MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Sparkles and bangs

imageIt is truly surprising how much you can learn of a place from its people’s everyday habits, like their food and drink. In Bavaria in particular, everyone knows that beer is drunk like water. It is like that quote from Cocktail where barman Doug told the inexperienced Brian that “Beer is for breakfast around here, drink or be gone.” That is exactly how a first-timer feels in Bavaria. In fact, in Munich, the beer capital of the world and home of the Oktoberfest, beer often costs less than water. And the smallest beer you can get (at least without being laughed at) is a half-litre glass. Beer here is drunk from the late mornings to the early hours of the next day. It truly is gulped down more easily than water, a liquid which is hard to find in a large bottle and costs up to even twice as much! For some strange and yet to be found reason.

But as the New Year approaches, champagne is in order. The bubbly alcohol is the best way to start the New Year with a bang. And the popping of the cork is an excellent accompaniment to the sparkles and bursts of the fireworks that will fill the night sky.
So raise your glass (whatever it may be filled with) and make a wish that this New Year will be 2014 and more times better than the last!

photo(1)Happy New Year!

Glückliches Neues Jahr!

Felice Anno Nuovo!

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Bonne Année!

Καλή Χρονιά!

Blue-bloods and Castles

DSC07165Every little girl dreams of being a princess. Be it Cinderella (the rags-to-riches type), Snow White (the I-have-seven-dwarves-to-protect-me type), Little Mermaid (the sea-lover type), or even Sleeping Beauty (the I’ll-wake-up-when-reality-is-better type), being part of a royal kingdom is part of every girl’s dream.

Heck, everyone at some time or other dreams of being royalty, because it fits into the idyllic image of being able to do whatever you want, having whatever you desire, without a care in the world. But the best part of it all, is that you get to enjoy royal castles and palaces. DSC06981Especially the ones hidden away in the Bavarian Alps, like Neuschwanstein. The one Walt Disney used as inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. And one of the most famous and beautiful royal castles in the world.

Having already completed the idyllic scenery of this castle in a puzzle a few years ago, it was only fitting that we would also visit the ‘life-size’ Neuschwanstein.

DSC07127After all, there is always something majestic about visiting a palace, or royal castle. Even a smaller one like Linderhof.

DSC06990 Both built by and for King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the 19th century, the latter was intended as his summer residence and modeled on the Versailles Palace, idolizing the absolutism of the French monarchy, something he could not have in Bavaria where he was forced to share power with parliament.

spiegelsaal LiderhofAdorned with gold inside and endless gardens and statues outside, Linderhof is a treat. Even covered in snow it is truly magical.

And then, secluded and enwrapped within the Bavarian Alps appears the fairy tale castle.

The one whose paintings feature the legends of Tristan and Isolde; Sigurd the Dragon Slayer and Gudrún the Avenger; Lohengrin the Swan Knight; and Tannhäuser, as well as the famous opera by Richard Wagner Parcifal the Knight of the Holy Grail. schlafzimmer NeuschwansteinThese resulted in a spectacular interior design for his castle, a castle that was never completed, as he died having just lived 172 days inside it.

Visiting royal castles and palaces and listening to the myths and stories behind the history of the places and people who inhabited them transfers you to a different time. When people needed horse-drawn carriages to climb up to their palaces, that featured hundreds of steps and in which each room served a different purpose – and in which in order to get from one end to the other you needed a map, or even an entire day!

DSC07142Yet, there is a beauty in being inside these 19th century castles. You imagine yourself living in the time when court jesters where the entertainment available, not playstations and tablets; when the longer and more extravagant the dress, the more elegant it was considered; when gentlemen courted the ladies; when the court was a symbol of richness and power.

And no matter how high or how far you need to travel, sometimes visiting such places is worth the trouble. DSC07121

Even if you slide down iced-snow slopes and fall flat on your bottom and lose your breath for a minute or two. The experience of walking in the same corridors and rooms in which a king lived over 200 years ago certainly compensates any fall!

All photos (apart from the interior rooms – not allowed) are mine, taken in Bavaria on 27 December 2013.

Naughty or Nice (in a busy city)

DSC06230With Christmas being only a few hours away, everyone is anxiously rushing for their last minute shopping – either the gifts or the food and drink. And there is a general feeling of excitement in the air. With everything closed at around midday of the 24th December, you can sense something important is happening tomorrow (and it’s not just my birthday ;))

Germany is one of the places you want to be during Christmas time. You truly feel like it’s the most wonderful time of the year here, because of all the beautiful Weihnachtsmärkte abundantly found in almost every square and opening in every city. The markets are overlowing with Glühwein, Lebkuchen, Stollen, and chocolates, as well as beer of course, and  the famous German sausages cooked fresh for consumption and mystifying the air with the aroma of a German Christmas. Artisans and handscraftsmen find the greatest opportunities to reveal their work and fill the stalls with the delicately prepared ornaments and perfect ideas for gifts!

DSC06190Germans have many traditions for Christmas. One of them, for example, is that St Nikolaus arrives on the 6th of December bringing children chocolates to sweeten their arrival of Father Christmas later on. DSC06193

This is something represented in the Krampuslauf  in the München Weihnachtsmarkt, where St Nick parades through the market with his trolls (if you see one of these up close, you’ll never be bad again!)

DSC06269The heart of German Christmas Markets has for long now been in Nürnberg (Nuremberg).

An old city enwrapped within stone walls but as busy as a metropolis, visiting this during the busy Christmas season, and particularly during its last days, is truly a challenge. With all sorts of languages being heard in the streets, and people from all over the world being overcrowded in the pedestrianized streets. But it is definitely worth it.DSC06247

There is so much to see in Nürnberg.

The beautifully sculptured Church of St. Sebaldus  appears in almost every city skyline with visitors gathering at its central square – the crossroads for the numerous festive markets spread throughout the city.

A city that draws you in the deeper you go.

DSC06302With stunning views being commonplace, and with a horse-drawn carriage never lacking.

DSC06320There is even a royal castle which offers for an even more beautiful glimpse of the city from above.

The Pegnitz river crosses through the city and provides a magnificent, tranquil atmosphere in which to stroll and take artistic photos.

DSC06352

It causes tourists to flock on its bridges and take souvenirs of their visit to Nürnberg, be it with a simple phone camera, or the latest technology available. The river and its little inhabitants – the ducks, for example– are a demonstration that no matter how commercial a city may get, there still remains another side, the more humane and “real” one. DSC06359

Whatever the reason behind a visit, finding the time to tour around the city itself and learn a bit of its history, traditions, and culture, will always make you a little bit wiser. And will certainly put a smile on your face and give you a sense of fulfillment.

P.S. All photos included are my own, taken in München and Nürnberg on 22-23 December 2013.

DSC06391

Frohe Weihnachten!                                                

Merry Christmas!

Buon Natale!

Feliz Navidad!

Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

                                                     Joyeux Noël!

     Also part of Daily Prompt: The Best Day Ever

It’s all in the #Santa_hat

mickey-tiny-timTerrified by what he just saw before him Scrooge tweeted Things have to #change!

He closed his money lists, opened a web browser and furiously began typing away.

It was almost sunrise when his battery finally ran out and he managed to fall asleep, with those frightful images still hovering in his head.

The next day a new Scrooge had awoken.

@EbScrooge: New day! #Merry_Christmas everyone! #Joy, #Happiness, #Xmas

Even the tweeting ghosts were surprised by this extraordinary change.

Dressed in a Santa hat and with a bag full of gifts he rushed over to Bob’s house.

Bob was shocked to see him. He didn’t know whether to be happy or scared! Was he expecting him to work today? And why on earth was he wearing a Santa hat?

@BCratchit: #Scrooge here. Why? #confused

“Merry Christmas!” exclaimed Scrooge as he walked in ringing a jingle bell in his hand. The children excitedly ran up to him, as he opened the bag and let them explore the toys and gifts he had brought them.

@MrsCratchit: @BCratchit #Scrooge brought delicious roast turkey!! #thankful #Christmas_miracle

@BCratchit: #Medical_treatment for @Tiny_Tim! & I just got a raise!! Thanks @EbScrooge! #jingle_bells

@Tiny_Tim: There is a #Santa!

 

 

Some other Christmas “ghost” writers can be found here.

A signal to change

Christmas Future 2“WTF is going on tonight?” wondered Scrooge as he re-opened his laptop screen.

@GhXmasFuture: @EbScrooge your #future is #bleak. Beware!

“This is just getting ridiculous. What does a man have to do to get some peace and quiet?”

@GhXmasFuture: @EbScrooge you’ll get plenty of peace and quiet soon enough…#death #alone

Scrooge shivered from top to bottom as he read this tweet. This was certainly not something you wanted to read on a late cold night. Especially in a dark house like his.

Determined to stop this “nonsense” he closed the Twitter application. Now the mind-reading ghosts would not bother him again. And he could concentrate on his work.

But as he maximized his financial lists and got to counting again, his entire computer screen blacked-out. Slowly an image began to form.  A poor home in which Bob’s family was still mourning over the loss of their young son.  Then, his own home deserted and abandoned. With a graffiti sign out front stating with red letters “good riddance fat pig”. And finally, a tombstone in a forsaken graveyard with his name clearly marked out: “Eb. Scrooge, lived a miser and died alone” with a hand-written “at last” inserted next to it.

Some other Christmas “ghost” writers can be found here.

Ice inside and out

Gleb_-7 Xmas PresentScrooge felt a chill running down his back.

The wind was howling outside and suddenly the window flung open. Expecting to see a ghost (perhaps the one that was tweeting him), Scrooge got up trembling to close it.

Returning to his computer – the battery was still at 85% – he scrolled down his money lists. He still had to calculate the month’s earnings.

Bling!

@GhXmasPresent: @EBScrooge, beware of what is to come! #Greed_breeds_fear

@EBScrooge: @GhXmasPresent, you’re too #late, other #ghost already here. #Shoo, #go_away

At the sound of the next bling, announcing yet another tweet, Scrooge began to grumble. He had already lost count five times, and these calculations weren’t easy. And he had to finish before the battery ran out!

@GhXmasPresent: @EBScrooge, #financial_crisis deeply struck #those_in_need. @BCratchit is a #good_man. You are #heartless.

@EBScrooge: @BCratchit you already have the day off. What else do you want? #greedy #never_enough

@GhXmasPresent: @EBScrooge: You are the #greedy one. People are #hungry, #poor and #cold & you don’t care. #No_festive_spirit

Scrooge was getting irritated. What kind of somber prank was this?

@EBScrooge: @GhXmasPresent: Bah #Humbug!

And with that he slammed the screen shut. Perhaps a moment in silence would end this farce.

Bling!

 

Some other Christmas “ghost” writers can be found here.

 

A ghostly visit

Christmas PastHaving half-heartedly let Cratchit off for the next day – Christmas they called it – Scrooge returned home. It was so cold (heaters cost money) and dark (so does electricity). He lit his LED-battery-run torch and went upstairs to his bedroom.

On days like this he missed his colleague Jacob Marley who had died a year ago, for he was the only one who truly understood Scrooge’s need to work. Constantly.

He made himself comfortable on the sofa with his laptop on his knees.

With the lighting of the screen he heard a bling…

@GhXmasPast tweeted: @EBScrooge, remember the #times that were.

#Halloween is over!” replied @EBScrooge and minimized the browser.

But the ghostly tweet continued. #Christmas is for #families and #happiness. You #forgot too soon.

Scrooge chose to ignore it, certain that it was some kind of prank.

But then his whole computer screen froze, as if someone had achieved remote access, and all of a sudden an image appeared – an old house and children inside laughing around a Christmas tree, with the warmth of a fire crackling. With presents like choo-choo-trains and dolls laying open on the floor.

@GhXmasPast: #Childhood #innocence lost. #Greed for #money has become your torture.

 

 

Other Christmas “ghost” writers can be found here.

#Scrooge arrives

EBScroogeBob Cratchit was already at his desk by sunrise. He was furiously typing away at his old-run-down-PC, when Ebenezer Scrooge walked in. Just the sound of the door creaking at his entry – Scrooge never agreed to spend a few dimes to oil it – made Cratchit spring upright in his chair. Scrooge rushed in, his face fixed upon his 5 inch smartphone screen and into his office. Cratchit had stopped wishing him a goodmorning, for it never was, and he never got a reply anyway.

#Scrooge just in. Darn morning again, tweeted @BCratchit stealing a moment from his piled up workload.

Scrooge was always buried in a screen, be it his smartphone, his tablet, or his computer, he barely looked to see where he was going. And for a person so wired up, he was hardly sociable. He disliked anything to do with holidays. For him work was his life.

But it was already Christmas Eve and Bob wanted to go home, to his family and friends and celebrate.

@BCratchit: Stop #Tweeting and #work. Otherwise no leave for #Dec25. Bah #Humbug! replied @EbScrooge, surprising Bob who delved back into his screen without seeing the next tweet:

@JMarley: #Scrooge up for #surprise.

 

Other Christmas “ghost” writers are:
Tom over at Shouts from the Abyss
Steve from Stevil
Dylan of Treatment of Visions
Sarah from Parent Your Business
Dawn blogging at Lingering  Visions
K8edid from k8edid
Dave bringing it at 1pointperspective
Eileen from Not The Sword But The Pen
Lindsey at RewindRevise
Kandy of Kandy Talk
Sandra writing at In Love With Words
Natalie from So I Went Undercover
Jen at Blog It or Lose It
Amelie from In the Barberry
Cee Cee blogging at Cee Cee’s Blog
Ashley from LittleWonder2
BD writing Blogdramedy

Christmas Carol-ing

happy-blogfestivus-2013Christmas is only 9 days away! (So is my birthday for that matter, just so you know!) And if you’re really eager to countdown there is a way right here!

In order to get you all into the spirit of Christmas, however, Blogdramedy has conjured up yet another festive challenge. Entitled “A Christmas Carol”, BlogFestivus 2013 promises to revive your memory on what Dickens’ famous story was about, set in 2013. Be prepared for something novel and different!

So bring your eggnogs (or tea) along and enjoy the serial story I am preparing this year, starting with Ebenezer Scrooge, leading on to the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and ending with Tiny Tim!

It’s only five days, of 200 words each!

So join in the fun and be jolly this season!

Superstitious thirteenth

friday 13thFriday the 13th is weird. Because you expect something scary to happen, like you see in those horror movies, or something bad like urban legends and superstitions have you believe.

The scary thing is that something always does happen that accentuates your initial preposition against this “tremendous” calendar date.

Walking under a ladder or seeing a black cat on a Friday 13th won’t kill you (not that I know of at least). For what happens if your favourite pet cat is black? Or if you are employed in construction and happen to work with ladders?  Or worse yet, if both apply to you?

See, it’s a strange date.

Perhaps it is also because you expect something bad to happen, that whatever out-of-the-ordinary does happen on this date is interpreted as such.

Then again if confusion strikes and you can’t get your work done because other people fail to deliver their part of the deal; or if you get lost on the road due to wrong directions given; or better yet if your entire power is cut off – well, then it is arguable whether this is due to a superstitious date, or in fact the all-round stupidity of people who regularly prove that common sense is indeed not as common as it sounds…

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