Walhalla

October 2011

We visited a Grecian architecture called Walhalla in the outskirts of Regensburg. It’s a good 30-minute bus ride from the city center and the buses only arrive every one hour. We also had to walk all the way up to the place for 15 minutes.

I’m not really sure if it was patterned after Greece’s Parthenon but it sure hell looks like a renovated version of it.

We weren’t able to go inside the place since it’s still under construction and we didn’t think it’s worth paying 2 euros just to see an unfinished inside. Besides, it’s just full of German busts. What’s more interesting in this place though is the majestic and enchanting view of Regensburg from the top.

Used my camera’s second lens to mega zoom. Forgive me for using these camera terms loosely. I’m no expert in this.

Sparkling like glitters under the sun

Sam, I, and Anna. It was warm that day and we were all wearing shorts.

Took me a lot of effort to climb those big steps

Spot me! :)

Oh, this is a cute one :)) We found a couple doing their pre-nup photoshoot in Walhalla.

So much cheese!

I found Walhalla very pretty and peaceful. It’s one of those places where you can sit on the grass and do some meditation.

November 2011

So when my mom decided to visit me on November, Walhalla was part of our itinerary.

It was already cold when she went there. Notice the foggy surrounding and the lack of tourists? We were the only crazy people who thought of climbing up the place on a cold, cold November day.

Instead of the average 15-minute walk, I think it took us around 30 minutes to get to the top.  I was already begging my mom to walk faster but she confessed that it’s been a while since she last did some exercise and her body is certainly not prepared for this. I think she’s getting old.

We packed lunch and ate there. My mom prepared salad and dumplings which were really, really good. We laughed when we saw a pregnant woman and her husband touring the place also. I teased her about it, “Daig ka pa ng buntis Ma, nauna pa sila nakaakyat dito.”  We stayed there for an hour, just observing the view and talking about life. Like me, she was also amazed with what she saw and felt thankful for having the opportunity to witness such. We finally decided to go down when the cold weather became unbearable for us. It certainly was a fun and memorable mother-daughter bonding experience.

Yeah, like a terrorist.


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DULT! (2)

September 2011 (follow-up post)

Dult is like a mini Oktoberfest held in Regensburg. It’s a regular festival in the city wherein people gather to drink beer, have fun, and meet new friends. It’s like a perya in the Philippine context except that the Germans wear costumes (Dirndl for women and Lederhosen for men).

For those who prefer enjoying the sun while drinking cold beer, beer gardens are the place to be.

Those heart-shaped cookies (Lebkuchenherzen) are always present in any event. Each cookie has a unique cheesy line written in white frosted icing (Ich liebe dich = I love you, Ich vermisse dich = I miss you, Du bist suss = You are sweet, etc.)

Aside from sweets, pastries, and souvenirs, varieties of German bread were also sold in the Dult.

See that brown bread with white confectioner’s sugar? That’s Krapfen – the original Bavarian doughnut.

Inside one of the beer tents

Of course, what’s the use of being inside a beer tent if you won’t drink beer? ;)

German pretzels are the best and the biggest. Hard outside, soft inside, and sprinkled with rock salt. (They also have pretzels with butter inside which are my favorite) The sign says “cheese, pretzel, and fish”

Told you they’re big.

PROST! 

Up until now I still miss you. And I can’t imagine the day I won’t.

It’s getting harder and harder for me to update my blog mainly because I’m still suffering from a major JTA hangover. Yes. It’s hard for me to close that specific chapter of my life. It was the perfect getaway for me and I became the person I always wanted to be — happy and without a care in the world. Going back to the Philippines meant facing school and stress again. Up until now, whenever I wake up in the morning, I am always burdened with the realization that I am not in Germany anymore. I am not, in any way, brainwashed by the prosperity of the country or with the fact that it really is a greener pasture. I know and I am sure that I can be successful whichever part of the world I may be. It has something more to do with the people — friends and families — I left there. They taught me the real meaning of goodbye. Saying goodbye to your highschool classmates during graduation or to your ex is one thing; I’ve bumped into some of them a number of times in malls, in schools, and in some events. While saying goodbye to people  who gave you a window for turning into a new leaf and whom you know will be living on the other side of the world, thus, it is as close to impossibility as to seeing them again, is another thing. It’s more of the feeling that I consistently felt for 6 months which I know I can never feel here. I felt at peace. I felt free. Sitting for the first time at the side of the Danube River and seeing the beauty and tranquility of the place, it was then and there where, for the first time in a long time, I felt my heart beat for no one but myself. I rediscovered a side of me that never really got to surface until left alone by all the worries and stress. It was there that I realized I can do better, that I was being too hard on myself, and, that life is beautiful if only we will allow ourselves to see itAnd that there’s so much more on the other side, if only people will know how to break the walls of their comfort zones.

That’s why when people say, “you can always go back there someday” I know it would be altogether, a new experience. Being there as a student and as a tourist are two different things. I want to re-experience the past 6 months of my stay. I don’t think there would be a more stupid request than that. But I can’t help it.

Going back means putting boundaries again. Because that’s how reality is; unless you are already fending for yourself and making so much money, you are still limited with what’s available in front of you.

I know it’s a bad thing to escape from reality, to always live in your dream scenario, but face it — if you were in my situation, I’m sure you would have wanted to stay too and never go back.


Christmas and New Year

I stayed in my mom’s friend’s place for the Christmas vacation. Tita Dang’s was really warm and nice to me. It isn’t my first time to go there  but their welcoming hugs were as warm as they were when my mom and I visited them last November. They live in Markdorf – a little town in Baden-Württemberg, south of Germany. It’s a pretty place to be in. This is the Lake Constance (or Bodensee in German). I can see three countries from where I was standing. See that land across the lake? That’s Switzerland already. And when you look to the left, that’s Austria. And of course, I’m in Deutschland. Too bad I don’t have a panoramic shot (or maybe I do, I just don’t know how to use my camera properly). The lake acts like a border. I wish I was able to ride a boat and reach the middle of the lake so I can brag about being in three places at the same time.

No, this isn’t their house yet. This is just the street they live in. Their place is around 1.5km away from the city center. You can only go there by car or by foot. There are no bus stops around the area.

View from their second floor. If you go right, you’ll end up in a forest. We spent one afternoon there walking and marveling at the trees and greens. We passed by this part of the forest where we could see Bodensee and the Alps. It’s a very beautiful sight. I didn’t bring my camera that time because it was too cold outside and there’s no way I could take decent pictures with frozen fingers.

I didn’t get my white Christmas but I got to see snow. And hail.

It could only get as thick as this. Come midday, they will all melt away. Unlike last year, they said snow started as early as end of October and there were lots and lots of snow. *sigh*

Just like the ones I see in postcards.

White houses

Just me being giddy at the sight of everything white (well, almost).

This was taken on another day after all the snow melted and everything was colorful again. I challenged myself to go to the city center by foot. I was halfway there when I saw a McDo nearby. You can pretty much guess what happened after.

Anyway, I sat on that bench for 10 minutes and had my quiet time. It felt so good to inhale fresh air and not think about anything stressful. Il dolce far niente – the sweetness of doing nothing. :)

Simple but breathtaking.

Yes, my legs got longer because of the long walk. ;) =))

It felt like Fall again…

…except that the trees didn’t have leaves anymore.

And of course, a Biergarten in the middle of a highway.

And oh, about Christmas…

The Raubers gave me a jigsaw puzzle of Santorini – my second dream place next to Italy. I still feel bad that I wasn’t able to go to Greece. Going there was one of the things I was looking forward to when we were planning our travels. But because of a misunderstanding with the residence permit, we decided to cancel Greece since we’re already 2 weeks behind our plans. We thought we could not go out of Germany without the residence permit. Turns out we can because we have Schengen visa. We waited for the residence permit to arrive first which only came at the last week of October. :/ ANYWAY. It’s not like Santorini’s gonna sink anytime soon, is it? I’ll be back.

New Year’s Eve here wasn’t as special as it always is back home. They don’t hang 12 grapes on their windows and doors, they don’t make any noise during countdown, they don’t fill their cooking pots with coins and jump three times because I don’t think they would still wish to grow taller next year. They don’t really have these traditions. They have fireworks too – but not a lot since you have to have a permit from the Rathaus first before you can light up the sky. And they have very very very few firecrackers.

I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend Christmas last year than spend it with the Raubers. They’ve been so kind to me. Tita Dang treated me like her own and she was actually the one who helped me and gave me advice about what to wear, what to buy, what to do, the moment I stepped foot in Germany. We even went to a thermal bath before I left. I miss them already. And I do hope God would continue to bless them because they really are a nice bunch of people and they never failed, even for a second, to make me feel loved during my short stay.

Doing Business in Asia

During the start of our semester, I made it a point to myself not to take too many subjects since I really don’t want to end up stressed and frustrated because of school works (again) when in fact I should be enjoying the time of my life here.  Anyways, I was only required to take 2 management subjects and 3 free electives (which were already covered by our Deutschkurs last September), thus, allotting more time for leisure and travel. But then as I was scanning through the list of management subjects offered by the University of Regensburg, I saw an interesting subject which I think would be very applicable if ever I pursue my career in Asia. “Doing Business in Asia” by none other than Lüder Paysen, the former VP of BMW and in charge of the company’s international sales. Despite it being only 4 ECTS (they call their “units” ECTS and since we need 3 units per subject in Ateneo, we have to take subjects with ECTS multiples of 6 here), I decided to take it as an extra subject. I was curious and at the same time, thrilled.

“You cannot map out your career. Sometimes you think you have it all planned out only to realize you’re already pursuing another thing.” – Lüder Paysen

It proved to be one of the most nerve-wracking subjects I’ve ever had in my entire life. 4 meetings with 4 hours each. Sitting in a small “conference room” and listening to this great man talk about his ways and business practices which led to the booming sales of BMW in Asia, it’s hard to keep your mind focused and alert. He presents business and culture problems he encountered in Asia before and asks us one by one what steps or strategies should we implement assuming that we were in his position. He walks around the room as if looking for a target and once found, he stands across that person’s desk, looks at him or her in the eye, and asks the most dreaded question, “What would you do?” And because we often don’t have time to think through our answers, I just say the first thing that comes across my mind – which is almost always about the culture differences of Germany and the Asian country for the day, as I, being an Asian, have an advantage over that matter. He frankly points out the leak in our proposed solutions and in turn, gives a more sensible (though sometimes, unorthodox) one. That part where he reveals the true solution always leads us to that “Aha!” moment – why nobody among us didn’t think of that or maybe if someone did, he or she wouldn’t have thought it could work. For me, it’s also during that time that I realize why he held that position.

It was during our second meeting when he revealed that the two best people in his class would have the opportunity to intern or study or do whatever he or she wants in China next year, all expense paid. I didn’t make it. But I honestly hope I did.

Rarely do I find a professor who can give me goosebumps whenever he or she enters the classroom. This is one of those rare moments. But curiosity didn’t really kill the cat, you see. It made her learn. Yes, I wouldn’t deny that I had a great time learning. I saw it as a blessing and a privilege, being taught by the VP of my dream company. And sometimes, I’ve got to admit that I need to be challenged and to be nerve-wracked once in a while to realize things.

Only In Germany

So our case study today in International Management is about Stella Artois and I was surprised when I entered our lecture hall this afternoon. Our professor was wearing a bow tie and an apron – the typical bartender uniform. On his lecture table were bottles of different European premium beers in different shapes and sizes. Small-sized candles were also lighted and beer chalices and mugs were arranged neatly beside the beer bottles. During the discussion, he gave beer coasters to those who recited and handed Stella Artois chalices and beer mugs at the end of the class to those who scored the highest recitation points.

And oh, we had beer-tasting also. Apparently, his assistant was pouring 5 different beers – 15 shots each – while he was doing the lecture. And then, the assistant put the shots in five different trays and our professor made us guess which beer is which. Take note: these aren’t just ordinary beverage. These are premium beers. He even had cookies for everyone.

Did I tell you he gave us free Stella Artois beers?

Cool. I know.

OKTOBERFEST!

September 24, 2011

So here it is! THE Oktoberfest. I used to think that “Oktoberfest” was just a concert held yearly in the Philippines and  sponsored by this local alcohol company with rock bands playing noisy music. After seeing the legit, I realized we’re doing it the wrong way.

For a brief background, Oktoberfest is a celebration that showcases the Bavarian (southern part of Germany) culture. It’s celebrated every year, running from September to first week of October. People all over the world gather in this big event not just to drink beer – well actually that’s what most people do here: get drunk and pass out – but also, to be immersed in the Bavarian culture and tradition. Just in case someone’s still not aware, drinking beer is a tradition and a culture here. So don’t judge if you always see pictures of me drinking beer. HAHA. I swear it’s a different experience here. Strangers talk to you in a friendly manner and when they say “Prost!” you have to raise your glass and drink. They’re so nice you’ll think you’re all friends. =)) Well I got to admit, alcohol sometimes bonds people together.

2-hour train trip to Munich with some of the international (or Erasmus) students. L-R: Gael, Anna, Conrad, Sam, Giannis, Alejandro, and Nicolas.

Yes, it looks like Dult. Only bigger and crazier. :))

Also, they have these heart-shaped ginger breads known as “Lebkuchen”. Each bread has a different message and people usually just wear them around their necks to match their Dirndl and Lederhosen.

Someone bought me one. “Du bist suss” = “You are sweet” in English. Thanks! :)

Of course, Paulaner. The best beer in town. :)

One of the many beer “tents”

…and the people waiting to get in. They stopped letting people go inside the beer tents at 12pm. The crowd’s so thick and people are pushing their way in. FYI, I’m talking about Caucasians with big bones and towering heights here so yeah, I wouldn’t dare get in their way. We got there at 7am and waited in line for 3 hours since beer tents open at 10am. Still, we weren’t able to get in. :/

So we just sat outside and ordered our beers which are 10x MORE EXPENSIVE THAN DULT BEERS. Oh well. Experience.

L-R: Anna, Gael, Benj, Veikko, Sam

 10-euro drink in my bellaaaay.

After that, we went around the fair and saw lots of drunk people And by lots, I mean LO-T-S. They’re EVERYWHERE. Young and old, males and females alike, and they were literally lying on the cement. Some of them passed out and some were still barfing. It was just around lunch time then. Medics were all over the place, attending to those who seem like they can’t go home in one piece if left alone. We saw one guy with a dextrose and another one with a bloody, broken nose. It wasn’t a nice sight but that didn’t stop the people from enjoying the 200-year old tradition. That’s just how they roll.

Told you. Alcohol really has a way of bonding people together. :))

And yeah, before we left, Benj, Sam, and I rode this ride:

It doesn’t seem dangerous and the tracks aren’t that steep but this actually almost killed us. Why?

Because they don’t have “neck supports”. :| Seriously, that feeling that your head’s gonna fall off any second or your neck’s gonna snap and break?

Never again.

Dult

..to continue my super late posts.

September 10, 2011

Dult is a mini-Oktoberfest in Regensburg. I find it more interesting than Oktoberfest itself since it’s less crowded and the people here are a lot nicer.

It’s a counterpart of perya in the Philippines – only with more decent booths, safer rides, and bigger beer tents.

Game booths and rides

Loving the bread here. So yummy!

One of the beer tents…

…and inside it.

My usual beer – Radler. Nicked this glass after ;)

PROST :)

People dancing up on tables. Guys traditionally wear Lederhosen while girls wear Dirndl.

Everyone gathered just to have fun and drink beer. Nice. :)

Live band

Got a special shoutout from one of the vocalists of the band. “Greetings to our friends from the Philippines!” :) He raised his glass to me and went down the stage. Haha. Everyone’s kinda tipsy already and truth be told, I was flattered. But then looking at the pictures in a sober state, I just realized he kinda looks old.

Me and the bouncers. Blurry pictures, slurry speeches.

Forget about Auntie Anne’s. This pretzel’s legit.

The Dom at night. Still majestic as ever.

Ending the night with a big  (wasted) smile. :) Definitely one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

And yes. I’m gonna go back here someday and do this all over again. Someday.

Beer Brewery Tour

What’s Germany without beer? Here we got a glimpse on how the best-tasting beers on earth are made.

The beer brewery house

Beeeeeeeeeeeeers. Naturally.

The beermaster and his beer tank

Ginormous tanks containing beer

One of the main ingredients of beer: Hops. Other ingredients are water, malt, wheat (for Weizenbier and Weißbier or Wheat Beer), yeast, etc.

Frothy and foamy

Trying out the unfermented beer. But beer without alcohol ISN’T a beer, is it? Technically, this is just hops juice.

The end product.

I was quite surprised that Germany only ranks third when it comes to beer consumption per capita. It’s actually Czech Republic and Ireland that are on top of the list.

PROST!

Random city shots…again.

KEBAB!

A piece of heaven for 3.50 euros