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Von Abenteuern in fremden Kulturraeumen: Artikel und Kurzgeschichten

Fiery food and fancy clubs in spectacular Singapore

My first trip to Singapore was a game changer – I was in Asia for the first time, after all! And I was ready for absolutely anything. Before even setting foot on the Lion’s city’s soil, I made sure to cover every last inch of my skin in pungent, poisonous DEET-Spray to keep any possible malaria-threat at bay.  In my mind, it was quite obvious that bloodthirsty anopheles-mosquitoes were patiently waiting around every corner just to get hold of my irresistibly delicious blood. My first Singaporean encounter was, however, not an out-of-control mosquito, but a lovely Indian guy working at the airport. Much to my amazement, he was quite delighted when he found out that I had just arrived from Germany. He gifted me a broad, beautiful smile and performed a little jump, mimicking a soccer-move in the air and enthusiastically exclaiming: ”Ah, Germany! Soccer!”

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Admiring the Lion´s city skyline on a hazy afternoon

Stepping out of Changi Airport, voted the best airport in the world for the last five consecutive years, something quite distinct caught my attention. A bunch of mostly tiny white-haired ladies and gentlemen,  all in their seventies or eighties, were walking around full of determination and busy like bumblebees. Their sole task consisted in making sure that the taxis would swiftly drive up to their designated spot and that customers would be on their way right away, without any hassle or any tedious waiting in line. All in all, it took about two minutes until we were safely seated in the taxi. Quite efficient, right? On the way into town, I longingly pressed my nose against the tainted window, fully in awe of the amazingly lush, abundant tropical vegetation that lined the impeccably maintained streets. Gorgeous Banyan trees, palm trees, and orchids gave us a quick first impression of Singapore’s staggering 2200 native plant species.

Eat, eat, eat some more: Welcome to food heaven

Our cute hotel, Hangout@Mount Emily, was located only 3 km away from Chinatown, and we decided to make the most of the balmy, tropical night and take a look around. Luckily for us, the shopping malls, one of Singapore’s definite go-to-places and (almost) national treasures, were still open at 10 pm, allowing us to explore their amazing food stalls. With their array of colorful, mouth-watering specialties, Singapore’s hawker centers and markets are undoubtedly a piece of pure paradise for food-lovers.

 

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Enjoying one of Singapore´s countless shopping malls

One of Singapores´s many foodstalls

A busy food stall at Lau Pa Sat food market

Want some inspiration? If you love it hot and spicy, you should definitely give Singapore’s specialty dish Laksa a try. Laksa is a spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan/ Nyonya cuisine,  created by descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore, and Indonesia inter-marrying with local Malays. It consists of rice noodles with chicken, prawn or fish, offered in spicy soup and often times based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk. When I tried Laksa for the first time at fancy Lau Pa Sat Food market, I desperately attempted to eat a quarter of the normal sized portion for an eternally long seeming half an hour, skeptically ogled by the Singaporean soup Saleslady. I did not do so well, to say the least, despite basically turning into a fire-spitting ball of determination. So yeah, you better love your meals real hot!

Other delicious food-ideas to sample in Singapore pose less risk to spice-adverse stomachs and include delicious pink dragon fruit, Kaya toast and Milo for breakfast. Or tender satay, grilled meat served with rice cake, peanut sauce and cucumber-chili relish, for a light lunch. Singapore’s food is generally speaking as diverse and eclectic as its population, a fascinating blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and Western influences.

 

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Pretty in pink: Dragon fruit, or Pitya, is grown and exported from several South East Asian countries. Its mommy is a pretty cactus!

Spice it up, non-food-wise: A wedding celebration and tropical nightlife wonders

My first stay in Singapore, a country that consistently scores top spots in the ”Best countries to live in” – rankings, obviously did not just (exclusively) consist of food indulgences. One of the undeniable highlights was attending a friend’s incredibly memorable wedding-celebration at luxurious Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. After a touching church ceremony downtown, the celebration took place in one of the many Skyscrapers overlooking the Singaporean Marina. And what a celebration it was! A delicious five-course-meal and two dress changes and appearances of the newlyweds, dramatically set in scene by a red carpet, Titanic-movie-style-music, as well as smoke from an authentic smoke machine (for real!), turned the party into an almost out-of-body experience.

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Stunning Singapore at night

After a mix of tear-jerking speeches and light entertainment, it was finally time to hit da dance floor. Singapore has quite a reputation for its great club-scene, including but not limited to the areas of Clarke Quay, Chinatown’s Club street and Holland village. For fans of nostalgic momentum: Check out legendary Raffles hotel and drink up that notorious Singapore Sling, though your purse might not thank you for it. However, your travel memory collection certainly will. Choices! In our case, we opted for something different that young and alluring night and decided to party on in one of Singapore’s stunning clubs with a view, CE LA VI, and to, later on, hit the clubs on gorgeous Sentosa Island. Hugely popular Sentosa Island is a true treasure chest, even though it’s not entirely what it seems to be… Do you have any handy, absurd, or exciting travel tips for Singapore to share? Feel free to comment below, and thanks for your time, fellow travel lovers!

 

 


Handy information part: 

Hungry at 4 AM? Go to: Lau Pa Sat Foodmarket, 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582. You can eat around the clock here, so better bring those generously sized pants, mates. And they better be decent looking, financial district location and all. Just sayin’…

All jittery? Dance it off at: CÉ LA VI, 1 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018971 

Tired much? Sleep at: Hangout@Mount Emily, 10A Upper Wilkie Rd, Singapore 228119. Phone: +65 6438 5588

Having an airport-crush? Spend the day prior to your arrival or departure in Chiangi-Airport, Airport Blvd, Singapore. Why? There’s enchanted gardens, butterfly sanctuaries, art installations, a multimedia entertainment center and even a movie theatre to keep you in non-stop-marvelling-mood.

 

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Bali Beach turtle rescue

It is late afternoon in Bali. World-famous Kuta beach resembles an overcrowded anthill: a messy mix of surfers, retired Australians with big bellies enjoying their Bintang beers on plastic chairs, partying youngsters and Balinese either socializing in the sand or selling all imaginable types of products. Some also offer up drinks from improvised mini beach bars as well as mobile Rasta style hair braiding services or massages.

The muggy and stifling heat of an average tropical day at the end of the dry season is finally easing up. Palm trees along the narrow beach promenade mercifully stretch out their long leaves to shelter the gathering onlookers who await the dramatic sunsets of Bali’s Southern Coast.

The Balinese Sea Turtle Initiative

In between all the hustle and bustle, a giant turtle raises its head and commands attention. It belongs to the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Center, an initiative created by Balinese Mr. Agung and his wife Wayan in 2001 as a safe haven for sea turtle eggs, which are being laid on Kuta beach by the thousands each year. The programm’s goal lies in protecting the tortoises’ eggs from threats in their original nesting locations such as high tide, tourist traffic, feral dogs or irresponsible human behavior. In a safe and sheltered environment, hatching rates are increased.

It’s the first time for me to help in a Sea turtle program, and even though I have worked with animals of a much bigger size before, I feel quite excited and a tiny bit nervous. More than forty or even fifty people linger around the oval, sand filled open-air container that harbors the now hatched eggs and the incredibly cute baby sea turtles that left their shells just the night before and crawl around for the first time in their short lives. Agitated and expectant sounding fragments of Malaysian, Indonesian, English, French and Italian around me fuse into a motley hotchpotch while we wait for Mr. Agung to give us instructions. Meanwhile, some trained volunteers carefully transport the sea turtles from their container to the point of the first encounter between the baby sea turtles and us international volunteer – bundles of excitement.

Mr. Agung is, even at first sight and before commencing his speech, a joyous force to be reckoned with. Bursting with energy, the founder of the Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Program addresses the curious multicultural crowd with an incredibly infectious enthusiasm that makes you feel in your bones how deeply he cares about the cause. While connecting with us volunteers for the day with a smile that seems as warm as an honest embrace, he tells us all about releasing the baby sea turtles back into the ocean and reveals some insightful facts about the conservation project.

How to be a Turtle Ranger aka almost a Ninja Turtle

The work of the long-term volunteers consists in morphing into heroic Turtle Rangers who patrol the beach all night long on the lookout for mother sea turtles that come out of the ocean to lay their eggs. They then go on to protect the mother turtle during the nesting process. Once she is finished laying the eggs and safely back in the ocean, the task concludes with the eggs’ relocation from the beach to the hatchery at Kuta. Subsequently it’s time to wait 45 to 60 days for the baby sea turtles to develop and hatch. Once they come out,  it’s all about being quick, as the sea turtles should be returned to their natural habitat as soon as possible, ergo the day after their nightly hatching.

Mr. Agung tells us that their survival rate without help, with the eggs remaining at often chaotic Kuta beach, would be just 1 in 3000- not very convincing odds and a huge driving force for the Sea Turtle program to work relentlessly towards bettering the baby sea turtles chances. General survival rates for hatchlings, baby sea turtles venturing to the ocean for the first time, are just 1 in 1000. After getting instructed in how to release the turtle into the Indian Ocean and encouraged to give “our” little tortoise a name, the excitement continues.

Tending to turtles or to let go and trust the flow

My little turtle friend is handed to me in a small plastic container with a bit of water, and I need to keep a hand on top so it does not escape. I try to keep steady as I don’t want baby Grace to feel like in a rollercoaster and get motion-sick. I am hoping a name like the one I chose could slightly increase her chances to make it in the unpredictable environment of the gigantic Indian Ocean.

Once the huge crowd of volunteers is safely at the shoreline, Mr. Agung gives us the sign: “Lower them down now!”, he shouts out excitedly and in a voice of determination against the backdrop of the crushing waves. I gently lower the plastic container and let Grace courageously crawl onto the beach. She seems a little unsure at first, but then her instincts lead her into the wide open waters of the Ocean. We all cheer the baby turtles on with everything we got and watch them getting closer and closer to the sea, incredibly tiny against the vastness of it all, until they are absorbed by the waters, bravely defying the huge waves.

It might not be the final goodbye I fear it to be, as astonishingly the sea turtles that make it tend to return to the exact same beach where they were born, guided by the Earth’s magnetic field. According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, most female turtles come back faithfully to the same beach each time they are ready to nest. Not only do they appear on the same beach, they often emerge within a few hundred yards of where they last nested. Grace, I don’t know to 100% if you are female, but I certainly hope so…Catch you later, sweet turtle friend, may we meet again, I whisper with an almost mother like feeling as I watch the sun set in all its splendor over Kuta beach.

Practical information:

  • Facts concerning the Balinese Sea Turtle release: Between 2012 and 2013 there were more than 50,000 eggs safely relocated to the hatchery, and around 80% of these were successfully hatched and released to the ocean.
  • Sea Turtle nesting season on Kuta Beach is from March to September each year.
  • Sea turtle hatching season is from April to October each year.
  • Nesting dates are an estimation only and the baby turtles will hatch naturally when they are ready.Early and late in the season the frequency of baby sea turtle release will vary.

For more information on the Balinese initiative and to contact the centre directly:

For more information on Sea turtles and their protection in general:

What can YOU do to help and protect sea turtles?

Check out defenders.org suggestions:

5thingstosaveseaturtles

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A monkey kind of day in Gibraltar

It must be a special kind of place if over 30.000 people of many different religions live around and on a massive Rock that once upon a time, in antiquity and Greek mythology, was thought off as the End of the World and the Portal to Hades, the underworld.

We know better nowadays than to mistake this intriguing melting pot at the tip of the Spanish peninsula and just 14km off the Moroccan coast for the last inhabited place of mankind. Instead, and despite its rather tiny size of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) it is nowadays known for being a great tourist destination, one of the most densely populated territories in the world and a much fought over geographical hot spot, claimed by Britain as well as Spain.

For me as a half Spaniard, it was a very unusual experience to “travel” the few metres that separate the British Overseas territory from the Spanish town la Linea de la Concepcion, passing a border control with slightly angry seeming Spanish frontier policemen and suddenly being emerged in a completely different world.

A journey to a distinct world of its own – British and then some

I didn’t expect it but Gibraltar truly turned out to be an absolutely contrasting place to Andalusia, the Southern Spanish autonomous community surrounding it. A town with its own character, architecture, a very unique vibe and interesting population. I also got to experience the worst food  and the best macaque shot I ever had…more on that later! Our adventure started with my friends and me hopping on the bus that conveniently stopped just off the entry point and brought us to the City Centre. Wherever I gazed upon: everything was suddenly labelled in English, and even the postboxes, yellow in Spain, denoted their British and in this case red identity.

When we got off the bus we were greeted by some canons pointing at us – well, not directly at us of course, but they were definitely showing off! Canons and other war memorabilia turned out to be an inherent part of the Gibraltarean cityscape – no wonder considering the role wars played in Gibraltar’s history.

Just to get a tiny insight: The origins of Gibraltar as we know it today lead back to 1704, when an Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession (little side – note for the History geeks: this happened on behalf of the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne). The Spaniards did not realize in time how crucial Gibraltar’s extremely well positioned geographical location was to their interests and subsequently ceded Gibraltar to Britain “in perpetuity” under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Furthermore, it served as an important base for the Royal Navy during World War II. Got it? Awesome, let’s continue our little tale then.

The potato crime or what happened to glorious backed potatoes

Once we had walked around the picturesque historic centre of Gibraltar, admiring its unique architecture, statues and variety of churches – you can find everything from the Church of Scotland to Synagoges and mosques there- , we figured it would be interesting to try out some Gibraltarean food. It stands to reason that therefore we chose to eat in a British Pub close to the main square. Oh boy…I can just say these words: not -so – yum-at-freaking-all! Not knowing what a typical Gibraltarean food experience would be like, I helplessly ended up ordering a jacked potato. Little did I know then that it would be the completely massacred, tortured and unrecognizable potato cousin from hell, basically the black sheep sibling of my beloved good old yummy potato deliciousness! I actually still don’t know what that poor potato had done to deserve such a ferocious treatment. Managing to stuff a part of it in my mouth and to almost mask my absolute terror we then decided to flee the place of kitchen crime and find some solace in Gibraltar’s absolutely stunning Botanical Gardens. The beauty of its myriad of plants, cacti, and subtropical flowers flourishing in Gibraltar’s warm mediterranean climate immediately softened the potato blow.

The Rock of Gibraltar

To the back of the Gardens, the majestic Rock of Gibraltar overlooks the Mediterranean ocean and beckoned us insistently to find out its secrets. Luckily we found a smokey voiced earth mother – taxi driver willing to show us what was still accessible of the Rock on a Friday at almost sunset – and so the adventure mix of nearly peeing my pants on the one hand and sheer fascination and awe on the other hand began.

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The famous Rock of Gibraltar

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Pillars of Hercules, Rock of Gibraltar

While the long haired, intimitadingly assertive Gibraltarean women told us all about her hometown with her gin coloured Jazz voice, she drove in a slightly disconcerting speed up the Rock, with its narrow, naw rather super extremely narrow roads, and absolutely no freaking gate to protect a possible slight swerve ! I did not know what to focus on: the awe-inspiring beauty of the mediterranean ship and the closeness of Morocco, which seemed to challenge me  to take a dip and swim across, as the Mediterranean sea is only 13 kilometres/ eight miles wide at this point.  Or the at least in my mind very realistic option of an untimely death in this Gibraltarean’s possibly chain smoker’s car…At two points though we could luckily catch a break. At first, we stopped at the ‘Pilares de Hercules’, Pillars of Hercules, a monument describing how the Strait of Gibraltar was seen and called in antiquity. From there you can enjoy a mind-blowing panorama view of the narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Europe from Africa. There is no other place where the two continents are that close! Even swimming the 14 km might be an option for some, or alternatively crossing over by pedaling on a giant manmade sea bike, such as Australian comedians Hamish Blake and Andy Lee attempted.

Hanging out with Europe’s only wild monkey population

We decided not to venture on to Africa this time, but to continue in our speedy taxi and visit the world famous Gibraltarean macaques, one of Gibraltar’s strongest allures, as it is home to the last free-range population of monkeys in Europe! Lucky for us, we had the top of the Rock, located in the protected Upper Nature Reserve, where the monkeys usually hang out, almost exclusively to ourselves.

The monkeys around us were very curious and absolutely unapologetic: they climbed on our taxi, jumped up and down and did all the things monkeys love to do, aka monkey mischief was the go! However, we did also find a very thoughtful seeming monkey doing its evening meditation overlooking the ocean…so no prejudices! Our guide managed to get an absolutely brilliant shot with one of these macaques:

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No, the Barbary macaque did not take a Selfie with its foot for Facebook. Otherwise she/ he would probably have smiled more.

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One of about 230 Barbery macaques that call the Rock of Gibraltar their home. This one was quite pensive- probably doing her/ his sunset meditation.

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Cheeky monkey checking out our taxi.

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Actor Jason Biggs did probably not read this.

Afterwards, she introduced us a bit more to them: there are approximately about 230 Barbary macaques on the rock, and they hold quite the significance for the place. As the legend goes, Gibraltar stays British as long as there are macaques on the Rock! When numbers seemed to diminish during World War II, Winston Churchill grew so concerned with the legend that he even imported more of the monkeys from the Atlas mountains in Morocco. Powerful little ones! So show some respect when you visit them- also as bites do happen. I mean, how would you react if your home got invaded daily by a hord of unknown nosy guests? Read more on how a Tampon could cause an attack by the monkeys on American Pie actor Jason Biggs ( common, it wasn’t even an apple pie!) or how the guitarist of the Rolling Stones tried to bond with the Barbary macaques over some LSD in the olden days and ended up in tears and completely distraught by their disapproval in the Guardian’s article on Gibraltar.

Just while the sun was setting it was time for us to leave the Rock and Gibraltar, including its peculiar airport strip, one of the most dangerous in the world, its peacefully co habiting mix of Christians, Moslems, Jews, and believers of other faiths, its distincly British and then some identity and its many more surprises to be discovered. We will be back though, you amazing Rock City!

What about you, have you ever been to Gibraltar? What are your favourite things to experience there? Share below if you like and thanks for reading!

 

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Seville’s sensual celebration – La Feria de Abril

The steady, well-balanced trot of a powerful hoof approaches, raising dust in a proud, unrelenting way, only drowned out by the spontaneous and wholehearted singing of his rider, conjuring up the splendor of the moment and of his city.

Where else could you be now but in one of Spain’s most glorious, most lively and most unique places – Sevilla!

If you find yourself in the capital of Andalusia, the Southernmost Spanish autonomous community, in the middle of April chances are you will be able to witness one of Spain’s most colorful, most vibrant and joyful celebrations, the Feria de Abril/ Seville Fair.

Seville Fair- Background and traditions

Founded in 1847 as a livestock fair by two councillors born in Northern Spain, Basque José María Ybarra and Catalonian Narciso Bonaplata, the fair transformed over the years more and more into a celebration of Andalucia’s customs, art and lifestyle. Just like the attendees in the 1920’s, when the fair reached its peak, you will be nothing short of mesmerized by the intriguing melange presented to you: Spanish ladies dancing Sevillanas, the typical Flamenco inspired dance, in their  Trajes de flamenca, or flamenco-style dresses, Andalucian men wearing their Cordobeses, typical hats, and best suits. Horses and horse carriages belong as much to the picture as the Casetas, individually decorated marquee tents which are exclusively built on the fairground for the Feria.

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Andalusian horses- Andalusian equestrian arts are worldfamous and horse parades are therefore an essential part of the Feria de Abril

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Seville Feria de Abril fairground with its Casetas at night

The Casetas are usually owned by prominent families of Seville, clubs, trade associations, political parties or even groups of friends, who gather there to celebrate all the best that Andalusia’s lifestyle has to offer: lightness of being, laughter, delicious Tapas,  great drinks, music and dance.

To understand the importance of the Feria de Abril for Sevilla, just consider these mind blowing numbers: in the six days that the fair takes place, starting on midnight on the Monday two weeks after Semana Santa or holy week, another important Spanish celebration , around 5 Million people visit the fairground with its over 1000 casetas!

Tourists from all over the world mingle with the Sevilla natives, women displaying an array of the most colorful flamenco dresses, wearing flowers in their hair, showing of big earrings as well as often the typical Manton de Manila, and men honing their masculinity in their suits or sometimes even the traditional trajes cortos, the probably bullfighter clothing inspired short jacket, tight trousers and boots.

Sevilla during the Feria seems to be a place where the feminine and masculine are still clearly distinctive, creating sizzling chemistry and a flirtatious mood while spring awakens with all its might. Blooming orange trees lure you in with their luscious scent, Jasmin flowers exude their sweet and beguiling perfume, an abundance of Bougainvillea caressing the walls of stunning white houses show of their perfect vibrant shades of pink.

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Bougainvillea blooming in the centre of Seville

No wonder then that the celebrations during the Feria tend to go all night, from around nine in the evening till six or seven in the following morning, in the streets as well as in the casetas, where joyous crowds enjoy Sherry, the typical Manzanilla and Rebujito drinks and eat Tapas while songs, laughter and music fill the air.

So, do by any means take a Granny nap in the afternoon if you must, hence you don’t miss out on any of it! However if you really can’t keep up with the Sevillian Party animals, you could still check out the daily parade of carriages and riders, transporting Seville’s leading citizens to the bullring, La maestranza, where the bullfighters and breeders meet. The parades take place daily around noon.

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bullfighting, a controversial Spanish tradition

Either way, whether by day or by night: the experiencing of the Feria is a feast for the senses and an explosion of joy not to be missed.

Seville fair tips for a top-notch experience:

If this article has sparked your interest in this magnificent festivity, brilliant! Here is how you will enjoy it most:

  • Food: to get the most authentic experience possible, try some typical Tapas like Patatas Bravas, potatoes in a spicy sauce, Flamenquines, a meat dish, or Huevos a la Flamenca, a healthy egg and vegetable dish. Find the latter recipe in my book “Speak in Spanish- Fun and motivation on your learning journey”.
  • Drink: the best and most typical drinks to order are Sherry, Manzanilla wine, a variety of fino sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in the province of Cádiz or the Rebujito, a mix of Sherry and soft drinks.
  • Preparation: Most of the Casetas are private, but there are some public Casetas you can access. To get the most original experience, you could of course try to make friends with some locals who might invite you to their Casetas! In order to do so, why don’t you pick up  some Spanish for your Feria experience?  If you want to book some Spanish classes with me, simply get in touch. I have also just released the book “Speak in Spanish – Fun and motivation on your learning journey” which will assist you in your learning process.
  • You might also wanna do a Sevillanas dance crash course or at least check out Sevillanas Feria de Abril 2015, de Puente Siete/ YouTube to know what you are in for.
  • Parking: If you do choose to go by car, there is a possibility to pre-book your own spot in a parking house, which is highly recommended. One of the closest parking spaces you can reserve is located at Plaza de Cuba, 5 minutes walk away from the Portada, the entry gate to the fairground.
  • Accommodation: as you read before, the Feria is incredibly popular, so please make sure to book in advance. It might be a good idea to try out Air BNB or to even consider staying slightly out-of-town to get better rates, as there are extra buses and other forms of public transport to the Feria.
  • Save the date- Feria de Abril in the following years: 1-7 of May 2017, 23-29 of April 2018, 4-11 of May 2019
Portada de la Feria, Entry gate for the Feria de Abril

The traje de gitana/ Flamenco style dress is the most authentic outfit in which to visit the fair. In the background you can also see the portada/ entry gate to the fairground in all its sparkly splendor.

Categories: Posts in English, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cross Cultural Love

“ There is the heat of Love, the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover’s whisper, irresistible – magic to make the sanest man go mad

-Homer, The Iliad-

  ….but what if all that happens with somebody who’s from the other side of the world?!

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Taking on the world together

Somebody, who probably grew up with pretty different value-systems and  beliefs to yourself,  who when growing up played different games, talked in a different language, ate different food and watched different TV series ? ( as you will probably have found out by now , not everyone was blessed to delve into the gummy bear series delight after school,  incredible but true). Many of my friends and acquaintances are, have been or will probably be in a cross cultural relationship: they fell in love with each other while one of them was working or travelling in the other one’s country, or while both were backpacking around, or similar scenarios. The excitement and romance of cross- cultural love augur something exotic, something challenging and adventurous. Cross-cultural love allures with the exploration of a completely new world not just within the scope of the  lover’s body, also concerning their whole mindset, emotional world, their needs, their stories and their unique magic.

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Shell- Love

Here in Australia I am surrounded by cross cultural love in its many forms all the time: Beautiful girls and women from places like Spain, Russia or Venezuela who fell in love with handsome Aussie Guys or Kiwis while travelling through India, dancing at a club at home, or doing a Language Course in Oz. Courageous women, and men,  who took a leap of faith, embarking on a relationship with not only a partner from the opposite gender, which can sometimes already be quite a mission due to different ways of thinking and communicating (yes, I am talking from experience, ahem).

The women I am talking about (including myself) are loving men who hail from a place, where beer is probably more often consumed than water, where “ Sheila” is an allowed denomination for a women (and I mean, women in general, not a women named Sheila), and where the collegial term “Mates” can be used on you as a women, completely independent of how hot you look in your new dress.

BUT – and the truth is always after the but I dare say- a lot of Australian and Kiwi blokes are also men, who still know what inner and outer strength looks like, men who can be reliable and trustworthy, and whose character is generally easygoing and fun. Plus they grew up on the same (or a neighbouring ) soil  like HUGH JACKMAN….!!!Yes.

The following observation by Steven Covey, an american teacher, author and leadership-expert, might inspire us to be aware of our innate different perceptions and to communicate differing backgrounds and  needs more clearly:

 “Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms.”

Due to witnessing the cross cultural love phenomenon daily and being part of it myself, ( as well as being a product of a another cross cultural fusion between a northern german man and a southern Spanish mother but that’s a different story) , the following post(s) will be dedicated to delve a bit deeper into the fascinating world of  CC- Love:

How does it differ from relationships with same-country partners, what kind of challenges are normal or frequent,  and WHAT THE HECK can be done about it?Source: www.drnoth.wordpress.com

Want a  little appetizer to the later?  Dr. Luisa Dillner states in her book” Love by numbers. The hidden facts behind Everyone’s Relationships:

Without wishing to underestimate the struggle ahead, the fundamentals of long lasting relationships are romance, companionship, love, support and loyalty. You have to believe these cross cultural boundaries

Do you have any special suggestions, hints or top-secret tips to go with the flow in a CC-Love Relationship? What works for you?

Looking forward to some inspirations, may you have a week full of romance!

Categories: Amor und Eros, Posts in English, Reisen | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Home- what the heck is that?

HOME –

a notion that might be pretty clear-cut and easy to define to folks who still live onthe same beauty patch they were born and raised. With millions of songs, poems and quotes out there trying to capture the essence of every possible association with “Home”, the answer to the question What the heck does “Home” really stand for? remains presumably much more challenging to those who have been given a good cultural shaking in and through their upbringing.

One world

Be it having emigrated at a young age from their natal country to find their luck in a completely new environment, physically giving up their roots to find a new “home” far away from their original one, like my friend David from El Salvador. Or be it embodying two (or even more) different cultures and therefore almost owning two different heartbeats, like many of my mates and myself. Or it can even be not feeling comfortable at the place you were born and therefore rejoicing every time you are being asked: “Where are you from”? And maybe heading off into the world in order to find a more appropriate “Home” due to this.

Whatever the nomadic variation it may be in your case, it remains clear that “Home” can be quite challenging to define for some of us!

Lets throw a few ideas out and make our brain cells dance a little instead of giving them the Facebook information intake overkill:

  • Is “Home” necessarily the place you were born? Or where you were educated?

    Hands_Home

    Creating one’s own home

  • Is it something determined by outer factors like the previously mentioned ones?  And therefore really just another intent of the naturally obsessive compulsive mind to put everything and everyone (including ourselves) into predefined drawers?
  • Or is “Home”  a term which needs to be understood through our internal world, our innermost longings and our intuitive knowing?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this! I keep coming back to this question and can’t wait to get some different perspectives on it.

Categories: Posts in English, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Magic happens

Feeding a wild dolphin, riding a cuddly camel, and dreaming with aboriginal didgeridoo-meditation, living magic:

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Connecting to Latinamerican vibes in the middle of nowhere

How the story goes, two and a half years ago I was facing a major life decision.While others may deliberate at age 27 whether to get a house or a baby or a marriage or the whole suburban dream package, I was facing the crucial question:

Photo by Maik Wunderlich

Should I either spend the whole amount of my European bucks on a trip to  A) BALI or B) Brazil and Mexico. That  A) would somehow be leading me to a life in Australia, was not to be foreseen then. Even I if I do remember having mentioned on occasional confrontations with my parents in my early twenties and teenage years, that I would emigrate to Australia never to be seen again if they would continue to be so nasty to me, lol. (Maybe that got somehow stuck in my subconscious…spooky).

Anyway, embarking on the Balinese and the Australian adventure somehow meant abstaining from the south- and central American delights, and even though I mostly love how the story went so far…

visions of the sounds of Samba and Salsa, the smell of Guacamole and Fajitas and the sights of wildly and joyous dancing bodies at the beaches of Brazil keep lurking seductively in a corner of my mind.

When I arrived in the wild Australian West around two years ago, I was desperately looking for Spanish fellow expatriates. They insisted on hiding from me though, joder! Nevertheless, I did find an alluring multicultural mix of lovely Latinos, and was soon enchanted by their warmth and their variety of Spanish vocabulary as well as the cultural expressions each of their home countries harbors.

Let’s have a look at Venezuela, for example:

We all know that there was Chavez. And now, not anymore. However, I learned through my beautiful Venezuelan friend Carolina that Venezuelan gasoline is cheaper than water, that “chevere” means the same as “guay” in spanish Spanish (meaning cool, awesome) and that the Venezuelan culture has been strongly influenced by the Caribbean context.

And what about El Salvador? Who except for adventuresome backpackers and ecotour-travel agents knows exactly where this country is located (yes, between Guatemala and Honduras), and what makes it so special?

My Aussie friend David was born in El Salvador and emigrated with his family to Western Australia twenty-four years ago, because there was a brutal dictatorship in that small but delightful central American country at that time.

I also learned, that there is a magical dish called PUPUSAS (still need to try it) from this country and that you can reach EVERYTHING within half an hour drive once you are there (EVERYTHING meaning beach- bush\jungle-volcanos).

Oh, and of course: that “chivo” means “chevere” (Venezuelan Spanish) means “guay” (spanish Spanish ) means cool (international English). And then there is Mexico…which will turn up in a different post.

Until then, enjoy y que tengais un dia bien chevere! Y chivo! Y guay! Ole!

PS: Did you enjoy this post? If so, just enter your mail address where it says ” follow”(subscribe) on the right side of this page. You can find it, I know you can. Go for it and enjoy the read. May it serve you and your face muscles (laughter relaxes face muscles btw. Healthy stuff.)

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Von Bieren, Blondies und Beaches: das bunte australische Identitätenkaleidoskop

Vor einigen Tagen fand hier in Perth ein gigantisches Oktoberfest statt, bei dem halb Westaustralien, in Lederhosen und Dirndl eingekleidet und mit viel Lust auf Bier ausgestattet, zugegen schien.

Das Oktoberfest scheint einfach zur Wahrnehmung deutscher kultureller Identität im Ausland dazuzugehören: Ob im muslimischen Melaka im Herzen Malaysias oder in der abgelegensten Metropole der Welt Perth – Deutsche, Bier und Lederhosen scheinen in den Augen der Welt so sehr zusammenzugehören wie Australier und Kaenguruhs.

Wenn wir in Europa an Australier denken, steht uns sicherlich schnell der rund um die Uhr wellenreitende Surfer mit von der Sonne blondgekuesstem Haar, durchtrainiertem Posterkörper sowie tiefenentspannter Grundattituede vor Augen. Sowie wahlweise auch niedliche gruppenkuschelnde und stets fotoflirtfreudige Koalas, gefaehrliche Giftviecher und Endlosdimensionen (endlose Straende, endlose Wuesten).

Zumindest war das meine Vision dessen, was Australiens Essenz im Grossen und Ganzen ausmachen muesste. Sicherlich lag ich nicht komplett falsch mit meinem heiter zusammengemischten Vorurteilsbaukasten. Aber eben auch nicht so ganz richtig.

Was also konstituiert die australische Mentalitaet, die australische kulturelle Identitaet? Was genau ist ein “typischer Australier”?

Dieser Frage wird in den naechsten Beitraegen nachgespuert. Aspekte, die diesbezueglich thematisiert werden, umfassen:

  • Von Surfern und dem australischen Mannsbild aus dem Busch: australische Identitaet als Identitaet des weissen Mannes
  • Von glattgeleckten Adonissen und reichlich fuelligen TV- Junkies: australische Identitaet zwischen Fitnesswahn und Fernsehfaulheit
  • Von Australien als kleinem Bruder Amerikas versus Australien als braver Tochter Grossbritanniens
  • Australien als gutgelaunter Multikultipott versus Down Under als Angst- und Aggressionshort
  • Von Australiens Identitaet in Abgrenzung zu Asien und zu den Ureinwohnern: die Angst des weissen Mannes um “sein” Land

Zum Auflockerung und zur authentischeren Vermittlung des Themas werdet ihr in Kuerze auch einige Interviews von waschechten Australiern zum Thema lesen koennen.
Wenn Ihr noch andere Aspekte thematisiert sehen wollt, schreibt mir gerne und jederzeit!

Ich muss jetzt auch mal los zum Kaenguruhstreicheln. Und zum Barbecue am Strand. Mit Kaenguruhfleisch (deshalb das Streicheln).

Categories: Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Einmal Abenteuer und zurück

1200 km – was in Deutschland bedeutet, einmal das ganze Land im Längsschnitt durchfahren zu haben, ist in Westaustralien quasi Käsekuchen.

Coral Bay, Ningaloo Marine Park

 

Von der Hauptstadt Westaustraliens Perth bis hin zum Ningaloo Marine Park im tropischen Teil des Bundesstaates führte uns unserer Roadtrip, vorbei an umwerfenden Landschaften, ungeheuer lauten Mac Pie Vögeln und ja, jeder Menge Känguruhs. Unterwegs wussten wir uns gegen bussgeldgeile Ranger, uns nachts über den Weg laufende Kühe, klirrende Kälte im nächtlichen Wüstenland und Konsorten zu verteidigen. Endlose Strassen führten vorbei an winzig kleinen Dörfern, die sich hier in WA Städte nennen, und meist karger Vegetation auf roter, rauher Erde auf der einen Seite. Und vorbei am tiefblauen Indischen Ozean und endlosen, oftmals einsamen Sandstränden auf der anderen Seite.

Sechs Nächte in sechs Ortschaften: Übernachten im Van, im Motel, im Zelt und in Backpackerunterkünften. Und sechs Tage zwischen Durchwandern atemberaubenden Nationalparks, auf Tuchfühlung gehen mit Kamelen (wunderbare und superfreundliche Tiere übrigens!) und Delphinen (dito), Banananplantagen Bestaunen und im tropischen Rentnerparadies Coral Bay Entspannen. Letzteres war wirklich speziell: das Dorf besteht aus einer Strasse voller Campingstätten, die z.T. auf ein halbes Jahr hin ausgebucht sind und hauptsächlich Rentner in massiven Campervans, oder sollte ich lieber sagen Campingschloessern, beherbergen. Als wir in Coral Bay ankamen war es proppenvoll – auf den Campingplätzen. Die umwerfenden Strände waren nett leer. Denn klar, wenn TV mit Satellitenschlüssel, Sofas und Co locken, kann auch die Magie eines Sonnenuntergangs über dem Indischen Ozean nicht mehr viel ausrichten;).

Was wir in Coral Bay und Co so anstellten:

Auf Tuchfuehlung mit Whitling Fischen

Categories: Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Leave a comment

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