How To Survive Your First Winter

Winter is coming... here! It's time to bring out the coats, boots, leggings, beanies, scarves, and gloves.

Winter is here - is that good news or bad? I say it depends! For someone who lived most of her life in tropical countries, I should hate winter. I am not used to it. My body is not built for winter. I should fear winter because winter is cold and grey. But I don't... 

I like winter. I like it when it's a little cold. I like stomping on fresh snow. I like it when almost everything I see is covered in white. 

Am I weird? Oh yeah! :-p

So, you may ask, how did I manage to like winter? How did I live through my first winter? 

Paragliding in Bali

"Jump," the instructor exclaimed.

I didn't know what I got myself into at that moment. I couldn't quit, so I just shouted, "OH MY GOD!," as I jumped off the cliff. 

OktoBEERfest

The Oktoberfest 2016 is over! Such a bummer for people who love beer (or for people who like to get drunk), right? 

Well, don’t you worry. You can always get the same good beer in Munich (a milder version, though). And I am pretty sure that some of these local breweries export their beer. 

Does Paulaner ring a bell? It’s a brewery from Munich, and one of the two that you can get almost everywhere. 

What about Hofbräu? Sure, you have a beer house with that name somewhere. Isn't there one in Sydney?!

History and Beauty Combined: Krakow

One of the things I like about my current job is that I get opportunities to travel to other countries and participate in conferences that help me grow professionally. 

Unlike most of my travels, the trip to Kraków was a mix of business and leisure. I flew to Poland to attend a content conference, which was attended by hundreds of content creators from across Europe. It was my first time in this event, and I really liked most of the topics presented and discussed. The attendees came from very diverse background - from writers, developers, designers, and to anyone interested in content creation. The venue of the event, the beautiful Kraków, added major plus points, too. 

Flashback Friday: HongKong

I recently spoke to a friend who visited HongKong a few weeks ago, and her stories about the city brought back great travel memories. 

If you've been to HongKong, you'd say that it's all about shopping, Dim Sum, and Disneyland. Well, there are more places to visit in Hong Kong that allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life. For example, check out the Dragon's Back hiking trail and Stanley Bay.  

Wandering in Bavaria

Wander comes from the German word wandern, which means to hike. 

I think I could count the few times I went hiking in Asia. Such a shame! The Philippines has so many mountains and hills to climb, but I was never interested back then. I think it was because of the hot tropical weather that always drained the energy out of my tiny body. 

I started hiking when I moved to Singapore. Ironically, Singapore does not have many hills and mountains to climb! But I, and my friends, enjoyed hiking at MacRitchie Reservoir Park and Bukit Timah on the weekends. I remember those hikes were all fun, until we decided to raise the bar a little higher...

Five (plus One) Reasons to Visit Barcelona

"That's it! I'm moving to Barcelona," I blurted out to FL as I bathed under the sun in Barceloneta. 

Barcelona is everything I like about in a city - amazing culture, great food, nice beach, beautiful architecture, and fun people.

Sometime years ago, I first heard about Barcelona during the Olympics back in the 90s. I was very young back then, and I didn't really care much about the Olympics nor the city. But I guess hearing Barcelona a lot of times on TV left me very curious. 

Should you go SOLO?

Adventure is worthwhile. ~Aesop

I’ve always liked to travel. If I could, I would travel to as many countries in this lifetime. If I could, I would live in other different countries. Don’t get me wrong. I like Munich, but the world is big and our time on Earth is limited. It’s nice to experience and explore the other things this world has to offer. 

There is just something about traveling that makes me high. I get the adrenaline rush every time I board the plane that takes me to a new city or country. I am always in a happy mood when I plan my next travel itinerary. Maybe I am one of those people who have the strong desire to travel, or in short, wanderlust. Yeah, I know I have itchy feet. 

Is Zurich the capital city of Switzerland?

You might think that Zurich is the capital city of Switzerland. The answer is a big NO!

I cannot blame you for thinking that way. Zurich is in fact the largest city of Switzerland and the cultural and commercial capital of the country. 

I have visited Switzerland (Interlaken, Bern, and Lucerne) a few years ago, but I didn't get the chance to see Zurich on that trip. Since Munich is three hours away from Zurich, and it was my birthday, I had the perfect excuses to travel to the city and eat Cheese Fondue. Yes, I  only wanted to eat Cheese Fondue on my birthday (and I got it)!

The Philippines through Hazel Eyes

I'm curious to know what people from other countries think about the Philippines. When strangers talk me, they couldn't guess that I'm a Filipina. I don't know why (with my brown skin, vertically-challenged physique, and my Asian nose) most of them think that I'm from the US. Hah! It's crazy because when I was complaining about doing the mandatory ski course video, one English guy said to me, "Don't you Americans like to take videos?"

I was puzzled. I am certainly not American, and I seldom take videos of me. 

Once upon a time in South Korea

Once upon a time in South Korea, my friends and I (over)stuffed our stomachs with the most delicious and juiciest beef and pork barbecue, and drank Soju.

Once upon a time in South Korea, my friends and I  searched for Lee Min Ho shopped for makeup, wore the traditional Hanbok, and ate Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes).

Once upon a time in South Korea, there was an Oppa  my friends and I absolutely had the best days of our lives exploring the charming country. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel... errrr...Travel

Last summer, FL and I were torn between Budapest and Berlin. Both cities require long drives from Munich, and both cities are interesting places to see. 

To come up with a decision, we checked the availability of seats on BlablaCar. Surprise, more seats were offered to travel to Budapest. 


And so, we drove to Budapest after work on a Friday with two Hungarian men, who work in Munich. On weekends, they would drive for six hours to Budapest to see their families. Wow, the dedication of these fathers... 

In Love with Prague

If there is one perfect word to describe Prague, it is beautiful. In fact, it is beyond that. The city is romantic and spectacular

Prague has always been in the list of top must-see cities in Europe. Every travel magazine never fails to mention this city. Friends who had been there swore that it indeed is worth visiting. And so one summer day, I went on a quest to see why... 

Perks and Struggles of Pinoys Living Abroad

Pinoy, or Pinay (feminine form), is an informal word referring to Filipinos.
The Philippine flag being waved in Thailand before a football match
From where I come from, living abroad seems like a dream for many. A lot of people equate it with money, greener pastures, and a glamorous life. Some think that just because you live in a different country, you are living la vie en rose. Unfortunately, it is not always the case. 

You see, living abroad is not all fairies and gold dust, not all rainbows and butterflies. Oftentimes, it's almost like living la vida loca! The trees don't bear fruits with Euros or Dollars in them. The sky does not drop snow diamonds (I wish this was true. Darn!). We breathe the same air (maybe a bit cleaner here without the jeepneys). The little things that you often take for granted such as fresh fish and seafood straight from the sea, free fruits and vegetables from your backyards, and the sun that shines at least 300 days a year are some of the things I cannot enjoy here. 

No Kangaroos in Austria

When I got invited to go to Munich for a final job interview, I immediately checked the map to see where exactly it is and which interesting places it is nearby. Seeing that Austria is close to Munich left me daydreaming. I sat there at FL's apartment in Paris and imagined The Sound of Music and the beautiful scenery while Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik played in my head. I knew right there and then that I would definitely visit Austria (I assumed that I'd get the job and move to Munich. Good thing, my assumptions were correct).

Fast forward to four months later...


Vienna


Luckily enough, I met Nav, who became my first friend in Munich, a few weeks after I moved to Munich. We immediately hit it off! If there's such thing as friends at first sight, then that's what happened. In one of our random conversations, we talked about Vienna and the next thing I knew, we sat on the train heading to the capital city of Austria.

Shiok In The Red Dot

Shiok, a commonly used term in Singapore, is an expression of happiness and pleasure.
When I think of Singapore, also known as The Red Dot, these words pop on my mind - food, friends, food, and glorious food!

Singapore served as my second home for almost four years. I had so much fun and met so many amazing people in this small city-state. Living in Singapore opened my doors and windows to infinite possibilities, great experiences, and challenging adventures. And most importantly, the country fed (no, I sound like a pig here) nourished me with so much delicious food that sometimes I wonder why I left. 

For you and me

The brave souls truly live,
For they are willing to take risks.
The patient doers achieve success,
For they do not stop to make things happen.
The passionate dreamers reach the stars,
For they are not afraid to fall.
Be Brave. Work Hard. Dream Big.
x,
Miss A

Happy First

One year in Munich... wow! Where did time go? 

I was reminded that I've been living here in Deutschland for a year now when my friend sent a message on LinkedIn about my work anniversary. Time really flies so fast when you are having fun. 


I can still remember the day I moved to Munich. I was hungry alone and tired from the long travel from the Philippines, but I was so excited about new beginnings. I did not care if I was carrying my 35-kilo luggage up and down the staircase in the train stations. I used up all my energy dragging my luggage on one hand while reading the map on the other. I was super excited that I ignored the cold weather  as I navigated my way to the hotel. And sure, Munich did not disappoint. I am enjoying my stay here and definitely loving everything about the city. 


This post shall give you a summary of what I have learned, experienced, and embraced since moving to Munich. 


1. Sprechen sie Deutsch? Ja, ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch! After 12 months of living in the city, I can now introduce myself, order food, buy groceries, and exchange greetings in Deutsch. I came to Munich without knowledge of the language, so that's kind of an achievement! ;-) My German language proficiency is still a work in progress. But I am definitely motivated to be able to speak better in Deutsch. It is difficult, I know, but it isn't impossible. 


I often make mistakes and my pronunciation is really terrible. But I don't shy away from criticisms because that is how we learn. In fact, I am thankful for friends who correct me. I still have a long way to go, but I'll get there someday... 


2. It's all about the B-E-E-R! Do not ever think that I am an alcoholic. I was not a huge fan of beer before coming to Munich. Maybe because I thought all beers tasted the same. But no, Munich has the best beers in the world. And depending on your taste, you can choose from six breweries - Löwenbräu, Hofbräuhaus, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten, and the local favourite, Augustiner-Bräu


I like the Augustiner Helles, but I can only drink one 500ml bottle. Yes, I am a super slow drinker. Most of the time I order the Radler, which is a combination of beer and lemonade, for the taste and its lower alcohol content. It really is a must-try!


When the weather gets warmer in Spring and Summer, everyone enjoys eating and drinking at the beer gardens every where in the city. The beer gardens are definitely not just for adults; kids are welcome, too! There are non-alcohol drinks to choose from. I truly like the beer gardens in Munich. You can enjoy the beer, food, company, and the view (Hirschgarten, Chinesischer Turm, Olympia-Alm, and the Viktualienmarkt to name a few).


Speaking of beer, I am reminded of my first Oktoberfest experience in Munich. It was memorable!!! You have got to experience it at least once in your life. If you want to know more about the Oktoberfest, let me know and we can talk about it over beer. Yes? ;-) 

Prost!!!
Trivia: Did you know that most places in Munich are named after beer gardens or beer houses? For example, Stachus, Harass, Flaucher, and the list goes on... Now you know!

3. Cycle to work and play. I've always liked the idea of cycling to work. I witnessed this cycling culture in Tokyo a few years ago, and I got fascinated by the thought of being able to ride your bike to work, to the supermarket, and to anywhere. Unfortunately, in the places where I lived, I could not do that because of the hot and humid weather - both in the Philippines and Singapore. You already know you wouldn't arrive smelling and looking good in the office after cycling in those tropical countries.


I think there are more bicycles than people here in Munich. It does not matter what season it is. People are out on their bicycles to get to work, to explore the countryside, and to go about their daily lives. In fact, Germany launched its National Bike Autobahn recently. This is good news for the cyclists! 

I wish one day the Philippines or my hometown, Cagayan de Oro, will be as bike-friendly as Munich. I am sure my dad will like that! And I am sure that it will reduce traffic congestion, lessen air pollution, and help people to stay fit.

I bought a second-hand bike from my Chilean friend, Pato, and I named it Cooper (in honour of  Sheldon Cooper).  During Spring and Summer, I was always out with my bike and I'd cycle to work, to the parks, to the city center, and to church. It was crazy! I loved every moment I was on the road. Now that Spring's here, I am excited to take Cooper for a spin!


Cooper
4. No beach, no problem! Growing up, I was always surrounded with the beaches, springs, and rivers. Family outings were mostly spent at beach and spring resorts. The rivers are reserved for the rafting adventures. Thus I was always used to being on the beach.

There are no beaches around Munich. The nearest beach will probably be somewhere in Italy. But that's not a problem because there are a lot of lakes where you can swim (if you are brave enough to swim in the cold water). You can hop on the train and in less than an hour, you will arrive in big swimming lakes such as Starnbergersee, Ammersee, and Wörthsee. 

My favorite lake is the Eibsee, which is about 100 kms away from Munich, but definitely worth the visit and the swim! 


Overlooking the beautiful Eibsee
If you don't like the idea of spending hours on the trains just to swim, you can also jump into the Eisbach in the English Garden. I spent a lot of my summer afternoons there. My boyfriend, FL, would wait for me after work and we'd cycle together to the English Garden for a mini picnic and swim in the Eisbach. My friend, Cris, who came to visit, loved the river and was so happy that I took him there for a swim. It can get very crowded sometimes. But it's 2 kms long, so you can still find a place for you to enjoy the river. And oh, you can also see the river surfers here. Though I have not tried river surfing as I find it more difficult than the (usual) surfing, which I learned in Bali.

5. Always learn new skills. As they say, you're never too old to learn new things. Since moving to Munich, I have learned knitting and skiing! Wohoo! 


I spent most of the evenings at home during the colder months and I thought of making myself productive. I know that my friend, Aiza, likes to knit, so I got in touch with her and she sent me links to online video tutorials. She encouraged me to do it and gave me tips on which yarns to get. I instantly got addicted to knitting. I can knit for hours. There even came a time when I spent my lunch breaks at work knitting my scarves. I managed to make two scarves, but I intend to practice more and use all the yarns I have - thanks to my friend, Anna, who gave me a huge bag full of yarns! 

I always wanted to learn how to ski and be able to gracefully ski down the alpine slopes. When ski season arrived, I made sure to enrol in ski classes. I did it! I am not the best skier in town, but I managed to ski down the slopes with minor blunders and no injuries. Sad, I didn't finish my third ski weekend course. But I am going back to the ski school next winter. Skiing can be difficult to learn, but just like what Nike Adidas (OMG, it's not Nike!) says, nothing is impossible. You just have to get up when you fall and do it again. I fell countless of times and I even joked that I have mastered the art of getting up after you fall. But hey, I persevered and in the end, I managed to ski! 


Skiing down the alpine slope in Austria
After living here for a year, I still feel like I'm kind of the new girl in town. There are still so many places to explore in and around Munich. There are so many interesting stuff to learn about the German culture. I am slowly integrating into the society and enjoying every minute of it. Thanks to my 3Fs (family, friends (new and old), and FL) for the love, support, and encouragement! They made it easier for me to fight homesickness and boredom at times. 

Now I can say that Munich is my home... away from home. Ich liebe München! <3

x,
Miss A




Adrenaline high in Dubai

I have never thought I'd get a chance to visit Dubai. I know about this booming city in the Middle East because I have relatives and friends who live there. But little did I know that I'd get to see it for myself. 

My flight to Paris via Emirates had a stopover in Dubai, so I grabbed the opportunity to stay in the city and visit my Uncle and Aunt and their kids for a few days. It was convenient to get a tourist visa to Dubai through the Emirates online visa application service. I only needed to fill out an online form, attach some documents, and pay around US$ 70. After a few days, the electronic visa was sent to me via email. I only needed to print it and show it to the Immigration upon arrival.

Scotland Wonderland

P.S. This is part three (and the last of the three-part series) of my UK Adventure.

When people ask me about the most beautiful cities I've ever been, Edinburgh always comes to the list. The capital city of Scotland surprised me big time!


From London, we took the train from the St. Pancras train station and traveled for about 4.5 hours. It was midnight when we arrived in Edinburgh. Imagine a scene in a movie where you arrive in a ghost town! We didn't see anyone in the streets and the other travellers seemed to disappear quickly after they left the train station.