Spring Favourites

It’s official! My favourite season has come to an end but I did not waste any time this year and made it probably my best one yet! Here, let me give you a recap:

I spoke up about my PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and have received some good feedback from people who are going through the same. I’m also happy to have found a way to reduce the symptoms which is by going on a Ketogenic diet and it has been working wonders! I had been on the diet for three full months when we went on holiday to the north of Spain and had to break our Ketosis to fully experience the Basque culinary goodness but I decided to jump back on, turns out I’d rather live without bread and sugary food than feeling bloated the whole time. My menstrual cycles have become relatively stable since and I even lost up to 6kg in the process. Not bad, yeah?

At the beginning of spring, I received my first birthday present, way ahead of my birthday. I’ve always wanted a record player so the wife decided to get me one, just in time for the beginning of flea market season so I can start haggling for vinyls. As of now I have found a few from different sources to add to my growing collection.

P1100966

The reason why spring is my favourite season is because it’s the time of the year I celebrate my birthday. Sometimes it also seems to me like I celebrate it the whole season. This year, though, it was probably a whole season’s worth of events that we made happen in just one week.

P1100238

Winter had been hard. I remember some extremely cold nights so it was exciting to see some colour, flowers in full bloom. I even planted some lavenders on my balcony (something I have been trying to do since we moved here two summers ago) and they did not die on me! I also bought some lights and new furniture to complete the balcony make-over.

P1100942

As you can see, we also decided to put up our Pride flag.

Did anyone say strawberries?! Part of this season is the excitement for the freshest strawberries we have missed all winter. I have wondered my whole life why I always hated strawberry-flavoured candy or ice cream or anything, really. It’s because the only way I can enjoy them is if they’re fresh! And what better way to get them than to pick them yourself straight off the field? That’s right! Though we live in the big city, we are still close enough to the best strawberry farms that allow you to pick the fruit yourself and buying them by the kilo.

As I have mentioned earlier, we went on holiday to Santander and Basque Country and it was gorgeous! It was our first time going on a camping trip. Nature is just wonderful, isn’t it?

IMG_4377.jpg
So peaceful, so green.

But because that holiday was too short (the flight schedules are just really inconvenient), we were back in Berlin on a Friday and we still had all weekend to find something to do. My friend Jannah so happened to be traveling around eastern Europe at the time and was on her way to Kraków for the weekend. We thought, what the hell, let’s just get in the car and go meet her there. I haven’t seen her in seven years and it was a chance for Joan to meet her as well. So Jannah was supposed to go to Warsaw after her stop in Kraków and then take the bus to Berlin from there but, with little convincing, she realised it’s probably much too exhausting to pursue that trip to Warsaw and we were going to back to Berlin anyway so she decided to skip it and we took her across the border and to the best city in the world (but that’s my humble opinion).

img_5024
And here’s a photo of the three of us taking a picture of each other.

And a trip to Kraków is never complete without a day trip to the Auschwitz concentration camps. There are no words to describe the experience of being in such a place, some people even got very emotional just being there.

P1100812.jpg

But the best part about this weekend is that we were in good company. 🙂

Speaking of trips, the next one in store for us will be this month! My cousin, who is currently living in Malaysia, married an Englishman last April and she is coming to the UK with the whole family for a small gathering. Many of us living here in Germany were not able to come to their wedding so we are all coming to this event in the UK together. Even my mum’s coming with us because her visa just got approved! This is something I am absolutely grateful for because she is about to go back to Philippines to stay there for good and I would really love for her to see a bit more of this part of the world before she leaves. I also have a few other short trips planned for her so summer will definitely be just as exciting as spring. ❤

red telephone booth
Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

Solo Trip to Hong Kong

aIMG_3267.jpg

I have shared in a previous post a sneak peek of my experience from my trip to Hong Kong last May and how it went terribly wrong. But on this post I wanted to focus on the trip as whole, and that’s including the good stuff.

Let me start with why I chose Hong Kong – of all the fine places in Asia that are easily reachable from the Philippines nowadays. I just thought, since I am going alone and with the limited time that I had, it’s just the perfect destination. Added to that, I bet it’s just the one place that my wife would not miss out on too much. We usually do these things together but as I have mentioned, she wasn’t able to join.

I got there in the afternoon after a 2h flight from Manila. First thing I did was get an Octopus Card. For 150 HKD, you get a card with a 100 HKD balance and 50 HKD refundable value – unless of course you’d want to keep the card as a souvenir.

 

And it’s really the easiest way to get around the city. You may reload it at MTR stations or various convenience stores and you may use it to pay at some selected establishments, and even at vending machines. I just found the deduction of fares after every ride a bit unpredictable, or maybe it’s just something I haven’t been able to figure out in my short stay. Let me just say I had spent about 250 HKD of fare money in  three days and that’s including the ride up The Peak Tower with the Peak Tram plus entrance fee to Sky Terrace all worth 140 HKD.

I took the A21 bus that goes straight to Mong Kok and stops at Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. It’s the station closest to my hostel, in one of those touristy neighbourhoods in the city. In fact, most of my options were in this very area. I think it’s a good place to stay at because of its proximity Victoria Harbour, and everything you’d want to see is easily reachable.

After I got checked in to my hostel, I went out to get familiarised to my neighbourhood. Most importantly, I looked for places where I can grab some bites. I found street food right around the corner, a few restaurants, and a 7Eleven. This is where I realised that food in Hong Kong is rather pricey.

aP1070336

aP1070338
I mean, it was really good but this octopus skewer cost me 11 HKD, about 1,20 €


Kowloon Park

The next morning, I decided to just grab a snack from 7Eleven (I’m a sucker for store-bought snack cakes and everywhere I go, I try to get each country’s own version of it) for breakfast and I proceeded with my day’s agenda – just walking around the city. I read somewhere that 60% of Hong Kong is actually green – which is hard to believe at first because when you think of Hong Kong, the first thing that comes to mind is the army of skyscrapers. I decided to see the parks first, starting with Kowloon Park, which is close to my hostel.

And from there I just followed the road that lead to the water.

aP1070256.jpg

 

 

Nathan Road

I wasn’t sure where to go next so I just walked down Nathan Road. The heat of this city was just something I couldn’t get accustomed to. Humidity was just so much higher there than in the Philippines and I couldn’t help but take a few breaks inside the shopping centres along the way just to cool down. But I did find some interesting bookstores and gift shops inside.

I had lunch at a local diner – fried chicken in lemon sauce and a pot of tea. I was alone so the staff sat me at a round table with another lone guest sitting. I can’t point out enough the cost of food – I paid around 30 € for that order!

After I filled my backpack with gifts that I bought to take home to the wife, I walked back to my hostel and took another shower. It felt necessary if I wanted to walk around some more.


Markets

My next stops were the street markets. The first one I went to, and also the only one I actually wanted to see, was the Ladies’ Market. I didn’t take photos, neither did I even take out my phone let alone my camera, because everyone started to get extra aware of their belongings when they entered. I thought I’d do the same because I really hate losing things, more importantly I have this deep fear of having my things stolen from me. I literally have nightmares of this event every so often, all in different versions. I wanted to come here to buy accessories for my phone and to check out what else the place has to offer. I had fun haggling with the vendors. They lower the price down every five seconds, or give you deals for lower value. It’s ridiculous how they start you off with prices going through the roof and then giving you a final price of 20% of the original price. I know it’s just strategy and it seems to be working out just fine for them.

I then walked down the road towards the Flower Market, through Goldfish Market and took the MTR back to my hostel.

 

img_3470
I especially love the tea set. The vendor sold it to me for about 12 €. I honestly would have paid more.


Victoria Peak and Central District

Quick summary from my previous post:

After I dropped my street market haul off at the hostel, I was bound for Victoria Peak. But when I took the hostel building’s elevator going down, it got stuck and I had to wait for almost an hour for the rescue team, alone. So when I got out, I guess I was over-motivated to reach the peak which then turned out was a bad idea, because it was so foggy up there that it was impossible to see anything looking down. But at least it made for interesting photos looking up from Central District.

aP1070314aP1070310aP1070284aP1070289aP1070316aP1070326

 

Nan Lian Garden

It was my last day in Hong Kong and I ended it with a relaxing day in the park. This charming garden is located in the myriad of high-rise buildings of Diamond Hill. It gives out a contrast of the tranquility of a Tang Dynasty-styled park and the hustle and bustle of the city.

aP1070363.jpg

Hong Kong Park

This was the very last place I went to before I headed to the airport. But this park was busier than I thought! I was here at around noon on a Friday, enjoying a rice snack from 7Eleven but it took a while before I found an empty bench. I didn’t stay long to make space for the busy corporate animals from Central District to enjoy their lunch break. Ah, but what I wouldn’t give to have such a venue for my own lunch breaks from work!

aP1070405
This rice snack with tuna and mayonnaise filling is enough to get me through the day

aP1070406

Going back to the airport, I took the A21 bus again. I thought it was really the more convenient option to and from Mong Kok but somehow it wasn’t among Google’s suggestions.