fly the seven seas

Observations of a Sydney girl rocking Germany


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The festive days

And just like that, Christmas has come and gone. Just when the magical feeling finally manages to become a welcome distraction, I find myself taking my last bite of the Christmas pudding, wishing the past few days would extend a little longer.

This year however, we created something extra special, something for the books. This year saw two families unite for Christmas – my parents and younger brother flew from Sydney to join the Christmas rituals with Alex’s immediate family. And although this meant that the usual Sydney contingency was a little smaller than usual, we hope the crew will understand (perhaps not with all the tempting photos of snow and oversized portions of turkey we sent)…

Our german Christmas celebrations, in comparison to my Sydney celebrations, stretch over a few days – appropriately titled by Alex’s father as ‘the christmas rally’ – with multiple meals shared together, elaborate brunches, nights of singing and dancing until the candles burn out, walks in open fields, some Christmas socks, indulgences and the wish for snow. And given the extra special occasion this year, we had it all – including a good 20cm of snowfall overnight.

The rally officially kicks off on the eve of the 24th – with special family rituals and traditions – and usually ends on the 26th, known as the 2. Weihnachtstag (Stephan’s Tag / Boxing Day). This year we were lucky enough to extend this for another day – any excuse to let the rally continue.

I’ve infiltrated some “australiana” in to the festivities, for it wouldn’t be Christmas to me without the annual booze-filled Christmas cake and Christmas pudding (with lucky coin of course). And with the addition of mum’s true blue accent and dad’s recurring cry of “oh sheeeet” – the australiana was definitely present among the Stollen and tunes of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Since I’ve joined Alex’s family celebrations, Alex and I have taken responsibility over the official bird served on the 26th. This year it was a mega Turkey, served with baked sweet potato and Schmorkraut (sweetened sauerkraut) – boy it was good.

Rather than bantering on, I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the festivities while I go and burn off the extra something I’ve found around my waist.

I hope the festive days were just as special where you were – Happy Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten and bring on 2015!

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Weihnachtsmarkt München

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Rindermarkt, München

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Roasted chestnuts

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The mother of all drinks – the Feuerzangenbowle

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Last minute butcher action in the old town

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The Christmas cake

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Langoustin

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The hilltops of Bronnbach

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A snowy Altstadt, Wertheim

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The Wertheimer Burg, all dressed in white

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The golden days

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).

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Fanaraki Beach, Limnos – Greece

 

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Mornings at Jandia Playa, Fuerteventura

 

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Hinterbrühler See

 

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.

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The Rhein

 

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The pigeons of Düsseldorf

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The lifeblood of München

In celebration of Pentecost (Pfingsten) over last week’s long weekend, Germany was blessed with blistering sunshine and temperatures over 34 degrees. The summer feeling has definitely arrived, which only means one thing: I am in my element.

I particularly love this weather – the hot breeze, light cotton dresses, sticky skin and jugs of iced, lemon water to cool down. Knowing that it probably won’t last long, I pull out my favourite summer pieces, courtesy of my Australian wardrobe, and embrace the heat.

Given that Germans are basically always partaking in some sort of outdoor activity regardless of the weather, it was without surprise that the flip-flops were out over the weekend. Returning back to München in the afternoon after a short getaway to the neighbouring state of Baden-Württemberg, the first thing we did was head down to the Isar for some waterside bliss. Naturally, we weren’t the only ones with this idea.

The Isar can be described as the lifeblood of München – running approximately 14km through München, it plays a central role in the lives of Müncheners – each person undoubtedly holding a unique relationship with this alpine river.

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A spring guide to Paris

I was lucky enough to reign in May with a weekend in Paris. Following on from my previous post, I thought I would continue the theme of springtime in the city with some tips for enjoying Paris in the spring.

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It goes without saying however that Paris is a beautiful city any  time of year. Inspired by my own weekend getaway, here are my suggestions:

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Ya gotta see the baby

It’s a fact – we all go gaga over a newborn. There is no denying how special it is to appreciate what God has brought in to the world and in particular, being able to observe how babies and infants experience their miniature world. (No, I am not one bit clucky).

In December last year, the celebrity polar bear couple of Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo, Giovanna and Yoghi, gave birth to a set of twin cubs. The cubs, who are still unnamed, remained nestled closely with their mother for their first three months of infancy but have recently made their first steps on solid ground. Sneaky paparazzi images of the twins served the curiosity of the community while under their mother’s care – creating some hype in the community.

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The public can now visit the tiny creatures and as you can imagine, I jumped at the first opportunity I could find.

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Taking a moment.

I recently celebrated my birthday – something we are all lucky to have each year.

Over the last two years I have noticed a change in my feelings towards my birthday and getting older in general. The lead-up now plays out a little differently.

With 20 I was more than excited to say that I’d be turning 21 – this was a time for the constant parade of the ‘new’ – new people, experiences, travels, concepts, ways of thinking, excuses for missing out on class, hairstyles, wisdom – and all the while having no idea about what would be around the corner.

A few years later and I still don’t know what will be around the corner (really, who ever does?), but I’m a little more certain it will be filled with a little less nonsense, carefree/rash decisions or Saturday nights spent in unknown locations.

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The Hopeless Wanderers 3.0 – the last leg

And the road trip re-cap continues. I hope you’re not over it yet, we’ve still got a little left! I promise I will go back to discussing all things German very soon – pork-knuckles, snow flakes and fairytale castles, it’s all coming.

I last left off in Esperance, where, after a day of absolute bliss, the weather had again turned. This didn’t stop us from trekking on.

Cape Le Grand National Park

Located approximately 45km east of Esperance, Cape le Grand set up some high expectations for us with its marketing campaigns containing the below:

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Up until this point we had not made a single kangaroo spotting, a live one that is. For tourists and homesick natives, you can imagine how disappointing this would be. As we drove in to the Lucky Bay campsite, where we had planned to set up base for the night, we were pleasantly greeted by two roos, foraging for scraps left from campers (not the healthiest of options). We squealed, Alex jumped out of the van with the camera – nothing could wipe the smiles off our faces.

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The hopeless wanderers 1.0

Being an Aussie in a foreign country is hard. When introducing myself to any non-Aussies I meet along my adventures, 9 times out of 10 and the (naturally) well-travelled German will ask what I think of Australia’s list of natural wonders. Alongside the other 9 out of 10 Australians – my standard reply is, “I haven’t had a chance to go (insert famous landmark here) yet”. To a foreigner this doesn’t make us look too good – especially given the way Australia is marketed – the unknown outback, boxing kangaroos, endless dessert, snakes, spiders and crocodiles.

Being an Aussie in Australia is on the other hand, is easy – most of us haven’t seen much past our back fence, except for the mandatory school trips to Canberra and perhaps a trip or two to Melbourne/Sydney, the Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Not having travelled across Australia is more ‘Aussie’ than we think.

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München 1.0

Moving 16,000km away from your home, family and friends isn’t as hard as you may think.

That is – not when you are blessed with regular visitors like I have over the last year.

Since July 2012 our little paradise in München has opened its doors to many a weary traveller – both German and Australian based. This has included my parents, my younger brother, my grandparents, my sister-in-law’s brother, Alex’s parents, Australian and German friends and will soon welcome my eldest brother and his wife (just a little excited!!)

Opening my home to these special people brings my far away home that little bit closer, whilst allowing me to share my little big German life with them.

Having visitors also means a chance to put on the mini tourist-guide badge and show off the beautiful city I live in. Being a ‘traveller’ myself, exploring the offerings of my city is exciting. We all know however that our daily routine can sometimes get in the way of appreciating our surroundings as much as we would like to – so given the opportunity to explore the city with my visitors and I will take it without second thought.

Having revealed a few of my favourite spots to my visitors, it is now time to share some of my München with you. (This will only be the start).

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