Week 12 | BBQ by the lake, Green screen experience & housemate's birthday

18 May 2015
The discovery of disposable picnic grill

Just the other day, I was invited by Sarah for a picnic by the lake. This is again, my first time doing something new. I've never had a BBQ by the lake. Maybe it's because in Malaysia, we don't have nice lakes or maybe it's because the sun is always blazing there and nobody wants to be BBQ-ed by the weather or it's just a hassle to set up a BBQ. Ah Europe, where you can enjoy eating on the grass (without having to fear the possibilities of being bitten by a snake, like Australia lol). This invention is genius. I'm so amazed by this, seriously. Omg, I feel so jakun now. 

Alcohol, cheese, tomato salad, eggplants, bell pepper, and some grill-ready meat. That is all we need. 

Week 11.2 | Tübingen excursion & Hohenzollern Castle

17 May 2015
An excursion to another German town, Tübingen 

It was rather cold that day
I love schooltrips excursions from the Hochschule because they are so cheap (only 10 Euro per person) and all the activities are planned for the students. All we have to do is just be physically there for it. Additionally, I can see some hidden gems in Germany.
Instead of traveling with a train, this time, it is bus trip time. Again, the sceneries we saw during our journey, they were beautiful. They journey took around 2 hours and we were meeting our tour guide straight away.

Week 11.1 | Konstanz Daytrip

Thursday, 14 May 2015
One day around the city of Konstanz (a.k.a. Constance)

Sarah, Luca and me on the train.
It was decided more than a week ago, that I was going to visit one of the more popular city in south of Germany. Konstanz, a small town very well-known for the lake which connects three different countries. I've only heard from one or two people about it and the only thing I've actually heard is "It's really great to cycle in Konstanz, especially around the lake. It's beautiful". Not sure how much of it is true since I didn't cycle there but I did find some pretty interesting tour package that includes 3-7 days of cycling around Lake Constance. 

Week 10 | Wine exhibition & Frühlingsfest in Stuttgart

Mittwoch, 6 Mai 2015
Walking at random places after class. 

I think it's impossible for me, not to post something scenic. This place had loads of them. Anyway, I have a lot of free time actually because I don't really attend to classes and basically, the ones that I'm attending is the German classes. 
The other day when I went to Luca's, I discovered a very scenic route but I didn't have the time to stop and take pictures. So, I figured I would take my camera with me some other day and walk around after my class. Sadly, I think the pictures do no justice because in reality, it is more magnificent.

Spring flowers, they are everywhere!

Global Pass, Yay or Nay?

Picture courtesy of Eurail website

If you're planning to travel around Europe, you've probably heard of the Eurail (or Interrail for EU citizens). If not, you probably want to check that out. You can either opt for buying a pass which gives you more flexibility (maybe) in choosing your journeys or buying it separately for every journey you take. Train tickets are not exactly cheap here but it is one of the best way to travel as the train stations are usually near to the centre of the cities. It can be cheap if you buy it earlier online though, so the best thing to do is research and plan long before your actual travel dates!

I find the article from Seat61 regarding railpasses is worth reading. Don't be lazy! Research is all about reading and understanding so you can make the best decision! 

Picture courtesy of http://gobackpacking.com/eurail/

Now, the real question is, is an Eurail pass worth it?

IMHO, I think it would be a good choice for 
  • travelers below 25 years old because they have a cheaper price for youths. 
  • travelers with no definite itinerary. You like to plan as you go. This pass gives you flexibility so you can hop onto any train at any time to whever.
  • Your travel is not revolving to/from France, Italy, and Spain. 
I am going to travel with my mother and my 26-year-old lover, therefore we all have to take the 1st class pass as there is no option for 2nd class for Adults (25 years old & above). So, for us, it's not really a cheaper alternative and also I like to set and plan everything before I go somewhere and we have a tight schedule since we only have 27 days to travel around. 
Some points that I would like to highlight for non-Youth travellers/family traveling together.

Why the passes are not a good choice (in my case, for family travelling together)?

  1. Doesn't really save money because
    • Adult passes has only 1st class pass option.
    • When travelling to/from some countries (France, Spain, Italy), it is compulsory to make reservation and pay extra money. For more info about reservation fees (like 3 euro to whooping 89 euro), please check this page.
    • of course, when taking night trains, you need to reserve a place and pay extra too.
    • if you buy p2p (point to point) tickets online, it's cheaper but only if you buy them earlier (like 1-3 months if you are travelling during Summer)
  2. Not really convenient because
    • The need for reservation
    • in some train company, you cannot make reservation online. For example, I used almost 3 hours to figure out how to make reservation for Eurail ticket holder on SCNF France train. They only have the options for Interrail ticket holder online. Not sure if it is the same as Eurail pass, but I don't want to take a risk. So, it's either I make a phone call to ask them about Interrail/Eurail or just make reservation with the call OR be physically there (a train station) for that.
  3. Most French trains have quota of how many pass holder can board the train!! 
    • Therefore, making your life miserable if you don't reserve as early as possible especially during peak hour.
  4. An extra thing to worry since
    • your pass is the only ticket you'll need
    • if you lose your pass, you'll die perish suffer in agony 
    • it would be better to buy the theft & loss insurance but you have to go through some procedures to continue your journey with a replacement ticket or so.
Therefore, for the cost-conscious, the best advice that I can give you is to plan carefully and note down all the information that you find and compare your choices before buying anything. 
Truth to be told, I was very tempted to buy the Global Rail Pass from Eurail when I saw the page. BUT of course, I didn't know then about the compulsory reservation & fee, extra cost for night trains, and also the quota for French trains. So, don't be blinded by only the goods, be sure to find out all the relevant information. 

Other useful sites that I used!

Some other things that I did during my planning. Very important websites that will help making your life easier if you are planning to travel a lot

seat61 - The best guide you can have to know how to get around with trains (not only in Europe!)
The guy behind seat61 has also written down very comprehensive details about anything and everything about how to travel about and save money!

Pinterest - I love Pinterest! I use it for arts & crafts and recipes. Right now, I'm using it for my travel too! I mostly find "things to do" or "things to eat" for a specific city. Very illustrative, love it. Makes me more excited for the trip!

Wikitravel - A wikipedia for travellers! A lot of words to read but very useful. You can choose the cities you are interested and you will find information about how to get there, what kind of transportation they have, place of interest, list of places/church/restaurants and a whole lot of information in one place.

Some websites that I use to book my accommodations.

I use this one a lot because they have really good deals, it's easy to use, you can collect all your booking and view it in one place AND they have a really great web interface. Very well orientated. Plus most of the hostels I found do not charge me anything for booking and I can cancel my booking whenever I want (well, not whenever, it depends on the hotel policy. But usually 1 day before arrival) without any fees!
Plus I was travelling with my mum and boyfriend, I was mostly searching for private rooms with private bathrooms (because I know my mum likes to be clean and hygienic). We were travelling in groups of 3, so you know, it's not really easy to find accommodation for an odd number group.

Best for solo travellers & backpackers! I think almost every backpacker use this. It wasn't really cheaper for me because I was booking for 3 person and again, the need for private bathrooms which is not provided in hostels and shared dorms. Mostly the dorms are big (like 4-16 ppl in a dorm). I found better deal on Booking.com.

Many do recommend AirBnB when I posted about my Rome trip and also shared my experience about my first AND last couchsurfing experience. I find that the places are not cheap, but of course very homely. Perfect for families and a group of friends I guess. I also didn't like that I need to wait for the owners to give consent when I want to rent the place. Very time consuming. I'm not a very patient person you see. So far, I've only used it to book a place in Amsterdam.

Yes, couchsurfing is the best way to go if you are finding for a free place to stay but it's too much of a hassle. After my experience with my first host, I've completely thrown this idea of using CS out of the goddamn window. First of all, there's too many weird guys on CS currently and you have to ask like A LOT of people to get a confirmation of a place to stay for a night or two. Secondly, the really good host are always high on demand so they don't really bother to reply anyone that they deemed unworthy. Thirdly, you're taking a risk because you might be kicked out for some "emergency situation". Fourth, since you're living in somebody's place, you can't really do anything you want.
And hey, there is no such thing as a free night stay in this world. Somehow, you'll have to give something back. Be it your time, your knowledge, your virginity or honor.... you get my point. If you have many friends around the globe, why not ask them instead of a total stranger who you didn't know anything about? Anyway, I know I sound discouraging but I'm just putting my two cents in.
I don't care if you are a female or a male, you're still prone to attacks! I've heard stories about old mans making advance of young guys travelling alone too. You have been warned!

If you need real discouragement, please read this 13 Creeped Out Travelers Explain The One Couchsurfing Host That Left Them Crawling In Their Skin. I personally love #8 :X
Hope all these infos prove useful to someone out there! Have fun travelling AND planning. :)

Week 9 | Filming, Avengers, Parliament Visit and Badische Meile Run

Dienstag, 28 April 2015
Today is filming day!

For one of assignments for the Hochschule. And this is definitely not the only filming day. Going to play around with green screen too, but the idea of using green screen doesn't appeal to us because it didn't make any sense to our short video theme. But oh well, we must, because it's one of the task given to us. 

Miniature dress and shirt I made
I made use of my crocheting skills in this project. Never in my life I would think that I could make use of my crochet knowledge this way. Especially not for filming purposes.