VTT Postcard - Day 6 AM - St Goar, Rhine Valley, Germany

Monday, February 28, 2011
We got up early on this day to get ready to leave St Goar. Before leaving, TM advised us that some of the shops near the hotel decided to open shop for us (at such an ungodly hour as 7am) so that we could explore what St Goar had to offer.

First up was the beerstein shop that was just next to the hotel. The shop sold beersteins of all shapes and sizes. They even made one up for the Contiki group with all the countries that we were visiting and this beerstein was known as the….Contiki beerstein (what else?) They also sold limited edition Berlin Wall beersteins that had a piece of the wall on its lid.
Berlin Wall beersteins

Girls Talk - Ain't Doing That!

Thursday, February 24, 2011
This week, we touch on the subject of what we are all willing to do for love. Almost every answer would return an "Anything" or "Everything". And that would be it. I suppose it would be a very short post if I told you I would say the same thing.

So I would say the more pertinent question would be what am I not willing to do for love? Here's my tiny 5 of what my hubby probably wished he knew before loving a dynamite like me:

5. Ain't gonna learn to eat funny stuff for you - Nosiree! Sorry but that's definitely out of my list of things to impress. I care about the wellbeing of my stomach too much to just put anything in my mouth. You want a girl who'll eat anything for you, you can probably find her on Survivors or Fear Factor.

Pink Swears I'm F!#king Perfect

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
"Made a wrong turn once or twice
Dug my way out, blood and fire
Bad decisions, that's alright
Welcome to my silly life...."              - Pink, F!#king Perfect

I probably threw a bit of a surprise with the title of this post because I try to never swear these days. But this Pink song came out just in time, and although her song title is a bit "contaminated", I found the song apt to be my birthday anthem for today.

VTT Postcard - Day 5 PM - St. Goar, Rhine Valley, Germany

Monday, February 21, 2011
This was our first step into German soil. We travelled through the Autobahn (as they referred to the German highway) and arrived at St. Goar just before dinner time.

St Goar is located on the Rhine Valley. It is a very quaint and charming place...and was our stop for that night.

We stayed at Hotel Montag St Goar, which was, I believe, a family-run establishment. The rooms were nice and cozy…..and the beds were wooden with foams on top.

After dinner, we went out to a local winery to do wine-tasting. The winery was located down a big basement where the wine-tasting was to be held. There was a long table in the middle of the room, where we could sit and listen to the owner talk about how they harvest wines in the Rhine Valley. We each had a glass tot from which the white wines were poured into. The owner gave a little background to each white wine as they were poured to us.

I am not much of an alcohol drinker. In fact, I have very low tolerance of alcohol. But that night, I managed to down 3 ¼ tot of white wine. Well, okay, I did not realize that I was already drunk until I was, if I am making any sense?

The first 2 tots were sweet and tasted like grape juices to me. I admit, I did not even feel the alcohol hit coming. Only when I drank the 3rd one did I realize that I was already drunk. Hic! But I continued drinking the nicer 3rd wine, something about being made from Ortega grapes.

The 4th tot did not fill the glass at all. It was more like a ¼ tot. We were served ice wines and from what I can remember, apparently these wines were so expensive and very difficult to make as you needed the right conditions to harvest them properly. So we were given a smaller quantity but who cares? Delicious! Hic! again.
I am as red as my handbag. Although drunk, I still had time to smile for the cameras.
Afterwards we went back to the hotel. I tried accessing the internet through the computers that were available at the hotel lobby. It was 1 Euro for 10 minutes. And heck! I had a few coins. Lemme check some emails and Facebook.

That was when I was confronted with the German keyboard. What the…? The y and z were interchanged and I had to key in some funny combination to get the @ in. What a mission! I swear I must’ve spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get my yahoo email address and password in that in the end, I just gave up. I logged onto Facebook (which also took me a few minutes) and decided to email people from there. 5 Euros went down just like that. More importantly, almost an hour for checking emails? You’ve gotta be kidding me.
My nemesis in my drunken state, hehehe....
I complain about this now but it dawned on me as I walked up the stairs to my room that night that maybe I had been a bit too tipsy from all the white wine that I couldn’t type or comprehend what I was typing properly?

I went straight to sleep as soon as I got to my room. And that’s when the bedbugs decided to sleep with me. I did manage to kill the d#*&#!% bug (Sorry, animal cruelty, I did not mean to squash it with my body weight. It was in the way.). And proceeded to sleep peacefully for the rest of the night.

Girls Talk - 45 Sec To A Cheesy Me

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Today at Girls Talk, we look back on the cheesy things we've done when it comes to love. I would say that the cheesiest I've been is singing love songs to my loved ones. :-) It's like a serenade but in reverse. The girl (that's me!) does the singing, complete with guitars and barkada (gang of friends).

As a youngster, I used to love listening to the radio and memorising song lyrics, especially those that have captured my heart. Is it any wonder that I associate love with music?

Novice Blogging - Note #18 (Blog Spin-Off)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Well, it is almost one month since the spin-off to my blog has been up and running. I call it my spin-off because similar to what happens to spin-offs on TV series, my new blogsite was such.

You get something good going (like a TV show) and over a period of time, the storyline starts having a life of their own. You can hardly keep up with your original storyline and then there are the other storylines on the side which you would like to explore. But of course, you don't wanna muddle up the original so you think of a way to explore these other lines. You create a spin-off.

The spin-off is, of course, not to be confused with the soapie. A soapie knows no end and the storyline just keeps piling up on top of one another. A spin-off would have a base from the original but would have its own storyline. The only way to end a soapie would be to get rid of everything...and everyone.

Somehow, I do not like the sound of that for my blog.

So before I go on and on with this analysis, I proudly present to you my new blog, mj dot com the travel edition.

You guessed it! It chronicles my travel experiences of learning different cultures and discovering new places. And before you get the idea that I'm a Lara Croft wannabe. I'm not. Just thought it would be easier for reference and to be organised.

Check it out if you wanna be a fellow traveller on this journey...

VTT Postcard - Day 5 AM - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Monday, February 14, 2011
I woke up early and had breakfast before venturing out into Amsterdam. Our TM took us to the Anne Frank monument and we were able to visit the Anne Frank House, which was just around the corner. I opted to have a look at the place although cameras were not allowed.

Anne Frank was, of course, a young girl who told her tale of being a Jew in hiding during World War II through her diary. She died during this time and her diary was published and became a worldwide success.

The Anne Frank House was a bit depressing although I did enjoy seeing how she lived and how it all turned out in the end. I have not read her diary but will probably put it on my list of to-read.

After touring the house, I tried to find the way through the city centre. I wanted to shop for a souvenir but everything turned out to be too expensive in Amsterdam. I eventually found a clothing store that had a sale and picked up a much thicker jacket in the process. I also ended up buying just a fridge magnet for a souvenir of Amsterdam.

Being in Amsterdam made me feel very European. The houses, the bridges, the streets, the river, the whole feel…..It seemed as if I’ve just stepped into a 500-piece puzzle picture!

There was also a photo op when I found the letters I AMSTERDAM, but I was running a bit late and couldn’t find the Contiki meeting place so I couldn’t stop long to take more photos.

I had to ask a Dutch if I was in the right direction. A lot of hand signals and pointing went up the air as we battled to communicate fully in English.

Turned out I was not that late after all. I still had a moment to take in some river air while we waited for the others in our group.

Then we left for St Goar.

Embrace The Camera - Swimming Lesson

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Daddy decided to treat youngest to a swimming lesson this past weekend. So off we went to the gym for a free swim in their pool. Mommy stayed dry to take the picture, of course.
I am so scared of the water!
I don't know how much she learnt considering she has always been afraid of water. But my youngest has come a long way. Hopefully she will be treated to another swimming lesson this coming weekend again.

My share for Embrace The Camera this week.

You Know You're A Rookie Mom When You....

....still get fascinated by baby albums!

Aaah, this happened many, many moons ago, probably around 14 years.

As a first time mom to my then-newborn, I was really excited to have bought my very first baby album for her. I had so many dreams of having fun times with her, fulfilling her milestones and capturing the moment, recording her first this and first that. So it went on and on...

Girls Talk - Courage In Love

Today at Girls Talk we share our stories of being courageous in the name of love. And to tell the truth, this topic has got me stumped. I must admit that being courageous has never really been part of my gene pool. And all for love...what's that? LOL.

Anyway, best I come up with something or I will just ramble on this post....

The most courageous act of love that I have done (and that I can think of) is that at a slightly youngish age (I don't think I wanna mention the figure here), I got married. A life-changing decision. One that could have turned out either way. The risks of the marriage not turning out well were quite high and most of my side of the family were against it.

Suffice it to say that naysayers predicted the union would never last.

So 15 years down the line, here we are, still at it. The marriage has its ups and downs, of course. But every single day that I wake up still next to my man, I feel that I am taking that courageous leap of faith all over again. Hmmm....how far is it still to forever? :-)

This is my share for this week. Join us.

Weighin In: Going Nowhere Slowly

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
It's been a while since my last post about weighing in. Of course, I'd like to blame it on the past holiday season to say that I have been away and had not been able to report back on anything. But the truth is, the past holiday season had only heightened the fact that I can report nothing back because nothing has happened. Nothing has changed between then and now. This year will be another year to try and be successful at losing some weight.

Not that I've gotten fat (or to rephrase, I meant I am not fatter than what I was). It was just that I thought going on a 2-week tour would help me with losing weight because it would lessen my time to think about food and I would be thinking about seeing new places instead.

But as I came back and weighed myself, the weight stayed the same. I'm not totally freaked out because people usually gain weight around this time and I am lucky (?) that I have not gained anything at all. But I am a bit frustrated. Still.

I expect too much of myself I suppose and there's just a lot of stuff happening right now that I am not focused enough with this whole weight loss thing. I eat too much. I eat the wrong things. I don't move enough. I don't move at all. I think about it too much.

Plus I saw some headers on the Yahoo News about some bloggers who have blogged about how they have lost weight. In a year. I'd like to do that too. OMG! Does this mean I do not have any willpower? Where do I find one of those fast?

Honestly, I don't have much to lose. I am only off my goal weight by about 9kgs. But if I lose 5kgs, it would be great already.

So I have to just find some willpower magic dust somewhere to push myself.

Went back to the gym last weekend and my bum is aching. I suppose that's a good sign now....

A Day In The Park Of Gold Reef City

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
For youngest's 7th birthday last December, we decided to take her to Gold Reef City Theme Park.

Gold Reef City is located in Johannesburg and is famous for being an amusement park. They also have a casino and hotel, which is situated just across the street from the theme park.

Entrance was R470 (roughly $67) for a family of 4, consisting of 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 17.

We had loads of fun riding the rides and going around the park. We even watched some short movies in the park's 4D Theatre, which I believe is the only one in South Africa. There was a bit of a crowd the day we visited and so we did not get to ride and do all the things that were available in the park.

It was my youngest's first time and I'm sure it won't be her last. We have already promised her that we would have to go back as there were some rides that she could not go on (because she was too young and short).

I shall leave it here and share a moment when youngest and I rode the Shongololo (Caterpillar). I was teaching her the proper way to scream. After all, this is still the best way to show that you are really enjoying the ride.

Looks like mommy is more scared than youngest, hahaha...

VTT Postcard - Day 4 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Monday, February 7, 2011
Warning: Some adult material but luckily no photos to go with. What did you expect of Amsterdam anyway?

Official Day 1 of the tour.

I woke up very, very, very early to meet the Contiki crew downstairs in the hotel lobby. Still had no word about my luggage and so I was definitely starting the tour with just me, myself….and some “I love London” shirts.

My poor excuse for a luggage was weighed in. I was well within the weight limit (surprise, surprise!). There were 3 tours leaving that day and after figuring out which group I was on, proceeded to board the bus (or coach, as they referred it).

When everyone was on, our tour manager (TM) introduced himself and commented that in all his years of Contiki, this was the first time that he’s ever had so little people in the bus. Our group should be around 51 people but at that moment in time, we did not even equate to 20. A lot of them were unable to get into London because of the weather (did I not mention that I was lucky to be in London?). They will try and join us along the way.

We travelled a bit and got to Dover around 9ish (British time). Our coach boarded the ferry and we were allowed to do some ferry shopping and dining. I walked around the shop a bit, looking for some medicine for my aching knee (something like Deep Heat rubs). And then went onto the massive dining area. Queues were long but I stayed on one and managed to get brunch (breakfast, lunch). Around 1ish (French time) we were called back to the coach as we’d arrived in Calais, France!

The rest of the trip was kinda uninteresting except for the fact that we were going through 4 countries in one day (UK, France, Belgium, The Netherlands). We were supposed to reach Amsterdam by 6pm so that we could go on the river cruise but we were heavily delayed by peak hour traffic (would you believe?). So the cruise was scrapped and we had dinner at the hotel before going out for the night.

Our hotel in Amsterdam was called the Nieuw Slotania Hotel. Again, not the very best but I suppose since we were staying only for a night, it was adequate.

The bus dropped us off in the middle of town and our TM took us to “that coffee shop which will not be named”. Coffee shops in Amsterdam mean something else, of course. They do not serve coffee. If you are looking for coffee, then you must mean caf├ęs. They are not to be confused as you will probably end up being served the wrong thing if you go into the wrong place. Personally, as it did not interest me very much, I did not even attempt to go into such places.

Next, our TM took us to the Red Light District, where sex-oriented businesses operated. No cameras allowed in this area. The walk was a real eye-opener. Of course, before arriving in Amsterdam, I already knew of its liberating culture. But seeing all of it in action was something quite different. We were treated to a “cultural” show, of which I thought was nothing more than an advanced strip show. We stayed for an hour and left.

The night ended around midnight for me as I got back to the hotel after the show.

My Kids Learn About....Cabbage Breasts?!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This bubbled speech conversation that really happened sometime last week was brought to you by Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop prompt #3: Describe the last thing that made you laugh really hard.

Girls Talk - Stupid Acts Of Love

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
This is my first for the year for Girls Talk. I have been in hiatus from most memes since I've come back from vacation last month, and still trying to return into the thick of things. Here's hoping I haven't lost my blogging mojo :-)

Today's topic is the stupidest thing I've done for love. I am unsure how to write for this topic as I am pretty sure I've never done anything that stupid for love (wink, wink) other than marry young. And even then, I don't consider it stupid, I was just....ahead of my time. Anyway, I will try and jog my brain and just write about something that comes to mind. Not the stupidest, but it will be close, because I remembered it.


Novice Blogging #17 (Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition)

Hah! Move that bus! Reveal my new look!

Celebrating February, my birth month, I introduce you guys to the newly designed "mj dot com".

Just like Ty Pennington and the gang, I managed to do the extreme makeover in a week, 7 days to be exact. Okay, well, actually, it is only the blog template that has changed. As previously posted, I've decided to overhaul the designs in this place as it was starting to become ho-hum boring.

Wishfully Thought-Out Route

Tuesday, February 1, 2011
What with everything that's going on with the roads of Johannesburg, where one has to:

a.) dodge potholes
b.) avoid accidents
c.) suffer traffic
d.) endure bad and speed driving
e.) clairvoyantly predict which traffic lights are not working

It is always nice to wish for a clear, safer and simpler route.....like this.