take these photos and I´m glad they turned out well.
There´s an ongoing rendezvous over Corona-Lockdown over here in Germany, (again!). Cases of infections are rising again and public mobility for unvaccinated people is being monitored and controlled strictly. Impflicht (Vaccination Law) is now imposed and yes, everyday, there´s something new so I don´t really know what will happen tomorrow or next month. Christmas markets are cancelled but life goes on…
I have never been to Thailand, though I knew many friends who live there. It was a dream of me ( and still…) to go and visit there someday.But then, I had the chance to have a little glimpse of a Thai-inspired place in my homecountry, Philippines. It´s a fun theme park combined floating restaurant called-Isdaan. “Isdaan ” means Fishing village or a place to catch fish. As the name says, it´s really a place where you can have a fresh catch of fish or other seafoods you like and have it cooked the way you want, or order the dish you like to.
Aside from the food, I am totally amazed by their outdoor settings and ambiance. I love it. Looking at these photos made me wish to be there again with my family and not in this grey, cold weather.
Anyway, now this is not a post to promote this restaurant, though I would really recommend to anyone to check out this, just in case you have the chance to visit this place.Their food is really great and I would personally bring friends here. The reason : It´s a unique experience!
The giant Buddhas, both in red and whites, the gigantic Mermaids settled in a tropical sanctuary, huge monkeys, and other huge statues adorns the place. It is very colorful, pleasing to the eyes and really gave you a feel of seeing a bit of the colorful temples and scenery in Thailand. No wonder we called it Little Thailand! As I study the place more, I found out a love story as well.
This giant Mermaid figure seemed to be depicting “ Suvannamacha“, a golden mermaid princess.She definitely looked like a princess. Her adornments and crown shows it all royalty. Suvannamaccha is popular in Thai folklore and is represented on small cloth streamers or framed pictures that are hung as luck-bringing charms in shops and houses throughout Thailand.
There´s not only 1 but more pieces that scattered through out the place. Also, of course, this place won´t be complete without Buddhas! I feel so little standing beside these Buddhas!
I have read that in Thai folklore, Suvannamacha, or a “golden Fish“, a mermaid Princess, tries to spoil the plans of the Hindu God and divine “Vanara” (or Monkey”) but then at the end she fell in love with him.Hanuman is the son of a monkey princess and the Wind God. This makes him the nephew of the green and red monkey kings of the forest. Hanuman is educated by the god Siva, who makes Hanuman invincible and able to transform himself into different forms.
In every corner, there is so much to see.Aside from the beautiful nature surrounding the floating restaurant, I enjoyed the face painting, boat rides, and of course, the food.This place is actually perfect for families, reunions and a colorful place for kids.
As for me, the sound of the gushing river and watching the fishes swimming by is enough to relieve the stress.The dancing coconuts, the pretty nipa huts, and the adorable figures made from terra cota.
Another unique aspect in this place is the “Tacsiyapo” wall. Tacsiyapo is a native local dialect in the Philippines means ” Shame on You!” It´s a stress-reliever ,more of a release your Anger -corner where you buy plates and cups to throw in a wall, and shout Tacsiyapo as you do it.
Look at all those broken pieces…I haven´t tried this one but I think it´s really unique aspect of this place.
So eating traditional Filipino dishes, served in floating hut, surrounded with Thai -inspired ambiance, settled in a tropical backgrounds–it´s actually the best of both worlds.
Our trip to Italy with an unvaccinated 7- year old was totally unforgettable, despite the worries from Corona, we managed to get it all done.We came back home healthy, tanned, and packed with good memories from Italy, of course eaten tons of Gelato!Made it to Venice around 4pm and after we checked in to our hotel, we immediatley looked for the Corona Test center. Luckily, they have testing facility in Venice but the crowds is oh yes, self-explanatory–daunting!During that time, it is imperative for children to be tested, and also for our own sanity so we did it . I have packed dozens of self´-test kits as well.Anyway, everything went well and we moved on to explore this beautiful, unique and one of a kind eternal city–Veneto!
There´s no need for me to write languishly about how pretty this place is. I don´t even need to elaborate it´s details .For me, it is really worth seeing it once in your life, and if you ever saw it, then you would definitely understand what I mean.
St. Mark´s Square is actually the most important place in Venice.For the residents, it´s the heart of the city. I mean, what can you expect from a square? or “la Piazza “as they called it in Italian? It´s just as the same as the other square´s we´ve seen numerous times in other countries. But then,seeing this huge square, I can totally agree why Napoleon called it ” the world´s most beautiful drawing room“.
Don´t you love it as well when you visit a historical place where from the things you´ve read from a book, or learnt in your History class just came alive? It´s an enormous feeling. It was always been my dream to see this place and I am grateful to see it.
The church of St. Mark, the Bell Tower, Cafe Florian, the oldest Cafe , the columns were prisoners were executed, the majestic view of the Grand Canal, and the amazing architecture of the Palazzo Ducale,all in one square. Different phases of architecture in a 360 panoramic view.My daughter of course chased the pigeons in the square and admire the souvenir stalls, it´s in a child´s blood! As for me, I am busy photographing every angle.
We walked through this square countless times and walked through it as we go on with our visits to the island of Burano and hopping from one water taxi to one Vaporetto so everyday, I have different impressions of this square.
Details of the church was spectacular, the carvings on the walls and facades are all well worth to be seen. One time,we were supposed to go to another island but it was rainy and windy so while waiting for the rain to stop, we waited in the alleys of the Doges Palace(Palazzo Ducale) then suddenly had a change of plan.Fortunately, they run a palace tour and only vaccinated and tested visitors are allowed to get in.
I had a stiffneck admiring all these wonders. Too much that it exhilarates me, the beauty and grandeur of these chamber rooms are so exquisite. The colors, attention to details and political significance blended all together.I can´t get enough of it, and I think I needed a lecture to understand all these figures and mouldings.
When we made the tour of this Palace, we were able to see not only the chamber rooms but also the Prison cells, as bleak as it can be. There was a certain point where we passed through narrow alleys and have a glimpse of the canals, rooftops and outside views, especially from the famous “Bridge of Sighs“. It´s where the last glimpse for the prisoners who were about to be executed. It´s their last view of their lives.
Piazza San Marco is also the lowest part in Venice so actually it´s the first place to be flooded during ” Acqua Alta“.
I watched the film “Inferno” with Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones and one of the film location in this movie was taken in Venice, right here in St. Mark´s square .I just love the riddles and symbolic narrations of Dr. Langdon talking about the 4 horses in St. Mark´s church.
Speaking of details, when Venice participated in the Sack of Constantinople during the 4th Crusade, Doge Enrico Dandolo sent the bronze horses which are actually made of copper to Venice, where they stood overlooking the Piazza di Marco.In 1797, Napoleon took the horses and placed them on top of Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (the arc that faces the Louvre) in Paris. Then Napoleon looted them again for France when he conquered Venice in 1797.I realized that these horses are quite something, what would Napoleon so obssessed with it.
It’s worth noting that the horses overlooking St. Mark’s Square today are only replicas–but you can still see the originals by visiting the museum on the second floor of the church.
Kite flying reminds me of happy childhood memories.
In Philippines we have long summer vacations. Starting from April to May. School starts once again in June so we had plenty of idle times to kill. In these long summer days, kite flying is best with summer days, windy but not stormy. Children ´s laughs is the music you hear, running barefoot here and there.So innocent, carefree and yes–no restrictions.
Just days full of fun and play.
Before we left Kuwait, we had the chance to see the Kitesurfing and Flying in Bnaider Desert .It was a whole new experience to me. I have never seen those huge kites before in my life. Too bad my daughter is just a baby back then, she missed to see and enjoy this event. We drove to the barren Bnaider desert, where the sight of the rows of power lines and dusty roads is not really appealing without anything to do. Nevertheless, this event truned out to be awesome and one-of-a-kind, thanks to all these beautiful kites!
As a child, me and my cousins always love to make and fly our own kites. Have you done it as well?
For us, we gather old plastic bags, cut it in rectangular form and knot it on a padded stick of forming the frame which holds the kite in place.Then we cut some more pieces of the plastic to serve as a tail, as we all know, a kite cannot fly without a tail.Everything is recycled back then. On some occasions, we would also make kites made out of paper, crafted by our own imagination. Learning how to fly a kite become a childhood skill, just like climbing a tree, or riding a bike. We all did it by ourselves and it makes us very proud. My fondest memory was flying a kite in a newly-plowed ricefield. I remember, the soil would be knee high after plowed by a manually plowed with a carabao… so the hurdles are stronger and yet so fun! Yes, those simple farm life where we have the whole fields as our playgrounds.Sometimes running in the mud, catching frogs…and tadpoles.
But the tricky part is when our kites landed to trees and we need to climb it and get it.
Nowadays, it´s very rare that I´ve seen kids flying a handmade kite. Here in Germany, I have never seen it.Although there are many ready made kites sold in the shops and it just take an eager kid with interest to get hooked into it. Still, it´s still a very rare sight for me. Everything now is modern, with gadgets and everything.
Once we prepared everything, we help each other fly the kite. One holding the kite, and one holding the thread. We ran as fast as we could and find a good spot in an empty field where the wind is good enough to let it loose. After some attempts, we let it go.
Kite flying for me signals a ray of hope; it might tear down and fall on the ground, but it can be fixed and adjusted for a new game. I mean you cannot easily give up after a few tries. It shows how much you persevere, patience is a key. For children, it´s a mixture of being competitive and yes, being courageous.
So when I saw this Kitesurfing event in Kuwait, memories flooded to me. These kites are huge, colorful and very eye-catching. I think it´s just necessary that these kites to be flashy in colors since the desert is such a barren place and all around is just dust, dust and acres of desert. This event was under the guidance of Andrew Beattie. Andrew Beattie is a member of Al-Farsi Kite team in Kuwait. Al-Farsi with cooperation with Peter Lynn broke the World record of a giant Kite that successfully flown into Britain´s skies.
Childhood memories of flying a kite, of my feet on the ground, of my spirit untethered, of the playful wind, of rooftop cries, of joy and curses, of a day ever to remember.
–Norma D Mahanty
While writing this, I suddenly remembered the novel that I´ve read, the Kiterunner, by Khaled Hosseini. Luckily, I also got the book in German ” Drachenläufer” which I scored from a Book flea market. This novel also features childhood stories of two boys which plays with a kite.
There were giant inflatable slides for children, kiosks and restaurants and a giant outdoor hall where traditional Kuwaiti songs and dance were performed. I have seen many families enjoyed their day in the desert and everyone was just admiring the kite figures being flown into the skies.It was unforgettable.
Al Farsi Kite Team entered the Guinness Book of Records in 2005 by flying a 1,050 square meters kite of Kuwait Flag. Later in 2018 they broke their own record by flying a kite, Our Planet, of 1,200 square meters.Seeing this once in a lifetime event made me realize that sky is the limit of your imagination. There can never be enough figures of Kites in the skies, whether it would be Tweety Bird, whale, lizard, bear, dog or Cars—anything can soar high.
I knew from experience that Kuwait always love to grabe world records–whether the largest, the longest, or the grandest! I couldn´t forget witnessing the longest Fireworks display there and having the biggest Dhow Ship as my background on my wedding day!
Truly, Kuwait has some hidden gems more than it´s oil!
Few meters beside our apartment is an on going construction of a family house. I don´t know exactly but it looks like 4 single houses, with 3 floors. Considering the standard aprtments here in Ingolstadt, this House would be big enough for a family of 4, even with 3 children, probably a 4- bedroom house, including a underground parking and it has enough space for a garden as well.
Look´s great and yes…expensive.
German houses over here in our area are quite modern.The thing is, all the roller shutters seems so cold and univiting. In the outskirts and in the old town, I´ve seen quite many typical Bavarian houses, with intricate tower like-facades .I´ve once took a tour and explored all the historical towers and unique architecture in our neighbourhood and I´ve learned a lot.But personally, nothing beats the allure of the half-timbered Houses I have seen in the old town of Bernkastel Kues when we explored the Mosel area.
Just like a normal wanderer, I am always on the look of fine details, color and character so the unique woodwork of these houses really caught my attention.
We visited Bernkastel-Kues after we see the famous Burg Eltz, a medieval Castle nestled in the midst of the forest. This little town is in between the Moselle and vineyards where we also have a lovely hike through the grape vine yards. The beautiful River Moselle flows lovingly to this town, giving it more charm. Narrow, densely built-up lanes lead to the market square, which is surrounded by magnificent timber frame buildings. The pointed roofs here are striking. Because of the lack of space, the houses were built to be as tall as possible.
Main attraction in this little town is the wonderful timber-framework of the houses, buidings and almost everything.Pharmacies, bakeries, restaurants, cafes and even their City hall has the same flair.Combined with wall carvings and paintings, the town is full of artistic flair, color, and beauty. See, I am still hangóvered by the rainbow island of Burano and the rustic feel of the houses in Venice along the canals—but the timbered -houses are also cannot be underrated.
I can´t help but to stare, and looked-up at all times. Even while we´re eating, the background of Timbered houses is so fascinating. I felt like I´m another world. Added with old fashioned lantern posts and German engravings, it´s really typical German Old Town.The color, almost rustic red, deep maroon shade against a while plaster is so alluring to the eyes.Sitting in a Cafe, drinking coffee and having a piece of a freshly baked cake seemed almost a luxury!
So what´s exactly a half-timbered House?
Half-timbered structures have a wood-saving skeleton with self-supporting timber and curtain walls made of clay or brick. This building method is extremely ecological, environmentally sustainable and aesthetic
On it´s exterior, you can easily see its detailed woodwork.Cylindrical logs were cut in half, so one log could be used for two (or more) posts. The shaved side was traditionally on the exterior and everyone knew it to be half the timber.I guess normal people would not even bother to dive why the´ve built something like that.It´s all that meet the eyes. No wonder it´s one of the attraction magnet of this area.
But if you visit Germany, I am sure you will see some of them depending on your location. It was actually one of the first sights that I´ve digged in when I moved here. I find it so unique, especially since I am Asian and this type of housing is not normal from where I came from.
In Germany, there are approximately 2 Million timbered houses, still standing up until now.There is even a whole town in Quedlinburg with more than 1,300 timbered houses that´s why it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage. Imagine that, I think it would be lovely to take a walk in this town!
I love modern architecture as well but what´s not to love about traditional woodwork on lovely houses like this?
How about you, have you ever seen a half-timbered House?
I still can´t get over from Len´s Journey post about Burano Island where He wrotes about the symphony of it´s colors. He had written it so well and so true to this island´s striking character. I said to myself that I wanted to see it for myself to believe it.
And I was not dissapointed…
But seeing this place also made me thought hard.
“How is it to live in a place like this? to see these colors every-single-day? “
My daughter said it´s her favourite island ,at least for now. I asked her why and she said because the Spaghetti with Mussels and clams were sooooo delicious. She was absolutely charmed as well by it´s bright, colorful houses, and the “ relaxed island feel “of Burano.Well at least it´s not only Gelato that won our hearts while we´re in Venice, also the Spaghetti with Mussels and I have to agree with her on that.We´re lucky to be able to find a seat in Trattoria da Romano and absolutely had the best experience!
From the boat from Fondamente Nove ,we took the Vaporetto 12 to go to Burano. We actually decided on this trip to avoid the massive crowds in Venice and it was really hot. We glide through the tranquil waves, wearing masks and playing some Pop-it .Soon we reached the island and greeted with watercolor pallette-views!
Red, orange, yellow, sky blue, yellow green, and so on and so forth. This is indeed the color-wheel village!
The houses are uniquely painted with different shades. It´s like a maze of rainbow colors. The apartment-villa type of the houses are so pretty, and nothing seemed like the other. Every house has it´s own distinct character and tint.Tiny square windows with pretty carvings, also decorated with curtains are a normal sight. I was so busy breathing in the scent of Burano and at the same time, adoring the simplicity of this island.
Apart from it´s colours, Burano Island is also famous for it´s lace production, made with a needle, & everything is handcrafted.Great respect for this wonderful heritage. If you see the group of old ladies making their lacework, you can´t help but just to smile…this tiny island is really a gem.
Rows of houses are just a few meters away from the shore and even the boats are multi-colored. I can´t get enough of the reflection of the houses in the water, it´s so soothing.I wonder how was it here during the strict lockdown?During the time of our visit, which was the in the heat of Summer, end of August, the weather was hot, and the air is thin but the sight of the sea is such a temptation. There are no cars in Burano–you can explore it by bike, walking or by boat.
They said that the colorful houses is actually no coincidence.As a fishing village where fishing is a vital source of living, residents painted their houses to enable the fisherman to get back home safely, amidst thick fog and bad weather. Now it really make sense.As you can see from the photos, street lighting is very basic, so imagine this place at night.The locals of Burano also favors this idea of colors since it serves as property boundaries.
Walking thorugh the streets of Burano, I felt like walking into a different world. Life here is so simple. Thriving on tourism, fishermen take out their boats and return in the evening with their fresh catch.
We passed through a small stall selling with different kinds of souvenir items and the vendor is oblivious of the crowd.Burano is so small, with a population less than 3,000, tourists outnumbered the locals as well.
Anyway, whatever the situation, I always look for colors. I, personally loved colors, colorful buildings and houses are such a great subject. I love colorful art so I fully appreciate this place as a form of Art Therapy…and living it! It makes me wonder how Burano looks like in Winter, white everywhere, covered in snow, foggy and tourist-free.I am sure that this island will still stand out because of it´s colors. I find that really cool and heartwarming.
Children running back to their homes and they know exactly which door to go in because of their unique colors.
I just love how each house has it´s own color of front door curtains. The curtains were blown by the soft sea breeze and it totally reminds me when we hang the laundry outside to dry.Sun dried laundry definitely has a unique charm.
When our boat arrived to get us back to Venice, I cast one last look at Burano and whispered, “Burano, you are amazing..until we see each other again!” but my daughter loudly shouted ” Arrivederci Burano!“
Would you paint your house as colorful as this ? Which color would you choose?
I´ve been meaning to write about our recent trip to see the Dolomites but then life got so busy and somewhat that ” writing thing” never get a hold on me , my mind was so empty and I sit in front of my laptop and still nothing. Good news though, but not until now.I already made our photobooks from our last trip and to tell you honestly, when I looked back, I wished that we are there once again…it´s one of those trips that you´ve never left yet, but you wanted to go back once again…
Now I´ve spilled that secret : We really wanted to go back there again and hike some more!
The Dolomites,also known as the Pale Mountains, the famous Dolomites of Italy, and here in Germany, we called it “Dolomiten” .Obviously the name came because these mountain ranges is made up of sedimentary rocks and has a high percentage of dolomitic minerals.Italy has the right to boast about it. Absolutely it´s one of the world´s nature gems and best kept secret destination here in Europe.It´s peaks are tremendously intimidating, totally! Maybe that´s the reason why Reihnold Messner loved this and inspired to summit all the 14 peaks over 8,000 meters, including Mt. Everest! Just imagine having the Dolomites as your childhood playground!
I love everything about mountains and Dolomites is one happy place for me.The area we´ve explored just had everything.From lustrous alpine meadows, nature parks, camping areas, gorgeous lakes and of course, the majestic peaks of the mountain ranges makes it all an idyllic place .
Places like this are also a photographer´s dream, my dream place. You see, views like this makes my jaw drop, makes me silent and in awe of everything. Just like the feeling when we hike through Berchtesgaden and Königsee last May, this time I am just thankful once again to see another scenic natural paradise .It´s actually my first time to visit Italy and I am glad that we´ve taken this scenic route. I think you should see places like this at least once in your lifetime. No, I think one lifetime is not enough.
Anyway,I knew nothing about Dolomiten not until I´ve seen a part of it. I have made it a goal to explore more the Dolomiten especially a hike through the Tre Cime de Lavarado or the Three Peaks (Drei Zinnen) with my daughter next year and we are all excited about it.
Just like Berchtesgadener Land , the mountain ranges of the Dolomites are also UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. It has a rich history of War and Peace since WWI which adds more to it´s charm. We went on a family adventure, not on a holiday. Although we planned on exploring the parts of Süd Tirol after exploring Venice, coming to see Dolomiten was actually came out of surprise. I never researched about it or looked it up since all I can think about is the other places that we´re going. So you can imagine how surprised I am once I saw the mountain peaks as we approached the charming little villages of Calalzo di Cadore,Auronzo, and of course, the impressive Cortina d’Ampezzo and more…
I was suddenly silent and just sighed. This place is so beautiful.
The mountain ranges are so high and mighty.The Ooohhs and Ahhhss are just coming out naturally. This place is not made to be admired when you are driving or in the passenger seat. You really need to get out, walk, hike, run, cycle or just navigate through it to really have a real “Dolomites” experience and even photos doesn´t give it justice.
We visited in the most “touristic” peak season, in the end of August, summer time here in Europe. It´s also the time where almost everyone in Europe is having their vacation. We actually didn´t have much choice since this is the only dates that we are free from work.The bookings we´ve made are on short -listed and considering the tight Corona measures, we are glad that we are both fully vaccinated. But then we chose to stay near the small village of Lienz, just between the border of Austria and Italy. During this time, we are obligated to do a Corona Test for my daughter since she is not yet vaccinated.Driving through the border few times in a day is no hassle since we only care about exploring the Dolomiten.After all, it´s all part of the adventure.
And again, these views….!
Another highlight from our Dolomiten adventure was hopping from pristine lakes to another.It´s summer but the water is still very cold and we are wearing layers. I was feeling so cold on this day. Swimming is not allowed in these lakes since it´s a protected areas and nature reserve. Every single one is impressive in the areas of Sesto and the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature park.With turquoise clear waters, mirror-mountain reflections and majestic panoramas, you can´t take one from another. Our goal was to see Lago di Braies, but since we did not plan ahead, we actually didn´t booked ahead for the public transport and the parking was already so full when we came. We don´t want to take the risk that time of squeezing ourselves in a full bus when we have a child who is not yet vaccinated.But then, it still did not dissapoint us since we found another pretty destinations.We ended up doing a hike in this area, having a lunch with the view of Lago Dobbiaco and rode the paddle boat.
But definitely, the view from above is different. The sun shines so bright when we hike through Monte Elmo, gathering wild Alpine flowers, played in the playground above 2,000+ meters where we have breathtaking views of the Sesto Dolomites.
On the third day, the winding roads from the Pension House and steep curves going up to the mountains became like normal. With the Dolomites in the background, It was a constant reminder that we are still in paradise.One time we decided to go up in the mountains first by ski lift and do some hiking up. Going up was so foggy and cold, with bare no views while we came up.Here I have a feeling that we are in Austria or in Germany since the landscape, the playgrounds reminds me so much of the places we visited in Austria.Signages are written in multiple languages and we didn´t have any problem since we speak German.Once again, my daughter had a blast playing, trekking, and admiring the views up above.
The only sound that we hear is our footsteps, flushing and gushing of the creek that leads to the river.the bright sunlight creates a magical scenery,simply awesome.
The thing is, the moment when we are on top, we felt so little, so tiny, weak and fragile. Many times I shouted to my daughter not to run on the edge because she might slipped.It´s the anxiety that I felt so helpless compared to the power of the mountains.But seeing her so carefree and happy makes my heart warm. If only we can stay like this forever.As I see the bunch of people ahead of us, all walking with a walking stick,pushing the buggies and carrying their little ones, I asked myself that maybe they are also searching what we are searching…simple happiness.
The thing about hiking and conquering heights is that the height is so intimidating. And hiking with a child is not always go through as you expect.Most of the times, you really need to have plan B. Believe me, get prepared and expect a few dramas along the way. The going is always tough, but going through it ,is actually the essence of the adventure itself. Looking back, the most rough hikes we did are the ones that we had wonderful memories and hurdles as well.We all got a new hiking boots this year and I thought, these shoes are really made to be wet, dirty, muddy, filled with sand and somehow step onto some crazy adventures! No matter how good it is, if it only stay in the bunk then it´s useless.
Many times, we got lost of the track, google maps doesn´t work, even one time that I forgot to bring my camera so I was totally devastated. I got sad and angry ,not because I am tired and my muscles are sore from walking, but because I only had my iphone to capture the views.
I can´t write about Michelin stars hotels and restaurants, expensive ski resorts and over the top mountain museums in the areas of Süd Tirol and Dolomites. I can only share about it´s beauty, it´s wild charm, it´s power to quiet our troubled minds, and bring us down to humble state .We didn´t spend a fortune, nor stayed in pricey hotels, or dine in those fancy restaurants, but we were able to have a blast in nature, eat in joyful gladness with the mountains in front of us and for me, that´s the killer panoramic view that is priceless.
Also, we did our part in protecting this place, we only take memories and leave nothing behind except footprints. Because I know, soon we will be back once again to see the Dolomites.
When was your most unforgettable hiking experience?