Balcony Harvest in September

We have someone in the family who likes to have a daily dose of fruit salad. While I was making it, I  remembered having seen one of the last ripe strawberries on the hanging planter on the balcony. We are heading towards late September by now.

I managed to pick one for the center topping, before I got sidetracked by another little plant.

fruit salad

This is what one of the strawberry planters looks like in June.

balcony strawberries

While picking the strawberry, I found this baby pine tree within the leaves of the strawberry plants. September is the time to repot trees (by now I’m an expert on baby trees), so I started digging for soil in one of the floor planters.

My, my, what a surprise. I had a potato plant earlier in the summer, raised from an old wrinkled potato. When it was time for harvest  I must have overlooked these two. Are they edible? Of course, they are.

balcony potatoes

My balcony life never seizes to amaze me. Of course, it is not all my doing, but nature itself. I feed the birds on a regular basis, not with store-bought seeds, but with old bread. They in turn bless my planters and soil with seeds from their other end. 🙂 The perfect cycle of life.

April Cherry Blossoms in Kitakyushu, Japan

Thanks to my friend Yoshiko for contributing these cherry blossom photos taken in Wakamatsu-ku, Kitakyushi-shi.

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

April is my personal favorite month in Japan. It is usually warm and sunny and perfect for any kind of outdoor activity such as picnics, biking, sight-seeing, etc. I find the summer just too stifling hot with its subtropical climate. Try getting up at 6:20am and by the time you have started making coffee, the sweat is already running down on the back of your knees. That’s June, July and August for you in Japan.

Hanami

Hanami

I do miss this hanami (花見, lit. “flower viewing”) time in Japan. That’s pretty much one of the rare times you see Japanese eating and drinking outside. We Westerners like to sit in outdoor restaurants, such as bier gardens in Germany, but most Asians rather sit inside to avoid the sun (and aging). I personally would rather sit outside on a warm and dry summer day… and age a bit.

Mt. Sarakura, Yahatahigashi-ku in Kitakyushu-shi

Mt. Sarakura, Yahatahigashi-ku in Kitakyushu-shi

My husband is on Kyushu right now with three friends, biking around Fukuoka.

What’s Open on 25 December in Frankfurt?

“What’s open on Christmas Day in Frankfurt?”, I have just been asked. After having done some research on this, I can tell you, “Not much.”

Most museums are closed (except for the Jewish Museum), the ice-skating rink is closed, and shops and markets are closed. A leisurely stroll through Sachsenhausen and along the Main River are all I could recommend. The Frankfurt Tourism Office is closed on 25 December as well.

If you have a 10-layover at the Frankfurt Airport, you might be better off staying at the airport.

If you like organ music, you could try visiting a church in the morning (service often starts at 10 a.m.).

As with most local families, we are always home on Christmas Day. We usually have international family over for the holidays. We cook turkey (American style) and have our share of drinks (German style). Once we are stuffed on food, we might take a walk around the neighborhood, which qualifies us then for a late afternoon nap. If it snows on top of all that bliss, we could not ask for more.

Christmas Day is very quiet family day in Germany.

15 Travel Sites in Germany

A while ago, the German ADAC listed 15 recommended travel sites around Germany. The emphasis was on traveling within the country for families in search of a local tropical rainforest, a ride in a Venetian gondola or nights out dancing to Caribbean music.

All this can be had in Germany.

1. Visit “Gondwanaland” (40 exotic animals and 500 kinds of plants) at the Leipzig Zoo.

www.zoo-leipzig.de  -> entrance 17 € for adults

 

  1. Reggae rhythm at Lake Chiemsee

Once a year, the city of Übersee at the Chiemsee becomes the capital of Reggae music. Every year, 30.000 visitors come to enjoy Caribbean nights and days.

 

www.chiemsee-reggae.de -> day ticket 52 €

 

  1. Hollywood at the Rheinau Port

 

There is an open-air movie theater at the Rheinau Port in Cologne. Check the website for the current movies.

www.openairkino.de/koeln -> 7 €

 

  1. The best view over Stuttgart from an ice cream parlor (26 flavors).

 

www.eis-bistro-pinguin.de -> one ice cream scoop for 90 Cent

 

  1. Rock climbing in the Elbsandstein Mountains

The Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland) is famous for its rock climbing terrain, with walls ranging from 10 m to 90 m in height. Recommended starting place, e.g. Rathen.

 

www.elbsandsteingebirge.de

 

  1. The Amazon of the North

 

Turtles, cranes, deer, and more – there is much to see on the shores of the river Wakenitz. Because of its wild nature, it is often referred to as the Amazon Jungle of the North. Best to explore by steam boat from Lübeck.

 

www.wakenitzfahrt.de -> 16 €

 

  1. Lama rides in the Taunus Mountains

You do not have to leave the country to go on a lama tour. In Usingen, the lama tour owner, Tilman Richter, offers accompanied tours throughout the Taunus mountains.

www.lama-llamera.de  -> 70 €

 

  1. Romantic Gondola ride in Bamberg

Hans Riegler is your German version of an Italian gondolier when he takes you in his gondola down the river Regnitz in Bamberg. The gondala is an original one from Venice.

 

www.gondel.info -> 60 € for 30 minutes

 

  1. Camping in dunes of the Baltic Sea

The Regenbogen – Camp in Prerow at the Baltic Sea is the only place in Germany where you can camp right at the beach.

 

www.regenbogen-camp.de -> starting at 5 €

 

  1. The best lake for fishing, swimming, and snorkeling in Germany

About 80 km north of Berlin, the Stechlinsee promises tranquility. Recommended reading: Theodor Fontane’s novel “Der Stechlin”.

No website listed

 

  1. From Munich to Space

You may count the stars! The best time to visit is in August. Consider taking a tour of the Bavarian Volkssternwarte in Munich.

 

www.sternwarte-muenchen.de  -> tour starting at 5 €

 

  1. Amusement Park Phantasialand near Brühl

This park has six different theme park sections (Fantasy, Deep in Africa, Berlin, Mexico, Mystery and China Town)

 

www.phantasialand.de -> starting at 37,50 €

 

  1. Skyscraper Tour in Frankfurt

There is a reason why the banking section in Frankfurt is often dubbed Mainhattan (Main River).

Enjoy  a guided tour, leave your acrophobia behind and visit (among others) the Commerzbank Tower, the tallest building in Europe at 300 meters.

 

www.frankfurt.de

www.frankfurter-stadtevents.de

 

  1. Paddling on Lake Constance

At Lake Constance (in German known as the Bodensee), the Surf School Wasserburg offers courses in the trendy sport activity Stand Up Paddling (SUP).

 

www.surfschule-wasserburg.de -> course starting at 29 €

 

  1. Germany’s highest mountain – The Zugspitze

In good weather, you can see up to 400 mountain peaks in the distance of 250 km. Of course, there is also a Biergarten at the top. There is also a registrar’s office, yes, you can also get married up there!

 

www.zugspitze.de    -> mountain and valley ride 48 €

My personal favorites are 6 and 10. I do love the water, but tend to stay away from heights.

Frankfurt/Main

 

La Bastide Clairance in Northern Basque Country

As suggested by the Eyewitness guide and other brochures, we visited this quaint village of La Bastide Clairance, northeast of Biarritz.

It is a very clean and quiet village, meant for tourism, photography, and a feel-good ambience. There is a small information center,  cafés and restaurants, some artisan shops, a forge museum, and much more.

around the market square

Based on what we saw, two to three hours are enough for walking around and stopping for a cup of coffee. Found some nice kitchen utensils in one of the shops right at the market square. For some reason, I always buy them in France, while on holiday.

La Bastide Clairance

Yes, there is some up and down walking as in most of the towns in Basque country. This little grandmother is not real, just an eye-catcher.

La Bastide Clairance

The tourism center also lets visitors see what the old Basque style classroom looked like.

Old classroom in La Bastide Clairance

We bought some sweet chili paste and powder. Most souvenirs carry the image, the name, the flavor, or the taste of the local sweet chili plant. The only thing we have not found yet – seeds to take back to grow our own.

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