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Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, 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.

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?

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! 🙂

Blog, Germany, Personal, Travel, Visa

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa in the Philippines

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa in the Philippines?

I’m using a speech to text program because I know that any post that discusses how to apply for a Schengen visa would be long. I wanted to be as detailed as possible because like you, I had no idea before how to apply for Schengen visa if you’re from Philippines. All I know is that it was super hard especially for a citizen from a developing country like me. Let me tell you now, it’s hard but it’s not impossible. I really hope that by end of this post, you will learn a lot on how to get your own visa.

Author’s profile

Just a background about my profile: I’m a 21-year-old Content Writer and Marketer – Digital Marketing for Bolton International since July 2015. I graduated a year ago and I landed my first job as a Search Engine Optimization Writer for Lazada Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore where I worked from March-July, 2015. I have no kids/dependent and I’m not married.

Ask me six months ago and I would tell you how it’s my dream to go see the world and travel. Ask me six months ago and I’ll also tell you how I think it’d be impossible for me to do so because I know it’s hard. Sure, I know that I will eventually get my dreams of traveling around the world but I would have never guessed that I will be able to accomplish it at the age of 21 years old and without the help of anyone financially.

This might not be a big deal to some but let me tell you, I didn’t come from a well-to-do family and to top that, there was an error in my birth certificate. It took me 3 years to finally correct my gender from male to female (but I’m a legit female, okay lol) and those 3 years, you have no idea how many buckets I cried. I can’t get my passport and travel because of that stupid error which I have no idea why it took so long. I missed the opportunities in New York City last year, Dubai, and New Zealand this year because of this gender error.

Long story short, God knows the right timing and weeks after I had my birth certificate error corrected and after I hit my financial goal, I received my multiple-entry Schengen visa.

My Schengen visa in its full glory:

Apply for a Schengen Visa Germany Mania Philippines

Everybody wants to go to Europe. Germany, France, Netherlands, Greece, and Spain are just some of the countries you’ll find in there. Everything in Europe speaks of class, culture, and art! However, not just because you have a money and can afford the plane ticket doesn’t mean you can visit those places. You will need a visa to do so and today, I will teach you how you can obtain one.

What is a Schengen Visa?

This is basically a pass or a permission that allows you to travel to the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Unlike first world countries, citizens from our country need to apply for this visa in order to travel Europe. They say that it’s harder to get a Schengen visa than a US visa because a single visa will allow you to travel to 24 freaking countries in a maximum span of 90 days / 3 months.

Is the process the same for work/marriage/study visa?

This post on how to apply for a Schengen visa is only applicable for tourism. There’s a different type for work/marriage/study.

I only know how to get one for tourism.

When can I apply?

You can start planning for your trip, completing the requirements, and booking your interview 3 months before your trip. I planned for my trip the first week of November 2015, asked for my employer’s approval for my leave around the first week of January 2016, booked my visa interview by the 30th of January, and completed the requirements by the 26th of February.

For the full timeline on my visa progress, refer to this post.

Is it hard to apply for a Schengen visa?

Obtaining 150 pages of document is hard but the effort was so worth it.

Apply for a Schengen Visa Philippines

Do I need to be super rich to be granted a Schengen visa?

Nope. Don’t believe the Internet and the naysayers telling you that your chances are low because you’re not rich. I am not rich! I live near a highway and vulcanizing shop, my parents are teacher and driver, I studied at a public school, I don’t have a car, nor do I have a rich boyfriend to finance me. So, no! As long as you can prove that you won’t stay there illegally, then you’re safe. Just be sure to have a job and a decent savings on your account. My sister applied for a visa last 2013 and unfortunately, she was denied. We think it’s because she didn’t have a job back then when she applied. To secure your chance, look for a job, save some money, and then apply for your visa. Don’t rush because Europe will wait for you. Do it slowly but surely.

Do I need to have a boyfriend/friend/relative in Europe to be granted a Schengen visa?

Nope. If you can do it yourself, it’s nice to do it yourself. I do have a relative in Europe but the embassy didn’t even ask me to submit a document showing that I do have one. It still depends, though. If you think you lack the money needed for your Europe tour, you can declare that you have a boyfriend/friend/relative in Europe who will support you. As for my case, I am really blessed to have an aunt in Europe who is so supportive and willing to make their home my home base while I travel (I love her so much!) but even if family is family, I still don’t want to cause inconvenience  to anyone  and ask for money just for my dream.

I’m glad to say that I financed this whole trip 100% using my own money from hard work but I won’t judge you if you need help from someone. Whatever floats your boat just as long as you’re not hurting anyone and you’re happy.

apply for a schengen visa how to

How much money do I need to show the embassy?

It depends upon the embassy. France is an expensive country to live in and they require 56.20 euro per day. The German embassy requires that you’ll have 45 euros or PHP 2,385 per day exclusive of your flight ticket. So for example, I’m planning to stay for 30 days, I need to have PHP 2,385 x 30 = PHP 71,550 + the flight ticket of let’s say, PHP 52,000 = PHP 123,550. Of course, you need to have more than that because the embassy might think you’ll have nothing left when you return from your trip. In my opinion, you need to have at least PHP 200,000 for a 30-day stay in Europe as PHP 123,550 excludes accommodation and activities.

Can you tell me the step-by-step process on how to get my Schengen visa?

Of course!

  1. Plan your trip.

Where in Europe would you want to go first and for how long? This is important because you have to apply in the embassy of the country you’ll stay at the longest.

What if I want to go to Germany for 10 days and then Netherlands for 10 days?

 If you’ll stay at different countries at an equal time, you should apply at the country you’ll go to first. In this scenario, apply in German embassy.

  1. Google, Google, and Google

…or Yahoo. Whatever floats your boat but research and read travel blogs to answer your questions. My favorite Schengen visa blog post is by Dream Euro Trip. DJ Yabis is an amazing person and he is very helpful answering people’s questions through the comment section. His post on how to get the visa is actually my homepage for 3 months. It’s so detailed and you will learn a lot from the firsthand experience of the commenters.

  1. Read the embassy’s requirements

Different countries included in the Schengen zone have a lot of similarities with their requirements but there are still some that differs. I applied in the German embassy and I’m glad that the website is very detailed and it answers a lot of questions.