art, culture, landscape, nature, photography, review, seasons, travel, world

Throwback Thursday: Carnival Season

Here in my area we have two of the German carnival capitols: Cologne and Duesseldorf. Carnival festivities take place in the public as well as in many indoor locations. Carnival season starts on November 11th and lasts until Ash Wednesday (the exact date differs each year, because carnival depends on Easter. On that day the Lenten season starts for 40 days ’til Easter)

How are these festivities related? The bible tells us the background.

Easter = resurrection = Jesus Christ rose from his grave
Good Friday = Jesus was nailed on the cross, died and was buried

This festivity is the most important celebration in Christian believes.

Because of Jesus himself lentened for 40 days to strengthen his own belief, there is a 40 day Lenten period.

The word ‘carnival’ has it’s origin in Latin: carne = meat + val = without. It marks the beginning of the 40 day Lenten period.

In medieval times, people started to celebrate before the Lenten period started and to use up nearly all of the food remaining from last year. So, these supplies were used for big festivities (also celebrating the end of the winter). During these days, the established hirachy were turned upside down: the fool became mayor and everyone masqueraded. For one of the days, the Thursday I mentioned in the first paragraph, even became power: they were allowed to reign for 1 day (Altweiber / Weiberfastnacht). All of these isn’t meant serious, but foolish, because everything is turned upside down.

The magic number of carnival is the 11, because you can turn it upside down and it’s still the same.

Over the centuries, carnival starts now on November 11th at 11:11. On that date, the indoor festivities start. These are meetings with a president, a meeting committee and lots of speeches (all funny but usually political). This type of carnival was a foolish reaction to the strict government by the Pruss and Napoleons France. The participants wear costumes inspired by official uniforms of that times soldiers, but with a funny skirt or flouncy sleeves. They also play special music. Often played by marching bands looking like they were kidnapped from the 17th century. Simple melodies and very foolish lyrics (easy to remember, even when drunk).

Starting from Altweiber, the carnival festivities encroach to the streets. Carnival music floods the streets and the radio stations. Carnival meetings are broadcasted by some TV stations. While you won’t remark all of this during winter, is nearly impossible to ignore it during the last week before Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday).

Not everyone likes this!
One of my friends works in the middle of Cologne. Even during the days marking the summit of the carnival festivities (Thursday to Tuesday), when the silly music with their haunting melodies creating earworms to eat up the remains of your mind. Most of the businesses in areas with such a long tradition of celebrating carnival that intense, are closed for these days, because no customer would come, the employees won’t be usable (too tired and drunk) and drunk people probably would trash the unsecured rooms.

His company does not close, because they have also to support customers in areas, where carnival isn’t a topic at all. So, he goes on vacation. Some other friends of us, also working in similar areas, where they don’t have to work. My company office at that time was located in Duesseldorf, but a bit out of the center. So, I left the office always early to avoid encountering with drunk people.

Because all of this, he got the idea, to use these days for a short trip and our annual carnival escape was born.

Over the years we usually visited a famous city in the south, but also Berlin and London. Not everyone was able to take part in every trip. So you won’t find all of them here.

This time was different. Despite we were traveling south, we didn’t the reach the warmer mediterranean countries. Instead, we stopped in the Bavarian Alps for a hot-air balloon flight.

Take care!

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culture, General

Liebster Award!

wpid-liebster2-2Last week I got a notification from a fellow blogger, Rashmi Kashyap. She nominated me for an award: Liebster Award

Although I don’t know the origin of the word ‘Liebster’ in this particular case, I assume it is German, because it is a German word meaning ‘most beloved’ and can mean a person as well as a thing or a place. In this context, this award could be donated to a blog, that the donator loves most. So, I’m very honoured by getting this award. Thanks you very much, Rashmi.

As the other awards, this one is connected to some rules:

Here goes the rules of this award, let me do the needful:

1. Link and thank the person who nominated you   – done

2. Answer the questions they asked you – done, scroll down

3. Pick eleven awesome bloggers to nominate ( preferably those with less than or around 200 followers ) – done

4. Ask them eleven questions – done

5. Let them know by commenting on one of their posts  – done

 

These are my answers on Rashmi’s questions:

What was your reaction to this award nomination?

As I wrote above, I’m very honored and pleased by getting the nomination.

 

Why people  should visit your blog?

See some photos taken in interesting places showing the beauty of nature and differences in culture. Get in touch with interesting places.

 

Share with us your most happiest moment.

There are so many memories of very happy moments in my life. I guess, the happiest moment was when I held my first-born child in my arms.

 

What prompted you to become a blogger?

The usual photo galleries don’t allow to write more than a title for a photo and my aim was to write a bit more on them, thus a wordpress blog became the appropriate platform.

 

Given an opportunity to pursue your hobby, what it would be?

No choise: catching light with my camera. 🙂

 

What do you prefer? A loner, lost in your own dream world or a popular bee surrounded with fans.

I like to be in company with a few good friends, but I’d prefer being alone with the beauty of nature, than being surrounded by dull and annoying blatherers.

 

Which has been your most successful post so far?

This one

 

Which is the first thing you look for as soon as you log in to your blog?

I don’t give much on statistics. I respond to every like or comment, at least I check every likers blog. But, my usual login is for writing a new post. I have a shortcut bringing me directly to the editing page.

 

Do you need prompts to motivate you? If yes, which was that?

No. As long as I have enough stuff for my regular schedule, I don’t need such prompts. But I like the weekly photo contest organized by The Daily Prompt, because I get a different view on my own portfolio.

 

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? How did you deal with it?

No. I usually write about trips. Thus, the photos and / or the locations give enough to tell.

 

Which is your favorite book and why?

There are a few of them:
amongst others

– The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
– The mists of Avalon by M. Zimmer-Bradley- World of Tiers by P.J. Farmer
– World of Tiers by P.J. Farmer
– Shogun by J. Clavell

All of these have in common, their authors were able to invent a complete independent world following its own rules and creating a kind of addiction. They describe their worlds so three-dimensional that I feel, being part of the story. Not only a reader, but also a character inside the story: to be in the thick of it instead of near by!

 

Here are my eleven questions:

1. What was your reaction to this award nomination?
2. Why people  should visit your blog?
3. What prompted you to become a blogger?
4. Do you need prompts to motivate you? If yes, which was that?
5. Which is the first thing you look for as soon as you log in to your blog?
6. Given an opportunity to pursue your hobby, what it would be?
7. Have you ever experienced writer’s block? How did you deal with it?
8. Would you like to be someone else (alive or death)? And if so, who?
9. What do you lack most in your skills?
10. Which of your skills do you like most?
11. Which advise do you have for a new blogger?

 

And finally here are my nominees:

1. Leanne Cole from Australia

2. Léa from France

3. Emerald Wake from Poland

4. Odile from France

5. Stéphane from France

6. Sharika from South Africa

7. Jeff Sinon from the US

8. Mark Kertesz

9. Robert from Germany

10. Liz from the UK

11. Lignum Draco from Australia

 

All of them inspire me with their photos. They are all very talented photographers, each on his/her own field.

Thank you all for inspiring me.

Take care!

 

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

The Barcelona Cathedral

600_6551-s_wThe cathedral of Barcelona is located at a huge square in the old town, but it is jammed between other houses and stands behind in the dark. On the stairs in front of the portal are the usual suspects: beggars, tourist guides with umbrellas and other funny marks to get the attention of their groups to get them all together, artists and musicians. All in all, a very unpleasant environment for a cathedral.

Even the inside is kind of crowded. Many visitors walking slowly up and down the aisles, chatting and taking photographs. Beside the altar the choir impressed me most. It is completely segregated from the rest of the cathedral, just like a church inside the church. Only monks and priests are allowed to take their place inside the choir (and tourists as part of a guided tour). All the others can look inside through the grid at the altar side of the choir (photo above).

When inside, pay attention to the carved hand plates between the wooden chairs in the choir. As far as I was able to see them, each one is different from the others. I included some in my gallery below.

Once the cathedral was part of a monastery. Although the buildings still exist, but, as far as I know, their isn’t any monk living anymore.

As you can see from the building style, the cathedral is quite old. It was founded back in the 11th century and is donated to St. Eulalia, the patron of Barcelona and a martyr in late roman times. She is buried under the altar and her martyrdom is engraved above the door of the choir. The Legend says, she was killed 4 times in a row.

You can also visit the cloister (I’ll show you the hidden secret of the cathedral in an other post) and the roof.

Visiting the roof costs you a small fee. Depending on the visiting time, you also have to pay an entrance fee for the cathedral itself. Visiting the choir also costs you a fee, but, I don’t know, where to pay.

To give praying room to the believers, there is a separate chapel right behind the main entrance on the right.

Now, feel free and look around by using my photographs.

Take care!

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art, culture, history, meeting, people, photo-of-the-day, photography, seasons, world

Weekly Photo Challenge : contrast

20140517_130814-600_9778_wThis week’s assignment for the photo challenge by The Daily Post is quit hard, but I like it. It’s “contrast”.

At once I got several ideas, but none of them are currently in my photo bucket (although some of them are on my wish list). Though I have to pick something else.

After some considerations I came to a decision, as you can see in the photo above.

Light and dark, fire and ice, solid or liquid, black and white, male and female, old and young and examples for a contrast. But, the biggest contrast is IMHO between live and death.

I met the two girls above a few weeks ago on Japantag in Düsseldorf. They arranged their costumes in a way to fit perfectly together. When I looked at them, I notices a similar style, but completely different. On the second look, I noticed a few of their accessories brining me on the right track: I asked them, if they are Demeter and Persephone, mother and daughter from the ancient greek mythology. They told my, not knowing the two divines and they were Nature and Death.

Now, I knew I was right and told them the story: Demeter the goddess of the nature, responsible for the harvest had a daughter named Persephone. She married Hades, the god of the underworld where all death people live after death for ever and get punished for their doing and behavior. When Persephone followed her husband in his realm, the mother became deeply depressed from the lost of here daughter and neglect her duty. So, the earth became devastated and all plants dried up. As a result of Demeter’s neglect the people started starving because they didn’t have and fruits, vegetables and crops. So they started praying the Zeus, the gods boss to help. He found a solution for the problem: Persephone was allowed to stay half a year with her mother, while she stays the other half with her husband in the underworld. And that’s the reason, why we have summer and winter.

You might have guessed it:

– summer is, when Persephone is with her mother
– spring starts, when Persephone arrives at her mother
– late fall is, when Persephone leaves her mother to go to her husband Hades
– and finally winter is, when Demeter is so depressed about her missed daughter

This family tragedy might still occur when kids grow up and leave their parents to stand on their own feet. Encourage parents to let their kids go, when it is time!

Take care!

 

culture, General, meeting, people, photography, technical, travel, world

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-scecond Story

dsc_1920-s_wThis weeks assignment for photographers at The Daily Post is again very challenging. They asked to tell stories at several layers of the photo. This is what I picked from my archive. It’s taken at a soap box car derby.

The one driver has beaten his opponent, and looks back, where he is. But he has steered his car in the side fixing and it looks like he wants to flee.

Have you ever visited such a race? Our neighbor town organizes one every year in fall.

Take care!

landscape, photography, travel, world

remains of Sandy

600_8334-e_wDo you remember Sandy, the heavy hurricane in the Caribbean from December 2012? Well, Cayo Levisa also was hit quite hard. Many mangroves were removed from the shore, trees were cut and several other damages. The hotel, consisting of about 80 log cabins and a central house of stone with the reception and the dining room, didn’t show any damages.

I guess, it will last many years, until the nature recovers from that storm.

Take care!

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landscape, photography, travel, world

cooling down on Cayo Levisa

600_8510-e_wAs I wrote in my last post, it was quite cool on Cayo Levisa because of the wind after the storm over the sea. As you can see in the photos nearly no-one is on the beach and the wind brings high waves. Also, the palm branches are bent by the heavy wind.

Our stay here was planed for being a beach holiday with swimming, diving and snorkeling. Instead, I walked around wearing more clothes as during the last days and enjoyed the nature.

I attached a few more photos than usual in this posts gallery at the end of this post. I hope, you enjoy them.

Take care!

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