Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Are you a soap person?

Found at St Wolfgang
I've decided to blog in an non-chronological manner. So I'll be putting up pictures from my album at random and talking around them. Here's such a picture. Aren't these duckies adorable? I kinda regret not buying at least 2 of them. 

Where is St Wolfgang you may well ask...It is in central Austria. Quite a journey by bus all the way from Munich. But the scenery as we approach the smaller villages were amazing. Exactly like a story book or a mini series where you see the villagers walking down the lane. 

I don't think St Wolfgang is famous for soap. (Haha) It is however famous for the White Horse Inn. ( Hotel Weißes Rössl) which is the name of a musical comedy about the head waiter being desperately in love with the owner of the inn. Sounds like a perfect thing to watch on a rainy Saturday morning. Remind me to try and buy the DVD sometime in the year. 
Posing in front of the White Horse Inn

What is lovely about travelling

Picture taken by Suzanne:)
This was the first time I extended my stay and did a spot of sight-seeing. I've forgotten how nice it is to do nothing but plan the next fun thing and sit in anticipation as you get closer your destination. This is me. The picture is courtesy of SL( Many thanks! Cos I look half decent here. And that's saying a lot considering the hard-water-hair-fiasco) We were en route to Dachau Concentration camp. SL was the person interested in visiting this camp. I have no regrets. It was an eye-opener.

We got our tickets from the tourist office at the Central station. Very helpful staff who spoke excellent English and was patient with our questions. We booked tickets for the following afternoon as well as tickets for visiting Kind Ludwig's Palaces and the Lake district.

The next day around nopn, we took the U-bahn from Haufbanhof central station and met the group.( They met at Marientplatz.) Due to some hiccup, the tour guide was unable to come get us. It worked out well. A rather small group. ( Except for 2 other people, I suspect everyone else was also in Munich with the purpose of attending the ERS.)

Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp. It lies 10 miles northwest of Munich and whatever Hitler experimented here and worked, became used in all other concentration camps around Germany. We saw the gate leading to the camp.

The entrance to Dachau Concentration camp
Can you see what is written on the gate? "Arbeit Macht Frei" which translates to "Work will se you free." What an irony. ( And untruth!) This was a concentration camp. You walked through this gate without knowing when ( if at all) you will be released. You became known as a number. And your life changes forever. Work was done, but the majority were tortured and made to work and some were used for experiments. the housing conditions were also very sad. ( see picture below)

As the numbers increased, the bed situation became more cramped. And due to lack of heating, during the winter, the prisoners would huddle together for warmth. Can you imagine what a sad life this was? Can you imagine the agony and the suffering and the lack of hope as the days passed?

According to our guide, each room had a leader called " the elder". Not necessarily the oldest in the group. The SS men would ask the Elder to pick someone from the group to be punished. That must have created a bit of politics. And cause hatred and foster ill-will among these prisoners.  The SS would punish the group should the floors not be clean and shiny, or the beds or pillows not put in orderly fashion.

The grounds
The prisoners were lined here for daily roll calls. Some lasted for many hours. And these poor men ( Dachau was a concentration camp for men. They had separate concentration camps for women.) had little clothing and shoes. They must have suffered badly during the winter months.

The long walk
To the left and right of this road are marks of where the barracks used to be. Standing like so, the main building would be behind you. And that is where the kitchen was. Subtle ways the Jews were treated a little bit more harshly was like so. They were housed in the barrack furthest away from the kitchen. Making it a very long walk to any meal. Possibly with little food left by the time they arrive.  The prisoners were tagged not just with numbers, but with emblems like a girl guide. You may have more than one.And this was another way the SS knew which prisoners were Jews/ homosexuals/prisoners of war etc

This visit saw us doing a lot of walking. My legs were tired and the body just crying out for bed. As I walked, i imagine what it must have been like for the poor prisoners and their very sad lives during this period. Dachau concentration camp had a serene atmosphere outside. The main building where the original walls and lights were had a very very sad atmosphere. As I walked and read the posters and pictures in that area, I was disturbed by what humans are capable of doing to another human. 

I found my trip an empowering one.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day 1 in Munich

My first sight of the station
 I walked across from the hotel and into this great big station where the signs were confusing and the people moving pretty fast and purposeful. Had to calm myself down. Part nervousness and mostly super excited at finally getting started with my Munich ERS working holiday.
Yay smoke free station
 I saw this sign. How nice. ( Plus it had English words I understood)
So many trains. Confusing
I tried getting to the ticket office. And found myself up some steps an onto this little landing. ( Obviously quite the wrong place to be  but I got a nice shot out of this) Some of the trains go to Austria perhaps.
A big headache(for me on day 1)
After a bit of walking about like an ant in semi-circles...I made progress and found the right line. Yay

NH München Deutscher Kaiser

The view from the breakfast area

We stayed at this hotel in Munich. It's opposite the big central train station;Haupbahnhof. And this is absolutely brilliant. This station is huge. ( Not exaggerating!!)Although I should like to say, very confusing to buy a ticket and get on the correct line if you haven't done your research. It took me 20 minutes to finally get going. And I got a kind soul to get me on the correct line to Marienplatz. ( Main shopping area and where you should start your walking tour) After the first day, when things got less blurry...i then found out, the access to the train was just outside the hotel. We didn't even have to cross the road. Duh!
Breakfast is served
We had to pay an additional 21 euros for breakfast. So perhaps you may want to skip this. A short walk across the road and you have access to some great pastries and coffee at a much cheaper price. So no I would say, give this a miss, and explore breakfast at the train station opposite.
You may sit outside

It was a chilling 15 degrees so we sat indoors. But that didn't stop me from going outside before breakfast to take some shots and admire the surroundings. Can you see the pink building? It's the hotel beside us. Its colour just popped in all my shots.

My bed
 Just like Vienna, the beds are made like so. The pillow was liquid soft. ( Which I hated on first touch) But I have to report that ALL sleep done on this bed was wonderful. Hehe. I especially like the huge window seen to the left of this picture. Quiet traffic because the room didn't face the main road.
Tram lines just outside the hotel
And here we have the front of the hotel. Not very impressive I must say. But don't judge a book by its cover. There's a phamacy around the corner. Where I got my emergency conditioner to tame the hair after my first wash with "hard water". All pictures on day 2 in Munich had a bad hair day mode. Thankfully the lady serving me was patient. And I got just the right conditioner and shampoo. Danke!!

NH München Deutscher Kaiser
Arnulfstr. 2. D-80335 Munich (Germany)
Tel. +49 89 54530
Reservations:  +34 91 398 46 61
Email: nhdeutscherkaiser@nh-hotels.com 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Flughafen München

We arrived at Munich around 9:30am. ( We were meant to arrive at 5:30am local time) The temperature was in the teens. And it looked ( unlike Barcelona) rather chilly.

My first glimpse of Munich from the place.
 The lady seated to my left got me all scared. She brought out her puffer jacket, put that on and wrapped a scarf around her neck and looked ready for the artic temperature.
The little walk from plane to terminal
Nice airport. There were loads of glass to see the outside. And it looked crisp and dry.
Do not travel with heavy hand luggage. Unless you have strong arms. See these steps....there were many of these before we got through to immigration.
A sign I can understand
yes! Finallt made it up those stairs...and I spotted an escalator too.
Welcome to Munich Everybody. 2 hours later than scheduled. But with gloriously crisp weather and not a drop of rain. It was a brilliant first day weather. No Complains.

Trip to Munich

I've been lucky enough to get to go to this year's European Respiratory Congress in Munich. For the first time, I extended my stay by 3 days and managed to squeeze quite a bit of sight-seeing into the three days. And so, ( warning warning) the next 10-2- posts will be on the trip and the many exciting ( and different things) I saw during my short stay there. No academic posts for this blog. At least until the fun bit has been thoroughly exhausted.
Longchamp at KLIA
I flew via SQ out of  KLIA. And here is my obligatory visit to the Longchamp shop at the satellite terminal. A last minute chance to jot down prices so I can be sure what I'm paying in Europe is much cheaper. 

The screen showing our landing in Dubai
Bit of a drama en route. The flight from Changi to Munich had a last-minute stop-over at Dubai Airport. There was an ill patient on board and the patient and relatives disembarked at Dubai. I saw the health authorities coming in with a stretcher but I didn't see the patient being carried out. Maybe through the back door. It must have been hard to look for their luggage because we were on land for a long time. I arrived in Munich a good 2 hours behind schedule. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

A 3-day weekend

It was lovely this morning to drag myself out of bed at 0700. Sit up look sleepy and feel depress......only to have the mood lifted in a blink when I realized it 's a HOLIDAY today. I slept at 3am packing for my trip to Munich. THat's right! I'm finally declaring ( and feeling a tad excited) my trip to Munich this coming Thursday to attend the European Respiratory Congress. ( Will keep you all updated via photos if I have the internet connection and the time...failing which you will have to wait for my return for a blog update.)

What's nice in Munich? ( Munchen is the other name I'm told. This I learn from googling a bit.) My friend the cardiologist is currently in Barcelona. I see his Gaudi pictures on facebook. And think to myself DANG, why weren't my Gaudi pictures just as spectacular. Mine were so-so. But my memories of Gaudi lingers on a good year on.

* Happy 57th Independence Day Malaysia. ( Actual date yesterday....reason for holiday today)