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europe
Austria, Belgium, Budapest, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Opinion, Personal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Travel

6 Things I Have Learned From Traveling Europe

It’s been a week since I got back from the Philippines after my 2-month trip in Europe. The trip did not only change my life completely but I have learned a lot of life lessons from this travel. I know that you guys are so, so sick of my everyday drama telling you how I am so blessed and this whole trip was a miracle because I am self-made. It’s true, though. If you were in my position, you’d understand. I don’t know what I did in my life to be this blessed! That’s why I am sharing you this blog post about the things I have learned from this travel.

1. It’s okay to not be a solo traveler and to join a group tour

With my amazing friends around the world traveling Europe, sharing loves and laughs

Believe it or not, there are some blogs who are shaming other travellers saying that you are not a legit traveller unless you are a solo backpacker and I believe that is a huge BS. As long as you are traveling and appreciating the places you go, YOU ARE A TRAVELLER. I didn’t have anything planned when I first came to Europe. All I thought was that I’ll stay in Germany and then visit the neighbouring countries such as Netherlands and Belgium. That’s it! I am bad with directions and I know that I will 100% be lost that’s why I didn’t bother to check out other countries.

You know what happened next?

I found God’s blessings through Tinder.

Girl, what? What? What?

I know. Tinder. I use Tinder mainly just to advertise my blog. I swipe every now and then but I never meet up with guys because it never progressed. Anyway, a few weeks before I left for Europe, I saw a guy on Tinder and his photos were all around Europe. I asked the guy how much he spent for the travel and he told me “I am not sure because everything’s handled by TourRadar – they are an online marketplace for tours.” I had no idea what TourRadar was but I’ve been seeing their posts on my Facebook every now and then. I went to their site and scrolled for some European trip and was amazed with a bunch of selection from different parts of Europe. Hold up, guys. Just a disclaimer: I am not being paid to say this. I just love TourRadar so much because they let me experience a once in a lifetime (hopefully not just once, though.. lol) adventure that I would never forget.

I searched for a trip that will let me travel to multiple countries including the accommodation, transportation, guide, and meal and I found this 10 countries for 14 days Europe Jewel tour. It was worth it and I would pay even twice the price because it’s that good. 

If you wish to book any packages from Tour Radar, I have a code you can enter upon checkout to get 5% discount. Just enter TRIPCOMETRUE.

I’ve learned in my life that if you’re an introvert then go ahead, do solo travel if you wish to but if you want to meet new friends and stay in a good hotel and not just in a hostel, then feel free to book tour packages. It’s up to you and no one can shame you just as long as you’re having fun.

I had a great time with my good friends from the tour and I’m so happy that we’re already planning our next adventure in Asia next year. Traveling 10 countries in 14 days with my sweet and loving friends made this trip 10x happier. I am so happy that I stumbled upon Tour Radar and that they helped me from booking the tour to meeting the tour group in Amsterdam to checking me if I’m having fun. I did and I will do it again.

2. Different culture, different personality

I have met people from literally all around the world. I even met Keri, which was from Zimbabwe. I mean, she’s the first Zimbabwean that I know personally so that’s really cool. Different nationality, different culture, different personality that’s why you never take things personally. My roommate, Natasha, who is a British lady from South Africa but is currently based in Dubai first striked me as a condescending girl because she doesn’t talk to me that much even if we were roommates and this upsets me so much because I thought we will be inseparable. Breaking news: Honey, it doesn’t work that way. Filipino girls tend to be very clingy with each other and I expected the same with other culture and that is what’s wrong. Natasha doesn’t stick with me 24/7 because duh! She wants to mingle with other people aside from me and it makes me feel so stupid for expecting a person on a group tour to always be with me. LOL. I sound like a creepy roommate. Anyway, Tash is a very very sweet lady and we even cried the last day of the tour. She accompanied me to the train station and we promised to see each other again. YES! We will see each other again this February! I’m so excited, I love herrrrr!!!

My point is: When you travel and for example a person raises her voice, don’t panic and think she’s belittling you or what. Maybe she’s German and her voice is just naturally like that hahaha.

3. It’s okay to be lost

I don’t like to travel alone because I think I will cry if I get lost. I got lost in Prague and look at me, I’m still alive and typing this. It’s okay to be lost because what is the worst that could happen? You ask for direction, they point you to the right direction, you’re back. AC, my Indian friend and I got lost in Prague because we were too busy taking photos. We lost our tour leader and the rest of the group. We tried following their path but we ended up in a dead-end! I was panicking and almost on the verge of crying. Czech do not speak English that well so lucky me that I got a pocket wifi from My-Webspot which allows me to be connected 24/7 everywhere in Europe (use my code EUROPECONNECT for a discount – again, I’m not paid to say this hahahaha!) to translate and ask people the right direction. Direction to where, though? The rest of the group were heading for dinner and we didn’t get the name of the restaurant. We had to call our tour leader but my EU sim card only works in Germany. What we did was to find a small restaurant and ask anyone that looks approachable if we can call. A lady my age works as a seller in this pastry shop and agreed to use her phone to make a call. Imagine? She let two clueless Asians to use her phone without any hesitations! Faith in humanity, restored! Never be afraid to get lost because it’s kinda fun. LOL.

luxembourg
Luxembourg, Personal, Travel

Luxembourg Day Trip

The only thing that I know about Luxembourg is that it’s the richest country in the world. I’ve read and studied about it in my World Geography class but aside from that, I didn’t know much about it. It sounds like a made-up country like Princess Diaries’ Genovia LOL. I never intended to go there but when Father Lachica, the priest here in the town where I’m living at invited me to travel, I said YES. We initially wanted to go to Rhimes in France but changed our mind. We wanted to bring Tita Tots who had an appointment in the afternoon but Rhimes would be a long drive. I’ve already been to nearby countries like Netherlands and Belgium so we decided to go for a 4-hour drive to Luxembourg instead.

The weather was bad when we left Germany but when we were near Luxembourg, it started to get worse. It was 2 degrees and my winter jacket wasn’t even helping.

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We stepped out of the car tired, dizzy, and freezing. It completely ruined our mood but we’re already there and we have to just enjoy the moment even if the weather’s bad.

I’m glad we had a homemade frikadellen (meatball), sandwich, cola, and chocolates with us. We warmed ourselves and headed out for an adventure.

Luxembourg has a lot of tech HQs located in there such as Microsoft, Skype, eBay, and Amazon. We went on a Monday and there wasn’t a lot of people out.

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People that we asked for direction cannot speak in English and the navigator and Google maps wasn’t working because there was no signal. Coolcoolcoolcool. We just walked and tried our luck to find the palace in the rain. So not cool.

It took us 30 minutes or so to find the palace but we stumbled upon this hilltop view and it was magical.

So beautiful and peaceful.

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We walked, and walked, and walked until we died. LOLJK.

Until we found the palace….

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It was… uh… how do I say it? Underwhelming.

It’s like “It’s this?! That’s it?”

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I’m the type of person who will tell you 100% how I feel about a person or a place. I’m transparent and being lucky enough to go to these places, I feel like it’s my job to tell you how it really is. I’m not the type of “blogger” who overhypes the place and say “liek OMG u guys it’s soooooo beautiful” etc etc just to make them look like they’re having the time of their life. I’m sorry, Luxembourg. I love you, I get your beauty and you are amazing but I was underwhelmed with the whole place. I go to places and I feel a rush but I never did with this place. Of course, I feel so blessed having the opportunity to go here but I will be honest with you – it’s skippable. You may or may not in your lifetime will get a chance to travel this country but either way, you won’t be missing so much.

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I’m not in any way picky with places because who am I to act like that? I’m just a girl from the home of the pollution and corruption, the Philippines. To top that, I don’t live in an exclusive village to act entitled. It’s just that Luxembourg looks like every other place in Europe except it’s not tourist-friendly. Nothing much to see, hard-to-understand road signs, and restaurants close early.

If you have a chance to travel Luxembourg, go ahead! See it for yourself! It’s good for just a day trip. However, I don’t think it’s worth to spend a week here.

I thought I was acting crazy until I did a quick search on Google. “Luxembourg boring” will give you tons of articles that will say so.

Anyway, we were so tired from walking around and the rain didn’t even have a plan to stop. We gave up and after 3 hours, we went to their Notre Dame Cathedral and decided to go home.

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As we were hungry, we want to eat first and try their Judd mat Gaardebounen. However, because we’re so lucky with this trip, all restaurants were closed. It was only 3 PM. Nicenicenice. Dude, I don’t even know why. Is there some sort of agreement to not welcome us? LOL. Luxembourg’s really trying our patience.

We drove home and stopped by an Asian buffet along Germany.

Anyway, never say never. I’d love to see Luxembourg again. I always give the benefit of the doubt and I think that maybe it was just the weather that ruined our trip.

Or maybe it’s our lack of planning that lead us to a 4/10 experience.

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I will sure go back again on my next Eurotrip.

See you, Luxembourg!

WEEKONE
Germany, Netherlands, Personal, Travel

Week One in Europe

It’s been ten days since I arrived here and I think I am doing very good as a tourist. I planned to put “Week One in Germany” as the title but I’ve also been to Netherlands in less than two weeks of my trip. I feel so blessed, you have no idea! Never in my life have I imagined that I can live like this and I’m just this young. I know! I keep on rubbing it in my personal account how I feel proud of myself of achieving this.

Last night, I dreamt that my sister’s waking me up and I am crying asking her to stop shaking and waking me because I’m still dreaming that I was in Europe. I woke up today with tears in my eyes and I cried again because it’s not a dream. I am so happy here but of course, I have to accept the fact that I have to go back in the Philippines when my visa expired. I also have to accept that it will take a while for me to go back here again – I’m thinking maybe after 5 years? However, I don’t want to think about leaving too much and just enjoy every moment.

Anyway, I’m writing a recap of how my first week in Europe went.

March 31, 2016 – Day One

My flight from MNL-HKG is at 5:50 PM so my mom, dad, and brother drove me to the airport around 1:30 in the afternoon. I bid my goodbye and went to the immigration where a lady in front of me around my age went crying because I think she was offloaded. I’m not really sure but she was crying and the security escorted her. The immigration officers were really intimidating but because I’m me, I am always graceful under any circumstance LOL. We even laughed together because we both can’t pronounce a city in Germany I’m planning to go to. Anyway, I felt bad for the lady because we talked before all that fiasco happened. She told me she saved up for her Hong Kong trip and she was looking forward to it. I really hope she’s okay.

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I’m really glad that all of my flights weren’t delayed. I didn’t take pictures of what I ate in my MNL-HKG flight but it’s just some caldereta wrap which tasted like paper, a cookie which was okay, and an uber sweet juice.

My Lufthansa flights from HKG-FRA and FRA-DUS however were the best! I’ve been told that I boarded the largest aircraft in the world for my HKG-FRA flight. I didn’t get a chance to sleep because the Chinese couple besides me kept on peeing. LOL. The flight seemed like forever!!!12959515_1091088154276232_1537443540_o

For my snack, I had this really good nut and pretzel called “Cloud Hoppers.” I think I had 3 of this and I also got me some red wine.

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For our dinner, I really enjoyed this pasta dish with broccoli. My only concern is everything was so soggy! I need my crunchy vegetables, Lufthansa! However, the sauce was fantastic! I took the bread and the cookie to eat later but I ended up throwing it after I found it on my bag 2 days later. HAHA! The salad was okay and I felt too full for the pudding.

I had red wine, coke, and tea with this.

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Our breakfast was fantastic! It’s a lyonnaise potato dish with sausage, eggs, tomato, and broccoli. The potato was so delicious! I finished everything and I even asked for more bread. #noshame

I arrived 7:30 AM Germany time and my whole body was so sore because of my heavy luggage! I had the worst time in HKG layover because everything’s so fast and they had to ask me to remove my laptop from my hand carry while there were people waiting in line. I’m always anxious when there are people waiting so I did it so fast that I think I broke my hand!

I waited for my checked-in luggage for 30 minutes and when I stepped out of the airport, my first reaction was “Thanks God!” It was an exhausting trip! It was 6 degrees when I arrived and I immediately blurted “Totoo ba ‘to?!” (Is this real?!) It was so cold that it felt surreal!

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My first meal in Germany was this bread with shrimp, lime, salt, pepper, and mayonnaise and this salmon and dill combination. Heavenly! How come this is never a thing at home?

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The afternoon was spent in the downtown place. I had a taste of their famous German currywurst and beer!

Super blessed that Maastricht, Netherlands is just near my aunt’s place. I got to roam two countries in just a day!

That was it for my first day and I still couldn’t absorb that I’m already here! LOL.

April 1, 2016 – Day Two

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As a tourist, your obligation back home is to get them something. I kinda feel guilty the past few months that I haven’t gotten my family anything except for my monthly contribution. I’ve been saving a lot so the only person that I’ve been treating is my spoiled younger brother.

April 1 was spent in Roermond, Netherlands with my aunt. There was a designer sale of almost any brand you could ever think of. I spent my whole salary for a month buying my family gifts. I loved it! It felt nice and I didn’t even buy myself anything. I really like to give when there is something to give. I’m so excited to bring my gifts home and see the look in their faces.

Oh, I also had this McWrap from McDonalds, some fish, and chips. It was sunny but it was still cold.

April 2, 2016 – Third day

There is a Filipino community in Netherlands! Isn’t it nice? One of them had a birthday party so being a Filipino, we had a boodle fight!

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I admit that I felt left out as all of them are older than me and they have already been in Europe for quite a few years now. I just played with their kids and ate some good food then went home around 10PM.

April 3, 2016 – Fourth day

This day was so much fun!

It was Sunday and the first thing I did was prepare and go to the church. The church community is composed of different race but mostly Filipinos. The Catholic priest is a Filipino, too and he’s the best! He’s a very chill and cool priest and I love that!

After the mass, I was shocked that they have this reception after. Free food and no matter where I’ll go and where I’ll be, FREE FOOD always sounds good to me!

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Yum!

Sunday is a good day to to a fair so next stop would be in Aachen!

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Their fair food are the bomb!

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I’m not a fan of sweets and I find these nuts and fruits so darn expensive so I didn’t try it.

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I tried this mushroom/champignon instead and it blew my mind! Freaking delicious! It costs 4.50 euro but ehh whatever, it’s good!

I also rode this super crazy ride called “Ghost Rider” and damn! Never again! I almost faint!

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After that wonderful day at the fair, it ended with a great meal at an Italian restaurant downtown called “Casa Leonardo.” I loved that restaurant and tried it twice but never again. Will share why on my next post.

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I ordered this medium-rare steak whatever that I cannot pronounce. It was good but I had better. I also had tiramisu which was so good! I love bitter-tasting desserts!

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Restaurants like this requires you to have a budget of around 20 euro per meal. Not bad, I think?

experience
Germany, Personal, Travel, Visa

Schengen Visa at German Embassy Manila Experience

My German Embassy Manila Experience

I wrote this post to give you an idea on what to expect on your interview. For the steps on how to get your Schengen visa, check my post here.

My visa interview was March 2, 2016 10:30 AM-11 AM.

Since I work night shift, I went straight from work to the embassy carrying all the requirements with me. I live in Makati City and the embassy is just located in RCBC. It was a mere 30 minutes away but I decided to travel two hours before the appointment just to avoid the traffic. I arrive at the lobby around 9:00 AM the guard told me to come back around 9:50 a.m. They won’t let you loiter inside the building so you have to arrive just 30 mins before the interview time. I went to Moonleaf to buy a milk tea and just surf the net to kill some time.

Guys, my tummy was aching because I was so nervous. 

I didn’t even finish the large milk tea so I asked the staff if she could keep it inside their fridge and I’ll just come back later. LOL! I can’t be wasting any more money because this visa application alone cost me a lot!

I went back inside RCBC and went straight to the guard manning the German embassy desk. Then, I presented my visa appointment form they emailed on my account. They will confiscate your umbrella, laptop, and tablet before you go to the embassy itself. I left my umbrella and proceeded to the 25th floor of the RCBC Building.

When you arrived at the 25th floor, you will be greeted by two guards on your left side. Here, your bags will be checked and you will have to submit your declaration to the lady in the window. She will give a priority number and will ask you to proceed to the right side. There is a lady guard who will confiscate your phone, charger, power banks, etc. and will give you a small key for your locker. I went inside the interview section and surprisingly, there were less than 10 people. The one in front of me was a Chinese couple and they were interviewed for only 10 minutes. Then, it was my turn. Not verbatim but here are the questions asked:

Interview questions:

Jack: Good morning!

Consul: Good morning. Purpose of travel?

J: For vacation.

C: *types, types* For how long?

J: xx days

C: Nakapunta ka na ba ng ibang bansa? (Have you ever been abroad?)

J: I’ve been meaning to travel before but I had just received my corrected birth certificate and…

C: *she cuts me* —-So, hindi pa? (—-So, you haven’t?)

J: *smiles* Yes, I haven’t.

C: Ano ginagawa mo sa trabaho mo?  (What are you doing in your job?)

J: Almost everything digital. I do email automation, email campaigns, Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter audience targeting, SEO, copywriting, and sometimes I do web and graphic designs.

C: Magkano sahod mo? (How much is your salary)

J: xxxxxx pesos

C: Per month?

J: Yes

C: Gross na ba ‘to or net? (Is this gross or net?)

J: Net

C: So, you had an error in your gender? *encircles the gender on my birth certificate*

J: Yup, but it’s now fixed.

C: What did you finish in school and what school?

J: Communication at Adamson University

C: What year?

J: Until 4th year (HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA OMG I’M SO DUMB!) 

C: No, I mean what year did you graduate?

J: Oh, 2015. Last year. Sorry!

C: *types, types* How old are you?

J: 21 po.

C: Any kids?

J: None.

C: Okay, here’s your tracking number. We will just deliver your passport next week.

J: Thank you.

As you can see, it was a very chill interview. The consul might seem to be super intimidating but that’s their job – to intimidate you! When you’re planning to be an illegal immigrant, they can get into your head and you will be nervous but why should you be nervous when you don’t plan on doing something illegal? I was so chill the entire time and I was smiling. By the way, they will not get all of your documents. They didn’t even ask about my aunt and family friend who will accommodate me to make their home as my home base! Just pass the documents if they asked for it but if not, don’t insist. To check what they got and what they didn’t, check my post here.

After that, I went back to the milk tea place and went straight home. I’m glad it was over and I’m feeling very positive.

Tips in applying for a Schengen Visa in German Embassy:

  • Arrive early but not too early. 30 minutes will do.
  • Don’t bring too much electronics
  • Make sure that you have your visa appointment and visa declaration printed
  • PHOTOCOPY EVERYTHING – I MEAN EVERYTHING! I made a mistake of not doing so. Now, I no longer have my original certificate of employment, ITR, etc.
  • Wear an appropriate clothing but don’t overdo it because it might look like you’re too desperate. I wore something like this but in olive green.
  • Arrange your documents to how it’s written on the embassy website
  • Don’t be nervous! Unless you’re planning to do something illegal, there’s no need to be nervous!
  • Be honest! The embassy knows more about yourself than you do yourself lol so there’s no need to lie!
  • Thank the consul after your interview
  • Do not call the embassy to ask for your visa status! Just wait patiently! Call 2Go and they might have a word on your visa status but refrain from bothering the embassy.

Waiting for the Schengen Visa from German Embassy

I received my visa after 3 business days. Kudos German Embassy Manila for my good visa experience. They granted me multiple-entry and added a few days to what I requested.

I can’t wait to save up more money after this trip and apply again! 🙂