Silent Sunday

The beauty of Wheat Fields in Bavaria /FOTD

Exploring my neighborhood is always a joy to me. Everyday I found something unique about it. From where we lived right now, we can experience the best of city life and rural indulgence such as sights of different fields and the modern amenities of the city.For me, fields here in Bavaria is a normal sight. In Spring, we enjoy the vast fields of wild flowers, the endless Yellow Rasp Fields, and in Summer, we are lucky to cycle around the Red Poppies stunning fields, Sunflower fields and the Wheatfields. Of course, our summer won´t be complete if we don´t visit to the Spargel (Mushroom) and Strawberry fields! Another top field to explore is the green paradise of the Hop Fields—the green gold in Bavaria where the key ingredient for Beer is from.

So you see, we have a LOT of fields over here. Every season, it´s different except in Winter where fields become a place for sledding!

I decided to compile all my Wheat Fields nature photos and share it here in my Blog so here are some of my favourite photos.I realized that Wheat as well produce flowers, which is called “Florets“. . Florets in wheat are very small , inconspicuous and green. They are arranged in an inflorescence called spike of spikelets.It can make it to Cee´s FOTD-Flower of the Day Challenge, though not in the garden but at least it´s in fields!

As a foreigner living here in Germany, a sight of Wheat crops is quite a surprise to me. I grew up seeing only fields of corn and rice fields but here, I was acquainted with Wheat .No wonder that Wheat ( 20,2 million tons/year-2018 data) belongs to the top 3 agricultural crops that Germany produces, making it to 10th place as world producer.

While Wheat is the largest crop followed by Barley and Rye, some fields are also planted with beans, potatoes and other agricultural crops.For me, It´s a joy seeing them while I am running and cycling through them while they are still green from late Spring to mid Summer.

By late Summer, these Wheat fields turns into “Gold ones”.They exude an exclusive natural beauty in the morning mist, on a foggy day, after the rain, and even covered with spider webs!

A single Poppy flower among the green wheat crops and a lovely sight of Wheat Florets. (Wheat fields in Bavaria/Justbluedutch)

I found this great video below explaining about the Beauty in Cultivating Wheat in Bavaria. Quite not a surprise since “Weizen” (Wheat in German) is essential here for making bread.Bread is a stable product here ,I mean we even eat Bread for lunch & Dinner! Germany is actually a Bread country and (Brot-German word for bread) consuming carbs is a significant part of German cuisine. Living here made me eat so many bread for the past 5 years. It´s quite shocking when I found out that we have about 600 main types of breads and 1,200 different types of pastries and rolls are produced in about 17,000 dedicated bakeries and another 10,000 in-shop bakeries.

So you see, Wheat fields explains the beloved German culture of “Kaffee und Kuchen” ( Coffee and Cake).

They even study and do constant researches to make Wheat “fit” to climate change!

Today, I did my morning run and I stopped for a while to admire them again, wet from today´s rain. I just realized that in every 1 square kilometer area of this wheat field, out of the 18grams of seeds planted, it produces 800grams of grain, and eventually roughly around 500 grams of Flour (weizen mehl) which can make 23 yummy German buns! Every sunday, I cycled to the bakery and buy 4-5 buns to enjoy in our Sunday breakfast!

What´s your favourite type of Fields?

Until then, I´ll be writing more about my life here in Bavaria in my next Posts.

Danke und Tschüss!

A dreamy tipsy walk in the Vineyards

Panoramic views in the vineyards in Mosel Valley

I´ve seen it all often in movies and it still reminds me of romantic settings. Acres of Vineyards, beautiful, serene landscape, lush valley and quaint neighborhood, sunkissed grapes, people hold hand in hand and walking through the 8 ft wooden stakes grape vines, and savouring one of the best joys of life.

Nature and wine goes hand in hand, as always.

Panoramic views in the Mosel Valley

These views are glued into my mind, ever, especially the beautiy of the Mosel River flowing gracefully. I always loved to reminisce fond memories. This one in particular was when we visited the vineyards in the Mosel Valley. We explored Trier and Bernkastel-Kues as well. I loved walking through the long, colorful and narrow streets lined with quaint timbered houses.But walking through the vineyards is another experience.

This one in particular was in the area of OzannMonzel where we drived up to the ruins of a castle and we took a walk through the acres and acres vineyards. I was totally in loved of the sight of grapes, bunches of them. We visited around August, late summer time so they are still in course of ripening up before they are ready for harvest in Fall.Everywhere I see says “Weingut” or Winery.

Germany has best of both worlds, having best beers and also world renowned types of Wines. As I walked into the supermarket, I see that you can already have a good white dry wine for 5 Euros! While in other countries, wines can be brutally expensive and only people with money buy them and reserved for special occasions. Over here, you can never go wrong if you visited another household nd carry a good bottle of wine.

Growing on the rich Devonian soil which stores sunlight and minerals.

Visiting Mosel won´t be complete without wine tasting and glimpse of a Winery.We actually stayed in a Ferienwohnung ( Vacation house) which is being run by a family with winery business.At the moment we arrived, we ´ve got to taste their own selection of Riesling wines that I particularly loved. Personally, I am not a drinker, only on occasions. But I love a good glass of white wine.

When it comes to wines, the ones in the Mosel area are the ” Riesling specialists”! given its location, most vineyards are on a very steep locations.Today half of the vineyards are on steep and terraced sites with a slope of over 30 degrees, some planted at an astounding 70-degree gradient. Given this location, nearly all grapes have to be picked by hand. That includes tying each vine to its own eight-foot wooden stake, and carrying up the slate soil that has washed down with the winter rains. Very labour-intensive and a true sign of dedication to cultivating unique wines

Panoramic views of the Mosel River

Besides Riesling, other grape varieties were cultivated here.Today about 5,000 vintners cultivate roughly 9,000 hectares of vineyards, making the Mosel the 5th largest of Germany´s 13 wine producing areas.

I am grateful enough that besides a beautiful travel destination, culinary and winery offers it´s best in this region.Of course, wine tasting is excellent and you should never miss it!

Rivaner (Müller-Thurgau) is the second most important grape variety that is being cultivated here and Elbling, an old grape variety on the Upper Mosel, may have been cultivated here for 2,000 years. Fresh, fruity and uncomplicated dry and sparkling wines are made from it.

Grapes, Grapes and more grapes everywhere!

Grapes grow almost everywhere!

I have never seen an area without a climbing grape plant, even near the church and cemeteries there are grapes, really incredible!The old town was so quiet and we don´t mind it because we never liked crowds either.After a walk in the vineyards we´ve got to visit some nearby sights in Bernkastel Kues and the beautiful Burg Eltz castle.

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Walking through the vineyards made me laugh because I remember the movie ” Wine Country” directed by Amy Poehler.It was a comedy film with Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph.It´s a hilarious film narrating stories about these women and their friendship and of course their sugar- coated lives which were about to be revealed during their get together  group trip. There were lots and lots of crazy funny scenes but there were also stunning views of the vineyards of Napa Valley. 

Hopefully we can visit once again soon once Corona is gone….

Yes, sometimes in life, all you need is a good glass of wine, friends and a good time!

Do you have a particular taste in Wine?

Prost…and Tschüss.

 

 

Silent Sunday

Not to Scale (NTS) Expat life

Dominating the skyline in Kuwait, the Al Hamra Towers

What do people usually means when they say “Not to Scale“?

Looking back in my college days where we are asked to draw a floor plan, elevations and everything, this term is very common and eventually it becomes a normal terminology. Triangular Scale is a very important tool that I have often used, and through the years, I have learned that in reality, not all things can be presented with the exact proportions. Everything depends on how you make your own perspective.

Just like we gain and lose weight as we grow old…

Idealism has a fair play through the years.I asked myself before where could be a perfect place that expats finally call it a “home”?

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The view of the Skyline of Kuwait from the Liberation Tower , here despite the dusty weather, everything seemed quite a normal day.

To scale means allowing us to understand the relationship between a drawing or an illustration and a presentation or a scale model—against the Reality. If you are able to draw accurately as per scale and you can immediately shift from one scale to another, like from 1:100 to 1:50 then you can do very well in doing architectural drawings and spatial design.Looking at scale models help us to have a perspective of what would it look like once it built, a bird´s eye view, a glimpse of the vision into reality.

I can very well use the principle of Scale in my life as an Expat.

After we leave our homelands, we , too have a perspective in minds. We all carry a luggage of dreams, hopes and expectations.

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Beautiful well-preserved Gable Houses in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I know from a fact that from an Expat eyes, everything is different from the tourist’s view and from the locals itself. A Tour Package always highlights the best, the most sought-after destinations and attractions, the off the beaten path are reserved for adventurous ones.As tourists, we want to see the icing of the cake.

What´s in? where´s the famous places? where are the top attractions?

The quaint beauty of an old Fortress ,Kaprun Castle where in 1645, the Salzburg Musketeers once occupied

A place is only a setback of your expectations, dreams and aspirations. Everyone has their own reason why they decided to move to a new place—either for work, better life, education, to bridge a relationship, or to just simply fulfill a wanderlust—the longing for a change.But in reality, the moment we started to see things in a different way, our perspective of the new place is changing.Probably this is the stage where we start to integrate, accept and ” do as the locals do“.

Pre Covid-19 Virus Era, where touring historical places like the Reichstag in Berlin can be a good place to entertain your 4 year old daughter and listen to audio guide telling about the charms of this City.

I grew up not knowing what is “Recycling ” or upcycling is.But since I came here, I started to obey and do what is norm and not just to avoid the angry stares of my neighbours if they ever saw me putting plastic in the Restmull, the black container.I started to dispose the Green, white and brown glasses in the Glass Containers as well and yes, I got acquianted with the “Yellow Sack” as well. In my bag is always an extra shopping bag, even in my bicycle and in the car, there is always a place for shopping bags.

Why, because here in Germany, you bring your own bags and pack your own grocery. I even observed the Rühezeit, the silent Sunday where we don´t mow the lawn in the garden and no loud music.I remember our times in Kuwait where the shopping cart is alwys full of plastic bags. There is no recycling there, people totally just throw garbage everywhere.Littering is quite a norm.They are really a big fan of using plastic bags there for grocery shopping.I think you collect up to 20 pieces of shopping bags for every grocery!

Now that I remember it, I felt odd.

Fast forward,5 years after, I began to look at Germany, especially Bavaria, in a “Not to scale”terms.Do I really belong here ? or this place does even exceed my expecation?

Cycling in my new neighborhood offers a new freedom to explore places

If you have your own terms of measurement about the quality of life that you want, or your preferred surroundings, then it is better not to put borders. If you expect too much and then ended up into a mountain of dissapointment, then you just feel worse.

“Why are people here are so unfriendly and “cold”?

“Why the weather keeps on changing every four hours?”

“Why Winter here in Germany is too long”?

” Why learning German is necessary to survive here?”

” Why customer service here sucks or totally non-existent?”

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Because in reality, things can be crooked, out of proportion, partially twisted, and though it looks to be perfect, it will have uneven features. I call this “Reality bites in the life of an Expat.”

As an onlooker, with naked eyes, I always ponder on the views that I see. I think it´s normal.For 5 years that I am walking the streets here in Bavaria, I still am not that fully integrated yet…or maybe I am, but sometimes, I feel like I am feeling at home.A combination of these rollercoaster feelings.

I hate it here during the long winter months but I really love it here during Spring and Summer. I loved how good the roads are and how communting can be so easy and flexible, and yes, that everything adheres to punctuality. I loved that I can even worked from home during this Pandemic times ,do part time jobs and have a job security. I appreciate that women even can take longer maternity leaves to care for their babies and come back to their jobs.

I loved the fact that my child is growing up in a kid-friendly environment and we are surrounded with playgrounds and nature.Its even amazing that traveling becomes easy, and I don´t need to worry about cash when I get sick because of the good Health Insurance System here. I even got new vaccinations ( all for free!) since I came here.

Speaking of Not to scale scenarios, here in Bavaria, the tallest building ( a Tower or a Turm) actually that I have ever been to is the Olympic Tower in Munich and the Pfeifturm here in Ingolstadt, which is btw a former watchpost. The tallest building here in Bavaria is actually the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, reaching up to 259m.Actually, Frankfurt is the only city with lots of Skycrapers.Here in Germany, they try to preserved the German cultural heritage therefore the historical, Medieval and Renaissance skyline still dominates most of the old towns up to this day. It´s actually its unique charm.

There´s nothing compared walking into lovely, German old Town´s unique streets lined up with well-deserved architecture and rich history.

Exploring my own little town where not seeing “Skyscrapers” is actually also nice.The Architecture and landscape is so nice and very picturesque.
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The view deck from the interiors of the luxurious Al Hamra Towers in Kuwait

This is an absolute contrast to the former views that I have while living in Kuwait. Kuwait is a small city but it has skyscrapers and modern buildings. Quite a few are worthy to mention actually, just like my favorite-the Al Hamra Tower, the tallest building in Kuwait.It´s even named as one of the best inventions in 2011 by Times Magazine.After we left I´ve heard that there are more sleek buildings and modern architecture built.We´ve got used to the norm that modernity and functional aesthetics comes with beautiful modern buildings.

Speaking of malls, I haven´t seen quite comes close to the Avenues in Kuwait.It´s really a shopping mall with beautiful architecture.This mall itself is an attraction there.While here in Germany, shopping is like taking a leisure stroll in the inner city lined with authentic, unique shops.I haven´t really had that “mall feeling” even from our local Ingolstadt Village where “branded” marks have their boutiques and it´s already considered high end .I am not a shopaholic and into top end brands.I am more of the functional shopper–getting what I need and love to ogle some pretty nice things.Nowadays, a trip to the Greenhouse, Botanical gartdens and anything with plant shop is my thing.

But then I guess, “not to scale ” in Expat life also means that you perceive things depending on your taste.When you have seen beauty and therefore your standards have been set, then others can either comes to second or outweigh your preferences.

I prefer sightseeing in the beautiful streets where there are unique , wood-timbered houses looks like a fairy tale land.

But, looking through Kuwait from above made me realize that scale is really not important. Some things might quite look a bit odd, or lacking in proportion, but then, it embodies the urban presentation of the area.

Why would the local ladies dressed up to kill , heavily make-up on, nails are done and perfumed when they are covered in Abaya with only the eyes being shown , in stilettos and doing grocery shopping?”

Or why would most of the drivers love to speed up their cars, with children in front without seatbelt and with loud banging music?

Recently we came across a car and it´s driving a bit faster than allowed, with loud Arabic music in the background and then suddenly, I realized that I already made an assumption .They are absolutely Arabic ( doesn´t matter if they came from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or UAE; or even Kuwait) but when I´ve heard the word “Yalla , then I am sure I haven´t been wrong.

Was my mind programmed? or were my ears gotten used to these local behaviors?

I am sure I would probably recognized in a crowd that they are German,or coming from Bavaria if they say ” Servus, Grüs Gott! ” as well!

What do you loved the most in your city?

Wishing you all Happy Sunday and Stay safe.Tschüss.

Wordless Wednesday

Last day of Magic, Tschüss 2020

Year end reflections and slowly saying Tschüss to 2020

For the past months, the ony highlight in my days were my runs, and long nature walks. I am already happy when I am out from the house and did my usual rounds.These are the only things that helped me ( a lot!) to survived each day.I am not complaining, but then it is just the plain truth since there´s nowhere else to go.At least we have this luxury, in some places you either don´t have nature, or you are not allowed to get out, at least without restrictions.At the end of the day, I scroll down in my phone for my photo gallery, looking for scenic nature views I have seen, wondering if I have caught a nice one. I am sure the nice ones landed in this Blog, if not in social media, or sent to encourage a friend.

You see, nowadays, my destinations are quite limited to errands.Short trips to random supermarkets and Drogerie become a norm.Here in Germany, we call a shop for Toiletries and stuff Drogerie, die Drogerie, a place to get toothpaste, bio products, vitamins and other stuff.Well I can get them as well from Supermarkets, but as I said, a little side trip to the shop already makes our day.They are one of the few chosen shops allowed to stay open against the 2nd Lockdown here which will probably lasts until the 10, January. Aside from Bakeries, Pharmacies, Tankstelle ( or Gas Stations), we spend lots of outdoors in small forests, sometimes to parks, and more and morrrreeee walking. We´ve got to use our hiking shoes anyway…

In few hours, this year ends with silence and I guess most of us wants it to end, or we are still in denial that it happened? Hard to believed it, but yes, it´s all coming to an end. It will be a silent goodbye to 2020, more like a long overdue wish.No party celebrations, no fireworks, we could at least settle with few sparklers and a sip of wine, and of course, a bite into one of those Berliners—a beloved, tasty German tradition during New Year.Berliners are also known as Krapfen, or doughnuts.Most of them are stuffed with sweet marmalade inside. I usually prefer the one without, I find it too sweet.Sometimes I really missed some Crispy creme glazed doughnuts or even simple Silvanas. Too bad they don´t exist here in our place.

The last day of magic this year

Talking about supertitious traditions in New Year, back home , we always make sure that we have several round fruits in the table on New Years. Putting some apples, oranges, melons, pears, grapes and more in a round plate is seen in most household. They say it is a sign of good luck, as well as hanging some grapes in the door.We also wear something with dots, or polka dots.Doesn´nt matter even if its your underwear or so…as long as you´re wearing something with dots then you are bound to attract good fortune.

” Es ist nie zu spät, das Gesicht zur Sonne zu heben, Das darf man nie vergessen…”

( It is never too late to raise your face to the sun…you must never forget that…)

Here´s the last sunset that we´ve watch today in Silvester, the day before New Year here in Germany. My neighborhood becomes alive when the weather is good,minus side but sunny, it´s two days in a row now that we have amazing weather which means perfect day to take long walks.So we did that, and most people here did as well.The streets are full of families, runners, walkers, cyclists,passer-bys, and yes, children.Everone is out to enjoy some fresh air, for us, it´s the only thing that we looked forward before staying in to wait for the New Year.

One fine Silvester walk in 2020

I suddenly remember that my mother always told us to put some coins in our pockets and scatter coins in the floor. It should be that our pockets should have some money before the year changes.I really dont know if it works, I just kind of go through with the flow.Also, I never ever imagined that in my life, watching and feeding ducks could be such a therapeutic activity during lockdown.It was really beautiful watching the ducks and doves fight for food, for survival, in a cold winter morning.They both want the same thing,again,nature does its magic.

Just like most of us fighting to stay fit and healthy everyday, trying not to be sick this year was the constant battle we have fought all throughout the year.I think we have managed to surpass big hurdles and moving on and now, we are finally saying Goodbye to this year.It´s just right time to say Tschüss to 2020 now.

I don´t make New Year´s Resolutions but I am keen on making goals, little goals that I believe could make a big difference in my life as I grow older.I think my fellow friend nailed it with her snappy careful moves, wanting 21 Things to look forward in 2021.This made me eager for fresh starts and joyful beginnings.It never hurts to add excitement for every fresh start,don´t you think as well?

It really doens´t matter, a new book to read, a new hobby to start, or even a new painting, or old painting to finish….maybe a new language or sport to learn for next year…I guess its all in the attitude.

People that I´ve met here in my Blog are precious gems that made this journey worthwhile.People who took their time to read and leave their comments, people who were with me through months of no activity and hibernation but then the moment that I write again, they were still there,with a warm welcome.

I am grateful for the nostalgic, joyful family stories from the Rabbitpatch, the soulful,simple yet carefree living with one beautiful soul in snowmeltssomewhere,or travel more like the humble spirit of travelling in two wheels into theaters and Operas, or just enjoying more pretty skies and landscapes!

Those are the moments of the last day of Magic for year 2020…I would be lucky if I see the skies lit and fireworks glam the skies…Happy New Year everyone!

Take care and see you all in 2021…:-)

Romantic Road trip in Bavaria : Füssen

Strolling through the old Town of Füssen where we spotted the famous Stadtbrunnen, depicting St.Magmus defeating an evil.

Sun, sipping coffe in Cafe´s , street music, with a view of the Bavarian Alps!

That is the mood we´ve seen once we´ve entered the romantic old town of Füssen.Many people overlook the charm of this town, because mainly, people think of it only as a stop over when traveling to Neuschwanstein Castle in the nearby Höhenschwangau area. That was my thought before.I was totally mistaken. Your Romantic road trip and sightseeing will not be surely complete if you don´t see the hidden gems of this famous 700- year old town.

Fussen is also located on the scenic German Alpine Road which crosses Bavaria from Lake Constance in the west to Berchtesgaden in the east.We went to Füssen from Nesselwang after we visited Legoland Deutschland last week in Günzburg. We spent here an entire half day after we visited the Neuschwanstein Castle .It was a short, quick sightseeing, but then it was all worth to stop by. I wish we have more time to explore more but then, here are some of my impressions on this lovely town.

Just look at the architecture of the old town buldings, even the normal Apotheke ( or Pharmacy) is so detailed and intricately designed!

Beautiful Architecture in Füssen´s old town, the Stadt Apotheke

Like a normal old town in Germany, this tiny city is charming, and exquisitely adorned with old carvings, Bavarian themed wall paintings, carvings and Alpine decorations. This town is famous in Bavaria mainly because from here, it starts the exciting trails to the world famous Fairytale Castle of Ludwig II, the Neuschwanstein. If you´re driving, you might even have a lucky glimpse of the foothills and there you can already see the magnet of this town, the castle´s peaks! It was almost hard to find a parking area since the streets is packed with tourists but after a while, we found a spot right just before the entrance of the city.So a piece of advice, if you are heading to visit here , better be off early.

Mädchenbrunnen in Füssen

Walking through the old city allow us to see its quaint little nooks and corners filled with statues, Biergartens, restaurants, street musics and of course, Bavarian flair!Füssen is located north of the Austrian border,

When you´ve spotted something as beautiful as this, you´ve got to get inside. Füssen is very laid-back, comfortable and warm in Summer. Despite the Corona restrictions, people flocked in the streets to sip their coffee, hear some lovely street music and well, people watching!

I saw the strance to the Stadtmuseum and we checked out the innercourts and it was lovely!

Beautiful churches in Füssen (Hospital Church of Füssen)
Loving the great window details in this South Bavarian town
Idyllic wall carvings and paintings

We walked for about 15-20 minutes away from the city to find the Lechfall and we were not dissapointed. The moment that I hear the water gush from the Lech river, I knew something spectacular is somewhere near and we will not leave this city unless we see it.Take note that this is also another very touristy spot and there is not enough parking so the best way to reach this place is by walking.

Through the quiet streets, we finally arrived at Lechbach , a man made waterfalls and Gorge. Normally we have seen Gorges in the mountains, but here, it´s right in the city! Look at the pristine cystal clear-waters! It´s opaque Torquoise blue, so clear and so beautiful against the sun!

The Gorge itself is magical. It´s slate grey stone against the blue waters is really a delight to see. This Gorge is small so you can visit it within 10-15 minutes. You can choose to explore it a bit further, and go down to banks as well.Because of Corona, we decided not to blend in with the crowds and continue to just admire this nature from the bridge.

The man made waterfalls of the Lechbach in Füssen
The turquoise Oasis in Füssen, the Lech falls

Of course, the main attraction of this place is going through the Romantic Castles of King Ludwig II. Both the Neuschwanstein Schloss and Schloss Hohenschwangau is just within a few kilometers away from Füssen. The High Schloss (Höhe Schloss) of Füssen is also not to be missed!

The Fairytale Castle of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Schloss Neuschwanstein

If you are a nature lover, then Füssen will not dissapoint you. You can hike through the virgin mountains of Säuling, and do the Pöllatschlucht trail where you can see the Waterfalls that won King Ludwig´s heart.

Another thing that made me loved about this place is the Food! We dined in a classic Knight themed restaurant—the Ritterstuben, its like we´re taken to a Middleage era, where Ritter (Knights) and Castles are the new reality! If you are in Bavaria, you´ve got to sample the delectable Bavarian dishes!

We found this restaurant directly in the old town´s city square .Since its almost lunchtime, most restaurants were already full and we haven´t found a place to sit outsid. But then it was okay since we have the restaurant inside all to ourselves! Don´t forget that because of Corona virus,we need to wear masks, and we are asked to sign up with our contact details everytime we visit a restaurant.

The “Lautermacherbrunnen” in the old town city of Füssen

If you have more time to spent in Füssen, you can check out more of the hidden gems that this city offers here. What about another stop over in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to view another beautiful Gorge? The easiest way to reach Füssen is by car. It takes around 1 hour 40 minutes from Munich, 1 hour 25 from Innsbruck and 2 hours 30 from Zurich.

Until next time, Tschüss!

Neuschwanstein Castle: A Fairytale land in Bavaria

Schloss Neuschwanstein, a Fairytale castle in Bavaria

Defintely a dream come true for me.

Since I came here in Germany, I put this castle in my top Bucket list to see.I was bent on seeing as many castles and Palaces anyway, so I think I just hit one of my top pyramids! Schloss Neuswanstein is indeed beautiful,unforgettable, charming,and a place that you should see once in your lifetime!

Have you ever seen a place so beautiful that you just can´t believe if it really looks the same in real?

Neuschwanstein is like that. It is something to pursue. It was not an easy trip to go there,nor short. It takes time and difficulty to see something like this….but then it was all worth it.

From the moment I saw a glimpse of it, I was really excited. I am fidgeting from the moment we drive through the Castle roads and enter the parking area. I have been waiting for this for a long time and now I can´t believe that I just had a peek of its towers hidden from the trees. It´s dirty white towering peaks and slender towers looked so graceful against the sun, she looked so fragile, so beautifully hidden in the trees, right up there on top of Säuling mountain, surrounded with beautiful lakes and nestled on top, with twonderful views of the Bavarian Alps. I love everything about Schloss Neuschwanstein, no question about it. First, I even thought that it is not real castle and only a product of multimedia drawing. Now I understand why Walt Disney was inspired to use this castle for his Disneyland fairy tale Castle for Sleeping Beauty. He himself and his wife visited this castle before opening Disneyland in 1955. He also had to see it first and believe!

Neauschwanstein Castle, the Castle that survived 2 World Wars

Just look at it…even from a far its a dream to see!

I still actually can´t believe that finally I have seen it with my own eyes. The rumors were true and photos from Internet didn´t actually do justice. It is real and not just a tell-tale inspiration from a Disney movie.Everything about this Castle is beautiful, majestic, unbelievable, and unique.Thanks to one and only —King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

If you see Neuschwanstein, you will think about King Ludwig II.

I live in Bavaria (or Bayern), the southern part of Germany, the land of Lederhösen and Dirndls, where Beer is gold and home of some of the world´s finest cars, where Castles and Palaces are as many as Sausages.This region is the largest “Bundesland” in Germany so knowing about King Ludwig II came naturally for me.He was so young when he ascended to the throne as a King at the age of 18 and start to build Neuschwanstein at age of 23.Bavaria is full of remembrance of him. Streets, Halls, Restaurants, churces, schools, Libraries,etc…all attributed to him.

One thing; He loves to build over the top, and beautiful things—and Neuschwanstein is his masterpiece.

He has a magnificent taste and vivid artistic imagination. He is not an engineer or an Architect but he had for sure a clear vision. Some called him Märchenkönig ( Fairytale King), and the Swan King, but then yes, He is born to rule Bavaria, he has noble blood, and he surely want a beautiful place to spent the rest of his life.His life did not have a” happily-ever-after” ending, since he died in a tragic way, but then He managed to left his legacy. He allowed us to enter into his dreamworld.the world he created where we can visit now.

Some call hime crazy, lunatic, eccentric King of Bavaria, but imagine if its not for him, then there would be no Neuschwanstein Castle to this day.

Just imagine that...

New Swan Stone Castle ( or Neuschswanstein)

Now I know why this place is definitely the number 1 tourist destination in Germany, (apart from Oktoberfest) and of course to the whole world!Every year, approx. 1,3 million people visited this castle in a year.More than 61 Million people already visited this castle since it was opened after King Ludwig´s death in 1886.We visited this castle in late Summer, so I know how it really looks with all the crowds. Despite the Pandemic, it´s unbelievable that as many as 6,000 thousand tourists a day rushed to see this beauty especially in summer season.

Even Corona virus cannot stop people from seein this beautiful castle!

Enough said, Neuschwanstein offers the majestic views of the German Alps.Perched on the top of lush greens of Säuling hilly landscape, it offers a panoramic views that can make anybody realize how beautiful the nature in this area.It creates an enigma, it can be mesmerizing to just gaze upon.

This photo I took while we are hiking through the Pöllat Gorge ( Pöllat Waterfalls). It was not an easy hike but looking at this castle above me kept me going.

It is crazy that this castle is as big as 65,000 square feet,but then it is built intended to be King Ludwig´s home.He wanted to live here, and make this place as his holy retreat ground, his dreamworld. It is even ironic that it has a Throne Hall inside, but then there is no throne at all.

Majestic views from the Marienbücke, the Höhenschwangau Palace, the Alpsee and the beautiful valley of Schwangau and Füssen, with the Alps in the background.
King Ludwig II certainly chosed an idyllic location for his Fairytale Castle.

I was really thinking why did he choose this location to built Neuschwanstein.But then, I know he has good reasons…just look at the views! and we know that it´s not only because of the views.

Probably this castle is his ultimate realization of his imaginary kingdom…

He was born in Nymphenburg Palace in Münich which is another beautiful Palace, with nice gardens. He spent most of his childhood in Höhenschwangau Palace, in Schwangau, near Füssen, in Southwest Germany. From Höhenschwangau Palace, you can view the Neuschwanstein , and same as the other. This palace serves as his family´s summer residence. It´s no wonder he got fond of the idyllic surroundings of the lush green Alpine foothills, Pöllat Gorge ( Pöllat Waterfalls) and the turquoise waters of the Alpsee, and the large Forgensee Reservoirs.

The Neuschwanstein Castle, the renowned 19th century Romanesque Revival castle, inspired by German Knights and Castle.
A lovelock attached to the historical Bridge over a Waterfall, the Marienbrücke ( Queen Mary´s Bridge)

King Ludwig even built a bridge named after his Mother, Queen Mary of Prussia, the Marienbrücke. This bridge is very important, its like a gateway to enter a dream of fairy tale that He created. Nowadays, this bridge is a place where people like me can see from a far that this castle is a work of man, nestled in a sacred sanctuary of the mountains and surrounded by the glory of Alps.This is one of the best locations to take postcard worthy pictures of the castle.Imagine that in Summer, thousands of people stand in awe in this bridge just to admire this castle.

On our visit last week, we viewed this castle with a mask, we walked through this bridge and forget for a moment about the scare of the virus and just felt thankful that we are still alive, and blessed to see such sights!

Neuschwanstein is on top, literally and figuratively.It´s the Number 1 Tourist Magnet in Bavaria, and in Germany.

If you ever wondered how does it look inside, then here is a sneak peek and more details how the interiors were built.

This place is indeed an escape from reality. It´s a great monument where dreams of one man became to life. It depicts the life story of a one man, a King who became engrossed with musicals, theater, poetry , opera and myths, but then created something that lives up up to this day. You can never avoid thinking about King Ludwig II once you´ve seen Neuschwanstein.It is impossible.

Neuschwanstein made me realized that Fairy tales, knights in shining armor, kings and queen, and horse driven gold carriages are tiny bits of dreams made into reality.During these crazy times of Pandemic, where the scare of Corona virus is larger than life itself, seeing this place made me feel grateful, hopeful and at least reassured, that there´s still more to this life. That the beauty of nature is healing, and one man can do great things. Despite the Corona restrictions, we had the chance to see this beautiful dream...even for one day…

I am sure this won´t be the last time that we will visit this Castle…

Chasing Castles and Ruins

A hidden gem, the Burg Eltz in Rhineland Palatinate

Do you love castles?

I grew up dreaming of it and hoping that I see some in my lifetime. The moment that I moved in Germany, this dream have became somewhat reachable, and doable.See, we don´t have much palaces and castles from where I grew up, and in Kuwait where I also short-lived, there´s not much royalty castles to visit, although there is the Bayan Palace, the grand palace and official residence for the Amir of Kuwait. I see it everyday on my commute to work but I never had the chance to explore inside. I remember as a child, I normally build castles out of sands from the beach and for me, those are awesome.

Anyway, in a short period of time that I am living here in Bavaria, I have discovered (some ) castles and ruins that are worth sharing. If you´re in the vicinity, you might try to visit them. Actually, its not easy for me to visit castles and ruins, given that I have a young child with me that easily gots bohred in closed places! With that in consideration,it´s actually not her “ playground” and she cannot run around especially when there are things bound to break . We avoid the long tours and we always take her into consideration whenever we have the chance to visit and explore one.A child easily gets bored and most castles have steep stairs, dark, and somewhat eerie for a child.Nevertheless, the display of Knights and royal mementos can somewhat amaze a young visitor!

Germany is definitely a land of castles, and ruins. There´s plenty of it that its hard to choose which one is the better than the renowned Neuschwanstein and the long list of other beautiful ones! What I found so interesting is that most castles in Germany are built in strategic locations—either on top of a mountain, hill, on a cliff, or to something of a hidden route.In most castles that we´ve seen, we always need to climb up, trek and do some hiking before we where there.It requires an effort but good thing most of them are accessible even to handicapped persons. Mainly because practically, they are built for defensive purposes, and yes, they are a symbol of power during Medieval times!

I can only share a few which we visited but I still have a long list of castles that I really love to see someday. Some castles have been well maintained, but then some are totally left in ruins.Anyway, let´s get acquainted with different German terminologies regarding Castles. You might find this very helpful why they have so many names about it where the rest of the world only refers to it as “castles“.

This view awaits after the hike to explore the ruins of Rabenstein Castle , the oldest of the three castles .Once you reached this far, you will have a magnificent view of the main Danube canal, Altmühl valley and the Prunn Castle from a far.
On top of the ruins of Rabestein Castle in Riedenburg, in the vicinity of Altmühltal valley in Bavaria
Not only Kings and Queen lives in a Palace, also Knights in shining Armor.

In Germany, we have “Burg” (Castle) which means strong, fortified buildings. Then we have” Schloss ” where a certain Royal family lives, a king or Queen have lived here. Schloss can also mean a large Manor House where noble families lives.” Festung” is Fortress, which by the name denotes means a fortified ,large and secured castle.It is normally surrounded with walls and built up on high place.

The first castle that I´ve seen and made me developed this quest is Burg Eltz located in West Germany, in Rhineland-Palatinate. I travelled here with my 1 year old daughter way back then. I love the mystery it holds, right upon the first time I ever saw it. It is well tucked in the middle of the forest and getting there is really something.This castle dates from 12th century.It is very well maintained and the tour inside is impecabble.This castle has been owned by the Eltz family. Location wise, it is a very beautiful castle.It looks so romantic, and really brings you back to Medieval times!I am glad I was able to see its 850 years of history! It´s not surprising that it is considered as a German treasure since it is once featured in a 500 DM note from 1961-1995! Writing this makes me dream again of seeing it once again.Here´s my fairytale trip in Burg Eltz.

Here in Bavaria, southern part of Germany, Schloss Prunn is known to be the jewel of Riedenburg, the heart of Altmühl valley. Prunn Castle is one the best preserved Knight castle in Bavaria.It is located 70 meters above the Altmühl valley so its famous for a wonderful panoramic views.We visited this castle during Corona times , we were the only guest inside the castle since we were early to avoid the crowds.The view from above is amazing!

On top of the mountain sits the ruins of Burg Randeck.
The neighborhood of Knights ( Burg Randeck)
Panoramic views of Altmühltal valley

After Burg Prunn, we drive in the vicinity of Essing to check out the ruins of Burg Randeck.This is another lovey area within the Altmühl valley where we see well preserved bridges.Burg Randeck is a well preserved castle ruins known to be ” Robber Knight´s nest ” which is now owned by Essing Market.Burg Randeck provides us once again with a marvelous views of the nature valley of Altmühltal.The ssuspension bridges against the blue green rivers are sights not to be missed as well as the quaint little town of Essing. Make sure to climb up the ruins up to the Castle dungeon and Hunger tower because it will reward you with breathtaking views especially on a clear sunny day.

My everday view, our very own New Castle here in Ingolstadt, here shown on the background photo from Klenzepark.
Falcon show at Schloss Rosenberg ( Falkenhof)

Another fascinating castle in the vicinity of Altmühltal valley is Schloss Rosenberg also known as Falkenhof.This is another castle situated high ridge of the Altmühl valley.We had a unique experience of seeing the Falcon show where we see amazing art of training Falcons, eagles and owls.There is an outstanding Museum about the history of Falcontry,as well as birds of prey and other local wildlife.

We did another hike and explohre another ruins which really took us by surprise.The ruins of the Rabenstein Castle is located on a mountain slope near Rosenberg.The trek was narrow but then the views are very beautiful, this ruins is from a small medieval castle, probably from the 12th century, and is the oldest of the three castle complexes in Riedenburg. It is believed that the builders were the Rabensteiners, since an Albert von Rabenstein was mentioned in a document in the 13th century.What is amazing is that we saw Burg Prunn and the quaint town of Riedenburg.

On a cycling tour to chase some castles in Neuburg an der Donau with this one!

We did a 23 km cycling tour to Neuburg an der Donau and here we saw “Jagdschloss Grünau“. The Grünau Castle is located about 7 kilometers east of Neuburg an der Donau and is in between the largest forest in Central Europe.This castle is an example of early Renaissance architecture.the Wittelsbach Count Palatine Ottheinrich had it builht as a proof of his love for his wife Susanna.It was originally built as a moated castle, but the trenches have now been silted up.

Grünau´s castle´s impressive Facade

Also in Neuburg an der Donau is another beautiful palace called Residenzschloss Neuburg.Some parts of it were under renovation during our visit but then there are so many highlights to be seen including the inner courtyard.This palace is an important early Renaissance building built by Count Palatine Ottheinrich from 1530 to 1545.The palace chapel is the oldest churh building in Bavaria and the Frescoes were done by Hans Bocksberger.The castle courtyard is equipped with a sgraffiti facade, which shows scenes from the Old Testament by Hans Schroer (after 1555).

Beautiful Frescoes in the Rezidenzschloss Neuburg
The beautiful town of Neuburg an der Donau

We made a daytrip and went to visit the Imperial Castle in Nuremberg. The historical “Kaiserburg” also known as the the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg is the most important symbol of Nuremberg. Though this city was heavily bombed from WW II, the city has restored most of its iconic structures including this castle. Just like any other castle, this castle holds an important part of history. This castle is in fact one of the most important fortresses in the whole of Germany and was first mentioned in 1105. From 1050 to 1571, all holy Roman Emperors resided in this castle. One of the largest and most modern youth hostels in Germany is located in one of the former Imperial stables.

The tower of Nuremberg Imperial Palace against the blue skies in Bayern.

Hiking this palace with a stroller is quite tough.It can be challenging gainst the warm summer so if you want to explore this with children, better to schedule your trip wisely.The views from above is worth the effort.

Nuremberg Castle

Notable things to check on in this Xastle is the Deep Well . The well house is located in the center of the outer Bailey. The shaft of the well was hewn into the rock to a depth of 47 meters. A highlight of the visit is also the round Sinwell Tower (“sinwell” Middle High German = very round), which was built as a keep for the Imperial Castle in the 2nd half of the 13th century; the topmost storey and the interior wooden roof construction were built in the 1560s.More about this Castle will be found on my separate Post about Imperial Castle Nuremberg.

Our very own Neues Schloss in Ingolstadt. Here standing like a magical palace beneath the snow during Winter.

Of course how can I forget about our very own New Castle located here in Ingolstadt.New Castle (Neues Schloss) is propably one of the most important Gothic secular buildings here in Bavaria.Now it is the home of the Armee Museum in Bavaria. One of the worthwhile things to see is the ray of unique Cannons with lion heads.

How about you, when was the last time you´ve been in a castle?As for me, I love castles, but not fairytales. I think we can never be royals, but then we can visit Palaces and Castles

Until next time on our new Expat adventures! Bleib gesund, stay healthy and Tschüss!