Free Bird | Transient

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I am a free bird just having a pit stop for another adventure

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see
But, if I stayed here with you, girl
Things just couldn’t be the same
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you can not change

{ Free Bird // Lynyrd Skynyrd}

I love this song, it’s an oldie but goodie and I thought that it goes perfect with this photo I took from our trip in Nürnberg last weekend. We were waiting for the Dolphin show and we saw these small birds kept on perching on the rocks in front of us. Eager as they seemed to be, but nonetheless a wonderful sight. From time to time they wait for little children to feed them, but with a blink of an eye, they are gone, off to their new destination. Indeed there are too many places to see, too little time, but with the free bird, it’s just one pit-stop to another adventure!

This post is inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge | Transient

Kaiserburg Nürnberg ( Imperial Castle )

 

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The Sinwell tower of the Kaiserburg ( Imperial Castle) in Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany

I love everything about castles!

For an asian like me, I think castles are symbolic emblem of  magical kingdom and it is such an adventure to get to know the stories behind each castle .Just like any enthusiast, every castle is unique and the architecture is unfathomable.It always excites me but considering the heavy ” historical stuff ” that goes with any castle exploration, I love the fact that I get to know a place through these landmarks.I can still remember my delight when I saw the Burg Eltz in Wierschem.  

It was  one fairy tale trip as I explored the castle while I wear my daughter in my chest. This time it was another adventure with the toddler on the loose. After an exhausting morning at the Tiergarten, we find ourselves wandering along the city center towards the street that directly heads to the castle grounds. But to explore any castle, it’s always include a steep climb, a hike, or a strenuous walk to get into the top. It is impossible to push the stroller up while she’s in so  I just let her climb, strut, and toddle up. It was hot, and the cobbled stones makes it even more difficult, but then, there’s no way we give up.

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Up in the castle offers a panoramic view of the city where I sighted the towers of St. Lorenz church, Frauenkirche and other important landmarks of 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.

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The Sinwell Tower as seen from the castle grounds
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Echanting Nuremberg

After seeing this, I marveled at the charm of Nuremberg and I was deeply impressed by its beauty. This place is an incredible city. It’s a big metropolis where the defining moments of German history took place. This castle is perched on a hill which really gave me a great view and the tour information was just adequate to provide any tourist the information about Nuremberg during Medieval times. I’m so glad that despite the heat, the weather is perfect for us to appreciate this castle. If you have time and with only 7 Euros entrance fee, you can learn so much more about its history and the Museum inside the castle is something to satisfy your curiosity.

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The Wellhouse and the Bath House

If you live in Germany like me, well there can’t be too many castles, because in real life, they are sprouting like mushrooms. Some in the middle of the forest, some on a high hill, mountain or in the banks of the river, some are just there, a few stones throw in a city just like the Kaiserburg in Nürnberg.I read an interesting excerpt about this castle’s history HERE.

The castle and the city served as the location for numerous imperial assemblies. From 1356 on the “Golden Bull” of Emperor Charles IV provided that every newly elected future ruler must hold his first imperial Diet in Nuremberg. Moreover, from 1424 the imperial regalia were safely kept in Nuremberg. Nuremberg was a very popular residence for the rulers in the age of the itinerant kingships and up until the 30 Years’ War it was the central location of the empire.

Some of the notable sites that we’ve seen in this Castle are the following;

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Deep Well and Sinwell Tower

The Deep Well is spectacular. 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.

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Beautiful gable roofs and the important landmarks seen from above the castle.

 

Magnificent View over the City Imperial Castle Museum

Who says you need to pay a lot for a magnificent view?

If given the chance, I always love to see a city from above. A view like this from the castle is always worth of the sweat. From the observation platform of the Sinwell Tower at a height of 385 meters , you can also have a panoramic view of the entire city of Nuremberg just like this!

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Wandertag in Nuremberg’s Imperial castle.

Imperial Castle Museum

In the Kemenate, (a building with residential and work rooms heated by fireplaces or later stoves) the Germanisches Nationalmuseum presents the historical role and the changing tasks of the Nuremberg Imperial Castle. Finds from archaeological digging, ornamental architectural elements, models and reconstruction sketches illustrate the history of this important site.

If you are planning to visit Nuremberg this summer and would like to visit this castle, make sure to take note of the following especially if you have a child , pets with you or with elderly people;

There is a lift to the Knights’ Hall in the Palas; all other rooms in the Imperial Castle can only be reached via stairs.

The inner castle courtyard is accessible for wheelchair users.

At the entrance to the Deep Well there is one step to be negotiated.

Castle Gardens: Access via 3 steps, apart from that no difficulties.

Maria Sibylla Merian Garden: Access via 5 steps.

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My Little Wanderer in the castle grounds !

Dogs are not allowed inside the castle (also Deep Well and Sinwell Tower) and in the gardens (Castle Garden and Maria Sibylla Merian Garden). They may be taken on leads into the castle courtyard.

When was the last time you’ve explored a castle? How was your experience?

As for the other charm of this castle, I leave you to explore it by your own eyes.

 

Stay tuned for more of my stories about our trip to Nürnberg. Happy Monday and wishing you all a great day!

Hey, If you are in Instagram, make sure to follow my Instagram to see our Expat life in photos  here in Bavaria and have a look at my personal Artworks and Aquarelle paintings HERE.

 

 

 

The Heat is ON in Bavaria

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32 degrees today! What Summer feels in Bavaria

This is the real thing now, the heat is ON in Bavaria !

What Summer fun are you engaging now?

Nevermind  the plague of Wasps and bee season, summertime is finally here and in Bavaria, in my old little city, everyone is just feeling ecstatic of the fine summer breeze, or rather, toasty winds since we have 32 degrees now!

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A very inviting Lake where we had picnic and splash. This is just one of our pit-stop from our cycling en-route (35kms) .

Have you seen summer flowers yet? They are blooming, giving us perfect backdrop for outdoors. From our garden to the nearby parks, summer flowers can be so exotic just like the Echinops Ritro!

I came to Germany last Summer, and I’m telling you, this season is probably the best season to enjoy Bavaria. To make the most of beautiful nature, lots of sun and water fun is essential. This week we have temperatures ranging from 18~32 degrees C . With this we have all the reason to spend time outside given the favors of so many holidays. Staying in when the weather  is perfect as this  is  definitely a S-I-N. Generally, Germans, or the typical Bavarians, adore the sun. Soaking up under the sunshine until the last ray of the sun until 9 o’clock at night. You can see them  sunbathing in the banks of the river Danube, lying in the grass in the parks, or just right in their balconies.

With the kick-off of the festival season, the Spring Pfingstenvolkfest,  Die Welt is bunt, Bürgerfest, and strawberry season, it feels like summer arrived early since we have a very sunny spring. I have written countless times that from the moment the day breaks, people here are out, (including US!) and ready to explore— and yes, with their dogs, clad in outdoor clothing, in their bicycles, with their walking sticks, off to the lake, and drinking beer in the bier garten promptly at 10 a.m on weekends!

So here I wanna share with you some of the fascinating things  about ‘Summer Feels ‘ here in our region. Whether you are just visiting tourist or a local, sure thing that you don’t wanna miss out on these activities!

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We do BBQ like the German way!

Grillsaison ( or Grilling season)

Summer is not complete without BBQ and Germans really take their grilling to the highest level! You know its summer when you breathe in the smell of BBQ in almost every house on a fine weekend. Since we have 9pm sunsets, this is a perfect way to bond. Be it in an open park, garden or in the tiny balconies of apartments, German take their grilling time seriously. Months before summer starts, we are flooded with different kinds of grill paraphernalia, from the garden tents, lounging seats, and yes, ‘the meat and wurst‘. About 70% of Germans have BBQ every  weekend and its typical to see a grill machine in every garden. Pack a picnic, a mat and  head to the lake, throw a piece of sausages ( wurst) and meat cuts into the charcoal grill and drink beer. This spells the perfect “Gemutlichkeit “or what the Dutch called “Gezelligheid” .

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The Grillsaison has finally begun!

Poppy fields  and wild flowers everywhere!

When summer time comes, in between wheat fields and every single empty space is filled with this fragile reddish-orange wild Poppy flowers. When I run and cycle, I can’t help but to stop and just be amazed by how  these simple wild bulbs can change the whole neighborhood and the way I feel. Sure, Tulips are my favorite flowers , but then there’s something about a field covered in Summer poppy blooms. It looks so calm, peaceful and so pretty!

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Close up encounter with red Poppy flowers last week when I was cycling.

 Eis Eis Baby! 

Who doesn’t like Ice Cream?

Ice cream parlors and shops are finally open here since late Spring. On warm, sunny days, there’s even a huge line outside. You really need to sweat out first before you enjoy their wide selection of Eis ( ice cream). My daughter is crazy about the richly flavored popsicles and ice pops which comes out in watermelon, kaktus, and yogurt ice cream. One is not enough, eating ice cream is definitely a threat we always enjoy during summer especially after we are all sweaty from cycling around.

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Eis Eis Baby!

Make sure to eat “spaghetti eis”: We promise it’s only a stupid name. This concoction is really just a strawberry ice cream sundae with vanilla “noodles” and strawberry sauce with white chocolate flakes standing in for the cheese. Guten Appetit!

Sunbathing in a make-believe beach!

This is the photo of the Donaustrand, a place made to look like a beach beside the river. It is the platform located in front of the river Danube and facing the New Castle. During summer, this place is a magnet for Germans and all outdoor lovers to enjoy a relaxing time, especially during sunset. This is a place a for  open-air concerts and the ” Live Orchestra Nights” where you can enjoy live music, drinking with friends, and lounging in recliners and sunbathing like you are in the beach .This is such a cozy place.

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A shot I took while lounging in the Donaustrand and enjoying sunset drinks.

Hanging out your clean laundry outside

There is nothing like the smell of clean laundry, hung out to soak up the fresh air. Hang out your sheets before the drying racks take over your apartment for the winter.We have a huge space in the garden and I just love how the sun do wonders on the sheets! I love this since it really saves time from tedious long cycles of drying. Natural is always better!

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Skinny dipping in some lake

Skinny dipping and baring it All !

Oh yes, Germans are very liberal and no-nonsense people when it comes to nudity. In some lakes, there are areas which are particularly allotted for “nudist”. Here, people are no hang-ups in baring it all and soaking up the sun from dawn to dusk.Germans think nothing of stripping to sunbathe. They do it on beaches, by lakes, and in heavily frequented urban parks. It’s very common to see unclothed people on regular park lawns or topless on balconies. Germany is one of the few places in the world where naturism occurs not just in secluded areas, but in the heart of major cities. German-style public nudity, known as Freikörperkultur (or “free body culture,” and usually shortened to FKK), dates back to the 19th century; it’s not just an activity, but a culture intended to reshape behavior.

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Pack a picnic and your mat and head on to the secluded fresh lakes!

For some people who are not into this and for families with children, there are lots of areas in the lakes for them to swim.We love to discover lakes where my daughter loves to play and here, they are just plentiful!

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Running through the Lake with this view.

Fitness everyday

In summer, I see a lot more people getting active and staying fit. People do things “manually” and live more. They love to do things by themselves. Mowing the lawn, tidying up their garden, people here loves to do things—no maids or house helpers! People run and cycle no matter what the time and temperature. They walk more and use the car less as much as possible. With abundant jogging areas, nature can be best enjoyed while getting fit. Germans adore the  “pig”and heavy pork-lovers, but even if they sit in the Biergarten everyday and eat sausages, seems that they don’t get fat! Everyone looks so impeccably fit.

Summer Cocktail Drinks

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PROST!!!

It is very typical to see bunch of people hanging around in the lake, or in the park enjoying a nice picnic and sharing summer cocktails. Of course, the beer is always the easiest way to create a cozy gathering but cool drinks and smoothies are always something pretty special. When it comes to picnics, Germans can be proud of their lifestyle!

What about you, what do you love to do during summer?

There are more on this post so I think I will make a post #2! Stay tuned.

Walking on a frozen lake

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

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

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

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Lazy sunday walks is perfect on a frozen lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

99 Names of God | Grand Mosque in Kuwait

The dome of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait is probably one of the most beautiful things created by man and the architecture influenced by Islamic faith in Kuwait.This unforgettable sight is also the center of this mosque (masjid al- kabeer ) and contains the 99 Names of God written around it.The dome of the mosque is 26 metres (85 ft) in diameter and 43 metres (141 ft) high, and is decorated with the Asma al-hosna.

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Dome of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait where the 99 Names of God is written.

According to tradition (hadith) there are 99 names of God in Islam, known as the ʾasmāʾu- llāhi l-ḥusnā (Arabic: أسماء الله الحسنى‎‎) “Beautiful Names of God” (also أسماء الحسنى asmāʾu-l-ḥusnā “Beautiful Names”).

I have made hundreds of photos in my 4 times visiting this Mosque together with my family and friends and each time, I always find so many notable architecture details worth mentioning. Now, as I remember my Expat days back then in Kuwait and exploring the local sightings, the Islamic touch always fascinates me, totally unforgettable .

What about you, what kind of local attractions attracts you the most?

This post is in response to this week’s DP photo challenge |Names

Winter Wonderland in Austria

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My first view of the Alps from the Zugspitz Arena,in Ehrwald, Tirol

“Powdery snow, sunshine, and the Zugspitze mountain–these three words describe my first Winter Wonderland holiday experience in Austria!”

Last week, my little family went for our first holiday for 2017  in Austria. We thought that it’s a great chance to escape for a while and have a family getaway since here in Bavaria ,we have 2 weeks for the Christmas break and we are really itching to go on a short trip. It’s my first winter wonderland experience and what an experience it was! I was so excited to welcome the new year and to go on this trip to finally see the Alps and seeing it for the first time was really overwhelming. Arriving in Ehrwald,the biggest village, where we start our adventure gave us a chance to see the quaint life and culture in this small Tyrolian village in the Wetterstein mountain chain in the area of the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena.

The Alps has an unforgettable beauty, and now I knew why my husband spent most of his childhood holidays here. It has for sure a different charm during Summer, Spring and Fall, but seeing the Alps in Winter is so breath-taking!

The highlights of our trip was our trip going up to the Ehrwalder Almbahn where my 2 year- old daughter & I rode the cable car up to the mountains and had magnificent views up in the ski resort. We stroll along the villages of Ehrwald ,Lermoos and Biberwier and watch the Austrian life goes by. There has been lots of playtime in the snow, sight-seeing,tasting the local food. We had the adventurous hiking trail as we explored the nearby villages. Trekking & hiking in the winter wonderland here in Tiroler Zugspitze Arena brought a new height to my Wandertag where I saw glittering lakes and glowing springs. With a toddler on tow, we are limited on some activities since she is too young  but we managed to enjoy each day! The sight of horses, donkeys and goats,even Alpacas is something that we never expected to see but it was there. We’ve met wonderful people, and created lots of memories.

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Zauberhafter Winter in Austria

Our trip from Ingolstadt to Ehrwald up to Biberwier offers a lot of majestic views and I thought that the trip was even short, maybe because I was too engrossed admiring the views. As as soon as we reached our Pension House in Biberwier, the sight of this Winter Wonderland gets into my system further more. I inhaled the crisp winter air and feasted my eyes on all the foreign things around me, the landscape,which shows natural beauty of nature. The people, the scenery, the flow of life in the village, and the coziness of the place made our trip worthwhile. We had a smooth 3.5 hours train travel and my daughter was the best jet setter travel buddy. She behaved so well in the train, she played, took her nap and enjoyed the train views as well.  It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon when we arrived and I was even more glad that we have a nice weather to welcome us in Austria.The weather suddenly changed on the following day and  did not expect the heavy snowfall which made us cancel our planned trip to go up the peak of the Zugspitze. It was snowing heavily that it become hard for us to push the stroller in the knee-deep snow and winds and it’s not a great day to enjoy the views up there.

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Another glimpse of the Alps from our room in Gästehaus Panorama in Biberwier in Tirol

Even if you don’t plan to ski or do winter sports, a trip to this place offers so much. Nature has so much wonder that this place is heaven for a nature lover like me. The local Tourism Center has a daily program of activities for all visitors to enjoy.The Alps is simply  breathtaking ,with all the trees covered in snow  on its bottom, and the valleys covered in whiteness is something that I did not expect to see. The shadow cast of the sun is so magical that I could stare at it for hours. One of the unforgettable experience I had is watching the sunset here. The sun slowly goes down and cast a magical brownish shade against the pine trees. I watched it with glee.

 

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View from our room in the Pension house in Biberwier

The views from our room are totally priceless. I am so glad that we have stayed in Gästehaus Panorama where we have a panoramic view  every single day! The mountains are calling us, the nearby Marienberg ski resort, and the winter wonderland valley sights brought us beautiful mornings each day. We literally woke up, ate, lounge, and sleep with this view! It’s all like a dream.Watching the snow fall each night is so magical, like a chapter of a book that you don’t want to put down.

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Winter wonderland in Tirol, Austria

I never imagined that winter could be this beautiful. On a sunny day, the snow glistened like diamonds against the bright sun. Now I know why you need to wear your shades especially when you are up in the mountain where everything is just covered in snow.The pine trees are standing so pretty with its thick snow covering its leaves, just like what I imagined it to be. Travelling with a toddler in a cold, freezing, winter wonderland here in Zugspitze Arena is possible and a trip that I would recommend to any family.

Also, what a coincidence that today was my first (1 YEAR)  year anniversary with WordPress. It’s been a year when I registered and created this Blog and thought that this post is just timely to celebrate a year of fruitful writing my Expat life and sharing with you here. For my followers,thank you all for being with me here and reading my posts!

Stay tuned for more posts of our holiday in Austria!