A Travellerspoint blog

Germany

Disney

So. I met them at their hostel. Since I'm the one with data and their hostel is really near the hbf. Was cool to see all of them again! We quickly bought tickets, bought breakfast and lunch, hopped onto, or rather squeezed into the train. It's like the whole of München suddenly decided they wanted to go see Neuschwanstein (here, NSS).

So the train goes 2h to Füßen, basically an ulu part that most people just pass through to the castle. Except for hikers because the area is beautiful!

Some history: there used to be 3 castles in the area, all ruins though. One day a king decides to rebuild one of the castles originally called Schwanstein castle, and renames it Hohenschwangau. His son later builds on the two remaining ones, which are basically called the Front- and Back-Hohenschwangau castles and renames it Neuschwanstein (where neu means new). In a nutshell the castles swapped names. That's weird.

Mad King Ludwig (the son) really liked the idea of a fantasy castle. He built a lot of castles (so many that the country went into debt), and had NSS built in the romantic style. He wanted to eventually live there, however died before it could be finished.

It definitely has to be the prettiest castle I've ever seen! I liked how some other castles were built purely for defensive reasons; that gives authenticity, atmosphere and grimness. On the other hand, NSS was truly built for the scenery and Ludwig II's idea of beauty. I mean, even the Trianons at Versailles and Buckingham Palace itself began as hunting lodges! NSS appeals to the l'art pour l'art (art for art's sake) notions in me, and my unrealistic desire for an idealistically beautiful and simple life.

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From the bridge
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From on high

Tool a bus to Hohenschwangau, then walked 20-30 min uphill to the castle lol. We decided to go round by the right side first, and that eventually led us to Mariensbrücke, a wood-platforned Bridge from which the whole of München stood on to take photos of/with the castle haha. From there we walked further, and then began to scramble up unmarked pathways wheee. That involved some really steep steps, some slippery organic peat underfoot, lots of tree roots and rocks. L and I went ahead, then waited for the other three. Went down a little way but didn't see them. So we just went up all the way, took photos here and there. It was so fun but so tiring! Legs were like jelly, I was breathing hard, that was a real good workout. And fun too. I need to exercise more :/

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By that time, however, we were a little worried. So we didn't stay long. Went back down to find them, eventually went all the way back to the castle but to no avail! So we actually went back mariensbrücke, and walked in a little more. And then we finally found them! Turns out they'd gone the long and winding (read: less fun) way up to the same place we'd gone to. While we thought they'd be waiting below, they thought we'd be waiting above haha. That's why it took so long for us to remeet.

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Inside the castle
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Anyway I was all tuckered out by that time. All the fast uphill walking had taken its toll. Whewee.

Went to the castle, M and I took some videos for a friend's birthday video. Walked back down to Füßen, bought some souvenirs, then took the train back to München. The train was almost as crowded, but thankfully not as bad. Had to change train, everyone got off and waited. Train was close to 15min late!

Went to an Augustiners near karlsplatz, apparently it's pretty good. We ordered the 3 meat platter (chicken, pork knuckle and something else) and a sausage platter to share. Then M and I shared something called jellied meat (just to try) and goulash, while wh, ms and L got err something I don't remember. Haha. And three of us got Augustiners. The jellied meat is kind of like sliced roast pork (dryish kind) in agar. But the agar is pork brothy and savoury, nor sweet. It was interesting, wasn't really weird. But I would have preferred the meat on its own haha.

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Then we just went back and I slept as early as I could cos I was tired!!! After the quantity of walking the previous day and the quality of the day itself. TIRED.

P.S. Mulan has got to be my favourite Disney 'princess' and movie. I've watched it like 10 times maybe. And Pocahontas my second favourite :) Annoyingly they're never included in the common Disney princess list (or maybe that says something lol)

Posted by seaskimmer 04:05 Archived in Germany Tagged beer germany castle hike münchen Comments (0)

München

Bavaria is supposed to be really different from the rest of Germany. So far, though, I don't see much difference, except that they love beer more and they have cool traditional wear that they now only wear when they go drinking. Okay.

I got to Munich on Friday at 8.30 am, 45min after the scheduled arrival time of 7.45 because the bus left Hamburg and hour late. Ridiculous.

Was a on a tight schedule, walked over to my hostel and checked in, then made my way asap to the Ostbahnhof where boulderwelt is. S says that boulderwelt is the shiz and that a trip to Munich would be nothing without climbing there. So my shoes and chalk bag came along with me on that cold cramped bus. It took me a while and a little bit of help from a kind Turkish German guy to find boulderwelt. Despite having data and Google maps. But don't judge k, the point was totally in the wrong place!!!

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Very helpful that pretty much all buildings in Munchen are marked with numbers and arrows indicating which way the number increases! For this sole reason Munchen already got into my good books. They should have this everywhere. There would be a lot less confused people.

At any rate, I got registered after queuing TWICE, and changed up, and prepared to take on the world. Okay, no, I know I suck now so I was just hoping to have some fun at least. Slowly went up the difficulty ratings til I settled on orange, then went around trying to conquer all of them. Some were okay flashes. Others had really bad holds that I would once upon a time have been able to actually use sigh. But I got pumped really quickly and then got properly tired soon too. So despite intending to leave late and cut into lunchtime (after all the delays) I ended up leaving on time. Boulderwelt is cool though, it's pretty huge. Lots of problems to work on! Unlike nordwandhalle sigh, it's so small.

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Made my way to Marienplatz, or the center of the Altstadt (old city) and walked over to viktualienmarkt for lunch. It's this big daily market that sells lots of fresh produce and normal food. One of the online recommendations was this soup place, with a famous bread stall next to it. Good bread to me is just... Good bread I guess, but soup comes with a halo and fuzzy feelings.

Most of the soups were normal soups so I attempted something weirder and hopefully Bavarian. I didn't even know what it was, so as I stood in line, I quickly googled it and the first result said veal light. I'm like, what is light, but I see veal and think it sounds good and I order it. When I get it, my radar goes up and I check another source and it's veal lung. What on earth. But I bought it and I must eat it. I had most of it, and it really just tastes like slightly chewy flour I guess. Not that I chewed it properly. The more I ate it, the more I thought about what I was eating, and the sicker I really felt. I'm the end I ate most of it but not all. (Pretty much the second picture, without the meatball) I'm sorry, the soup was nice (sour and thick like si chuan soup but not spicy) but I'm really not one for innards. I honestly felt a bit sick at the end.

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I also passed by an 'exotic fruits' stall. And GUESS WHAT. I actually found durian there!!! The fragrance of it wafted up to my nose, and I looked down, gasped, and took a photo of it. This German guy near me glanced amused at me and I just gave him a thumbs up, a huge crazy smile, and a 'SEHR gut' (very good). Didn't seem very impressed though haha. He and his wife just pointed confusedly at the jackfruit yonder and then left lol. And so did I, I think I'll wait to gorge myself on durian when I get back.

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I then made my way back to Marienplatz for the sandeman tour. Which was interesting and she was pretty funny but she just didn't seem to know as much history as the first few tours I went on right in the beginning. Maybe it was a novelty at first. Huh. Randomly ended up chatting with a Chinese guy studying at ntu but on exchange in Sweden.

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Maybe I'm a noob because I have data and I still take time to figure out directions haha. I spent a minute or so staring at Google maps deciding on the best way to get to the Fraucht. And this kindly old man came up and asked if I needed help. We chatted a bit, turns out he's Austrian and he's been to sg for 2 days en route to Japan for a business trip. He works for Canon. He looks quite old already though so I didn't expect him to still be working. Anyway to the end of our conversation (in the middle of a busy shopping street lol) he asks if I want to guang yi guang with him basically (Chinese A plus), an offer which I politely declined. But what a cute old man haha. (and by the way, all this in German, he said I was pretty good hehe)

Walked pretty much 7 or 8k along the Isar to the Fraucht. The walk along the river was really nice, and I'd intended on passing through some shady green glades before tucking into some cheap Bavarian dishes. Unfortunately the weather was grey and a little cold, and as it turns out the recommended shop only opens when there's good weather (how do they define good weather?).

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So I randomly ask a guy for help lol and he tells me all this, and when I ask for cheap Bavarian food he scratches his head and suggests an Augustiner rather doubtfully. Same as the tour guide. Doubtfully because it's pub food, there will be Bavarian dishes but it's not gonna be awesome and it wouldn't be that cheap either. But I was starving by then and didn't care so I went to the nearest one. Which incidentally had a lot of Chinese or Japanese umbrellas around. Weird. But I had a schnitzel (breaded fried chicken) which I can get in school anyway. The potato salad was pretty good though and I had a small glass (0.2) of local beer, Augustiner. The beer was pretty nice at first (not like I can tell) it at the end of my meal it was really bitter. I don't think I took that long? And why would it be bitter anyway.

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Anyway I got back, showered, talked to the other girls in the dorm. Sitting here waiting for my portable battery to charge before I plug my phone in for a little while. There are only 4 plugs in this room for 6 girls. It's ridiculous. So I can't leave it in. Oh well, it's a really clean place and the shower is actually of a decent size. That's awesome. Oh my, I'm so tired.

Meeting ese peeps the morning to go to neuschwanstein, haven't seen 2 of them since November, and the other two only when they stayed at my place. Wow. K.

Posted by seaskimmer 01:51 Archived in Germany Tagged beer singapore germany climb münchen nicepeople Comments (0)

Berlin

I went to a few ww2 memorials in Berlin. And after seeing all those, being moved close to tears by the personal tragedies of individuals and families in the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, I think I'm just reminded that evil exists. What happened to the Jews and other discriminated people groups was horrible. I don't know how the persecutors lived with themselves. It's a reminder though that we all have the capacity to do great evil, especially when it creeps up slowly like in Germany, and it seems like a norm when everyone around conforms. I mean, when everyone is doing something, it can be hard to think right. I guess the question is whether you can remember your own personal yardstick that you will remain true to, or perhaps you'll remember truth that must be adhered to.

Apart from that, I didn't spend much time in Berlin. Only 1 day so I just ran around seeing as much as I could. Focused mainly on history. My friend told me she went for the alternative sandeman tour, and that it was really good, she saw the soul of the city, etc. I could tell, a bit, that people were really artsy and fashionable.

For most of the day Berlin was almost underwhelming. I stood above the bunker where Hitler committed suicide, and outside where the arsenal used to be, but felt nothing. Until one point, when I was between the French and German churches, one of the churches began to chime. And I was finally transported back into the past. I could see Hitler coming down the road, and the masses alternately reeling in fear and horror, and ecstatically hailing the Führer. Music brings things to life.

One interesting thing that maybe describes Berlin is how the government occasionally tries to control graffiti by painting over a piece. But this only allows a new work of art to be created on this new blank canvas. The art isn't always great, but it's an expression of the people.

One really annoying thing is that these two Singaporeans desecrated Singapore's name by writing their names and sg really largely and uglyly on the east Berlin gallery. Apparently they're one year my junior in smu, Marc neo and Dominic khoo. Disgrace to Singapore.

I had a pretty interesting day because I met t and her 3 friends there. She'd travelled with them in Germany already, and it was their last day together. We actually went to play pool that evening, something I perhaps would never have done on my own. I really am a homebody. And have a different travel style. But it was fun, it was cool to meet them. 1 Canadian and 2 nus Singaporeans. And my friend.

Would upload photos but I'm still in Scotland right now. So I can't show you how annoying Marc neo is haha. But whatever, thought I should at least give a brief update.

Posted by seaskimmer 14:29 Archived in Germany Tagged germany berlin war singaporean Comments (0)

New Things

Unfamiliarity breeds patriotism

semi-overcast 8 °C

Friday, 2 May

Today I went with S and MJ to Neumuenster. It's a designer outlet mall about 2 hours of train and bus from Hamburg. I kind of regret going, because I really have no money for that kind of place. I only agreed yesterday night because I thought it might be fun and I thought I might be able to get a few good deals. But by the time lunchtime rolled around… I began to remember past experiences and the current state of my accounts! Then I decided to go along with the plan so that S wouldn't go alone (or so I thought) and so that I could be a bit more social lol. By the time we got to Neumuenster and I'd paid 11eur for a two-way train, and 2eur for the bus there, I was wishing I'd stayed in Hamburg and paid 5eur for Nordwandhalle instead. In the end I did manage to buy a pair of slippers, which was of an acceptable price and which I kind of needed anyway. But the whole time I was thinking, this would be so much cheaper in Primart…

According to the countdown on my phone, I've spent 62 days overseas and have 94 days left. I'm 40% through the 156 days : ( Even in this relatively short time, I think I've already learnt a lot.

I've learnt from keeping track of my money and deciding that I don't want to completely drain my accounts that money is hard to come by. I've never been so conscious of my spending before. In this respect I'm grateful to various really thrifty friends (ahem… E) who've shown me that living cheaply is a matter of perspective and priorities. Not to say that my parents haven't taught me to be careful with my money, but it's so different when my peers do so too.

I've also learnt more about accepting harder times. We've got all these sayings, no pain no gain, stretch yourself, blood sweat and chalk… but it's hard to keep the end in sight when you're actually going through that tougher time. The concept of strengthening through applying greater stress applies to pretty much every situation in life. I need to not be so soft, to stop complaining, to look ahead, and to shoulder on.

I've met many many people in the past two months and have had opportunity to observe. In some aspects I think I'm less naïve than some. For example in the money thing, I have one or two friends who really don’t realise that they spend a lot, because they're pretty rich. Also in terms of being open to new cultures, some display ignorance and others, prejudice. Seeing these things in them also made me consider my own deep-set, subconscious ignorance and prejudice. I think this is a lesson in lifelong learning as well as humility.

Another people thing: Europeans have a very different travel style from Asians. Asians tend to want to visit many places and take photos of all the famous places. Europeans will stay in a single country for a longer time, are more willing to chill and explore and talk to people. I think Asian style travel gets exhausting and meaningless after a while. And European style travel can be boring and doesn't let you see enough of the world. As always, moderation is key, so maybe I'll mix in a little of both.

Hamburg is gloriously sunny on some days but otherwise cold and windy. I miss my Singapore sunshine. Recently watched a few videos and read a few articles related to Singapore. Nostalgic and patriotic. I'm totally gonna follow the next election properly and read up on local politics, which I've never cared about before. Doing my best for my country! Anyway I'm having fun here, eager to see more of Europe, excited to hear what my profs have to say (maybe). I watch the counter on my phone with both trepidation and yearning. In the end I'll just try to make the most of my time here! What that means I'm not too sure. We shall see.

Posted by seaskimmer 08:54 Archived in Germany Tagged singapore shopping germany reflection hamburg daytrip Comments (0)

Kaffee und Kuchen

sunny 19 °C

One of my Dad's colleagues is German, and had a business trip to the refinery in Hamburg. Coincidentally, he was from Luebeck, and his sister lives in Hamburg! We got in touch and I was invited over to his sister's house for tea. She lives in a suburb northeast of Hamburg, technically not even in Hamburg state (which they are very proud of!). Many of the houses are like a hundred years old or something, very cool. M (the guy) drove me over from the train station in his sister's convertible Mini : ) Have I mentioned that I like Minis? After The Italian Job haha.

We had lovely tea in the backyard. Eventually I got to meet his sister's husband, son, and daughter. We played this card game while waiting for the Rhabarberkuchen (rhubard tart) to be fully cooked. The cards had pictures on them, and it’s a competition to put down all your cards, by naming the one picture on it that is present on both the card on the table and in your hand. So I named as much as I could in German, with help from the little 7? year old daughter. I learnt Kerze (candle) and Schloss (lock) then, along with a few other words haha.

The Rhabarberkuchen was really yummy! They were trying to find the most typically German things for me haha, so we had that with whipped cream and coffee.

The sister and her husband are both in the water industry, the husband for a governmental organisation and the sister for an NGO. According to the son, they end up talking about toilets a lot of the time during dinner hahaha. Sounds like my family, except maybe with a less physics and chemistry slant.

Anyway I had a lovely time, everyone was very nice. And the son will actually be going to Singapore with his grandparents in June! I promised to give them food recommendations haha. For both the son and for M, the colleague.

Here's my email to them, let me know if I missed out anything : )

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Hi ____!

Most of the food that I will recommend will be local dishes, which are generally Chinese, Indian, Malay, or a fusion. Most of these places will be in coffee shops or hawker centres.

This list is a really good place to start, although it's not a complete list of the 'best' Singapore food as you can tell from the comments below it. http://sethlui.com/best-local-famous-foods-to-eat-singapore/

One of my personal recommendations would be the Katong - Joo Chiat area. This is mainly the stretch of East Coast Road between Still Road and Tanjong Katong Road. Not only are there many many good food shops in the area, the buildings are in typical Peranakan style. If you're interested in history and architecture it will be a nice walk. Here's a list of places to eat, some taken from the sethlui list.
- Katong Laksa (noodles. there are two along East Coast Road)
- Bak Kut Teh (pork ribs. Sin Heng Claypot Bak Kut Teh 439 Joo Chiat Road)
- Wanton Mee (noodles. Fei Fei Wanton Mee, 10 min walk in from East Coast road, 62 Joo Chiat Place)
- Chicken rice (either 5 star or Boon Tong Kee, they serve slightly different styles, both along East Coast Road)
- Din Tai Fung (famous chinese food and Dim Sum chain, one outlet is at the big shopping mall Katong I12)
- Chin Mee Chin Confectionary (Kuchen, 204 East Coast Road)
- Nonya/Peranakan Kueh (Kuchen, Kim Choo Kueh Chang, 109 East Coast Road)
- Crab (whether chilli, black pepper, or other styles. Long beach. 1 hour walk along the beach from Katong)

Other places with a cluster of famous food stalls include Maxwell Food Center, Bedok Block 85, East Coast Lagoon Food Village (along the beach) and Old Airport Road Food Center. Check out this list of hawker centers. http://www.ladyironchef.com/tag/best-hawker-centre-singapore/
This blog is also good to find really good cafes selling western food.

One thing you really have to try is durian! It's a pungent fruit that looks like a round pineapple. There are two varieties, sweet or slightly bitter. Most people either hate durian or love it (I'm the latter). I'm not sure if it will be in season when you go, but here are some places to buy them: http://www.hungrygowhere.com/dining-guide/hawker/where-to-buy-durians-in-singapore-*aid-69763f00/ the best types are Mao Shan Wang and D24. Expensive, but worth it.

Alternatively you could try durian ice cream! Udders has it (there's one along East Coast Road), here are some others http://www.hungrygowhere.com/dining-guide/best-and-top/durian-ice-cream-*aid-f7981900/

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I think I might have overloaded them with information. But I think I controlled myself pretty well already! I also realise that it's very skewed to the East hahahaha.

Posted by seaskimmer 01:53 Archived in Germany Tagged food singapore germany hamburg Comments (0)

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