Mid-February and it seems to me that it has been like forever since we had some sunshine and just a little bit of warmth. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely OK with winter, snow and frost! In my opinion this time of year has its very own charm. Unfortunately most of the winters that I can recall were mainly filled with grey clouds, slush and rain. I guess we can all live happily without that?
We live at the foot of the Alps in Bavaria, southern Germany. We have continental climate, which means that our local climate is not under much influence from the sea. No warm or cold stream will influence our weather to the same extent as it does nearer to the coastlines. It also means that the weather is more “stabil” - longer periods with either cold or warm weather. Great in the summer, less fun during the winter (if we only have rain showers for weeks!)
This leads me to a somewhat tenacious myth: In my native Denmark we do not have ice and snow to the extent that most people think! Yes, Denmark is part of Scandinavia, as are Norway and Sweden. But Denmark is the “mild littlebrother” among the three. In Denmark you will never have more than 2-3 hours drive to a coast, meaning that the weather is highly influenced by the sea. To put it in diplomatic terms, the danes know a thing or two about windy, rainy and grey conditions! If you want snow and ice you have to go to Norway or Sweden - preferably north of Stockholm.
Here in Munich we have had snow and ice over the past few weeks. They say it will turn in the next few days though. In the mountains surrounding the city it will stay. We like this! Because although we mostly keep ourselves occupied by indoor activities (Anton thinks it is WAY too cold to stay outside for very long - and he is right!) there simply IS something quite alluring about a fresh layer of powder snow, ice crystals and a clear blue sky. When we drive along the highway just outside the city in clear weather we can see the mountain tops in the distance. It is incredibly beautiful and I will never tire of this view. In fact I often get disappointed if the view is not clear enough and we only see grey skies.
We have been on trips to the mountains a few times during this winter. We went with a couple of friends to a nearby place to go toboggan down the hillside. And we have planned yet another trip a few weeks from now, including an overnight stay. It will be fantastic and hopefully the weather will be good. The snow will be there for sure - all the way up there - but I would like for the view to be excellent when we go sliding down the hills!
Quite a few people are asking us if we go skiing, now that we have some of the finest resorts in Europe within just an hour from our home. And I would like to say that we do, but the truth is that we don’t! We simply have not gotten to it yet. First Anton will have to go to a ski school in order to be able to enjoy this experience. Alexandra is a great skier, but I would probably need a few days of ski school as well. Hence we are already into quite an investment, taken into consideration that we would also need to upgrade and extend our range of equipment. Not to mention ski passes and potential accommodation if we are away for a few days. I believe that our priorities are different at the moment. We tend to be dreaming of far horizons and longer trips instead of skiing, so I guess our goals and priorities are pretty much set for the immediate future…
Shrovetide (Fastelavn/Fasching) is a BIG thing in Germany! It marks the transition from winter to spring. We know the tradition in Denmark as well, albeit in a slightly different way. In Denmark an old tradition is to hide a black cat in a barrel, then hit the barrel until it breaks and the cat falls out. During the middle ages people would then kill the cat, because it was believed that the city would then go clear of the plague. This is still done today, however with a barrel full of sweets and a plastic cat stuck to the barrel. And today “Slå katten af tønden” (Beating the cat of the barrel) is a children's game. Children will also wear costumes, play other games and eat sweets almost until they get sick… In other words, it is more of a carnival! In Germany it is not custom to beat the cat of the barrel, but carnival parades are common in many of the major cities. In fact many cities are completely shut off to let people drink, party and mark the coming of spring. A cold counterpart to the carnival in Rio, I guess!
Anton is celebrating Shrovetide in his kindergarten, dressed as a baker. This was his greatest wish this year, so of course…
With Shrovetide almost over, I guess we will see the first signs of spring?