A Very French Morning!

Look what came to our doorstep this morning!

French-themed pastries from Le Petit Cheri! :D

Two weeks ago, we stumbled upon their FB page and read about their contest. Whoever gets to upload pictures that portray the French culture and lifestyle will have the chance to win French macarons and cupcakes. Since Carissa knows the owner of the store as well, we decided to give it a try. As it turned out, we – Gianna, Carissa, and I – were the only people who joined the contest. Ha-ha. But that doesn’t mean we uploaded crappy pictures!

Gianna Monteagudo: Parc Monceau, Paris, France (Sept. 26, 2011)

Carissa Limcaoco: Nice, France (Sept. 13, 2011)

Carissa Limcaoco: The French spending a sunny afternoon drinking coffee in a cafe.
Nancy, France October 2011

Fielle Ignacio: Arc du Carrousel – Paris, France. (October 22, 2011)

French pastries from a random pastry shop in Paris! :)

I shall try to drop by their store one time and see if they have decided to put our pictures up their walls. Ha-ha. Oh the joys of traveling!

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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.


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.

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

City Tour

A clear, blue sky. Perfect for a city tour.

Downtown of Regensburg

Fellow international students. Most of them are under the ERASMUS program.

Filipinos represent!

We were accompanied by a tour guide that time. Our first stop is the Dom. I actually only remember two places during our city tour: Danube River and Dom, the rest were just houses and stuff. I don’t know why I can’t remember any of them.

Shooting upwards

One of the most intricate churches that I’ve ever seen

Its entrance

Intricate design and extremely unique infrastructure

Full view. Could have had a nicer shot of it if only I were a better photographer.

I love how it stands the highest among all the other buildings in Regensburg.

Random city shots

Yes, I’m a guy now.

Big Ben — German version.

A fortress-like house with plants creeping on the walls

Almost Fall

Second main attraction: The Danube River

I hope to have a postcard-like shot of this beautiful river someday.

And along the bridge railings…

…we found these.

“Lock your love, throw out the key.”

I want to put a padlock also but then I don’t have a significant other as of the moment. It would be really depressing to see my padlock, say, after ten years, with my name on it, still alone and forever locked on the bridge railings.

So as for now, my only souvenir with the Danube River is this:

I would be able to lock my own someday and the Danube River will be the firsthand witness. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

A glimpse of Universität Regensburg and an afternoon at Biergarten

University of Regensburg or Universität Regensburg is one of the biggest school in Bavaria which houses almost 20,000 students – 1,400 of them are international students. According to the QS World University Rankings, UR is classified as a “large” university – whereas Ateneo de Manila University is only a “medium” university. As for UP, it’s an XL.

The famous big ball. If you try to google UR, you’ll always get pictures of the big ball. I don’t know the reason why they put it but it sure looks odd and weird…in a good way.

View from afar

On the left side: copy shop, mini grocery store, bank, book shop, etc.

Our cafeteria

And yes, we have a  pond inside the school.

…and also a bridge.

Pathway leading to the other buildings

Lots of trees and greens!

This is a new building, I think? We took a tour inside the Philosophy and Theology building and it’s seriously old! I felt like I was inside Hogwarts at that time. The walls weren’t painted and they have brick floors. Plus the ceiling is really high. You can actually hear your footsteps echoing. What’s amazing is that all the buildings are connected by an underground passageway so that during winter or when it’s raining, you don’t have to go outside just to transfer to another building. Cool, isn’t it?

Walking back to the big ball

These poles are found outside the Wirtschaft (Management) building. Call it art but those look like boils to me.

After our university tour, our tutors brought us to a Biergarten. Here I tasted my first ever beer in Germany and daaaamn they weren’t kidding when they said they produce one of the best beers in the world. And for them, beer is like a source of nourishment (heck their beers are even cheaper than mineral “un-carbonated” water). Unlike in the Philippines where beers are so unhealthy because of too much preservatives, theirs are made up mostly of organic ingredients. That’s why I found a lot of families spending their time in the Biergarten. Even the kids drink beer here. It’s really in their culture.

International students gathered to drink beer together

I ordered half a liter of Radler – beer and lemonade. It’s a girl’s drink.

After that, we walked to Hauptbahnhof to do some grocery for dinner

An interesting street. Straβe means “street” in German.

Waiting for the bus home

And beer pasta for dinner. So much beer for that day. And have I told you…

…we have beer vendo in school?

2nd Day

My room. I have a big window which I can open either vertically or horizontally. I love how I can easily see the sky first thing in the morning. Makes me realize how lucky I am for being granted another day to spend with God.

My bed. On it — a blue travel journal, Bible, wallet, cellphone, eye mask (I got this from Emirates HAHA), and my thick, comfy Spongebob blanket which I haven’t spread out yet. It’s kinda messy right now.

This is what my dorm looks like from the outside. I’m in house 7 together with one of my JTA-mates, Anna. Sam is in house 3 while John and Benj are in house 5. We all live in the same dorm anyway, Wohnheim Konigswiesen.

Our street

Regensburg Hauptbahnhof/Regensburg Arcaden

This is the train station. Inside it is the Regensburg Arcaden which is equivalent to a mall. We go there to do our groceries but there’s also a grocery nearer to our dorm. I still haven’t visited it yet. See how the clock says it’s already 7pm? That’s how it is here. It doesn’t get dark ’til 10pm. 8pm here is just like 5pm in Manila. Wish we also have longer days back home.

Nice cars all over Germany. Bikes are pretty popular too! I want to get one since it’s been a while since I last rode a bike. There’s a flea market here that sells bike for as low as 30 euros and they say it would also be easy to re-sell it. But then I’m thinking if I really should since I can’t use them anymore during winter.

McDonald’s in Germany – I believe it’s a haven for travelers who are looking for a safe place to eat in a foreign land.

Exploring Ikea. Yes, my thighs are fat. I love them anyway.

I don’t know how to end this better than posting a maple leaf that I randomly found on the road. My first time to see one, you know. We don’t have this in the Philippines.

Crossing Borders

I left Manila at exactly 12:20am. For some reason, I didn’t cry that much. I think it hasn’t sunk in yet that time that I was leaving my family for a while. Emirates was kind enough to give me an assistant during the whole process since it’s my first time to board the plane alone. They guided me through the immigration, check-in, and made sure that I am seated comfortably in the waiting area. I boarded the plane at the exact time.

Inside the plane

I love how they made it look like stars are shining down from the ceiling. I didn’t sleep well, though. My seatmate kept her TV on and I was distracted by its brightness. So I just watched Pirates of the Caribbean – On Strangers Tides and X-Men First Class. Those were really good movies.

After 8 hours of flight, we stopped in Dubai.

Dubai at 4am

We have 4 hours of layover time. It’s just 4am in Dubai but I decided to call my dad immediately. He’s in Saudi Arabia right now. I was actually expecting that he’d come and see me. I was supposed to ride Qatar Airways which stops in Doha (nearer to Jeddha, KSA) but we  had last-minute change of plans and decided to take Emirates instead. I think Dubai is far from KSA? I’m not sure exactly. Anyway, I talked to him for an hour or so while I was finding my way to the next gate. Dubai Airport is soooo much bigger compared to NAIA. I walked for around 10 minutes just to get to gate 144. When I finally I arrived there, I took a nap because my head was aching so bad.

Time Difference

I left Dubai at around 8am, Abu Dhabi time.

Dubai airport is so big that the passengers had to ride a coach from the waiting area to the plane. It kinda reminded me of LRT since the coach has no seats, only poles and handles.

Leaving Dubai

The stewardesses serve food every 2 hours and I must say, I LOVE THEIR FOOD. Especially their last meal…spicy chicken with bell pepper, tomato, and potatoes, apple juice, bread and butter, assorted crackers with different sauces, mixed veggies, strawberry and cream cake, and Mars chocolate for dessert. YUM!

After 6 more hours, the plane finally landed in Munich. It was raining when I arrived and I was one of the last ones to get their baggage from the carousel. I kept an eye on the carousel and another eye on the clock since my shuttle service will leave at 2:30pm. It was already 2:15pm at that time. When I finally got my baggage, I pushed my cart and started to look for the Mietwagen. Munich Airport is smaller than Dubai but bigger than NAIA (or at least that’s what I think). I was so nervous since I don’t have any idea what will happen if the shuttle leaves without me. I don’t know how to get to Regensburg by train. Plus, it was raining that time and my baggage and carry-on’s combined weight is around 37kg…more than half of my weight. Luckily, I found the service counter of my shuttle with the help of some Germans.

Outside Munich Airport

The taxis are mostly Audi and Mercedes Benz. You don’t get those in the Philippines.

Rainy trip

After an hour and a half trip, I finally arrived in Regensburg. The driver was really kind to me. He even opened the windows for me so that I could take pictures. Unfortunately, all my shots are blurred. He dropped me off at the University Mensa and I gave him a small pack of dried mangoes which I got from one of the airplane meals. I feel so grateful towards those strangers that I’ve met before, during, and after my flight. I wouldn’t have made it here without them. I’m a girl who has no sense of direction and I would have easily gotten lost if I hadn’t asked the right people. They made my 18-hour flight bearable (all in all, my September 1 is 30 hours long). My longest day EVER.