Lederhosen dan Dirndl: Bavaria, Yunani, dan Bergkirchweih

Pagi itu aku mendapat kejutan. Ritualku masih sama: tapping ID card, membuka pintu anteroom, lalu segera mengenakan lab coatgoggles, booties, dan nitrile gloves, dengan urutan yang sama persis seperti yang kusebutkan. Saat aku melangkah masuk ke dalam lab (yang merupakan clean room, itulah alasan mengapa aku harus mengenakan semua ‘perangkat’ tersebut), aku disambut wajah yang asing.

“Titan, perkenalkan. Dia temanku, kami bertemu di salah satu konferensi. Saat ini dia riset di Harvard, tetapi dia meraih PhD-nya di Jerman,” kata postdoc di labku memperkenalkan kami berdua. Bisa kulihat gurat seriusnya: kacamata, berjambang dan berkumis tipis, serta rambut yang sedikit gondrong. Dia juga mengenakan visitor lab coat yang terlihat sedikit kekecilan di badannya.

“Wah, salam kenal. Saya Titan, first year graduate student di sini. Wah, Jermannya dulu di mana?”

“Salam kenal. Dulu saya di Erlangen,” jawabnya dengan aksen Amerika Latin campur Jerman yang kental.

“Erlangen? Saya pernah ke sana!”

“Wah, kerja bareng professor siapa?”

“Oh, saya mengunjungi teman saya di sana saat musim panas. Saya mampir ke Bergkirchweih juga (festival bir kedua terbesar di Jerman setelah Oktoberfest).”

Postdoc lalu memotong, “Oke, jadi X akan melihat proses kita membuat solar cell devices hari ini. Aku akan mempersiapkan larutannya terlebih dahulu. Bisa tolong kamu bawa dia keliling lab untuk tur?” yang kujawab dengan anggukan.

Tidak kuketahui saat itu, ada diskusi panjang yang menunggu mengenai sejarah Jerman bersama dia.

Continue reading “Lederhosen dan Dirndl: Bavaria, Yunani, dan Bergkirchweih”

The Man in the High Castle

Salah satu keuntungan memiliki .edu e-mail, tentu saja adalah langganan Amazon Prime sebagai student gratis selama 6 bulan. Baru-baru ini, Amazon Prime juga menambah fitur bagi para penggunanya: kini kita bisa mengakses beberapa film dan TV shows secara gratis, sebagai anggota Amazon Prime. Bahkan, menyaingi Netflix, YouTube Red, dan televisi konvensional, Amazon juga merilis TV shows mereka sendiri.

Salah satunya, adalah The Man in the High Castle.

Diangkat dari novel yang ditulis Philip Dick, yang dipublikasikan pertama kali tahun 1963, TMIHC (The Man in the High Castle) bercerita tentang dunia distopis, di mana Jepang dan Jerman memenangkan Perang Dunia II. Amerika pun terbagi dua: east coast yang lebih dekat ke Eropa dikuasai Jerman, sedangkan west coast yang lebih dekat ke Asia dikuasai Jepang.

Satu hal yang sangat mencolok: bendera Amerika Serikat dengan swastikanya, terlihat di mana-mana di TMIHC. Dan tentu saja, bumbu cinta segitiga antara satu wanita dengan dua pria dengan latar belakang berbeda: yang satu punya kedudukan di Partai Nazi, yang lainnya masih berdarah Yahudi. Ah.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle”

Birmingham: Frankfurt German Christmas Market

I really wanted to go to Pasar Seni ITB 2014 (Art Market held by my friends’ university, Bandung Institute of Technology) this Sunday. It happens every four years, and my friends this year are participating in the committee. Ami, my middle school friend, even told me, “I haven’t slept for three days, and I haven’t come home for the past one week. I even brought a sleeping bag to campus.”

So, you can imagine how much I wanna be there, right? And I had a rough week, as you can see from previous post, haha. Gawat, lama-lama ketahuan state of mind-ku berdasarkan tulisanku, haha.

I decided to go to Birmingham, to one of the biggest Christmas Market in the world, outside Germany of course (because that’s where the Christmas Market tradition comes from).

Toys! Nutcrackers! Haribo! Wine! Bratwurst! Schokolade! 

I felt like I entered a time machine (or pintu ke mana sajanya Doraemon), and went back to Germany.

Although it took me about three hours by train from Cambridge (and another three-hour train ride to go back), and the ticket was still expensive after the railcard discount, it was definitely worth it.

Merry-go-round Christmas edition.
Beautiful decoration.
And Ferris wheel, as well. At the back, there is also an outdoor ice skating rink. I’m wondering why they’re having it, because it must be really hard to maintain. Especially, since the weather is still above 10 degrees Celsius.
Frankfurt German Christmas Market. You can also see what kind of beer/ wine they have.
People drinking mulled wine, hot chocolate, or earting bratwurst/ potatoes.
The atmosphere of the market in the morning. See, how colorful it is?
My favorite: Lebkuchen (Love Cookie?). It says, “Ich liebe dich,” or “Herzlichen Gluckwunsch.” This time, they have some statements in English, like, “I love you.” I wanted to try one (since past summer), but don’t think can finish one by myself. Maybe I should find someone to buy the cookie, and share it with me, haha.
Birmingham City Library. This is really pretty, isn’t it?
There were so many things there: from arts and crafts, toys, to different types of foods which remind me of Germany. There were even some wafers from Edeka (a supermarket chain in Germany)! It was sold for 5 Pounds, though; last summer, I got it for only about 1 Euro. So expensive.
The beer/ wine glasses can be brought home, just like in a typical beer festival in Germany. I really want to get the glass, because it’s a good souvenir. But, should I just throw away the beer/ wine? Nope. Not a good idea. 
I got Kartoffeln und Champignon, (potatoes and mushrooms) with garlic sauce, which was pretty good. There were also some chocolate-covered-marshmallows, and even chocolate fountain for fondue. There were also some halal foods. Yup, one thing that I noticed when I walked around Birmingham, there were so many Muslim women who wore hijab!
I think, one thing that I haven’t seen before was tool-shaped chocolates, such as wrench, scissors, or hammer. I am wondering where this idea came from.
Another weird food that they sold there: Jack Daniel’s onion with ostrich burger. Or Baileys hot chocolate. I can never imagine how these taste like.
There were also so many cool things which you can buy as Christmas presents. Like leather gloves, or Christmas lights, but with little angels in each of the little lamp. Or maybe a sketch of Birmingham landscapes, or aromatic incense sticks.
When my friends who study in Germany tell me about how cool a Christmas Market is, I think, I can understand it now. Maybe next time, I will visit the real German Christmas Market in Germany. Also other interesting cultural things around Europe. Or around the world. I hope I will have a chance to do so, because it is just amazing to see how different or similar human beings are around the world. Don’t you think so?

DAAD-RISE Scholars Meeting in Heidelberg

On Thursday, July 3rd, I went to Heidelberg to attend the DAAD-RISE Scholars Meeting for 3 days and 2 nights. What is DAAD-RISE? As I have told you in previous post, it’s a research internship program in science and engineering in Germany, for American, Canadian, and British college students.

Heidelberg, is a beautiful city in Baden-Württemberg, a state located in southern Germany. So, as you can see, it’s a long way to get there since Bremen is in up north of Germany.

The schedule is pretty packed. We had a welcome meeting in Alte Aula Heidelberg, the oldest hall in University of Heidelberg. Do you know that this university is the oldest one in Germany?

I know, the picture is not super nice, I’m sorry.
A better picture! Thanks to Daniela Wiesen!

It was amazing to see all passionate young scientists and engineers from all over the world (yes, I realized there was a high number of international students, too), and discussed about the project they were working on, or how their colleges were.

I didn’t expect that people would be so surprised when I told them that I go to MIT, though.

I think this was my first time having a name tag with MIT name attached to it.

There was a brewery banquet, with a really nice wine (that’s what I heard from the others), and a nice main dish.

Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg, photo by Daniela Wiesen.

However, since I was fasting for Ramadan on that day, I got a takeout for my main dish and decided to explore the town!

Yes, Heidelberg is full of little hills, unlike other German towns which are pretty ‘flat’. On picture: Schloss Heidelberg, the castle that I visited the day after!
Heidelberg also has a river, called Neckar, that goes through the town. What is so amazing, there is a big park along the river where people could just chill, do barbeque, play beach volleyball, among other things.

The day after, we had different presentations from companies, and Master/ PhD programs in Germany, which was really interesting, and eye-opening. There are so many opportunities to study or work in Germany. There was a little ‘career fair’ as well, but it was less intimidating than the career fair I attended in Fall semester on campus. You should check DAAD website to know more about study, research, and work opportunities in Germany!

Less intimidating career fair. Photo by Daniela Wiesen.

In the afternoon, we got a chance to explore Heidelberg deeper, and with a tour guide. I usually don’t want to pay for one, because I would rather get a kugel of eis, instead, haha. I really liked my tour guide, she knew every little thing about Heidelberg and history pretty well.

One of catholic churches in Heidelberg. Do you know what is interesting? Yes, its color! It’s bright white, which is uncommon for catholic churches in Europe.
To the old bridge that crosses Neckar. 
More Neckar!
Schloss Heidelberg! It was a wedding present from a prince to a princess. They got married when they were 16.
From Heidelberg Schloss, you can see beautiful Heidelberg!
Giant wine barrel inside the Schloss.

On the evening, there was a game between Germany and France, and it was really interesting. I didn’t watch it, though, I was too exhausted from the tour (it was 31 degrees Celsius!), so I decided to take a nap, haha.

We had a barbeque after the game, and a little party to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of DAAD-RISE program. The beverages were free-flow, including beer and soft drinks. So, past ten, I could see some people turning red and getting drunk. Not really cool, but that happened. Germany is known for beer and wurst, but if you drink, that doesn’t mean you can drink as much as you want to ‘immerse’ yourself in a new culture, right? Just my two cents.

10 years of DAAD RISE Program! Photo by Daniela Wiesen.

I noticed one thing, though. The apple juice in Germany is carbonated, meaning, it’s like a soft drink. I have tried to distance myself from soft drink, but I failed because of the apple juice. Not only apple juice, they also have carbonated water (aka. sparkling water), and I find it really strange.

On the last day, after we checked out the hostel, we went to the university to hear presentations from our fellow scholars about their research projects. They seemed to do cool things, and I was inspired by them so much! From an origami concrete building (civil engineering project, you can fold your concrete!), to nanocapsules for targeted drug delivery applications; I felt like I was nothing compared to them.

We also took a giant group picture…

Guess where I am! Photo by Daniela Wiesen.

I have few weeks left in Germany, and I will do my best in my research project. Auf wiedersehen, Heidelberg and DAAD-RISE friends, until next time!

Cologne Is Not Only About the Dom!

Köln Hauptbahnhof

Have you ever wondered where does Eau de Cologne term come from? Or, have you thought that this term is related to a town named Cologne in Germany, but you are not sure? Well, I am going to explain it to you in details on this blog post! 🙂

Ok, this is totally random, but as you can see from the picture above, it was my first time riding on an EC (EuroCity) train, it was a Swiss train, SBB CFF FFS. When you saw the name of the railway company for the first time, you might wonder why the name is so long, compared to, for instance, DB (Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company), or SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, the French railway company). SBB CFF FFS, according to Wikipedia, stands for Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (German), Chemins de fer fédéraux suisses (French), Ferrovie federali svizzere (Italian), which are in three out of four official languages in Switzerland. The other language is Romansh, but for some reason they don’t use it on the name.

Your next question might be, why are you in a Swiss train? The train actually goes between Hamburg-Altona (in the northern area of Germany), and goes all the way to Zürich. A long, long way, right? The good thing was, the train was empty until we reached Dortmund and Düsseldorf, so it was really nice.

I love empty train!

Back to Cologne. After I arrived in the main station and grabbed a quick breakfast (yes, I’m one of the people who starts her Ramadan on Sunday), I walked to the biggest cathedral I’ve ever seen so far: Kölner Dom. 

Too bad, some parts are being renovated and the sky is really cloudy, so it doesn’t look that pretty.

It’s always interesting to see what the stained glass explains about ritual/ history.
After looking at the Dom, I walked to Rhine River, which is the most romantic river in Europe, well at least that’s what people said. Maybe because it was cloudy and raining, I thought that Charles River in Boston is still my favorite river ever!
Of course, there are ‘love locks’ along the bridge on this river. If you don’t know why people put locks on the bridge, I will tell you the story behind it. Couples who want to make sure their love last forever, may ‘lock’ their love on the bridge, and throw away the key to the river; so, they cannot ‘unlock’ their love, and their love will last forever.
Overrated Rhine bridge, packed with people. If you see the left part, that’s actually a railway that goes to the central station.
Full of locks. I wonder how much all the locks weigh.  
Anti-mainstream: bike lock.
After that, I walked to the Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum), which was about 20-30 minute walk. When I arrived there, the museum was not open yet, so I needed to wait for 20 minutes. So many people wanted to go to this museum, and the line was really long before the doors were opened.
After that, I indulged myself in the world of chocolate… The God’s food.
Schokoladenmuseum, sponsored by Lindt!
I found Dij Sam Soe in the museum! Hidup rokok Indonesia!
They even have mini size chocolate factory inside the museum.
How they made the chocolate wrapper.

And the robot does the tedious job!

How the chocolate candies evolve (including how the drug store looked like in 1930s -where the chocolates were sold). They were also some old chocolate ads, including the TV commercials, in black and white!
And the real sized purple cow from my favorite chocolate, Milka!
Apparently, Indonesia is also the third biggest producer of cacao, after Ivory Coast and Ghana, but why don’t we have a decent chocolate brand in Indonesia? 
Enough with the chocolate knowledge and sample, I went to the museum store, and I got really excited. It was full of all different kinds of chocolate! Unfortunately, most of them contains alcohol, so I cannot eat it. But I got a really good one, a mango milk chocolate (and I Google Translated the ingredients -no alcohol/ gelatine!). Yum…
My next stop was Farina, Cologne’s Fragrance Museum, the oldest perfume store in the town, where I got a ‘perfume tour’ with a man dressed in 1700 attire. When I walked there, though, it was pouring…
Heumarkt area.
I couldn’t take pictures during the tour, but it was a great tour! I recommend it if you come to Cologne, but you have to book it in advance. 
Farina 1709. The website is: http://farina.eu/.
So, here is the history you’ve been waiting for…
Farina family originally came from Italy, and they settled down in Cologne in 1700. However, for out-of-towners, their job options were limited, so they decided to open a perfume business in 1709. Everything went well, and they had famous customers, like Princess and Princes from all over Europe, also Napoleon! Farina also invented a lighter perfume, because in the past, people tended to use heavy perfume and not showering for months -which made the smell became unbearable. Because of that, Farina’s lighter perfume became a big hit. So, some people tried to take advantage and sold perfumes, with much lower quality, for cheap price using Farina’s name. This was bad for Farina family, because the luxury image of Farina slowly decreased. After 80 year of legal battle, Farina could finally clean its name and be the only one to use ‘Farina’ name. 
What did other perfume makers do? The light perfume was since known as Eau de Cologne, instead of Farina, and it still contains 2%-5% of main ingredients until now.
In the tour, we also saw how the perfume bottles evolve, what the stories behind extracting a certain ingredient, and how Farina had an absolute sense of smell. We even got to see the old machines used to process the perfume, and tried different extracts: from bergamot, sandalwood, mandarin, rose, to jasmine. FYI, jasmine is the hardest one to extract; it can only be extracted before the sunset and only the petal can be used, and you only get 1 kg of jasmine extract from 700 kg of jasmine petals!
Here is the quick recap of my visit in Farina!

Imagining how much a bottle of perfume could cost, I decided to just look around. I still need to survive the next few weeks in Europe before heading home, right? Haha. Luckily, I got a free tester from the man in 18th century attire. Thanks, Farina!

I went back to Hauptbahnhof after that. I was unlucky, my high speed train ICE 1026 was cancelled, so I need to use IC instead, even though it was the first class. At least, I still arrived on time in Bremen and got to go to the market and bought groceries.

Next week, I am going to Heidelberg for my DAAD-RISE Scholars meeting/ DAAD-RISE, again, is the program that I am doing now, which basically sends students from the US, the UK, and Canada, to do a research internship in Science and Engineering in Germany. Hopefully you are as excited as I am to hear my next story.

On a side note, Ramadan has started, and I have to fast for about 20 hours, the longest one I’ve ever had in my life. Insha Allah, it’s going to be fine and I can divide my time wisely. Ramadan Kareem everyone! 🙂

Berlin and Its Long History

I had a chance to go for a day trip to Berlin last weekend, which I kind of regretted it. I am telling you, no one could explore the whole Berlin in one day, the city just offers too many different things, and they are all amazing.

So, I booked the train ticket to Berlin and I was lucky to get a promo ticket for one way (with ICE, the German high speed train!), and get a reduced price ticket for coming back (thanks to BahnCard!).

I woke up really early that day, and it was not good since I went to bed really late the night before to watch Korean drama. I know, it is a bad habit, but I just cannot stop doing it when I found VPN working and I could use my Dramafever account, haha. The weather on that day was not so great, either. It was drizzling, and really cold for summer weather.

Nevertheless, when I arrived, I could tell right away that Berlin is a ‘heavy’ city, compared to other German cities. It bears so much history, hope, and dream. Was it because Germany World Cup match was on the same day? Haha.

My first stop was Museum Island (or, in German, Museuminsel). It’s basically an island with 5 different museums on it. Isn’t it a genius idea, so a tourist doesn’t need to walk too far to go to all the ‘essential’ museums?

The first one, is Pergamon Museum. I never saw people waiting to get into a museum for 1-2 hours before, but it does happen in this museum. Pergamon Museum, is one of the most magnificent museum I’ve ever visited. They basically reconstructed buildings from history in the museum, so people could actually feel how it was to be in that era. They were mostly about Greek, Babylon, and Egyptian history.

I am sorry, my knowledge in history is really limited (I know close to nothing about world history), so I cannot provide you the details about some stuff.

If you go one floor up, there’s also an Islamic Art Museum. It was amazing to actually see Islamic art and how it evolved.

You cannot see the details, but there’s a calligraphy around the shape.

My next stop was Neues Museum. Pergamon Museum was really amazing, that when I entered Neues I was like ‘meh’. However, they had Nefertiti statue (the real one!) and it was amusing to see half of the total guards standing in that room, trying to prevent people from taking pictures. In addition, they also had some creepy Egyptian mummy sarcophagus (which, of course, is real), and other mummy-related things.

Oh, hi, there…

My third stop was Bode Museum, and there were only few people around, which means, this museum is not that popular. Although I went to Museum of Fine Arts in Boston pretty regularly (because it’s free with my student ID), I still don’t know much about fine arts, which is the main thing in this museum. Even though I was just walking around understanding nothing (I need to pay more for the audio guide, unlike in Pergamon), I still enjoyed my visit there. The building, which is basically a castle, was super beautiful.

I was walking on red carpet!

After that, I took the S-bahn and went to Berlin Wall Memorial. Remember that Germany was divided into West Germany and East Germany during Cold War, based on their politics ideology (socialist vs. capitalism)? Yes, you still could see some parts of the wall left in this memorial park.

The victims.

I was really dumbfounded to read the history and walk on this park. Some people who tried to flee to West Berlin was shot dead by the police. Some parts of the wall were built on cemetery ground, and some of the corpses weren’t moved. Crazy, right?

After that, I went to Brandenburg Tor, and Reichstag/ Bundestag. It was really crowded because it’s one of main centers to watch world cup match. I also saw MANY Indonesians. It was really strange to pass by people who talk in my native language, and it was in Berlin, not in Indonesia!

Brandenburg Tor: Berlin’s Icon.
Hyundai sponsored the giant screen for the soccer match that night.
Reichstag. Can you see the dome on top of it? I was going to go there, but the tours were fully booked from last week.

The last, but not the least, I visited Holocaust Memorial. I got goosebumps, when I imagined what happened to the Jews when Hitler tried to wipe them out from the earth.

Each block represents one Jew who was killed/ went missing.
In general, it was a quite interesting piece of art. The height varies, and it felt like I was in a big maze once I was inside.

I didn’t take a picture inside the memorial (the museum? Not quite.) itself. I was so focused to hear, read the stories. A quote on the wall was really intriguing to me, but I don’t remember who said it. It was more or less like, “Why do we need to remember this? Because it happened once, and there is no reason that it won’t happen again.” A really deep quote, which reminds me the importance of understanding history (not just ‘knowing’ it on the surface).

After a high dosage of history and museum, I was strolling around the city and observed how Berliners looked like. Too bad, as far as I could tell, there were more tourists than the residents themselves.

When I hopped on the train to go back, I promised myself to go back to this city at some point, and learned more about its deep history. The weather just got better once I left Berlin 😦

View from the train.

Until next time, Berlin Hauptbahnhof!

The most modern train station I’ve ever seen so far in Germany.

Erlangen and Nuremberg: Friends, Toys, and Beers

Hello! I am going to tell you about my trip to Nuremberg, Erlangen, last weekend. Where are Nuremberg and Erlangen? They are located in the south of Germany, in a state called Bavaria/ Bayern (remember Bayern Muenchen?). Why did I decide to spend 2 days in Erlangen and Nuremberg?

Because I had a little reunion with my high school friends (not UWC, but my Indonesian high school).

From left to right: Ivan, me, Fitri, and Anne. Fitri is currently in an exchange program, she originally goes to NUS. Anne is studying in Erlangen, and Ivan is studying in Hannover.

We were actually in the same class in grade tenth, and I haven’t met some of them in the past 3 years. So, it was really great to see them coping with college well and caught up with what’s happening in their lives.

I was staying with Anne overnight (thanks for giving me some space to sleep, Anne!), and she told me about being an international student in Germany. She is studying molecular medicine (so hardcore, right?), and I took a look at her notes and textbooks. Of course, they were in German, and I really admired her for that. English is hard enough for me, but German is a much more difficult language to learn. She also told me, that although the tuition fee is so much lower than most American colleges, she is getting really good education and learns a lot in class. Then, something popped up in my mind, why couldn’t we have that in Indonesia?

They were all having a break for Pentecost last week. So, they all went somewhere to enjoy it. Anne went to Paris, with her friend. She said that they were a lot of ibu-ibu pejabat (governmental officials’ wives?) who went shopping in Paris, and a lot of other Indonesians. Crazy.

Fitri, as an exchange student, has been travelling a lot. She just came back from her adventure to Budapest, Poland, and Italy. One of her trip buddies forgot his passport, and they were having problems to enter different countries. In the end, everything went well (that’s why she was with us, right?), and I saw pictures that she took, they were all amazingly beautiful.

Ivan, also took a trip to Copenhagen, and later he showed me his tickets, passes, and Danish krona. He was also telling us how the train entered a ferry (just like a bus entering a ferry to cross the strait between Java and Bali) to cross the mainland Europe to Denmark. I just couldn’t imagine, how big the ferry was. He also told us how there was a male mermaid statue, how expensive the foods were, and other things.

We also hiked a little bit to a castle in Nuremberg. It was beautiful (and it was my first schloss, too, in Germany). We also got photo bombed by Japanese tourists (and Australian tourists?). I will put the picture up once my friend post it on Facebook, okay?

Here you go! Thanks to Fitri for putting this pic up on Facebook!
The view of Nuremberg from the schloss.
The view of schloss from the road.

Nuremberg in general, is full of old buildings, typical Bavarian buildings.

A small island in Nuremberg, with old looking bridge.

In Nuremberg, there is also a toy museum, or Spielzeugmuseum. It’s not as big as the Maritime museum in Hamburg (9 floors!), but it was quite amazing to see how the toys transformed.

I could actually hear my roommate’s voice criticizing how sexist the old toys were, although she was not there. Yes, this one goes to you, Katie, haha. But, I would agree with her, while the boys could play with all those cool little trains, cars, or machines, the girls played the dolls, mini kitchen ware, or little house with different rooms, ‘to prepare them to be a wife someday’.
What would you like to eat tonight, Sir?
I didn’t realize it before, but Anne told me after I arrived, “There is a beer festival going on in Erlangen. Would you like to see it?” Of course, I would nod. Apparently, this festival was the third biggest one; the first one is of course Oktoberfest. It is called Bergkirchweih festival.
I was initially scared to see so many drunk people holding a 1-liter beer glass and shouting to each other. After a while, I got used to it, and actually tried to immerse myself in that experience.
Like buying ourselves churros. Thanks for the picture, Anne!
How did it look like? As you can see from the picture, there were so many food stands, not only the beer cafe. You cannot see it, but there were also so many theme park rides, like in Dufan, but some of them were more extreme. 
The festival itself lasts for 12 days, and during those days, Erlangen, which is a relatively small town, is filled with twice of its total population. In the first day, I heard that the beer was free-flow, meaning you could drink as much as you want for free. But, apparently, most Germans are really responsible, so they know how much alcohol they can handle, and don’t drink past that tolerance level.
Well, two things for sure, I can never get used to alcohol smell (it was particularly strong in the festival area), and I had a great weekend! 
So, where should I go next week?

Hannover, Germany: A Beautiful Little Town

Hannover, a town close to Bremen and Hamburg, is a part of Niedersachsen area (Lower-Saxony) in Germany. It’s a beautiful and nice city, and a major transit place for trains from Bremen, Hamburg, Munich, and other cities.

I went there last Sunday, so, all the shops and stores are closed, except several restaurants/ food courts/ some stores in Hauptbahnhof. My friend, Ivan, goes to Leibniz Universitat Hannover, studying Electrical Engineering, and he was my tour guide there. Leibniz, as you can recall, was a mathematician, who discovered integration in calculus among other things. His statue, picture, and handwritten notes -of binary numbers, are everywhere in Hannover.
There are two things that I would recommend you to do when you come to Hannover:
  1. Go to the Rathaus, pay for the 2 Euro ticket, and go to the top of the Rathaus using the undeniably scary elevator (the top, bottom, and sides of the elevator are made from glasses, so you can actually see outside; and also, since the tower of the Rathaus is not perfectly straight, you can feel that the elevator shifts to the left and right). After you survive the scary elevator, you can finally see the whole Hannover, 360 degrees!
  2. Go to Herrenhauser, amazing park and garden, that is worth your 5 Euro (if you are a student). Make sure you don’t go there when it’s too warm or too cold, though. I was there when the weather reached 30 degrees Celcius; it was way too warm for me.

Here are the pics from my journey to Hannover last weekend, enjoy!

One side of the views from the tower in Rathaus.
Looking down the Rathaus from the tower.
The Rathaus! Isn’t it beautiful?
Behind the Rathaus, there is a big park and lake. As you can see, on the bridge of the lake, people ‘lock’ their loves to ensure it last forever. Cheesy, isn’t it?
If you keep walking from the park, you can see a bigger river where everyone is just chilling like in the beach. 
Here is Leibniz Universitat Hannover! The building looks cooler than MIT, to be honest.
Grosses Garten, a part of Herrenhausen. HUGE park and garden, you should totally go there!
And the panoramic picture of the garden from the house!
In a part of the garden, there is a little house where all the walls are from pieces of colorful mirror. Isn’t this art piece amazing?
Another favorite park of the garden. It must cost a lot to maintain this garden.
And golden sculpture. Guess, who is this person according to the Greek mythology?
And a part of the building in Herrenhausen. The bigger building is the one where I took my selfie above.
There are actually several parts of the garden, if you go out of this garden, cross the street, you will find another garden with different plant species from all over the world, including green house that keeps several tropical plants (and preserves the humidity as well, which makes me feel like at home due to its humidity).
So, what do you think of Hannover? 

9 Things You Notice When You Come to Germany

Disclaimer: I have only been to Indonesia, United States, Mexico, and Netherlands (well, only Groningen). So, the things that I find interesting/ different, might not be the same with what you think. Also, I’m trying to make the illustrations on this blog post, so I will appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

So, I have been in Germany for about 16 days, and whenever I go out, or travel somewhere, I notice several things that I find ‘so German’. Here is the short list of what makes Germany, Germany, from my point of view.

The first one is bicycle!

Bicycle, bicycle, everywhere. No wonder everyone chooses to use public transportation, bicycle, or walking, because the pedestrian walkway and the bike lane is wide, and comparable to the main street part. They do not only have the traffic lights for pedestrians or cars, but also for the bikers. In addition, the government is really supportive in providing enough bike parking lot, or special bike place in a train for commuting. In some cities, the tourists can also go biking, because they provide bicycle rent (just like Hubway in Boston), without anyone attending it. So, you can just go to a bicycle parking machine, put on some coins, unlock one of the bicycles, stroll around the town using it, and park it back to the other parking machine.

Windmill is the second one.

You can easily spot the windmill when you go on highways, or travelling by train. Germany is one of the countries that do care on converting to renewable energy sources. It is really interesting to see different types of windmill on your way to another town, since they all vary in size, types, and blades.

Still on the same topic of energy: Solar PV is the third one.

Germans are really smart. Although the price of windmill or solar generator are really high, they do subsidize them. In addition, for household solar PV (as you can see above), they have feed-in tariff policy. Basically, when you have excess of electricity from solar PV on your rooftop, you can sell it back to the grid with much higher prices. This is, of course, is a good incentive for people to install solar PV on their rooftop. They will spend less money on buying electricity when their demand is higher than what solar PV can provide, and they get to sell their electricity when their demand is lower than what solar PV can provide. Amazing. Even in the most remote areas, you can still see that several houses have solar PV installed!

‘Beer is so German’, that is why it’s the fourth one!

If it’s a nice day outside, and you walk by the river, you can easily see people drinking beer. While in some countries you cannot drink alcohol until the night comes, alcohol is a part of German culture and daily life. No surprise, when you get invited to a graduation ceremony in the morning, and there are bottles of champagne. Beer is even more special, because there are special beers which are made in specific regions, and become a part of ‘region pride’.

What is really interesting, though, how people drink responsibly (compared to American college students, at least) in Germany. The drinking age in United States is 21, yet you can easily see drunk people on the street at weekend nights. Is it because United States allowing it in older age, thus, people become more tempted to do it, which makes them less likely to drink responsibly? Who knows.

Good transportation system deserves to be the fifth one.

The first time I came to Germany, I was surprised by how good its transportation systems. All the trains look clean and modern, there is clear direction for the tourist in the station, and most of the time, they come on time (the latest the train could come is ~5 minutes for regional train within the city, or ~10 minutes for inter-city train, which don’t happen very often).

Even the land of freedom, United States, cannot beat their trains, subways, trams, and buses. At least in Boston, the subway station sometimes looks sketchy, dirty, and the trams screech loudly. German subways, trains, and trams, on the other hand, move smoothly, and have minimum level of noise.

Murals in Germany are really unexpected to me. So, the sixth one.

Murals, or graffiti is surprisingly common in Germany. On train outer body, on empty houses, on empty walls, you can easily spot on when you are here (especially when you are on the train). They are mostly in English, so you can understand them with no German background. I find it interesting because, Germany, seems to be in order and everything needs to be clean and neat, yet you still can find graffiti in some places.

Old buildings, from church to town hall. Seventh!

Old buildings, are everywhere in Europe. In Germany, though, you always need to visit the church and rathaus (town hall). There is always a set of those in a town in Germany, and you can learn a lot about the town from it.

Besides that, there is always a street where it is full of old buildings, or a university that has existed for hundreds of years. Always a good photo spot, and makes you feel thrown back to the past.

Cigarette is the eighth one.

Cigarettes, just like beers, are also really common. You can see the vending machine easily, and in the supermarket as well. There are also smoking areas (a yellow square in the train station platform) in different places, and the park or the front door of central station smells like cigarettes.

In Indonesia, smoking is even more common, but in the United States, I can barely see more than one person smoking at any time. Maybe because the States has stricter regulation on cigarettes?

Best friend for college students: cheap, fulfilling, and delicious. Doner is the last but not the least!

Doner, or kebab, is a Turkish food that has been assimilated to different countries/ cultures around the world. In Germany, there are so many Turkish immigrants, and they bring this to German culture. It costs about 2-3 Euro, it is really big, and there are some places with halal meat. I am not a big fan of lamb, so I usually get the beef one, because it’s worth the money more than the chicken one, agree?

I don’t think I can survive Germany without doner, haha.

So, those are the nine things you notice when you come to Germany. I also went to Groningen, the Netherlands, and Hannover, Germany, in the past two days, and will make sure to write about those soon! Then, what is your version of the first 9 things you notice when you come to Germany?

Bertekuk Lutut di Hadapan Cantiknya Hamburg

I will post in Indonesian this time, feel free to Google Translate it, haha.

Hamburg adalah kota yang cantik sekali! Hari ini, aku (sendiri, hiks), berjalan-jalan ke Hamburg. Ada banyak kereta dari Bremen Hauptbahnhof menuju Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, yang cukup membutuhkan sekitar 1 jam 15 menit. Karena kali ini aku menggunakan Niedersachsen Ticket, aku cukup membayar 22 Euro, untuk berwisata di daerah Lower Saxony, Hannover, Hamburg, dan Bremen, seharian penuh dengan menggunakan kereta apapun (kecuali ICE dan IC).

Aku bangun pagi, untuk mengejar kereta pukul sembilan pagi. Kereta Metronom, dengan khas double decker-nya, alias kereta tingkat dua, datang tepat waktu. Ratusan orang yang sudah menunggu di luar kereta berdesak-desakan untuk masuk ke dalam, dan mendapatkan kursi di tingkat dua.

Perjalanan satu jam-an menuju Hamburg tidak membosankan, pemandangan berganti-ganti mulai dari daerah Bremen yang padat penduduk, hingga daerah pertanian dan peternakan. Aku bisa melihat sapi-sapi perah itu makan dengan gembira di lahan rumput yang luas. Saat kereta memasuki daerah Hamburg, aku bisa melihat jembatan-jembatan yang menyambungkan bagian-bagian kota, bianglala besar, hingga gedung-gedung tua yang berdampingan dengan pencakar langit.

Hamburg kota kanal.

Selain memiliki sistem transportasi yang luar biasa, Jerman secara umumnya, berhasil memadukan arsitektur kejayaan mereka di masa lampau dengan gedung-gedung terbaru. Hamburg, terutama, benar-benar sukses melakukan hal ini. Kota yang didominasi dengan bangunan dari bata merah ini (red bricks, hampir sama dengan di Boston), tidak terkesan terlalu kuno, karena ada sentuhan-sentuhan modern di tiap tempatnya.

Selain itu, Hamburg memiliki daerah HafenCity, yaitu salah satu proyek besar-besaran swasta yang ingin merombak daerah tertentu di Hamburg agar lebih modern, ramah lingkungan, sesuai dengan kebutuhan manusia urban, dan juga cantik. Jika kamu jalan dari daerah pusat kota menuju HafenCity, kamu bisa merasakan bedanya, karena kamu akan merasa seperti ‘terlempar’ ke dunia yang berbeda.

Daerah tertentu di HafenCity menjadi tempat pelabuhan kapar pesiar, juga tempat pariwisata.

Salah satu pusat perbelanjaan di HafenCity yang memiliki green design. Apakah kamu bisa menlihat lapisan plastik yang menutupi jendela-jendela di gedung itu? Mungkin itu untuk mengatur suhu di dalam bangunan.
Selain ramah lingkungan, daerah ini juga ramah manusia. Benar kata Kang Emil, Walikota Bandung, kota yang sehat bisa ditandai dengan masyarakatnya yang berkumpul di ruang terbuka.
Bagaimana dengan bagian ‘tradisional’ dari Hamburg itu sendiri? Tentu saja tidak kalah cantiknya! Ada banyak kanal, jembatan, town hall yang megah, juga gereja-gereja yang anggun, seperti di kota-kota di Jerman lainnya.

Dan juga air mancurnya -selalu- dengan patung pria/ wanita hampir telanjang bulat.

Aku juga sempat mengunjungi International Maritime Museum, harga tiketnya 9 Euro saja untuk siswa/ mahasiswa. Kukira tempatnya kecil, ternyata seluruh museumnya itu tersebar dari lantai satu hingga lantai sembilan! Ada banyak sekali koleksinya, mulai dari miniatur kapal-kapal, hingga senjata-senjata yang digunakan para bajak laut. Ada pula bagiama riset dilakukan di dalam laut, juga seragam-seragam angkatan laut dari berbagai belahan dunia. Lengkap, pokoknya! Aku menghabiskan sekitar 3 jam di museum satu ini, tetapi sayang sekali, itu pun belum mencukupi, karena aku keburu lelah (dan lapar). Semoga ada waktu lain kali untuk berkunjung ke museum luar biasa satu ini.

Di depan museum internasional maritim, dengan patung mesin motor penggerak kapal. Di sebelah kiri adda anak muda Jerman yang bermain otopet, ada pula temannya yang bermain skateboard. Kedua permainan ini sepertinya benar-benar populer di kalangan mereka. Di tiap taman dan jalan, selalu saja ada yang bermain ini.
Salah satu peta di zaman dahulu yang digunakan para penjelajah. Indonesia mana Indonesia?
Tebak, di manakah bagian dari bola dunia satu ini yang paling sering disentuh?
Perbudakan: beginilah para budak diangkut dari Afrika dulu untuk dijadikan budak di Eropa/ Amerika. Mereka ditumpuk-tumpuk, dibuat berdempetan satu sama lain. Tidak heran, kalau akhirnya banyak dari mereka yang tak mampu bertahan dalam perjalanan di laut yang sangat panjang (bisa mencapai berminggu-minggu).
Satu dari banyak miniatur kapal yang mendetail. Ada ribuan miniatur kapal yang bisa kamu temukan di museum ini!
Pangkat para pelaut dari berbagai belahan dunia.

Dan berbagai pakaian para angkatan laut.
Aku ingin alat ini! Alat untuk menyelamatkan diri dari kapal, semacam tempat duduk dengan roket.. Bisa kamu lihat di pojok kanan atas dari gambar ini bagaimana kursi satu ini digunakan.
Dan tentu saja, favoritku, karena namaku selalu dikaitkan dengan kapal satu ini: Titanic.

Di jalan pun aku menemukan hal yang menarik, tapi entah apa hubungannya. Mungkin mereka semua sebagai kota pelabuhan, adalah sister city.

Yang terakhir, saat aku hendak pulang ke Bremen, aku baru sadar betapa besarnya Hamburg Hauptbahnhof ini…
Abaikan pesan sponsornya.
Selamat berakhir pekan, semoga akhir pekanmu juga penuh dengan petualangan yang menarik, ya!