Tuesday, December 30, 2008

auf wiedesehen


AAHH!! packing is such a headache and a backache too. all the bundling, rolling, and inserting things here and there gave me a sleepless night. i want a Mary Poppin's bag! my bag is definitely over weight and i am thinking of checking another smaller bag too. i have simply too many things to bring back. and aunt wants me to bring back the small mooncakes she makes yesterday. even the cabin bag is full!! 4 pairs of shoes in that bag alone because i wanna get VAT refund at the airport, so i have to put them in the cabin bag in case they wanna see my purchase. i hope they dun request to see it because i am sure the content of the bag will just spill out as soon as the zipper is undone. i am definitely going to push and shove the stuff inside. such hard work!

the temperature is sub zero outside although the sky is clear and sun is so happy showing itself. well, goodbye germany after spending about 40 days here.

and goodbye 2008. thank you for being a smooth year. it might not be a smooth one in world affairs (earthquake, political tsunami, economic crisis, etc) but personally, it is an ok year.

so i hope my last 2 days in germany and of the year will be trouble-free and i will reach 09 and malaysia with all my bags and spirit in tow. hahaah....


Monday, December 29, 2008

crowded day at the pool

sneeking some photos of the emser-therme here. brought in the handphone into the pool area and here are the photos.

this is the outdoor pool, nothing to worry although the weather was at around 1C yesterday. just dip the head into the water when u feel cold. the pool was quite crowded yesterday with holiday makers. a wrong day to go when u wanted a swim. most came from outside bad ems looking at the cars parked around the area. and we also saw a lot of hairy chests but no more exposed 'fruits'.

this is the indoor pool where are the kids are. here u are allowed to jump, spring and make noise. outside it is more for relaxation.

the shower room. forgot to take a photo of the locker room.
i guess i am not exercising in bad ems anymore. have managed to keep my weight down...in fact, lost a bit hahaa.....i stepped on the weighing scale and it was 54.2kg. whopppee!!! below 55kg for the first time! hahahhaa!
just trying to sort out my packing now. will go to koblenz today for the last time and see if there is anything else is on sale. oh, swarovski online is having sale but not that many things are cheap. and the high exchange rate makes them more expensive. i think it is RM5 to €1. have to think three times before using the credit card. luckily i still have enuf cash to last me till 31 dec.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

stop buying newspaper?

it is another clear sunny day in bad ems and it is a sunday. so all shops are closed but i think people will be out taking a stroll in town and at the park. i met many couples who were out on a walk the day before yesterday when i went for my run in similar weather.

yeelin and i are planning to go to emser-therme for another swim. so i guess i will not be doing anymore running because my clothes will not dry in time for me to pack them and go home. i hope the place is not going to be crowded. will do more laps this time around. last time, we frolicked more in the outdoor pool enjoying all the water massages they have instead.

few days ago, i was complaining about not doing enough reading here, and 2 days later, i have finished 2 books. haha...i have finished reading middlesex and hotel babylon (in one day) and now i am halfway through on chesil beach by ian mcewan. i think i can finish it by tomorrow. i have been tucking myself into bed early and doing reading and the afternoons too reading by the clear sunlight.

yesterday, aunt, yeelin and i went to a mall called Centro in oberhausen for some shopping. it is about 90 mins drive away. it is a mall so we do not have to worry about the cold outside. the shops there were nothing special, quite boring actually. yeelin got the most while i got myself a belt. the place was so crowded with ppl on holidays. this is the time for them to take holidays till new year.

well, have finished reading my morning papers already so will be logging off soon and continue with my reading. oh, on the topic of newspaper, i am wondering whether i should stop buying newspaper for next year...i managed to get all the news online at the star website, so why bother holding the hard copy? i will be switching on my computer at work everyday and at home, so is there a need to spend rm1.20 everyday? haha...everyone is talking about fund management for 2009, so i guess this is one way of cutting down too huh. what do u think?

Friday, December 26, 2008

stay upbeat

it is almost 11a.m. now and the sun is shining brightly in the sky. it is such a clear day outside but a bit cold on the thermometer.
i am the only one awake at the moment and i have finished my breakfast and reading my morning paper online. the rest of the household are still asleep, dog included.
what is the day's activity going to be? i think the stores in town are still closed and they will only open on 27. there is no boxing day sale tradition here i think.
i think i will go and finish reading middlesex later. it is such an interesting story...nothing vulgar mind you. i brought 3 other books with me but they will remain untouch till i go back to malaysia. hahha..i thought i had time to do some reading here but i was wrong. will make sure i finish this one book.

oh, is everyone reflecting on 2008 that is almost coming to an end? i am counting the days for me to board the flight on 31 dec at 12 noon at frankfurt.
what does 2008 mean to me? i wanted to be happy in 2008, well and i guess i manage to stay in that line of happiness. anything special? not that i can think of. still single, a year older and still love shopping. haha...
what is waiting in 2009? it is the year to start saving, expand my part-time, not neglect the responsibilities given, and plan another trip to europe (??!!). oh shall i learn to use the sewing machine as well? this thought just suddenly came to mind few days ago. grandma is good with the sewing machine and the best i can do is to fix a dropped button. maybe i should give it a try. hard to believe huh?

well, hope the remaining days of 2008 will be good for everyone. stay cheerful and optimistic and whatever gloomy days will turn all right. have faith!

this christmas

what did u do this christmas? gave ur heart to someone else? haha... the song kept playing on radio in the car trips so just can't help it.

this is the second living room in the house downstairs. seldom used. yeelin and i decorated the christmas tree yesterday, every branch has one piece of decoration. haha...and we still have some we did not put up.

this is what we had for our christmas eve dinner at aunt friend's chinese restaurants. 3 families including the owner's. 12 of us. just a small affair with some simple dishes. yummy...chinese herbal soup, steamed fish, stirfried mushroom,pumpkin, prawns and roasted duck. i din have any vege because i dun take pumpkin but i had lots of the others. haha..luckily i din take rice, dunno how to eat the dishes then.

and today...we had pork chop, sausage, potato and salad at home. call it our christmas dinner. yeelin is going out with friends to disco again...that is the place where german youths hang out i guess. music, dancing and drinking.

this is just a random shot of bread counter....yummy...love them...every morning have them for breakfast without fail. ahaha.

this is bad ems's rathaus....haha...so pathetic compared to the others i have got from the big cities. oh, i have visited the 3 biggest cities in germany in this trip- berlin, hamburg and munich. i wonder which is the 4th biggest.

emser-therme, the indoor swimming pool in bad ems. entrance fee not including sauna is €5.10. i went with yeelin. they have outdoor and indoor pool. the water was so comforting and warm that it was difficult to get ourselves to go after 90 mins. could not stay any longer ah...skin also wrinkled and dehydrated. and ooh...the first thing that greeted me when we were in the locker room (unisex)...haha...i turned around, and behind me a dangling carrot with two nuts...if u get what i mean. then when we went into the shower room (female only) before going into the pool, two balls staring again. luckily there was no more after that. it is a common scene here and in australia too i think...but we will never get used to it.

the plot outside the house where vegetables are planted in summer.

and on the left, behind the hedge, is where i stay. the house is the one painted in white...this corner lot. it is very long because of the lawn in front.

one corner before reaching the house from bad ems town centre. we walked home in the drizzle after our swim.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

dachao and neuschwanstein, 23.12.2008

we left munich after spending a night in the city. there are more things to attract us outside in the north of the city- dachao, the first concetration camp of the german nazi. it is about 30 mins drive from the city and with the help of the navigator and road signs pointing towards the camp, we arrived at 11a.m.
no fee was collected and they were supposed to charge us €3 for a car at the carpark, but no one was on duty. so it was free.

it is now made into a memorial site and is quite barren but of course the atrocities that happened here will never be forgotten. because it was the first concentration camp by the nazi, they had records in the forms of photos and videos as models for the other camps to be built later.

as you reach the entrance of the camp, you will see what is left of a railway track that was used to transport prisoners.

the entrance building and the gate that all prisoners had to pass through. above were the officers and scanning rooms. on the gate: arbeit macht frei means work for freedom. the only kind of freedom i can think of for the prisoners was death. the prisoners were forced to labour without food and and bath, and no proper sanitation. watching the clips shown in the small cinema really turned everything in your stomach. we made it for the 11.30am show which was in english. they have it in 4 languages. deutsche, english, italian and french. the short clip runs for 22 mins.

the barracks where prisoners were kept. 34 rows of them. now there are only 2 left while the rest are just the foundation square. the spaces between the barracks were where prisoners gather in their 'leisure' time and where they also queued for their roll call and they were assigned their duties. some were assigned food while some were not. not all prisoners got food. those who were assigned food only got maybe a scoop of jam to go with bread or a spoonful of porridge or soup. everyone was known as a number once they entered the gate.

the exhibition hall in one of the barracks.

the museum, cinema and exhibition hall building.

inside the prisoners' barrack they were not allowed to shower for months and no change of clothes. so diseases killed a number of prisoners. even those sick prisoners were called out during roll call and were humiliated in front at the square. some received beatings and were still forced to work.

bunk beds and the living quarter. it was very clean so the eeriness was not there but memories of those who cramped on the bed in the unhygienic conditions occured.

the plan of the camp

the cinema which can fit about 240 persons.

the crematorium. prisoners were hanged in front before they were burnt. the small room in the bottom right is the disinfection room.

the gas chamber which was never utilised in this camp. no reason was given why it was not used. prisoners who were to be gassed were sent to other camps instead. the prisoners had to go through 2 rooms before reaching the 'shower chamber'. the waiting room and the disrobing room.

the execution, mass grave and ashes sites.

we left at about 1p.m. and headed towards the direction of the alps to füssen. our intended destination wasn't fussen but hohenswangau village. i must have a tour of one castle before i go home and schloss neuschwanstein is my choice. it is the king of all fairy tale castles and disney has based its snow white palace on this one.

we drove on a stretch of road called the romantic road where a lot of classic fairy tales came from. it was a beautiful stretch with beautiful landscape. hilly mountains and rolling fields. the journey was almost 2 hours from dachao and i was so worried that we would not make it in time to buy a ticket for the tour of the castle. ticket office closes one hour earlier which is 3p.m. while the palace admits its last visitor at 4p.m.

i knew i was near when i saw snow on the mountains.

everyone would park at the village of hohenswangau before going up the hill on foot, bus, or horse-drawn carriage. it is €4.50 at the car park for each car. the walk up the hill will take around 30 mins. to go up by bus, u pay €1.80 while by carriage- €5. those carriage owners are really making big bucks.

the view from the hill....magnificent!

different faces of the palace.

in the evening spot light.

and tada! the real thing...schloss neuschwanstein. this is the view from a bridge situated opposite the palace. it was about 10 mins walk from the palace. it took 17 years to build but it was still not completed. only 16 out of the 65 rooms planned by king ludwig 2 were materialised. the king died young at the age of 40 under mysterious circumstances. but thanks to his imagination and vision, everyone today has his version of their own fairy tale castle. this palace was a tribute to the operas of richard wagner and the rooms inside were painted with tales from wagner operas pieces. no camera or any recording equipment were allowed due to copyright reason so i was only allowed to gape and record everything in my mind. but you can go to the official website to see the interior. one can only tour the palace with ticket from the ticket counter bought at the village before going up the hill. i paid €9 for my english tour. went in alone, uncle and aunt waited outside.
aunt regretted not going in after i told her how exquisite it was inside. seeing it for yourself was totally another experience compared to just seeing the photos from the website. i told myself while touring that: u can just leave me in the castle and i won't mind freezing to death in the beautiful rooms. hahahha...

there are so many tours that there is one every 5 mins and u take turns queueing at the lanes assigned with numbers of the tour. chinese ones come with audio guide, no chinese speaking tour guide. we saw many chinese there and japanese too. imagine the queue in summer...

marionbrucke, the bridge u go to to capture the whole castle. spring water gushing at the streams below.
we walked down to the village in the dark after the sun had set. on the way back to bad ems, uncle stopped at burger king upon my request as i was starving. bought a long chicken burger to fill the hunger...aaahh. aunt was already full with lots of biscuits in her stomach and uncle made himself a cup of the coal roasted coffee i brought from malaysia and bread.
we reached bad ems before midnight. i love my second day better than the first day tour.

munich/münchen, 22.12.08

by now we are accustomed to travelling early in the morning and reaching a city by mid morning.

the trip to munich, which took us through beautiful bavarian landscapes was more than 5 hours long. we booked ourselves a hotel in zone A which is 3 mins walk from the s-bahn station. after checking in and refreshing ourselves, it was time to head out to the city with our day card.

it was drizzling as we reach the central station but of course our spirit was not dampened. it was straight to exploring with our hoods on. above is karls tor (tor is a gate), the entrance into the old town. again, streets were filled with christmas shoppers but it was not that crowded yet at that time.

er...do u call this piece of potruding tangerine colour woodwork art? it is installed by louis vuitton. they have the same kind of theme in their window display. those in italy are nicer.

michaels- kirsche. a church...renovation again. and this ipod advert can be seen everywhere.

the musical instruments, balcony and door handle of the church. we stepped in to escape the rain.

beautiful arts and crafts inside.

my afternoon snack. banana dipped in chocolate bought from the christmas market. €2.50...damn expensive i know...but just had to have it.

the new town hall at marienplatz. it was at one of the basements here that hitler gave one of his speeches to spread his propaganda.

we were in time to catch the musical clockwork chiming at 12noon. everyone stopped their tracks and observed the scenes displayed one after another with each rotation. here u see the scenes of 2 knights fighting and the red one lost the fight.

the galerie was closed.

this is the toy museum nearby. oh, munich is regarded as the 'toy city', not because it has a toy museum but because it is the safest city with the lowest crime rate in germany.

we then took the underground to olympic park, where the olympics was held in munich in 1972. there was nothing much except the still standing stadiums and of course the bmw world and museum here.

the bmw museum, closed on monday...well, saves me €12 for the entrance. haha...if it was opened, i would be undecisive whether to go or not to go and wondering what i would have missed. dunno much about cars to really appreciate the displays i think and uncle wouldn't have forked out that amount to go in. if i were to go in, it would be me alone.

the bmw welt aka world. it is free here so just walk around to see the displays of their latest models and find out about the cars with the touch screen monitor in front.

see for yourself how the hybrid system works.

the collection level, we are not allowed there unless we are going to collect our car. we could only view this from the bridge. and of course i was dreaming of being on the other side while on the bridge. hahaa.... i dun care if it is the smallest car there. uncle was commenting how the cars there (those being collected) were not great at all. by great he meant those four-wheel-drive models.

exhibition spaces.

so are u a bmw fan? my uncle is a mercedes benz so he is full of comments. one of them was how the bmws were overpriced. maybe it is true, but it is not a car i will buy even if i win the lottery...i think. my toyota vios is enough. and i will spend the winning in travelling. haha

it was back to the city centre again after that bmw tour. we got off at odeonplatz and walked to hof garten. i think the district council building is here.

odeonplatz, the yellowish building on the right is the theatinerkirche. its dome dominates the odeonplatz. the others are photos of kaiser hof. they were selling christmas trees in front. germany has a tradition of putting up christmas trees on the eve i read somewhere. so there were still ppl buying the trees.

the residenz which houses the museums of interior decorations. but the square had a christmas market when we went. the sign outside was christmas village.

some of the stalls told classic fairy tales of little red riding hood and hansel and gretel which originated from germany. the others had christmas tales and of course plenty of food and souvenir stalls.

the attractive window display by the famous dallmayr store in munich. well i only know it is famous the other day when i saw their coffee beans sold at lidl supermarket. the store has been around since 1700 and was supplier to the aristocrats in munich. the store occupies almost the whole block of building and gosh, it was crowded. things inside were not cheap at all and one would bulk at the prices. but hey, the customers inside were shopping like that was the only store in town. it was so crowded and busy that it was impossible to get a photo. they sell teas, coffee beans, wine, food, pastry, meat, fish, and fruits.

marianplatz in the evening.

went into a bookstore opposite the plaza to check murakami's diary and boy, it was another big crowd inside. i cannot remember the name of the bookstore but i think it is one of the big ones in germany because they have another english bookstore a few streets away. ppl were christmas shopping and the queues were endless at the cashiers. good reading culture in germany? i think so, saw many ppl reading on trains and subways. and the crowd here proofs it i guess. the store is not very big but it has 6 storeys including lift and escalators.

and the diary? well, the price is €13.20 which is available at their english bookstore. wei has helped me check the price of the diary in bangsar. it is rm40.90. but i didn't buy it because according to him it is mini...not like normal diary size. well, maybe i will check it out myself when i go down to kl with atticus. tq wei for helping me to check and ringint me at 6a.m. this morning. hehehe...nope, i din pick up the call but he smsed after waking me up.

nordsee..how i hate u. this was where we had our dinner. sigh...as if there was no other restaurants in munich. i want my white wurst!! uncle kept using aunt as excuse saying that she does not take chops and stuff but the truth is he was just too thrifty to spend on food. everything was too expensive and not worth it. and he complained again after the nordsee meal, saying that he was not full at all. sigh. a nordsee meal was not exactly cheap, it averaged at €7 and above depending on which meal u choose. aunt and i were full. a meal at restaurant for let's say chicken chop would be around 9 or 10. better than nordsee lah.

and when we reached our hotel, we crossed the road to lidl to shop for food. sigh, he bought yoghurt and bananas and had them with the bread we brought from home. i had the choc mousse with banana although i was not really hungry. just wanna try the mousse because i din have any since i come.
we retired early for the night as everyone was tired. all slept before 10 and it was a sound sleep indeed. but i woke up at 6a.m. and could not sleep anymore. snores snores and snores...well, i had enough rest, so it was ok. was glad that i could sleep well despite the non-stop snores from the other side. phew!