Schwarzwald Black Forest

What happens if two doctoral students who lives in a foreign country having a small chat on one evening? A plan for fun adventure. I and my friend decided to celebrate birthdays together with trying something new, which rarely comes to mind both of us: skiing! We also agreed to learn to ski in the area Schwarzwald, Germany, the original city of Schwarzwälder a.k.a blackforest torte cake.

The Blackforest 
We chose Schwarzwald because it is strategically located, including in regions close to the German border with two other countries, namely Switzerland and France. We promise to meet in Freiburg, the nearest big city of Schwarzwald. There we rented a Ferienwohnung or vacation home. We were greeted kindly by Alvie Vömye, the owner of the house. Lodging in the form of a sort of tiny studio apartment is quite large, with a dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and a comfortable bedroom.

Birthday celebration began with a triple-decker eating chocolate cake layered black cherry cream with sprinkles in each layer, and doused with kirschwasser (cherry water, alcoholic beverages of cherry, typical of southern Germany and the province of Alsace, France). That blackforest first cake that we eat directly in the home town of the cake. Delicacy very impressive!

We took a private ski courses in the area Todtnauberg, Hochschwarzwald. The consideration, in order to more freely than join the large group. Ski lessons that day started at around 14:00 pm. The morning we left, because they still have to take the train from the train station Hinterzarten, in the direction of Freiburg, followed by a bus ride away from Kirchzarten to the village of Todtnauberg. Looks several other passengers also have the same intention. However, they are complete bring their winter sports equipment.

Learning to Ski
We went to a ski equipment rental shop in the highland village of Todtnauberg. After changing costumes, we were given ski boots, one number above the usual number of shoes we wear. For rental of this equipment, we pay 10 euros per person. This is much cheaper than we had expected. Because, when checking on their pages, the price of a set of ski equipment that is 19 euro. Later, after checking again, the price of 10 euro turned out for a set of ski equipment children’s sizes! Also delicious are petite like this, we can both save up to 9 euros.

We had hobbled running shoes weighing may reach a quarter of our weight. To lift the leg was difficult. Ski boards too heavy. In fact, all of the equipment has been adapted to our height and weight.

The location is learning to ski is Muggenbrunn, which is slightly higher than Todtnauberg. Daniel, our instructor, was a friendly old man. We were taught to put boots skis. After that, the real lesson begins. Lifting the foot already shod only heavy, especially coupled with the board that it is firmly in the shoe. First of all, we must be able to stand properly. Then, to be able to maintain body balance. Ski sticks really help sustain us in order to remain standing.

Furthermore, learning to walk. Way street that first taught is the way the V-shaped, like a penguin style. The new opens, already slipping. Foot and hand we have to be really strong support the body. However, when rolled, it turned out fun. Only, if you can not put the brakes on, might crash. The next lesson is up the hill. Of course this is even more difficult. Snow already meet skis, while we still can go up as well. Daniel was already waiting for us at the top.

Another technique is the road sideways. Daniel calls side walking, one leg at a riding like climbing stairs. For us, this method is relatively easier than penguin style. Arriving at the top, we then slid again. This time of fun and amusing. Several times we fall, mostly because they can not put the brakes on the pace of the slide. Do not be mistaken, so falling in the snow we can immediately get up by itself. Difficult! Foot feels like embedded. We only can wake up, once drawn by Daniel.

The following modules are sliding and braking force called Daniel as a ‘slice’. To do this style, both ends of the skis held together at the front, so as to form a triangle position. Gliding with legs opened selebarnya, then to stop the slides, both feet opened even wider. Lola had some success doing this slide, although eventually fall as well as to curb special skill.

Imperceptibly, an hour passed. And, because we are ‘good girls and fun’, so said Daniel, he also adds hours of our courses without us having to pay more. Another bonus, we still can play its own outside of class hours. Fun …. Unfortunately, the body was not strong anymore. Hands and legs are sore. Fortunately we ‘only’ bruises. Because, said some people, when learning to ski, we must be prepared to risk body ache, bruises, or broken bones.

Across the Border to Colmar
We chose to visit Colmar, because this city is the old town became the center of a wine in the province of Alsace, France. Round-trip bus ticket-Colmar Breisach relatively low, only 7,70 euro per person and takes about 30 minutes. During the trip, we passed through small villages and expanse of prairie. The scenery is different. When outside the borders of Germany, seen houses were more colorful than in Germany. Traffic signs are installed is also not as much as in Germany.

Arriving in Colmar, many other passengers who get off at the stop Theater. We decided to go to the final station in La Gare de Colmar. We miscalculated, it turns out the distance from the station to the city center is quite far away. Understandably, we expect Colmar would like most cities in Germany alone, so out station directly find downtown.

We walked through the park Place du Champs de Mars beautiful, with a fountain in the middle. Colmar is also the place of origin of Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, maker of the Statue of Liberty in New York. Entering the old city center of Colmar, we were immediately amazed at the small streets of stone and old multi-storey buildings, with a triangular roof and painted colorful. We also briefly popped into Rue Unterlinden, Musee Unterlinden seputaran, one of the famous museum that contains a collection of art, artifacts of local and international, ranging from pre-history to contemporary.

We then look for La Petite Venise, a mini Venice in Colmar region. Passing through Cathedral St. Martin, knew we had reached the Place de L’Ecole, which according to the map, there is a house that once occupied the famous philosopher, Voltaire. But exactly where, to no avail we found.

Actually, this place does not look much like Venice. Only, there is a small canal there, with some of the gondola tethered. In addition to the canal, the area is also marked by the presence of small cobbled alleys that either side there are houses, cafes, and shops with classical architecture

Café in Rue des Merchands

We did a wine tour with a visit a small wine shops are mostly found in Colmar. Strada Vino in the store, we sampled both types of wine mainstay of Colmar, which is kind of Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Both come from grape varieties that grow in the region Alsace, France. Riesling white wine smelled fragrant floral, while the reddish pink Gewürztraminer has an aroma similar to lychee fruit. Lola decided to buy a bottle of wine Gewürztraminer as a gift for his friend, who happened to be a fan of white wine flavored fruit.

Afterward, we stopped into a cafe in the Rue des Merchands, which is displayed in front of the old stuff, such as teapots, plates and cups antique. The cafe is not too large. Surprisingly, we were served by grandma! Cashier clerks were already elderly. Of course they only speak French. Forced, we use hand language and facial expressions. Fortunately, this friendly grandmother can understand we are only able to point to the menu while trying to pronounce the name of our order. We ordered thé japonais (Japanese tea) and a latte. We also ordered a macaroon, chocolate, and pistachio. Hmm … good!

After the morning we still hear and speak German, in the afternoon we were already in the French-speaking parts of the world. That is a unique and fun venturing into the border area

Important Notes:

  1. Book train tickets should be far in advance, in order to get a cheap price.
  2. The cost of our lodging for 49 euros per night for the house, plus 2 euro (25,000) for kurtaxe (a kind of compulsory dues citizens in Germany) per person per night. With that price, we will get Schwarzwald Card, a card that can be used to enter the sites for free. With this card, we can also free ride trains and buses in the area Schwarzwald, even can also be used to Freiburg and Breisach, a town on the border with France to get to Colmar.
  3. 3. The private ski lessons offered at 39 euros per hour for two people. Not including the cost of renting the equipment, such as boards, boots and ski sticks in a ski equipment rental
This entry was posted in Germany.

The Beautiful South Korea Jeonju

I’ve been obsessed with the balance of life to feel the need to apply them on each side of life, including when traveling. I realize this mission with my husband while visiting South Korea, in March. In addition to Seoul, we added Jeonju City is more calm and relaxed, to visit. No one chose, as the capital of Jeollabuk-do is determined by cittaslow International as its slow city South Korea.

The taxi driver who drove us from the bus terminal Jeonju pointing the right direction. He spoke in Korean language we do not understand. My eyes followed the direction of his hand. Without the need to understand the words he spoke, I was immediately blown away. From inside the cab of a moving fairly quickly on the highway, looking ocean hanok houses, a traditional Korean house, spread out pretty far as the eye can see.

That’s where our goal, Jeonju Hanok Village. Areas in the central city of Jeonju, where resides more than 800 hanok are still well preserved. This traditional building coupled nicely with several historic buildings relics of the Joseon Dynasty, the last dynasty that ruled Korea in 1392 – 1897. Can not wait it’s like to spend the night here.

After calling the residence directing our cab driver, we finally arrived in Saekdongjeogori Guesthouse. Actually, the main streets in Jeonju Hanok Village are wide enough to accommodate two cars passed. However, many also inn is located in a narrow alley, like our inn this, so it’s quite challenging to find.
Our specialty shaped small hanok. Inside there are four rooms that are rented to tourists. Touch wood and natural atmosphere combined with traditional design if brought us walked through time. We were like a couple Korea Joseon Dynasty eras with a warm resting at home. Homey!

Even though it was quite cold outside air because it has not fully entered into the spring, the atmosphere inside hamok it was warm. In fact, there is no heating. To be honest, I was worried about the cold at midnight. Moreover, in the room no beds, we slept on the floor paved with futon, like the traditional way Korean people.

Apparently, the warmth created in the hanok is derived from the floor that maintains the traditional system called ondol. This is how the Korean people heat their homes by channeling heat from a fireplace that is usually located at the back of the house. Warmer temperatures were spreading through the rocks on the bottom floor of hanok made of wood. That said, the ondol system has been used in Korea since the Bronze Age or around 1000 BC.

Journey to the Past

After refining the stuff, we decided to walk down the halls of the hanok bounded by a stone wall. For travelers with limited time, walking aimlessly in fact quite time-consuming. But, here the time seemed to slow down. We also walked around Jeonju Hanok Village is not too wide. Excitement we felt, when inadvertently find Gyeonggijeon Temple building, which previously only we look through the photos on the internet and travel brochures. It felt, enough to ‘pay’ for lost time.

Gyeonggijeon temple consists of several parts such as palaces, temples, monuments, and museums. This temple is one of the buildings that are quite popular Joseon Dynasty relics. Several historic buildings in this area is directly related to the family of Yi Seong-gye, the founder and first king of the Joseon Dynasty, who also came from Jeonju. In fact, it is said, in this temple of King Yejong placenta, king of the Joseon Dynasty 8, was buried, so it seems very personal.

This temple also housed the relics of the Joseon era as the official portrait of Yi Seong-gye and kings later, and books neatly arranged in the museum. Joseon Dynasty is known to set down the most influence on Korean culture today. Starting from the norm, ethics, languages and dialects, science, literature, and the economy is growing rapidly in this era.

Enjoy all the relics of the Joseon Dynasty, imperceptibly closer dusk, light golden yellow sun fills every corner of the village. We went back to explore the streets of the village. When arriving at Jeonjuhyanggyo Confucian School, the sound of stringed musical instrument sounds serene splitting silence. Besides us, there are only two other diners in the place that was once a school and a temple to the adherents of Confucianism in the Joseon era. Intrigued, I tried to find the source of the music.

The sound was coming from a booth in the same area. From the door cracks open, I saw a woman play the gayageum, a traditional Korean stringed instrument, in a small room of the sort of smoky incense. It was washed away. For local communities, gayageum not only for entertainment, but also as a means of meditation.

After satisfying curiosity, we went on a trip up the hill not far from Jeonjuhyanggyo Confucian School. Located at the highest point in Hanok Village that allows us to enjoy the sunset while permeates the stories behind the historic sites and Imokdae Omokdae shaped like a house on stilts. It’s romantic!

Omokdae a silent witness when Yi Seong-gye celebrated victory over its battle against Japanese troops during his career as a warlord, before founding Joseon. While Imokdae is where the ancestral Yi Seong-gye play war games with his friends.

Stuck in a place rich in history, accompanied by sunlight at dusk, make us delusional, if we both were in the Joseon era, what about our jobs?

Sound excerpts gayageum still sounded faint, the sun creates a golden yellow tinge beautiful chime in on hundreds of hanok. The air grew colder, but we are still reluctant to leave.

“You make a right choice. There are a lot of delicious foods in Jeonju !, “said a receptionist guesthouse where we stayed in Myeongdong, before we Jeonju. His remarks make us more excited to head to town status as Creative City of Gastronomy of UNESCO.

Jeonju indeed save a rich culinary tradition dating back centuries ago. Although the type of food is roughly equal to other areas in South Korea, taste different food. For example, the most famous Jeonju bibimbap throughout Korea. Rice mixed vegetables and meat has a flavor that tasted fresh. Arguably, bibimbap is the best I’ve ever eaten!

Kimchi in Jeonju equally steady. Thick marinade and flavor ingredients sea food is very strong. Kimchi in Korea does have a variety of flavors, depending upon the region. Perilously close to the south coast, the seafood flavor materials stronger and more viscous marinade.

No wonder the taste cuisine in this area feels fresher. Perhaps this comes from foodstuffs agricultural products in the city’s minimal residual industrial pollution. Vegetables, fruit, rice and ginseng from Jeonju judged to have the best quality in Korea.

Places in Jeonju only written in hangul letters, but to recognize a restaurant serving Korean dishes, quite easily. Visitors simply look at the exterior of the building. If there are large jars made of clay, meaning it provides a restaurant bibimbap, kimchi and other traditional Korean food. Because, kimchi which is in the process of fermentation is stored in jars that they put outside the restaurant.

Jeonju never stop spoiling our appetite. In addition to the main meals, snacks for sale are also very diverse. One of our favorite places was PNB bakery. Bakery that has become an icon of this Jeonju sell choco pie is very tasty. To be missed.

Want to make Korea Jeonju as a culinary destination, local government seriously introduce a variety of culinary wealth through a variety of festivals, such as Jeonju Bibimbap Festival and The International Fermented Food Expo held in Jeonju each year. Unfortunately, while there we did not find any festival.

Cultural City of Riga

“Riga..? Where is it..? ”  that is the first reaction of my coworkers, when I said I was planning a visit to this city. Riga is not a popular tourist destination, at least for the people of Asia. But, not famous does not mean not beautiful. City on the banks of the Daugava River is an important city, because it has a very active trading port since the Middle Ages.

Small Modern Harbor

Latvia is a unique country, because it had changed three rulers: Germany, the Kingdom of Sweden, and the Soviet Union, before finally free to be the state itself. The capital city, Riga, into a city with considerable industrial progress, especially as the port becomes an important place for the traffic of goods between the Baltic states and Europe. Riga residents generally use two languages, namely Russia and Latvia, but many young people who master the English language.

I went with two friends. We departed from Orebro, Sweden, towards Stockholm. Ship departs from Stockholm late afternoon and will arrive in the port of Riga at 9 am the next morning. We can enjoy the islands around Stockholm are skipped ship. At night, we were able to enjoy live music in the bar.

Promptly at 9 am, the ship docked at the Port of Riga. The wind and the scorching heat of the sun directly welcomed the four of us. When it was summer and temperatures approaching 30 degrees Celsius. Because I’m used to the hot summer temperatures tend Swedish cool and cold, summer heat that actually makes me kind of shocked.

Small town many years been a territory of the Kingdom of Sweden and later became part of the Soviet Union, it looks modern. Around the harbor is an office area with some towering buildings. There is a bridge connecting Riga region are separated by the River Daugava.

The streets were originally plated asphalt, now replaced with paving blocks. Tall buildings and modern now transformed into old houses walled, and only two floors high. A distance of several hundred meters away, there are offices and industrial center. It only takes 10 minutes to cross the passage of time.

Faces on the Wall

Along the way the old town, a lot of buildings with architectural art nouvaeu (commonly referred to jugendstill which means youth style, a flow of the art world that affect architecture). Marked with forms inspired from flowers or plants, in the form motif snaking or spiral-tendrils on a pole or building decoration. The number of old buildings make this city received the title of world heritage by UNESCO. Even old buildings in this area are well maintained.

Riga city hall is one of the buildings with architectural jugendstill. Which makes it unique is the presence of diverse human face carved on the walls. I imagine, might be intimidating if walking in the area in the afternoon or evening foggy. Fog can effect the faces are moving

Old Town Churches

Entering the old city area, we can walk freely without trepidation, because motorized vehicles are not allowed to enter this area. Cafes and souvenir shops occupy old buildings. So interestingly, I got stopped many times to take photos or simply looked inside. From the map, I saw there were dozens of pictures of the church in the old town area. Many churches could be caused by a number of people from various countries who arrive in this port city.

Our first stop is the Church of St. James. This is the only Catholic church were left standing after Riga was under the rule of the Soviet Union. Some churches converted to the Lutheran church, when Riga became part of Sweden. Others become Orthodox Catholic Church, when it became part of the Soviet Union.

I immediately saw the table displaying a variety of cards that contains a set of saints and various prayers in the back of the card. All the prayers in the card is written in Russian. There seller rosary beside the card tables. Church elongated space looks a bit congested because of filled with tourists.

Out of St. James, our next destination was Riga Dom cathedral. The cathedral church is a Lutheran church, which was built around the 13th century. Riga Dom is the largest church in the Baltic states, the church building is circular and roofed dome has experienced an improvement in their life history. Although built in different centuries of the Church of St. James, the main building of the church is using the same raw material, red brick. This makes the churches in Riga looks uniform. Just by walking a few meters, has four churches I visited.

Lured by Amber Stone

In the summer the open market can be found along the streets of the old town. The goods are sold in the form of knit gloves and various cooking utensils made of wood. Apple wood, wood ash and cedar wood is made into a variety of equipment, such as spoon, spoon of sugar, and a jar of herbs. The shape is nice and light.

A few tablespoons of sugar and coffee I buy for souvenirs. I was served by the son of the owner of the kiosk, with fluent English. With agile, he explained, of any wood furniture was made. According to him, the equipment can be durable wood. Because, more often washed, further strengthen the timber.

There are also a few vendors selling matrioska, Russian dolls is said to bring good luck. Seller matrioska and gloves on average mothers who are old. Although not speak English, they are friendly and greet the fans in Russian.

One item that is dominant in the market of the old city is amber jewelry. Orange red rock is a rock taken from the Baltic Sea. Usually tied with the silver pendant, or a few small amber stones strung into a bracelet. This jewelry to my attention because it is unique. Not just the type of stone, but also the shape of the pendant.

I saw the shape of a frog pendant that can be swayed, like a hand puppet and twin fish. Ulle warned me to be careful when choosing jewelry amber, because there are sellers who mix it with similar colored glass. Not only sellers in the street, but also in the gift shop that looks more luxurious. After a long pick, I finally decided to buy two pendants, frog hand puppets and twin fish. Both are decorated with amber tied with silver.

Frankly, language becomes an obstacle to make transactions on the open market. Some tourists bargaining in the old way, write down the desired price on a piece of paper, then repaid by the seller to write down the price he gave

Ukraine Food Tasting

While down the road along the Daugava River, we reached the central market Riga, Centralirgus. From a distance, the shape of the market building was a bit odd, has a ceiling high enough. I missed surprise when my friend explained that the market occupies a former airplane hangar.

Here are sold fresh fruit and vegetables sold on a wooden table. Tea, coffee, and pastries in one block; clothing and accessories, even in the other blocks. Market atmosphere similar to the atmosphere of a wholesale market in Jakarta. Only, the market here is not muddy. I buy an ounce of biscuits and drinks named latsvi, fermented oat using baker’s yeast.

The sun was higher, the air is hotter, and we started to feel hungry. We found a pizza restaurant on the roadside. The place is quite large and crowded. It turns out, not just pizza that is served here. There are a variety of typical food of Eastern Europe, such as alias pelmeny fried dumplings (typical food Ukraine) and borscht (beet soup cold with sour cream).

I ordered a serving of borscht and fries. A bowl of fresh and chilled borscht feels very creamy, suitable eaten while hot air like this.

Important Notes:

  1. Riga is not too big, you can walk to enjoy the beauty of the city. Can also get around the city by bike. In some parts of the city, there are many bike rental places. You just put a coin in the machine at the rental facility. Once completed, you are free to return at a bike rental place anywhere.
  2. Riga also has some public transportation, such as trams, buses, and subways. Get tickets for trams and buses, complete with a map of the track at various kiosks throughout Riga, or at the Riga Central Station which is located not far from the main market. One-way ticket is 0.40 lats.
  3. The cost of a three star hotel in Riga ranging from $ 30
  4. Even if already a member of the European Union, Latvia retains its own currency, the lats
  5. The price of food is cheap. You just spent 10 lats for serving lunch.
  6. Jewelry amber you can buy at prices starting at 10 lats. Provide cash in an amount sufficient, because it is rather difficult to find stores that accept credit cards





This entry was posted in Latvia.