Southern France

Sunday, 6 July 2014

In May, my Freund and I decided to walk down memory lane by revisiting Montpellier, where he lived and studied during his undergraduate days as an Erasmus scholar.

My stress level was shooting up like crazy because it was the last month for formal lectures and school requirements, so I wasn't sure whether it was the smartest thing to have a quick getaway in the middle of it all. 

I'm so glad that while Ingo is a crazy, driven soldier when it comes to accomplishing tasks (I swear, I look like a delinquent when compared to him, nakakahiya, haha!), I love that he's also such a great advocate for work-life balance. No, actually, I'd like to believe that we balance each other off. When he is a little stressed out with deliverables, he invites me to remind him about the importance of "strategically relaxing" to get one's second wind. It feels amazing to have him both as an... *warning, cheese ahead!* SO and a friend. I've never felt so supported! 

As usual, we decided to just meet up in France since he was flying from Dublin, and I was coming from stormy Germany (thank God my Eur 19.00 Ryan Air flight didn't get cancelled!) What I didn't tell him was that although I had no problems about traveling alone, I was concerned about going to France without knowing the language. 

Contrary to urban legends, I didn't have any traumatic language-related experience when I first visited (Paris) France years ago, but since my plane was landing in Bezier, a relatively obscure airport I've never been to before, I was still a little anxious about finding my way to Montpellier. 

Then again, I love being on my toes too when I'm in a foreign place, so I went ahead, full of hope that my research was accurate and adequate. Thankfully, I did make it without a hitch, and all the people I asked directions from where so nice! The fact is, they mostly spoke to me in French, but I have no idea how I managed to understand what they said! I say it's the power of context clues, hahaha.

It was nice to walk around Montpellier to visit landmarks like the Place de la Comedie and Arc de Triomphe, but personally, I enjoyed seeing the place and what it means to him more. Just passing by the most mundane places---his old residence, gym, hangouts, butchery, etc.---and hearing his stories about his days there, was so heartwarming. He said that he has been meaning to revisit Montpellier for years, but sharing it with someone makes it more special (*coughs* I have to agree). I seriously cannot wait until he visits the Philippines!

After Montpellier, we also went to Carcassonne. He had been to this medieval city years before and had no real reason to revisit it again, so imagine how grateful I was when he agreed to be my self-appointed tour guide. We were so glad that the weather cleared up a bit when we got there, despite the all-day rainy forecast.

To end our trip, we drove up to Cote D'Azur to get a piece of Nice. While I'm still a bigger fan of the Philippines' crystal-clear waters, now I can more or less understand why this is a popular choice among Europeans.

Holy Week Visits and Trip to Salzburg

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Finding at least seven churches in Salzburg wasn't difficult at all. They had one at almost every corner!

Visita Iglesia in Salzburg :)

For the rest of the Easter holiday, we spent time enjoying what his motherland has to offer. Some of the highlights include checking out the sites that appeared in the Julie Andrews film, The Sound of Music; visiting Halstatt, a cute lakeside village that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; taking the funicular to see the Salzkammergut area; trying out local Austrian food, especially the famous dessert, Sacher Torte. :)

Thankful to rediscover and be reinvigorated by an unconditional kind of love.

Feeling the Pinch

Sunday, 18 May 2014

I look at my blog and it reflects just how busy I've been in the past few months. I'm shaking my head for being so bad at updating this blog for family and friends, not for lack of happy stories to tell, because I haven't really had the time to breathe in between. Hayyyy!

Last month, I did the Visita Iglesia and I celebrated Easter holiday with Ingo in Salzburg and other areas in Austria. That country, oh my, has absolutely some of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen in my travels, and it didn't hurt that I had someone special (a local!) to spend it with. Just recently, we went to the south of France to visit the charming city where he lived as an Erasmus scholar during his undergraduate years. Sharing the trip down memory lane proved to be wonderful, as always.

For school, I finished two very important learning stations, and I was really happy about our group's outputs. One program was mainly focused on an HIV/AIDS program in Swaziland, while our proposed project dealt with media and development communications in Zaatari camp in Jordan. We also had an ammmmazzzinggg training with the German Red Cross about "Safety and Security" in the field and I was super lucky that I managed to survive, despite not being the most physical-fit person in the world, haha.

As for de-stressing, I squeezed in some time to visit the majestic tulip farm in the Netherlands with friends and now, after completing the semester's lectures, I'm treating myself to some crazy time with my French travel buddies Brenda and Celia before our finals.

I am so antsy and I can really feel the pinch because in about two weeks, I will wrap up my stay in Germany, and that means A LOT of things to tick off my my to-do list, from finalizing my research proposal, to packing and hauling and shipping stuff to Switzerland and the Philippines, to closing accounts, ending my contract in my current room, etc. No pressure!!! :-o

I finally got my official invitation for my internship (hallelujah!) so I'm now allowed to be excited about moving to Geneva (yay!). Except for the atrocious cost of living there (the hardest budget challenge I'll ever encounter *sniffs*), I'm thankful for the opportunity to be chosen for my new gig and for the miracle of finding a room through a friend of a friend of a friend (phew). Oh, and there's another thing that's keeping my awake all night---the prospect of flying home very soon is also on the horizon!

I really wish I could have the discipline, stamina, and time to keep track of all these wonderful memories as soon as I get some down time. For now, leaving you all with an idea of how crazy my classmates and I could get when we actually have time to squeeze in a quick, refreshing vacation.

After the long ride from Bochum to Strasbourg, 
we were all so happy to find this sweet little room for us.
Weee, Viva la France! :D


"#30" ≠ "The End"

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

It can also mean an awesome, inspiring and new beginning.

Sending lots of love today to "I", the man who has been making my heart smile. <3 Never thought turning a year older could be this wonderful!

Adventure is out there!

We may not be "absolutely" certain (who is?!) about where we're going, and we might not know how much time we'll need to get "there". One thing I'm sure of though is how safe, secure, and loved I feel right now.

There really are very important, life-scarring changing lessons that can be learned after getting thrown under the bus... I guess life really is about getting up, trying and trusting again.

Here's to embracing and starting this fresh journey, (hopefully) sans the baggage.

Part 2: 30th Birthday Highlights "der Käse-Edition" :)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

When I was much much younger, I thought I'd have these items on my life checklist ticked off at 30--married (to a man and a job i love), mom of a kid or two, and (more or less) financially stable too.

Boy was I dead wrong.

The closer I got to "the age", the more I realize the many other things I don't know. Instead of feeling like a "full-fledged-downright-grown-up-adult" (whatever that means), more often, I feel like I'm three, at least in terms of curiosity. Truth is, sometimes, I feel like I'm ambling along; the whole process of accepting, learning, and building certain things/relationships from scratch feels like an icy plunge into the unknown.

But you know what? That's perfectly ok.

Of the many wise words I've heard about people reaching this (or any other age), I think this one really spoke to me: "I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.” (T.E. Ross)

Despite the occasional qualms and questions, I've never been more excited about embracing and falling into this magical space. After all, this allows me to experience some of life's most amazing surprises: new lessons, new friends, new countries, and...

WARNING:  THIS isn't called the CHEESE (Käse) edition for nothing. Hihi. 
Share my joy and hit play if you'd like... at your own risk :D

Ayer's dreamy vocals on being "Young" just nails how I feel about 
this unexpected, but most welcome kind of love <3
We tried so hard not to smile (too much), but I guess we both failed... massively :D
Totally amazed, immensely grateful.

Incidentally, this guy, mein wundervoller Freund (gotta get used to that!), is celebrating his birthday in a few days too. <3

Oh life. You're amazing.

Paalam po, Lolo

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Salamat po sa kapeng Barako, specialty ninyong afritada, ensaladang mangga, rambutan at lansones ninyong laging hinahanda.

Salamat po sa pag-aalaga, sa pagpapahalaga na ibinuhos ninyo sa edukasyon, sa mga itinuro ninyo sa amin tungkol sa pag-iimpok, pagiging masinop, at pagkakaroon ng dedikasyon at integridad sa bawat paggawa.

Salamat po sa musika, sa mga nakakatuwa at nakakatawang kwento at mga tula, sa mga ngiti at masarap na tawanan, sa lahat ng mga taong nagdaan.

Salamat po sa pagpaparamdam na ang bawat isa sa amin ay mahalaga, at "proud na proud" po kayong makilala bilang Lolo Poncing ng bawat isa.

Susubukan ko pong hindi na umiyak dahil alam kong mapayapa naman po ang inyong naging paglisan. Mahal na mahal po namin kayo.

Pangako, aalagaan po namin si Lola.

Lolo, enjoy po sa unli-videoke sa langit ha? :) Alam ko pong lagi ninyo kaming gagabayan.

Ang huli po nating pagkikita....

Hanggang sa muli! :)

Ang nagmamahal niyo pong apo,

Part I: 30th Birthday Highlights

Monday, 10 March 2014

Overwhelmed with joy and gratitude! Even though I miss my family and friends from home, I was extremely lucky because for my week-long birthday celebration, I had wonderful new loves who made sure that I didn't feel alone.

From surprise greetings, such as this Bounty-flavored creation (oh my goodness, it was sooooo goood) courtesy of the beautiful Ms. B, and some wild, happy singing in multiple languages, thanks to my wonderful classmates...

So amazingly lucky! Another treat from the same girl who made an awesome
"kalamay" for our Christmas party. Yup, a French girl whipped up an
awesome Filipino delicacy. She's such a TCK! :D

Counting my candles, LOL :D
Check out her stories of our travels (because I'm too lazy to write details, ugh) HERE.

To the sweetest online and offline messages, and quirky gifts like this customized card sent by my sister-friend Haze from London...

Inside: A compilation of the most wonderful anecdotes from 
different people when they turned 30.
Watch out, Hallmark! This baby takes home the prize :)

To local street parties, such as this wild Karneval night in Koln...

Costumes, face paint, music, roller coaster, bump cars, candy floss, curry wurst---
what more could we ask for? :D

Warning: Video can get prettyyyy dizzying :D

To extended travels, like this weekend trip to Dusseldorf...

Can't wait for spring! :)

Finally, a weather that allows me to enjoy some ice cream!
It was a little too sunny that weekend; within minutes of 
getting my order, my dessert started to melt! 
(Good save on my part here, haha) :D

We borrowed Brenda's purple French beret to illustrate its many uses.
From L-R: Celia, wearing it as a military cap; Ian, as an artist's cap, 
and moi, as a regular fashion accessory. 

My cup overfloweth! :)

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