I remembered the first time me and the kids went to hubby’s office which is just across our place. Going there meant crossing a major street. At first, I was wondering why aren’t these cars stopping? We waited and waited for the traffic light to turn red but it wouldn’t. So I waited until no cars pass and we hurriedly ran across it. I told hubby about it and he told me that I should have pressed the button. I said, “what button?” This button: Although there are lights for pedestrians which are linked with the major traffic lights, you will see this pedestrian button in some small streets and intersections. This button is pressed when you want to cross the street, and unless pressed cars will just go through the thoroughfares smoothly and uninterrupted. Nice, right? No time wasted for people in a hurry to get to their work or to their appointment. I wonder how will this work back home… For sure though, there will be crazy people who will play with this and undisciplined pedestrians who will not press this! Oh, and one more! In a few months after this is introduced, some will not already be functioning. Hehe.. By the way, Drücken means Press!
Last Sunday was no ordinary day here in Aalen. Boutiques and commercial establishments at the city center were open. You see, here in Germany and I think in the whole Europe, all commercial establishments are closed on Sundays, except maybe for some restaurants. Valuing quality of life, they set Sunday as a day for the family. Unlike back home where commercialism is all over, here relationships are more important. Hey, salesladies have families too you know. Anyway, it was a great day. The sun’s out and people really are all over town. O well, they love the sun. Understandably since they only get to enjoy it, what, 6 months in a year? And as someone who comes from a tropical country as the Philippines, I think I was the only one who’s not happy about the sun coming out. It was sooo hot my skin felt like burning! While the people are wearing cotton shirts and spaghetti straps, I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt! Haha!! But I’m thankful that it’s not humid here. You don’t get to perspire that much. It’s kinda weird actually coz you’ll feel cold once you get to a shed or the sun is partially covered. Long lines in ice cream stores, iced cafes sipped, and chairs and tables outside the restos so people can still enjoy the sunny day while having a bottle of beer and pizzas. It was also an opportunity for some businesses to showcase their products. Bikes, motorcycles, flowers and gardening/farming equipments (since Spring is just around the corner). And boy, cars!!! My eyes had a feast with beautiful, gorgeous cars there! When the sun’s out here, you’ll see different brands of convertibles pass by you and you can just drool over it! Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Peugot! Wow! Just wow! My son is into cars and sometimes you’ll suddenly hear him shout, “Wow! Nice car! Mommy, look!”. He even knows the brands just by looking at the emblem. I hope maybe next time I can feature these cars in another article but since I’m really not that knowledgeable in cars specifically, maybe I can just post some pics of these interesting cars I see on the road.
Cooking is really a challenge for me. More so what to cook for the day! Everyday I had to ask myself, “what will I cook?”. I suddenly remembered when I was back home when I don’t worry what my kids have to eat that day because, as I have said I had my parents and house help to worry those things for me. Funny when I told my dad that I’m always having problems of what to cook for the day he said, “Now you know..” haha!! Yup, now I know. I’m not really that adventurous when it comes to food. Yeah, I’ve dined to different kinds of restaurants, Italian, American, Korean, Japanese, Chinese but I was never interested on the food itself; how did they do this? what makes it taste like this? I just enjoyed eating them. That’s why my knowledge in cooking is confined with what I eat at home. Asian. I am so lucky to live near an Asian shop. It’s owned by Vietnamese (as the name of the shop suggests) and are really friendly (trying hard to understand my Deutsch, haha!). You can find varieties of Asian products, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Chinese and of course Philippine. They have rice, sauces, sardines (they have Ligo there!), preserved fruits (they also have bottled ingredients for halo-halo!) and canned vegetables. Different kinds of noodles and the instant ones. Even rice cooker (you don’t usually find rice cookers here in Germany). They have fishes and fresh vegetables too, vegetables you don’t usually see in the supermarkets here, like string beans, kangkong and okra. They even have a table/chart of vegetables and you can order specific vegetable if you want that is not available in their store. Of course the prices here are a little expensive, they’re imported! I buy my soy sauce (Datu Puti), vinegar (Silver Swan) and barbecue marinade (Mama Sita) there. I’m just so glad they have them I can cook what me and my family’s taste buds are familiar with.
When you want to renovate your home or just to have a quick fix in any part of it, only one store here comes to mind – BAUHAUS, literally means house construction. All you need in building or repairing your home are all here in one roof. From the smallest nail to roofs, gardening gloves to lawn mowers, and picture frames to wall papers, you name it. They also cut materials like woods and glasses to your desired measurements, housings for built-in ovens or even the whole kitchen block for your home! And since we have the four seasons here, products also vary every season. When we arrived, it was winter so we saw fireplaces for sale or anything that’s for the season. And now it’s Spring and you can see flowers and gardening materials everywhere. People who assist here are skilled and highly-trained. Not just an ordinary sales assistant who points you where the toilet seats are. They suggest what could be best for your home. And guess what? They have a Drive-In for selective hardware materials, too! Cool, right? Convenient for those who don’t want to walk around the spacious store and pick up just what they needed. I wonder when can Philippines have this kind of specialty store…? Great idea for a business huh? Hmm…
I miss McDonald’s! The sundae, the Mcflurry, the fried chicken, even the Burger Mcdo, and most especially the fries. I remember the lunch outs or a snack/dinner before going home near our building or in Glorietta. Good thing there’s a branch here near our place. But of course products are not the same as in back home. They have no fried chicken and spaghetti here! Sad for my kids because these are their favorites. They only eat here the fries and the nuggets. Even the barbecue sauce of the nuggets is different. Unlike in the Philippines where the sauce is a little sweet, here it’s smoky. You can really taste authentic barbecue flavor. I don’t remember if salad is offered back home but it is here. And guess what? The drinks are refillable! They also have these coupons where you can buy a meal with a discounted price. Much like what is distributed when Chinese New Year is just around the corner or when they just feel like it in the Philippines as a marketing strategy. I was really surprised to see these coupons here. The difference? The coupons are delivered to your home enclosed in one of the newspapers or flyers from a supermarket. Another fastfood chain here where we go to is the Burger King, of course the famous Home of the Whopper. It’s just a 10-minue walk from our home. There’s not much difference really as to the products back home. But above all these that I miss is the company, my dear friends I shared with these meals. The laughters, the quiet moments and even the tears… (I will not cry… I will not cry… hahaha!!!).
I badly need a manicure, a pedicure and an eyebrow threading. Since these are pretty expensive here (15 Euros minimum), I haven’t had one since I got here. Yeah I have twissors but they’re not that good and for my eyebrows that have grown too long it will be really painful to pluck. Hubby was about to buy me a battery-operated one as a birthday present. I stopped him. No way I would let him spend 20 Euros for just a shaver! Even for a manicure and pedicure set. We saw one of these gadgets and it costs 40 Euros! I’m not planning on making a career from it, though I think it’s a good product. It comes with a nail file, a cuticle remover, a buffer and more. Cleaning nails here is different from how it is done back home. Here they just clean the surface, remove the cuticles and put on a nail polish. They don’t remove ingrones. Funny I asked my family to include disposable shavers and a manicure set in the package they will be sending. I really miss “Let’s Face It” for my eyebrow threading and Weng, my manicurist in Freshaire. I guess I just have to do them myself..
At last, a dish washer (Geschirrspüler) for me! It is really a big help since I have been complaining to hubby of what frequent washing has done to my hands. Because I wash the dishes three times a day plus strong dish washing liquid, aside from washing the kids from time to time, my hand became very dry. Of course the winter season was a big factor. The lines in my skin became very dry and looked like small scratches. Once I saw blood between my middle and ring fingers and wondered where it came from, I was surprised it was from a tiny cut on my skin. I put lotion but not regularly. Skin color became uneven, dark areas became visible like burnt marks. I even remembered feeling a little pain and sometimes numbness in my hand. But aside from my skin not being dry anymore I will have more time to spend with my family. I felt this one night when after eating, hubby and my kids just sat on the couch and played. While me, still in the kitchen washing dishes. That’s approximately 35 minutes less time spent with them. By the time I finished my back was aching and I have little strength to join them. So even if it’s a little expensive (229 Euros or Php13,000) we still bought one. Convenience and comfort and more time to spend with loved ones, it’s all worth it!
Missing everything and my loved ones back home and going through the adjustments of being a full-time mom, I must admit I have been down lately. I felt like I’m another person. Not the usual cheerful Che. Last Sunday hubby asked if I want to go to Neresheim. At first I was kinda reluctant. It’s a 20-minute drive from our place and it was already 3pm. I was planning to do some ironing that afternoon. Nevertheless we still went there and I was surely glad we did! I really enjoyed the drive, seeing the vast green fields along the way. They were so beautiful that sometimes we had to stop and let the kids run to their delight. When we got there, it was then I knew why hubby was so persistent in bringing me to that place. There is the Neresheim Abbey (Abtei Neresheim). A monastery founded in 1095 by Augustinian Canons and was later changed to Benedictine abbey in 1106. It’s a baroque church and it’s ceiling paintings were in European baroque style. The paintings depicted the scenes in the life of Jesus. It’s the first time that I have seen such a great artwork. With its colors and details even those who don’t have an eye for art will surely be awed. They are truly amazing! (I just wish I can post all the pictures here!) Of course before appreciating all these I first prayed. Thanked Him for His love and every blessing I have received which sometimes I know I don’t deserve, asked forgiveness for my shortcomings and most of all, asked that He’ll give me more strength and help me face whatever I’m going through. I know I can always count on Him to seek refuge. Thanks to hubby who was so instrumental in bringing me to this serene place. I know I’ll be back, CHE will be back…soon.