Sarah

Stepping Into The Unknown With A Hopeful Heart

One more huff and puff until we reach the end of the year – but alas, I managed to scurry off back to writing to slip one blog post in for 2020.  Just when everyone’s getting started to accomplish his or her yearly goals, 2020 threw a curve ball in a form of a worldwide pandemic. Clearly this year isn’t anyone’s year and no one’s going to be sad when it’s over, but I still am grateful for a lot of things.

Just before Corona broke out globally and put the world in a standstill in March, we just came back from our family Arabian Gulf cruise. It had been a splendid time soaking up in the sun and being at sea again – just enjoying being pampered round-the-clock and also even having some time to ourselves when the little one’s asleep. We didn’t really plan any big trips as we were supposed to save it towards the end of the year when we would spend the holidays in the Philippines and stay for a while. This was just my husband’s wonderful present and as response to my constant vehement longing to escape the cold. I’d say we just got lucky!

We’ve taken a hard blow – I know a lot of people whose lives have turned 360 degrees when countries started imposing lockdowns, but apart from suddenly losing my freedom to travel wherever you want to see and be with your family, friends or for whatever reason without repercussions, social stigma, and setbacks, my day-to-day life didn’t really change much. I’m going six years working remotely and two years being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been toughened up and prepared for this – I’ve been living this quarantine life for a while. However, out there, we are waging a war against a virus and no one knows when it will ever end, whether we’d win or lose.

Health-wise, it hasn’t been a great year for my family back in the Philippines. My constant worry has always been this: if something happens to any of them during this time, it might not be possible to fly back home in an instant no matter how necessary it is. And so, even if the decision to see my family ALONE this December without my husband and son for the first time was a tough call, I made it. Somehow the pain and sadness of being away from my own little family were encapsulated in a rush of relief and happiness I felt when I was wrapped in their embrace. Seeing them was so surreal as if being a dream. I honestly have never felt these polarizing emotions within me until then. Time and time again, I’ve always been truly grateful for the gift of life and people who make me feel alive.

At the end of every year, I usually ponder on what I have accomplished and through the passing time, I often feel like I have not done enough up to this point. Then I think about all the reasons why I had to put my career in the backburner, give all of my time, give up control, and let God take the wheel. My family is my biggest WHY for doing what I do, my number one priority and life’s essentials.

Although 2020 is really just a nightmare for many, for me, personally, I could think of far worse years I’ve lived through than this one. So I guess I can look back on those times now and say thank you for teaching me to hold on to what matters as my main drive to reach that light at the end of the tunnel.

Praying for a kinder year!

Posted by Sarah in Musings
Oktoberfest Season: How to Avoid Hassles and Have an Enjoyable Time

Oktoberfest Season: How to Avoid Hassles and Have an Enjoyable Time

Is it going to be your first time ever to attend the original Oktoberfest in Munich? Well, let me tell you that there’s nothing quite like the real deal and you’re going to have a huge blast as long as you keep in mind a few important things before going to avoid disappointments and better prepare yourself for the grandest and biggest beer festival in the world you’ll ever witness since 1810.

Reserve Your Table in Advance

Beer gardens are scattered everywhere in the vast open space called Theresienwiese where the Oktoberfest festivities take place every year. You can easily get your beers here without a problem and food stalls are everywhere as well – so you have no excuse not to fill your tummies with greasy stuff first before you go on an all-night drinking madness!

Oktoberfest Paulaner Tent

However, if you belong to a big group of at least 10 people, getting a table reserved at one of the brewery tents such as Paulaner, Augustiner, Löwenbräu Festzelt along with at least 13 more others plus smaller beer tents around these massive halls. In these tents, you will be treated to a proper and traditional Oktoberfest celebration with customary typical Bavarian party music and comedic acts, Bavarian food specialties, and beers in a one-liter mug they call maß. But how do you reserve a table at one of these Oktoberfest tents and how much does it cost? That’s the tricky part because you really have to reserve it way in advance and may necessitate pulling a few strings to get you on the list. It’s free but you have to buy a few hundred euros worth of beer and food coupons when you reserve.

Oktoberfest Paulaner Tent 2

If my memory serves me right, our friend who knew someone who could get us in the Paulaner tent only asked the bare minimum of 20 Eur per person to reserve the table and like I said, that is consumable. We’re just lucky that we know someone with connections and we got a table with an amazing balcony view. That was actually one of the deciding factors of whether we should attend the Oktoberfest last year or not. Why is it necessary to have one? Because in some tents, they won’t get your order or serve you if you are not sitting down. I guess if you’re only a party of two, you can just show up, try your luck and join in a table of other groups but probably you’d have to come much later in the night when the “queue” has already abated.

Be Prepared to Spend

What is 20 Eur worth? A liter of beer, some pretzels, and a little bit of tip. I’ve heard from other people some would require almost 100 euros per person just to get you and your gang a nice spot. Although to be honest, it’s so easy to spend 100 euros during Oktoberfest even if you are not a beer drinker! Even a 750ml bottled water will set one back at 7.50 Eur.

I’ve spotted a few ATMs at the main entrance, within the Oktoberfest grounds and al fresco areas of the tents, but it looks like a lot of hassle to go through the crowd and queue up. And then what if your card won’t work or you encounter some sort of technical error? So just do what the Germans do – bring enough cash with you and cash that you have permitted yourself to spend. You will be amazed at how lightning fast your funds get depleted. By the end of the night, I promise you… all that money will be gone. Usually, that will signal you to finally leave and call it a night – unless you want to drink and party more which I can’t blame you for.

The atmosphere itself is so intoxicating, it will make you forget about time and probably everything else.

Dress Up Just This Once

I’ve never really enjoyed prepping and dressing up until I came to Germany and had to pick costumes for Carnival or the perfect Dirndl for Oktoberfest. Traditional Oktoberfest outfits are not exactly cheap but you can get reasonably priced ones from online stores like Zalando or Amazon. I got my Dirndl and Andre’s Lederhosen from Amazon and to be honest, the quality is not bad at all for the price I paid for it. I knew that I’ll probably only wear it once so I didn’t bother looking into anything that costs upwards of 60 euros.

Dirndl und Lederhosen

We didn’t want to be the boring couple showing up in regular casual wear while all our friends are prettified like Bavarian dolls. And of course, we wanted to get into the spirit of the entire celebration as it may not happen again or it might take a while to do it again. It will be hard when you already have a baby in tow, you know!

Don’t End Up Sleeping in the Streets

Although you will most definitely find a lot of totally smashed festival goers slumped along the sidewalks, in the gutters, and even in the middle of the road – you wouldn’t really want to be one of them, would you? If that’s the case, make sure you have booked an accommodation somewhere nearby and not to mention sobered yourself well enough to make your way there. Don’t be surprised that the prices of hotel or hostel rooms in Munich during this period skyrocket and get taken up fast! So you don’t really want to wait that long before you decide – better to have at least something reserved! Some people stay at their friends’ place, couchsurf or just find a room thru Airbnb or Booking.com a little outside of the city.

If it’s your first time to visit Munich and are also interested to explore the city and neighboring sights, make sure to check out my easy peasy Munich Travel Guide (also published on Skyscanner).

Have fun, you guys! And guzzle (lots of) maß for me, please!

Posted by Sarah in Destinations, Musings, Travel, Travel Tips
Munich Travel Guide: Top Things to Do

Munich Travel Guide: Top Things to Do

Oktoberfest may be the first thing that comes to mind when people talk about Munich, but there’s so much more to see and do in the Bavarian capital that will easily fill up your itinerary during your visit. With all the sightseeing options in and around Munich, you don’t have to wait for the last quarter of the year to take that trip – the best time to go is now!

What to do in Munich

1. Witness and experience Oktoberfest

Being the most-famous folk festival in the world, Oktoberfest definitely should not be missed! Starting from mid-September and lasting for three weeks, it draws around 6 million tourists from all over the globe yearly. Indulge in the Bavarian culture of merry-making, drinking liters of beer, gobbling giant pretzels and tons of sausages! On the opening day, there will be a grand parade featuring a throng of fancy carriages and people in mostly typical Bavarian ensemble dashing along the streets of the city, and that’s just the start! There’s a full programme in the following days that might interest you whether you are done or still out chugging a beer.

Oktoberfest Photo

When it’s not Oktoberfest season, a visit to the world-famous Hofbräuhaus is a must! It has the same festive vibe accompanied with upbeat Bavarian folk music and the staff is dressed in traditional Bavarian outfits. Even though the ground floor can hold 2,500 guests at a time, it’s always crowded and you may have a hard time finding a seat if you didn’t reserve a table.

2. Climb up the St. Peter’s Church (Kirche St. Peter or Alter Peter)

Munich Marienplatz

This is the oldest parish church in Munich with interiors decorated by renowned Gothic artists and a 91-meter-high tower, which offers a beautiful view of the entire city center. If you don’t mind climbing the 299 steps to the top, it’s very well worth it for a small entrance fee you have to pay for the observation deck. From up here, you can take in an aerial perspective of the city hall (Neues Rathaus), Marienplatz (St. Mary’s Column), and grand market hall of Viktualienmarkt.

3. Buy fresh produce and delicacies at Viktualienmarkt

Virtualienmarkt Munich

Whether you’re already tired of eating out in restaurants or you’re looking for wholesome and cheaper food, stalls at Viktualienmarkt, an open space market situated just behind St. Peter’s Church, offer diverse local cuisine flavors and excellent selection of cheese and meat delis. That’s not all, of course it also features a beer garden with a great atmosphere where you can sit and gather around long tables and savor the food you bought. You can also grab a few bottles of wine, freshly picked flowers, and some home decoration pieces.

4. Stroll through the English Garden

Did you know that Munich’s 900-acre Englischer Garten is among the biggest urban parks in the world? Yes, its total land area even surpasses New York’s Central Park and that’s a fact. Despite being located in Europe, the landscape and sculptures exude an oriental feel with the installation of a Chinese pagoda and a Japanese teahouse.

River Surfing Munich

Locals come here to enjoy numerous activities such as skating, cycling, jogging, playing soccer and even river surfing! Eisbach is an artificial river stream in the southern edge of the park where it’s surf’s up even in winter time! If you know someone who can borrow you a surfboard, you can definitely test your skills here. English Garden presents a lot of things to do in Munich especially on a Sunday when most tourist attractions and shops are closed. In Europe, you always have to keep that in mind.

5. Visit world-class Munich museums and galleries

It’s not just for art lovers; museums showcase a range of countless exhibition subjects from artworks dating back from the Middle Ages to tech and science discoveries to car production to local history to beer and potatoes  – no joking! With over 80 museums in Munich, you will never wonder what to do with your time here. Among the top-rated museums in Munich are the Deutsches Museum, BMW Museum, Dachau Concentration Camp & Memorial Museum, Bavarian National Museum and Pinakotheke (picture galleries).

BMW Museum Munich

There are museums that offer free and reduced entrance fees on certain days. So if you are flexible, you’ll be able to save more. Here’s some museum information for visitors.

These are just the top five things to do in Munich among a long list of tourist attractions in the area, so start looking out for cheap flights to Munich soon! It’s a trip that deserves more than just a weekend – don’t miss out on all the good stuff.

Extra tips:

  • You can take a day trip or sightseeing tours to Neuschwanstein Castle and other lovely nearby cities from Munich.
  • Get a Munich City Tour Card to avoid the hassle of buying multiple public transport tickets from machines and get discounts for tourist attractions in the city.
  • Book your trip to Munich as soon as possible to get the cheapest flight deals.
Posted by Sarah in Destinations, Travel, Travel Tips
Bump Update: Getting Through the End of Pregnancy

Bump Update: Getting Through the End of Pregnancy

The last stretch is underway! I’m on my 37th week now and I’m getting closer to the day of our new adventure! Many believe that your baby is already full term at this point (in the Philippines medical practitioners still do) until just recently when expert studies conducted suggest that full term is actually at 39 weeks because babies apparently still need more time to grow and the extra two weeks to achieve crucial developmental milestones inside the womb especially in your baby’s brain and lungs. Continue reading →

Posted by Sarah in Pregnancy, This Married Life