It’s been a little bit quiet around here lately on the blog front. My apologies. On the life-front however, it’s been quite the opposite. After a bit of a slump I’ve embraced a change of mindset and have immersed myself in positive changes and experiences:
I explored London with good friends from Sydney, escaped to the idyllic island of Limnos in Greece, spent afternoons along the Isar in Munich, started an amazing new job with perhaps the coolest team ever(!!), spent a weekend in Düsseldorf, watched a couple exchange sacred vows at the Wasserschloss (palace surrounded by water) of Nordkirchen, and enjoyed a last taste of summer for the year as I soaked in the Spanish sun in Fuerteventura (with abovementioned cool team).
While it may just sound like a lot of travelling – and indeed it was enough – I allowed myself the time to recalibrate, refocus and re-embrace my mojo. Amen to that.
After the warm days, the rainy days and the upside-down days of summer, the Oktoberfest sunshine and the confusion that is early autumn, we now find ourselves in the zone of golden days – a pocket of time between the last (sticky) Bierbank from the Oktoberfest is packed away and friends begin to huddle around the Christmas stands clutching mugs of Glühwein with fingerless gloves. These golden days parade the beauty of warmer days passed and at the same time serve as a warning for the grey winter skies ahead.
Mornings are crisp but warm enough to enjoy the empty streets without frostbite.
The brigade of quilted-jacket-clad commuters catch glimpses of golden rays before making their way to their desks.
Greedy squirrels, scurry, scavenge and spring from tree branches with cheeks full of nuts.
Clear blue skies end with firey-skied evenings.
And this is what hits me the most about this time of year – the unbelievable beauty of these pre-winter skies. In the brief moment following day break you’ll see the grey skies open to reveal psychedelic streams of purple, orange, red – signaling a cloudless, turquoise day to come.
I’ve always, and most probably always will be, fascinated by the many personalities of the sky. For me it is a realm of endless possibilities, it is at the same time simple and complex, spiritual, influential, and with all its pleasantness has the potential to cause inconceivable disaster.
And although the clocks tell us how close winter really is, take a second to look around. This moment is enchanting and breathtaking – but if you stay in bed too long, can be too easily missed.
Inspired by the gorgeous weather last weekend we took a drive to Andechs, just south of Munich. After admiring the impressive Cathedral grounds which sits perched upon the Andechs “Berg” (where they even brew their own beer), we headed along the pilgrim trail towards Ammersee in Hersching.
Despite the foot traffic the route was calming, with streams of sun weaving itself through gaps in the forest around us and of course the sound of running streams in the background. We arrived at the promenade along Lake Ammersee at the perfect moment – just as the autumn sun reared itself towards the horizon, drenching the icre-cream eating crowds in a deep golden light. I was in peace – the light creating a feeling of serenity – a perfect way to feel on Sundays.
And without a doubt the Biergarten crowd and I were on the same page…
I’m still searching for an explanation for this golden phenomenon but for the moment I’m happy to just accept it and appreciate every beautiful day (especially when it falls on the weekend) as it comes.
Before moving to Germany, my knowledge of German food consisted of popular items found on the menu of Sydney’s Löwenbräukeller (pronounced Low-en-brow in Australia, and Looe-ven-broi in German) – schnitzel, sausages, pork knuckle and sauerkraut. As a self-professed ‘foodie’ (as they say) I would often watch Maeve O’Mara’s Food Safari and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and was interested enough to listen to my mum’s tips to know that in general Germans love a good apple cake, a potato could accompany most meals and German bread was an art form.
As with most cultures, German cuisine offers a variety of specialties across the country – there are the North-Sea ‘prawns’ (Nord See Krabben) from the north, the filled donuts (Krapfen / Berliner Ball) from the east, the interesting combination of mash potato, apple puree and blood sausage that is ‘Himmel und Erde’ from the west and the white sausage (Weißwurst) of the south.
A grey blanket hangs above.
Autumn’s leaves have fallen, exposing the bare trees.
Days are dark, dreary and cold.
Constant drizzle, rain and the first snow flakes fall.
Passengers wait for trains, their hands jammed into pockets.
Living in Germany, which I assume would be similar to living in other European countries, means experiencing the changes in season. Along with distinct patterns in weather throughout the year, one sees nature and natural life move through its annual life cycle. Growing up in Australia, and in Sydney in particular, this was a little different. Summers are harsh, winters are mild, rain can occur at any time and one always needs a backup plan because basically anything goes (from what I hear, this week hasn’t been too pleasant at all). Sydney sees its autumn beauty but changes are just a little less obvious overall, which makes me notice my surroundings here even more.
Our firm hosted a ‘sales and marketing day’ last week for the all employees in the Munich office to ‘promote talent and opportunities across service lines’ – i.e. a means to justify a large celebration.
Lured by a night out for a pre-Oktoberfest party (and informative workshops of course) I accepted the invitation. In preparation for the event, the invitation described:
Dresscode Dre Dresscode sowohl für die Tages – als auch die Abendveranstaltung ist Tracht, bayerischer Landhausstil oder Casual. (The dresscode for both the day-time and evening event is Tracht (Dirndl / Lederhosen), Bavarian country estate style or casual).
Putting aside my Greek heritage and the multiple, annual events I (forcefully) participated in as a child*, the notion of an official national ‘costume’ as an Australian – let a lone wearing it in the work environment – is definitely something new to me.
Being who I am (Australian, Greek, and a little stubborn), I don’t find it easy to thrown on my Dirndl at all occasions (e.g. work festivities) and act like I’m one of the locals. My colleagues on the otherhand were excited to know that they could mix things up a little from the ‘contemporary businesswear’ that is usually required.
While having a national costume is common to many cultures around the world what I see here is an evident enthusiasm to dress in traditional costume. Dressing in Tracht isn’t restricted to Oktoberfest / Volksfest celebrations; in Bavaria Tracht is often worn at parties, weddings, to church, by waitstaff in traditional restaurants, on Sunday picnics and also accepted in the workplace. Enthusiasm is also seen through the desire to have the latest Tracht accessories, hairstyles to match and even Karl Lagerfeld’s latest 2013 leather Dirndl styles. Continue reading