Month in Photos: May 2016

I create this monthly photojournal for myself so I get reminded of the places we’ve been to, a monthly summary of what we’ve done as well as the beautiful, the fascinating, the insolite, the weird and the strange things we’ve seen which I will always enjoy browsing years later.  And for my loyal readers, it’s also a way of discovering some traditions, art, culture, food and habits of the Europeans we meet from day-to-day.

Thanks for browsing.

01_IMG_4101b
01 May 2016
Offendorf, France

Driving into the neighbouring town of Offendorf, we noticed this handsome barge moored next to the bridge where all motorists entering the town would not fail to notice.  A sign next to it says “Musée de la Batellerie”.  This 85-year old boat was already condemned to the scrapyard when a group of veteran bargemen decided to save it and convert it into a museum.  A must-visit for those who want to discover the joys and stresses of life in the water, the everyday life on board, the evolution of techniques, the heartbreaking experience of bargemen of the past three centuries.

03_petals
03 May 2016
Walking Charlie

Humans can learn lessons from flowers, that even in their wilting moment they continue to be awesome in the form of these falling petals.

04_20160504_190057
04 May 2016
At home, Alsace, France

Charlie has to have his own dedicated settee, placed in a highly esteemed spot in the house.

05_maibaume
05 May 2016
Seebach, Germany

One of the wonderful traditions in Germany approaching 1st of May is the erection of the May Tree (Maibaum).  This tree or pole is decorated with colourful streamers, flowers and in some places with scenes showing local crafts or activities.

 

mummelsee
05 May 2016
Mummelsee, Germany

Incredible but we did it! We have just climbed the highest mountain in the Black Forest. We started in Seebach (700m) and scaled the 600 meter altitude in 2 1/2 hours. Slow, because the forest walk itself is an experience to behold despite the hairpin bends so steep that we had to stop every now and then to catch our breath.

But in our hearts, reaching our end destination is an achievement that we will treasure forever because Mummelsee is not only a picture postcard beauty but also the most famous lake in the Black Forest. Now we understand why climbers are incessantly and passionately aiming for the highest peaks because the reward is always sweetest after the hardest struggle!

07_MG_4742b
07 May 2016
Ottenhofen, Germany

For the second time, we went searching for the Edelfrauengrab Waterfalls but we got lost again and ended up walking a steep route that caught us unprepared.  In short, the taxing uphill climb, the heat and the fact that we forgot to bring water  was making us dehydrated.  Oh well, if worse comes to worst, there’s always the fast flowing stream alongside us to jump on.  Luckily, we didn’t need to do that as we saw a sign to the Scnappsbrunen, hurray!

08_bbq
08 May 2016
At home, Alsance, France

Our first barbecue for the year,  but since there’s no barbecue equipment provided in our rented house, we had to buy our Nth roaster.  If we had to make an inventory, I believe the number would be more than half a dozen.  This is the bane of living a nomadic life.12_IMG_4940b
12 May 2016
At home, Alsace, France

Nothing much to photoreport today except this fascinating snail who found its way to our doorstep.

14_20160514_110732
14 May 2016
Freistatt, Germany

Saw these colourful eggs at Lidl, our favorite lowcost supermarket just at the German border.  The colours indicate that they have been boiled, ready to eat, perfect snack for people on the go.  Of course, if you are still pro-raw,  there’s always the classic whites on display.

14_AchernParkb
14 May 2016
Achern, Germany

We go to Achern for many reasons- to shop, to wander around, to have our traditional Saturday lunch at our favorite Chinese buffet restaurant, but today, we discovered another item to add on the list – this beautiful park.   The Germans are experts in creating nature parks!

15_waterfalls

15 May 2016
Oppenau, Germany

“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

Yes, and we already did two attempts and each time we got lost. Well, today, we tried a third and final attempt and voila, we finally arrived at the waterfalls of our dreams!  So well worth the effort as this must be the most beautiful waterfalls we have seen since we started waterfall-hopping in the Black Forest.

 

16_washmc
16 May 2016
Haguenau, France

With so many ways to get rid of tired appliances in France, some people are either “without conscience” polluting the planet or  too lazy so as to go to the junkyard.  I remember the perfectly working upright freezer we found in Switzerland which we found “waiting at us” at a corner street with a sign saying “in perfect working condition”.   We’ve been using it for the last several months and intend to take it home with us to Hungary when our stay in Alsace is over.  In the meantime, I wonder what’s the future of this machine abandoned somewhere along the Haguenau river.

19_IMG_5722
19 May 2016
At home, Alsace, France

As a passionate digital scrapbook designer, I’m always open to artistic ideas, so when I saw this shower gel product in the supermarket, I instantly bought it for its artwork which I can get inspiration from.  The beauty of it is, it also smells terrific!

20_IMG_5778bX
20 May 2016
Home garden, Alsace, France

We always look forward to TGIFs.  Who doesn’t?

21_IMG_5814
21 May 2016
In the neighbourhood, Alsace, France

One of the symbols of Alsace is the white stork which is seen nesting atop electric poles like this.

22_IMG_5925
22 May 2016
Waldum, Germany

Another lovely hike at the staggeringly beautiful village of Waldum.

23_party
23 May 2016
In the neighbourhood, Alsace, France

The morning after a  neighbour’s night party.  With bits of sand scattered around, they must have had a beach party as a theme.
24_IMG_5720b
24 May 2016
At home, Alsace, France

Finally finished reading two books as of May this year.  I know it’s not a number worth bragging about but for someone who is busy multi-tasking and attending to several projects, I’m still proud of my achievement, ahaha!!

27_tick
27 May 2016
Forest walk, Germany

This might be too gross to your liking but let’s delve on Science for a moment.  I present to you a tick who has overimbibed itself on Charlie’s blood.  If I didn’t catch it in time, he might have exploded in situ.

28_Greffern
28 May 2016
French-German border

Today is just one of those Saturday mornings where we initially planned to take Charlie for a walk along the Rhine promenade and then we saw this ferry sailing to and fro between France and Germany.  “Come, let’s try it!” we heard ourselves saying and off we went.  We just love living in this area!

29_IMG_6291b
29 May 2016
Forest hike, Germany

Saw this poor chap dead on the forest floor.  Wonder how it happened.

30_IMG_6401b
30 May 2016
In the fiels near home, Alsace, France

Judge each day not by the Harvest you reap
But by the Seeds you plant.
(Robert Lewis Stevenson)

Virtual Museum: Raising of the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens

raising-of-the-cross

To celebrate Rubens’ birthday yesterday, we are featuring one of his most famous paintings.

“Raising of the Cross”
Oil on panel, 1610
by Peter Paul Rubens
Flemish, 1577-1640
Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium

Known as “the prince of painters and the painter of princes” due to his frequent work for royal clients, Peter Paul Rubens was one of the most famous and successful European artists of the 17th century. His skill at arranging complex groupings of figures in a composition, his ability to work on a large scale, his ease at depicting diverse subjects and his personal eloquence and charm all contributed to his success. His style combined Renaissance idealization of the human form with lush brushwork, dynamic poses and a lively sense of realism. His fondness for depicting fleshy, curvaceous female bodies, in particular, has made the word “Rubenesque” a familiar term. (biography.com)

Rubens painted the triptych of “Raising of the Cross” for the high altar of Antwerp’s church of St Walpurgis, which was demolished in 1817. It marked his sensational introduction of the Baroque style into Northern art. The diagonal composition is full of dynamism and animated colour. The artist had just returned from Italy, with the memory of Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Venetian painting still fresh in his mind.

In the centre, nine executioners strain with all their might to raise the cross from which Christ’s pale body hangs. The dramatic action is witnessed from the left by St John, the Virgin Mary and a group of weeping women and children. On the right, a Roman officer watches on horseback while soldiers in the background are crucifying the two thieves. In other words, the subject is spread across all three panels. The outside of the wings shows Saints Amand, Walpurgis, Eligius and Catherine of Alexandria. (peterpaulrubens.net)

 

Oberkirch and its castle

Today, we wrap up our Black Forest experience with a final trip to Oberkirch and its castle.

castle
The magical region of the Black Forest has been our weekend retreats for the past several months and it has never failed to fascinate. This fairy tale part of Germany will forever have a special place in our hearts.

Goodbye, Foret Noire, we will definitely visit you again sometime.

Virtual Museum: Cherubs in the “Sistine Madonna”

0,,15976056_303,00

raphael44

Virtual Museum #4

Cherubs in the “Sistine Madonna”
Oil on panel, 1512
by Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino)
Italian, 1483-1520
Alte Meister Gallerie, Dresden, Germany.

Did you ever wonder who painted these angelic cherubs that we see so often adorning giftware, advertisements and home décor? Well, you may be surprised to learn that the creator of this popular motif is not a present-day artist but instead, a Renaissance painter. The winged darlings are only a small part of a much larger painting known as the Sistine Madonna.

The winged angels beneath Mary are famous in their own right. As early as 1913 Gustav Kobbé declared that “no cherub or group of cherubs is so famous as the two that lean on the altar top indicated at the very bottom of the picture.”Heavily marketed, they have been featured in stamps, postcards, T-shirts, and wrapping paper. These cherubim have inspired legends of their own. According to a 1912 article in Fra Magazine, when Raphael was painting the Madonna the children of his model would come in to watch. Struck by their posture as they did, the story goes, he added them to the painting exactly as he saw them. Another story, recounted in 1912’s St. Nicholas Magazine, says that Raphael rather was inspired by two children he encountered on the street when he saw them “looking wistfully into the window of a baker’s shop.” (wikipedia).