Tag Archives: food

Vallendar Living

Hi everyone!

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through my semester at WHU. So far, most of my blog has been about my experiences in getting new experiences, within and outside Germany. There will be more, I assure you, so stay tuned! But for this time, I want to show you more about my daily life in Germany.

Living Accommodations

So when you Google the name of the place where I live in, you get this:

Haus Wildburg
Haus Wildburg

That’s partly true. Haus Wildburg is a property owned by the Marien nuns who work and live in this building as well as the housing units immediately behind it past the metal gate. We live past the gate, past where the nuns live, up a little hill to the student dormitory section.

Haus Wildburg is one of the cheapest housing options available to Tauschies at WHU. For 335 Euros per month (which, I now know, is very over priced in Germany) you get this:

Single unit, with one bed, a closet, a desk, a sink, and a radiator. Oh and a chair.
Single unit, with one bed, a closet, a desk, a sink, and a radiator. Oh and a chair.

As well as usage of the kitchens and common areas, which are essentially lounges. The facilities are old, but they get the job done. It’s small, but for me, it’s enough. I don’t take up much space anyway. (Haha)

I live with nine other students, most of whom are from America, so it didn’t take much adjusting to get along. It’s nice living with other people. When I go down to the kitchen to cook dinner (which I never did back in Hawaii because there was always the cafeteria that served buffet style meals), I would usually hear the boys in their kitchen, and it almost always smells amazing. No joke. The guys can really cook.

Which reminds me of the peculiarities of Wildburg. There are separate common areas and kitchens according to gender: one each for male and female. For laundry, we have to pay four 50-cent coins to use the washer and 3 coins for the dryer. That means one load of laundry will cost 3.50 Euros. Eek! Also, the nuns are VERY diligent landlords, and coupled with the fact they speak close to no English, makes things at times quite interesting.

Food

I know Europe has a reputation for being expensive, and I can validate that because I’ve been to some very expensive places (but nice ones. More on that later), but at least compared to Hawaii, groceries are very cheap here. I rarely spend more than 10 Euros on groceries, even at the most expensive store nearby campus, and that can last me for over a week. There are a few main places to go shopping for essentials at:

1) REWE (pronounced like “RAY-VUH”): the newest store in town, a few steps from school, and the closest store to home. Also the most expensive. But if you buy the Ja! brand, it’s like Safeway Select, or Kirkland Signature, or the CVS brand. You get it for cheaper – about the cheapest it gets.

2) Lidl (pronounced like “needle” with an ‘L’): A few minutes from campus not far from the Vallendar train station. It looks like a warehouse, and you can usually find cheaper produce and goods here than at REWE. But if you get Ja! from REWE, it’s comparable.

3) Aldi & Netto: Two separate stores, literally side-by-side, only divided by a parking lot between them. They’re about the same distance from school as Lidl (a bit further) but in the opposite direction. You can probably some of the best deals at these two places as well as good variety. For me though, it’s just really far to walk with a bunch of groceries.

The German diet consists of a lot of meat (yes, wurst), which I ate a lot of during my first few weeks here. Now that I cook a lot, with one good meal a day, I can save a lot of money. My home-cooked dinners have cost me no more than 2 Euros. Actually closer to 1 Euro, with pasta, meat, and veggies.

School

Compared to most campuses I’ve been to, WHU is actually quite small, which is nice because I’ll never have to rush from class to another. Every room is clean, well-lit, and new. The school has only been around for three decades, but it has already maintained a solid reputation for rigor and excellence for years.

The largest lecture hall at WHU. Not the most comfortable one.
The largest lecture hall at WHU. Not the most comfortable one.
Another lecture hall. Smaller but with better seats ^^
Another lecture hall. Smaller but with better seats ^^

And this is one of my favorite places on campus (aside from the library that is accessible 24/7):

The WHU chapel. Anyone is welcome to play the piano as he/she wishes. It is, however, not a sanctified chapel.  Image courtesy of Google.
The WHU chapel. Anyone is welcome to play the piano as he/she wishes. It is, however, not a sanctified chapel.
Image courtesy of Google.

Oh and they have coffee serving vending machines. For 60 cents, you can get a decent cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or even shot of espresso with milk. Every school needs this. What would I do for one of these so I don’t have to wait in line for Starbucks (and watch my paycheck dwindle down…)

Also comes with a cup :)
Also comes with a cup 🙂
Advertisements

Port of Happiness

Porto, Portugal
Portugal

Of all the places I’ve been to so far, Portugal was definitely the hardest to leave. I’ve always wanted to go to Portugal, so when I got to Europe, this was one of the first trips I planned and was really excited for. There are many reasons why, but I can guess it’s probably because I spent part of my childhood in a place with a very prominent Eurasian culture—I was born in Macau, so it was Chinese and Portuguese to be exact. My favorite pastry of all time has always been the Portuguese cream tart, fresh out of the oven. And I’ve always preferred wine to beer (though German beer is pretty good.)

I don’t get nostalgic very often because I left my childhood home when I was very young for Hawaii, which was a very different place that doesn’t remind me of home much. But those feelings came flooding in as I walked on the roads paved with the smooth black and ivory tiles that are so typical of Portuguese urban planning. Our destination was Porto, which produces probably the best wines and dessert wines in the world.

My juice box of red wine that I finished at the airport. (no straw included)
My juice box of red wine that I finished at the airport. (no straw included)
Portugal is also known for the blue-and-white porcelain tile work. It's absolutely gorgeous, indoors and outdoors. This is in the Porto main train station.
Portugal is also known for the blue-and-white porcelain tile work. It’s absolutely gorgeous, indoors and outdoors. This is in the Porto main train station.

In all respects, we got very unlucky with the weather. The sun rarely shone (but when it did, it was warm and very beautiful), and most of the time, the sky was quite gloomy and one night, we even had to brave hurricane-like weather to get back to our hostel.

But in all honesty, I loved Porto and Portugal in spite of the poor weather. I don’t think I’ve fallen in love with a place so quickly, so completely—especially in such unfavorable conditions. Which says a lot about Portugal, I think.

Our stroke of good weather occurred when we took a day trip to Lisbon by bus for 32 Euros, round trip (three and a half hours, each way). It didn’t hold up by the time we got back to Porto around midnight, which was when we had to fight the typhoon to get back home. So if you’re planning to go to Portugal, might I give fair warning that compact umbrellas are pretty much defenseless. They might survive the rain, but the wind is an entirely different story.

Here are my highlights of Portugal (Porto and Lisbon), in no particular order:

–          Visiting Livaria Lello, one of the most famous and beautiful bookstores in the world, about five times. Legend has it that J.K. Rowling got inspiration from this bookstore to create the Hogwarts Library.

Unfortunately, the bookstore is still privately owned, and its owners do not allow photos to be taken inside. All the more reason to go there yourself and see it!
Unfortunately, the bookstore is still privately owned, and its owners do not allow photos to be taken inside. All the more reason to go there yourself and see it!

And for you serious Potter fans, this cafe is where (again, the legend goes) JK Rowling began writing the first Harry Potter book (HP and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone).

The Majestic
The Majestic

–          Amazing, cheap food. My wonderful meal of delicious pork chops and half a bottle (maybe a third) of red wine was only 5.50 Euros. My huge portion of the typical Portuguese Francesinha was only 6 Euros in a restaurant.

–          The people. I am still in amazement at how helpful, kind, and content with life the Portuguese are.

–          Our hostel. We stayed at Pilot Hostel, which had great facilities that were clean and modern, free tea and coffee 24/7, a kitchen, and wonderful staff. It’s not perfect, but for the quality of our stay, you would not believe it was only 8 Euros per night.

–          Going up on the famous elevator in Lisbon and getting a wonderful aerial view of the city.

–          Exploring the medieval St. Jorge castle and seeing picture perfect weather in Lisbon.

–          Seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time on the other side.

–          Making footprints in the sand.

*Germany is centrally located, which means it’s obviously landlocked. It’s the farthest from the ocean I’ve ever been. I’ve moved around a bit, but never very far from the coast…*

–          Our free wine tasting. Even if you aren’t a wine drinker, I promise you: YOU WILL LOVE PORT WINE.

–          Being told I have a good accent when I spoke Portuguese. Which I can’t, by the way. But I made it a point to learn it one day!

Even now, I still wonder what it is about Portugal that makes me want to go back. Like right now. Maybe even live or retire there. I don’t know. I suppose it’s the combination of really little things. Sure, I enjoyed the touristy things, but I think it was something more intrinsic and intangible that makes me so content with life when I am there. Till next time, Portugal!

**Disclaimer: I was not too impressed by the cream tarts in Portugal, to be honest.

But you still can't go wrong with buying one! For 1.20 euros, you can get a gigantic pastel de nata. Standard size 1 euro.
But you still can’t go wrong with buying one! For 1.20 euros, you can get a gigantic pastel de nata.  Standard size 1 euro.

I suppose I have been immensely spoiled by the freshly baked and piping hot tarts that I can only get from the little bakery on the island of Coloane in Macau. If you ever get a chance to go to Hong Kong, spend at least a day in Macau. I can blog for ages about that city, but for now, just try the cream tarts.

For more pictures, please visit:

P1100284

Chocolates, Currywurst, and Some Really Good Beer

I was originally going to combine the tales of our journeys through these two cities in Germany, but I love them so much that I think each of them deserves its own blog post.

COLOGNE

(For more pictures, please enjoy my full album here.)

This is probably one of the first big, rather spontaneously planned Tauschie trip of the semester. All of us just want to go EVERYWHERE! And together. We announced that we’d be meeting at the Vallendar train station at 7:45AM to catch the 7:59 train, and pretty much thirty people showed up. It was cold, a little breezy, but the part that got me was how dark it was. The sky only started getting a tinge of blue 10 minutes before the train came (on time, of course).

I'm REALLY not a morning person, but I'm ecstatic to go to Cologne!
I’m REALLY not a morning person, but I’m ecstatic to go to Cologne!

For the train to Cologne, we were able to save money by buying our tickets in groups of 5 for the group discount that Deutsche Bahn (DB) offers. Another tip: we saw two Cologne stations on our way there. Don’t get off at the first one. The one you need to get off at is the Cologne Cathedral Main Station, or Köln Dom Hauptbahnhof. (Köln is the German name for Cologne. For a rough pronunciation guide, you can say it as KERN, as in “Kernel”)

We alighted in a massive steel web station, and once we got out, we saw this beholding sight.

The High Cathedral

This is the Cologne Cathedral, or the Köln Dom. Officially it’s called the High Cathedral of St. Peter, which gives it away that it’s Catholic. The Gothic architecture and rich history behind it makes it all the more imposing. Inside, it’s absolutely beautiful and so vast.

Construction began in 1248 (I know, crazy right?) but discontinued in 1475. It was finally completed according to the original design in 1880.
Our Cologne Tauschie group!
Our Cologne Tauschie group!

We paid a couple more Euros for the chance to climb the tower. I believe it was something like 500 steps. Felt like more, actually. I concede that I wasn’t able to make it up to the very top, but I got close! I seriously need to get into shape, haha.

The never-ending, winding staircase. Oh man.
The never-ending, winding staircase. Oh man.
Pretty high up.
Pretty high up.
Really high up.
Really high up.

In all seriousness though, this is a must-do for anyone in Cologne. Even if you can’t make it to the top, just visit the Cathedral. Who knows? You might even be treated with a special performance from these fellas. (They’re really quite good.)

And then there's this guy.
And then there’s this guy.

Our next stop was the Lindt Chocolate Museum and Factory. Pretty much the next best thing after Willy Wonka. Lindt is probably one of my absolute favorite chocolate brand, so I was pretty excited to say the least. After an entertaining 20 minutes or so, walking around, looking for the river as a landmark, and asking for directions, we finally got there and got free samples upon entering! It was definitely interesting to see how the chocolates were made on such a grand level. As we toured the levels, we saw not only Lindt Chocolates, but essentially aspects of chocolate history around the world. For 4.50 Euro (or thereabouts) you can get your own custom made Lindt chocolate bar! If you go further in the tour, there’s an old-fashioned chocolate dispenser that gives you chocolate bar (milk chocolate) for 1 Euro.

The Chocolate Factory
The Chocolate Factory
Making the chocolates
Making the chocolates
All you have to do is fill out a request form, pay, and wait about an hour for your very own custom made chocolate bar!
All you have to do is fill out a request form, pay, and wait about an hour for your very own custom made chocolate bar!
Found an old friend on the way :)
Found an old friend on the way 🙂

At this point, we were starving, so our group of 15 (everyone kinda dispersed after the initial photo) went searching for food. The lady at the Lindt information desk gave us suggestions to go to a restaurant where they served authentic German food for decent prices. It also didn’t seem too far from Rudolfplatz, which was supposed to be very historical. Half an hour later, we finally got to the Früh am Veedel. The food took SUPER long to get to the table, but when it did, it was pretty amazing.

Breakfast of champions. Fleishkaese, perfectly caramelized onions, salted potatoes, perfect sunny-side up egg. Salad on the side. All for less than 10 Euros.
Breakfast of champions. Fleishkaese, perfectly caramelized onions, salted potatoes, perfect sunny-side up egg. Salad on the side. All for less than 10 Euros.
THIS PLACE
THIS PLACE
Starving Tauschies (when the food finally came) Oh, and mine was last. Figures.
Starving Tauschies (when the food finally came)
Oh, and mine was last. Figures.

Oh, if you’re ever in Cologne, make sure you try the local beer, Kölsch. It’s kind of a big deal. It’s pricier than your average beer, but so worth it. (Sorry I don’t have a picture this time)

And then it rained. And then it poured. We passed by several medieval buildings that may or may not still be in commission. By the time we got to or what we thought was Rudolfplatz, it was so wet and dreary that we just decided to go back because we couldn’t find the Roman ruins we were looking for.

But the day wasn’t over just yet. We HAD to find the birthplace of eau de cologne. After getting disappointed from accidentally walking into a chain store/gift shop, we found the original 4711.

Robby and the Fountain of eau de cologne.
Robby and the Fountain of eau de cologne.

Our little group split up some more once we got back near the train station to do some shopping. So Cindy, May, and I ended the day with a Cologne specialty: piping-hot currywurst from a street vendor. It was a marvelous 3.50 Euro spent.

Not an original picture, but this is what it looks like. Curry powder, ketchup, and good ol' sausages.
Not an original picture, but this is what it looks like. Curry powder, ketchup, and good ol’ sausages.

I will definitely be back in Cologne, if not on a personal planned trip, then definitely for the Köln Karneval. We’ll be going there on March 3rd, so stay posted! It’s going to be a good one!

PART TWO: HEIDELBERG (TBC)