architecture, art, culture, history, landscape, photography, travel, world

Visiting a stronghold

600_6369-e_wYou might have seen this stronghold above the bay entrance at Santiago bay in my last post on the island Granma. Here you can find out a bit more.

This old spanish castle was built, to defend the citizens against pirate attacks, back in the 17th and 18th century. Nowadays you can visit the castle. You can walk around and visit many of the rooms from the top down to the storage rooms, the jail and the chapel.

Every evening right after sunset (appr. 6 p.m.) a group of soldiers, dressed up like the soldiers back in the 18th century, fire a cannon as a salut. You can watch that from a balcony above. This day, the group was commanded by a capitana, a female captain.

Next stop: Santiago de Cuba!

Take care.

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art, culture, history, seasons, world

The countdown has come to his end!

dsc_3080-ec_wToday is December 24th, Christmas Eve.

Today I want to tell you a bit on Christmas and how it is celebrated here in Germany.

In case December 24th is a weekday from Monday to Saturday, it is a common working day. But, at about 2 p.m. all the shops close. Many offices, instead are already closed this day. So, the cities and shopping centers are crowded this morning. Many male shoppers are in the streets, those, who forgot to buy a suitable present for their wives.

Many women are also in the shops. They fetch the pre-ordered food: meat, bread or cakes. Butchers, bakeries and fishmongers open very early this day and often have a different counter for those people, who want to collect the usually pre-paid pre-orders.

When I was a child, the grannies went with their grand-kids to a theater or a cinema and watch a play or a movie for the kids to shorten the time until they get their presents for Christmas and, more important, to give the parents time, to prepare the living room with the Christmas tree and the gifts. Nowadays the TV took over the grannies’s role.

You might already got the point, here we don’t have Father Christmas or Santa Clause coming in the night from 24th to 25th. Here we celebrate Christmas in the evening of December 24th.

The next two days, which are holidays, are used for visiting the parents. One spouses parents on 25th and the other spouses parents on December 26th.

Visiting a service at a church is not that common anymore. Some churches start at 5 p.m. with their Christmas service others at 10 p.m. For many people visiting a Christmas service, is this the only time of the year entering a church for visiting the service.

So, I wish you a happy, peaceful and joyful Christmas time wherever you are and whatever tradition, country, religions or ethical group you belong to.

How about you. Maybe you write a bit about the Christmas traditions from where you live.

Take care!

art, culture, history, seasons, world

The countdown is on the home stretch!

dsc_3080-ec_wToday is Sunday, December 22nd. The 4th Advent.

Today I have another German tradition for you: the christmas tree.

The idea of setting up a christmas tree in the homes came also up in back in the 19th century and started to all the other countries. Although there are older documents describing similar habits, they weren’t common and had a slightly different idea.

Starting from the medieval ages December 24th was the feast day of Adam and Eve, the biblical root of all mankind. They lived in paradise and parts of the commemoration decoration were trees, leaves and apples. In Germany you won’t find any trees with their leaves in mid December, so people got the idea of taking conifers.

In the 19th century, when cultural setup in Germany changed and brought some wealth to more people because of the technical revolution during the 18th century, the people took the trees in their homes, decorated them with red balls to symbolize the apples, red bows to symbolize the blossoms and candles to symbolize the light.

So, I wish you a happy, peaceful and joyful Christmas time wherever you are and whatever tradition, country, religions or ethical group you belong to.

Take care!

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art, culture, landscape, photography, seasons, world

Weekly photo challenge: one

DSC_3454-e_wThis weeks photo challenge at “The daily post” has chosen “one” as the theme for our photos.

The one point of interest, the main part or even one of a kind. There are so many unique things to photograph.

Because of christmas I chose this lonely, wooden Santa. Merry Christmas!

Maybe you’re interested to had a look on some other posts here. There are already three other posts on Christmas habits here in my blog and the next one will be online on Sunday.

Take care!

culture, history, landscape, people, photography, technic, travel, world

A sad decision

600_4069-sc2_wYesterday evening I got aware of a recent decision of the Cuban government, published by Raoul Castro, the Cuban president: Cuba allows the people to import new cars.

While this is good news for the Cuban people, I feel a bit sad about it. You ask me why? The answer is easy. I’m a photographer and it was fantastic to see all these wonderful old cars in the Cuban streets, when I was in Cuba. Not in a museum, they are still in use, even they are more than 60 years old.

I’d miss them.

More on Cuba? Have a look here in my blog and you can learn a bit about that court from a photographers view.

Take care!

culture, landscape, people, photography, travel, world

Heading further to the south

600_6383-e_wThe most south part of our tour is nearly reached: Santiago de Cuba!

But, before entering the city, we made a stop at the island Granma. We met the people while doing hard work to repair or even reconstruct their homes. They were hit hard by the hurricane Sandy. Many parts looked good already, but others were still wrecks. We also met a female teacher with her students working to repair the school building. The kids told us about learning in the morning and helping to repair in the afternoon. But, they weren’t lazy or angry, but nevertheless they were quite happy about the pause and the funny foreigners coming up to them.

The small island itself is located in the Bahia de Santiago. You can walk around the island in less than 30 minutes. The Bahia is very calm, because the entrance from the sea is very small. So, it is a bit like a lake. Nearly 100% of the bay is surrounded by land. The entrance to the bay is dominated by the Castillo del Morro, the old, spanish castle. The bay is used i.e. for the rower and sculler as their training ground. According to our guide, the Cuban olympic team is doing their exercises in this bay.

Take care.

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art, culture, history, seasons, world

The countdown is going further!

dsc_3080-ec_wToday is Sunday, December 15th. The 3rd Advent.

Today I have another German tradition for you: the Christmas Market. The roots of this tradition go back to the 14th century. Since the early 20th century they are an inherent part of the pre-Christmas or Advent time.

I know, this tradition is on its way around the world and is already established in several cities in the UK and the US. Maybe also in other parts of the world, too. In case, you have similar markets in your region, please tell me a bit in the comment section below.

A Christmas market is held in many (if not nearly all) cities during Advent time. Smaller cities hold their Christmas market for only a weekend or a few days including one weekend. Others even start a few days before the first of Advent and last until December 23rd. And some cities have even more than one Christmas market, i.e. in several neighborhoods. Even some churches organize Christmas markets or important special places of excursion, like museums or castles.

But, what is a Christmas market? It’s a bit like a regular farmers market, but the offered goods Christmas related. So, you can usually buy Christmas decoration stuff including table-cloth and napkins, wooden toys, hand-made wood pieces from landscape Erzgebirge located between Germany and Czech Republic (a famous city here is Seiffen), spices, incense sticks, honey, candles and so on. When I was a child, there were stands offering exotic fruits, like bananas, pineapples, coconuts, oranges, mandarin oranges and of course apples, nuts and pears.

You can also buy some food. Usually local sports clubs or other social clubs sell some food to raise money for their work. They sell i.e. hot sweet chestnut, pie soup, green cabbage with cooked mettwurst (a smoked coarsely kind of sausage) or bratwurst. You can also buy some drinks. The most common drink on a Christmas market is hot, spiced wine (Gluehwein / Glühwein). Another important drink is glogg (Punsch).  All these foods and drinks are meant to keep you warm or give back some warmth, because it usually is cold in december.

Often these markets have an additional name, like these well-known Christmas markets here in Germany: Christkindels Markt in Nurnberg (Christkindel is Child Christ in the local dialect) , Striezelmarkt in Dresden (Striezel is a certain kind of bakery product), Printenmarkt in Aachen (Printe is also a certain kind of bakery product, specific to Aachen) or  Lebkuchenmarkt (Lebkuchen = ginger bread).

So, I wish you a happy, peaceful and joyful Advent time wherever you are and whatever tradition, country, religions or ethical group you belong to.

Take care!

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animals, art, culture, food, photography, travel, world

colorful pieces in the air

600_5895-sc_wand on the leafs around: butterflies!

Do you like the clowns in the air? Do you also wonder, how they are able to fly? It’s magic!

There are also butterflies, where I live. I love them since I was a child. Unfortunately, butterflies became less common over the years. Environmentalists say, that’s because of the many herbicides and  biocides. While the brides kill the caterpillars and the larvae, the herbicides kill their food plants. I hope, it’s not too late for saving these colorful insects.

In Cuba I met some butterflies, I’ve never seen before. I also was lucky enough to find a place, where several butterflies left their cocoon for starting a brand new live.  Maybe one of you is able to tell me the names of the butterflies in the photos.

Take care!

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art, culture, history, seasons, world

The countdown is going on!

dsc_3080-ec_wToday is Sunday, December 8th. The 2nd Advent.

Today I want to tell you a bit on another German tradition during Advent: the Adventskalender (Advent calendar).

It’s also invented back in the early 19th century in northern Germany. Is was invented to display the time until christmas for the kids. There were several kinds of these calendars:

– think of an empty crib and give a small piece of stray to the kid to put it in the crib as a picture to create a warm place in the cold world for the newborn child.

– take a card box, fold the sides to the back as a stand  and cut some windows in it. Don’t remove the windows, keep them as doors and close them again. On the back glue a translucent paper decorated with christmas symbols and print another christmas scene on the front. Now, the kid is allowed to open one door each day, enjoy the finding and put a candle behind the card box.

– think of a card box again, but this time it is a flat box, where you can find chocolate in. The chocolate is shaped to form christmas symbols.

– you can also find many companies offering their usual products  in the internet using an advents calendar (often for a reduced price for that one day) to stimulate buying mood of their customers.

Nowadays you can find many different brands selling advent calendars containing nearly everything, especially from the sweets industry. For kids they come with chocolate and toys. For adults they offer advent calendars with pralines, liquor, beer, jewels, and many, many more. It’s really a big business.

For many years we have our own style. We have a rope with small  (tiny) sacks where we put in one candy for each day. Most of the candies are chocolate, but we can choose them on our own according to our taste.

The photos below show such home-made advent calendars and the clock tower is a bought one containing sweets from a certain brand. The photos are not that good, because they are taken with a mobile – sorry 😦

So, I wish you a happy, peaceful and joyful Advent time wherever you are and whatever tradition, country, religions or ethical group you belong to.

Take care!

landscape, people, photo-of-the-day, photography, travel, world

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

dsc_1344-ec_wAt “The Daily Post” they asked for this weeks “Photo Challenge” for photos with the wow factor. Actually, there are many photos on my computer and online as well. I guess, to pick a photo for this competition, it’d would be the easiest way, to look on my walls. Some of my best photos are hanging framed on my walls. But, there are some still only on my computer or here in my blog.

So, I picked a photo taken at my trip to a dreamy island. An island in the sun!

culture, flowers, landscape, meeting, people, photography, seasons, travel, world

Walking through the jungle

600_6040_wHere are some photos taken in the forest and on the hills. While walking uphill we met a man coming down from collecting fruits in the forest. It’s a Guanábana (Annona muricata). It grows wild and the fruits are collected for their private use. A fruit can wight up to 4 kilos and tastes sour – sweet. Interesting, unusual, but ok. You can eat the soft, whitely fruit or drink it as a juice. But avoid to eat the poisonous black pits.

I’d recommend to hire a local guide to get the interesting plants explained. There is so much to see and you’d miss it, when you don’t have a guide pointing your eyes on it. We had a very talented local guide. Actually he was able to guide this tour completely in excellent German.  He even knew the German names of the plants and the animals.

Enjoy!

Maybe you have a look on the past posts on Cuba here in my blog, or posts on any other topic.

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culture, people

Another sad goodbye

This morning I attended another funeral.
At a wonderful, bright but very cold morning we accomplished my coworkers husband, who passed away last week because of cancer.
I’m still very sad for her for loosing her husband. He only became 52 years old and passed away after a hard fight against cancer for about a year. He got his diagnosis last November, just 4 days before we buried our coworker, who also passed away because of cancer.
Starting shortly after the diagnosis he was undergoing a chemo therapy, but he dropped out voluntarily in May because of the massive negative influence on his feeling and causing many other health problems. So, the only substance he took afterwards, was strong medicine against the pains.
This time the funeral service was much different. I was very hopefully, because the patient was aware of his condition and he has had found peace and his certain place in the puzzle. So, he was able to plan his own funeral in detail, has chosen the songs to sing during the service and wrote prayers as well as intercessions. He even thought of our late colleague and his widow. He wished a resurrection service instead of a sad mourning service.  And he got it.
The main theme was Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, which he loved. So he picked Annie Lennox’s song “Into the west” for his moving out from the funeral hall. A song, that fits perfectly for this sad moment.
Goodbye!