Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Geo-Tagged: Erftstadt and Brühl

Few days after settling to my summer 2012 temporary homebase, the Christ family visited me. Prior to this visit, they were wondering 'Where and why in the world are you staying in Erftstadt?'

Yes, you heard it right, I stayed in Erftstadt. I used to live in Darmstadt. And do you know that I had visited friends in Willingen, had a family in Herzberg and went to Wetzlar for a short day trip. Where in the world was I? These are small and often unheard places I had been. Their names may not had really made a mark in the map, but they contributed a very important spot in my heart! So let me briefly talk about my Erftstadt and Brühl experiences.

Stayed from July 31 to September 26, 2012

This small city is a 20-minute drive from Cologne. There you go, now you know the Kölner Dom and a little bit in the outskirt I found a family who had welcomed me to their house during the summer vacation in Germany. Tita Emily and Tito Jörg had offered me a place to stay while waiting for my move to Rome. Tita Emily is my mother's highschool batch. I was so happy to have a mom and instant family, not just for the summer but forever. Tito Jörg is always funny and he even seemed to be my dad interrogating about me and my boyfriend.  I was Keira's bed and roommate, played with little smart Marcelo and said Hallo und Wie gehts to Jens.

Tita Emily and Tito Jörg. Jens, Marcelo and Keira.
Lechenich, a smaller component of Erftstadt were I lived, has its own character with old structures such as the Herriger Tor built in the 1300 and the old German houses with wooden frames. Even though this is a small town, there also exists a small community of Filipinos that I also met during my stay.
Erftstadt. Herriger Tower built in 1300. Lechenich intersection and the 'City Center'

Tita Emily and I were in charge of the kitchen. Feasting because we can both enjoy some Filipino foods. I prepared chopsuey, champorado, biko, choco malagkit, and leche flan.

As a small walkable city, I explored it easily by having a bike trip or running to the nearest field. I had some Los Baños moment and transported briefly to my hometown.
Sunset run in Erftstadt. I thought I was along the Pili Drive in Los Baños on my way to IRRI!


August 3, 10 and 11, 2012

When the Christs visited me in Erftstadt, we went to a nearby town called Brühl - 20 kilometers south of Cologne. This small city has a big mall, a big amusement park called Phantasialand, and number of small water bodies.

That day, I finally met Mian! The Christ family - Holger, Simi, Mian and I had chill afternoon and fun by the lake, walked around it, and made catching up on what's happening in the Philippines. Simi and Holger always amaze me how their lives had been so updated on Philippine politics and events.
Simi, Holger and Baby Mian!
Lake. Verboten: No Parking. LB Flaskbacks. Berry picking and the Ducks.
The trail we trod gave me another Los Baños moment. I thought I was on a hike through the Makiling Forest Reserves for some time. When I saw the 'Verboten' (prohibited/ forbidden) signs and berries along the way, I woke up from my daydreaming. The small lake is actually has its own land use plan. Can you imagine that? There were designated places for parking, for swimming, for fishing, for anything. So, you cannot just take your swimwear and swim or your grill to barbecue anywhere. Rules are rules in Germany.

Near the lake is an amusement park called Phantasialand. I was there twice. First, I was in China. Secondly, I was a little child again - around the world.

Tita Emily and her family brought me to Phantasialand for a night show. For two months, there were free acrobats and entertainment shows. While taking the photos, I felt like saying: Mom, I am not in Europe.

Asia Night events at Phantasialand! Acrobatics and fun for free
And what is the entertainment business without Filipino singers? Pinoy pride brags it all as I met and become friends with mainstay performers in Phantasialand!
Followed by live performances of our talented Filipino singers! Go ate Elena!
I went back to Phantasialand with Keira, and that time we had tried the rides from the different themed areas. We are happy to have VIP passes that we cut lines and went first!
Phantasialand Panoramic Day Shot!

We were with this family, thus the VIP passes!
Berlin part of Phantasialand with the playful act! Go manong, you're on photo!
It feels so great to by kid again! Went to the rides and enjoy the sun! Eat ice cream, pizza or fries. Whatever I want. This time, I am not restricted to ride as I was before when I was little. (Confession: I used to be weakling and dizzy kid even for a Manila-Calamba bus trip.)

Weeeeh! Water Up, up and away. The dragon mascot - inside is Kuya Jake, another Pinoy!
3D and Ice Skating. Indoor activities to rest for a while!
I had no photos on the thrill rides that we had. I was afraid that my camera would be washed by the water waves or thrown outside when we go upside down and crazy fast. See the last photo that made my day! Earlier in the morning, I attempted to ask for a face paint, but was denied. Those were for KIDS ONLY. I was determined to have my first ever face paint and tried again before the sun went down. Face paint is for KIT ALSO.

Finally, I got my turtle face paint! Someone is soooo happy!
I never thought there's a theme park in Brühl or even thought I will be spending my summer in this part of Germany. 

Where is Brühl and Erftstadt? Small towns and places yet geo-tagged on my memory and my heart.

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