‘Alles ist eine Frage der Haltung’ – Tollwood Festival!

Alles is eine Frage der Haltung! 

It’s all a matter of attitude!

Tollwood Christmas market was my favourite part of Christmas in Munich and now summer has rolled around, I’m lucky enough to be able to say that the 25 day summer Tollwood festival is happening right in my back garden – the Olympic Park.

In my eyes, the festival is nothing short of incredible.  Tollwood is a forum for environmental conciousness and a platform for many other social campaigns. Through being so mulicultural it promotes tolerance, internationality and openness.  Although Munich is a big city – it doesn’t always feel multicultural in comparison to cities like Berlin.  Hearing any other language than German on the train is very rare so it’s great to see Tollwood promote so many other cultures in this festival.

Tollwood also campaigns for an end to intensive animal farming.  We saw this yesterday whilst wandering around the Markt für Ideen (Market of ideas):

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Giant breathing bratwurts in pig cages.

There are so many different types of food and countless food vans serving every type of cuisine from every corner of the globe.  That’s already cool in itself – what’s even cooler is that all of the food on offer at Tollwood is Bio (organic)-cerfitied. Even the beer is organic. Chinese, Bavarian, Turkish, Indian.. all the food is there! I personally enjoyed some crepes and vegan ice-cream made only from cashew nuts, strawberries and dates.

Also, more than 70% of the events are free of charge!  It’s such a cool day/night out and we saw some amazing performances completely for free.

I dare anyone to visit Tollwood and not be transported into the best mood – you just feel as though you are celebrating the very vitality of life when you are there. There’s such a buzz and every corner you turn you see something different- from giant people dressed as birds to break-dancers to indian drumming groups.

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‘You’re right.. But I like my opinion better.’
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If anyone has any idea as to what this might mean please enlighten me.

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Sometimes hippy-ish events like these can sort of feel like they are trying too hard.  It’s hard to explain but you know what I mean – like they are doing everything they can to be different and to superficially care about charities and the environment.  But it’s different at Tollwood.  It is so relaxed and you can see every type of person there having fun – from young kids to old Bavarian men and women.  It’s not an alternative crowd – it’s totally mainstream and everyone fits in. It’s anything but try-hard and you just get the feeling that the organisers of this amazing festival really actually do care. You don’t have to dress a certain way to feel accepted or cool here.

I see countless blog posts all about ‘how to fit in in Berlin’ or ‘how to act like a Berliner’ and the posts then begin to set out how you should wear mainly black, listen to techno music, become a vegan etc etc. You have to try so hard to be not mainstream that in actual fact you end up the same as everyone else. In my eyes, Munich as a whole just isn’t like that. You can do whatever you want and feel normal.  And Tollwood festival embodies this!

Tollwood’s social committment is so refreshing and just wandering around the festival for a few hours will thoroughly renew your faith in the human kind. 

If after watching the news in the recent weeks and seeing all of the horrendous things happening, you’re suffering from any sort of Weltschmerz (a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness) then a trip to Tollwood is what I would prescribe. Get down to the Olympic Park for a yoga massage, a colourful braid in your hair, an organic Thai meal, a refreshing beer, a music show, a glass of Prosecco, or some Indian dancing…. The list could go on and on and on!

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Eintritt Frei! Free entrance to most of the events.
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‘Green energy only here’

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I really believe that Munich doesn’t get enough credit for stuff like this – as it is so prosperous and expensive, it is often seen as a stuck up and conservative city but I haven’t experienced that at all.  Tollwood feels so effortless and just adds to what Munich has to offer – other than Tollwood, this weekend the Olympic park has seen the Munich Mash event as well which involved an international BMX tricks competition and bike polo matches as well as a huge inner-city waterslide! I’ve also tried slacklining (like tight-rope walking) and watched some cool stand-up paddle boarding and trampolining. I don’t think I even need to go into how hard it has been to revise….

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Denn Kultur, Lebensfreude und Engagement für eine bessere Zukunft sind eine Frage der Haltung – der eines jeden Einzelnen.

“Because culture, joie de vivre and commitment to a better future are a matter of attitude and everybody is responsible.”

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On my unreasonable expectations of revision.

Distractions tend to fire at me from every angle during revision time – and this exam season, I am especially unarmed.

I know that one of my more dilligent and hard-working past selves would be disappointed in me right now but I’d like to think that future selves will be proud of me.

My confidence in my classes has definitely reached a high – I even asked the visiting (very attractive) Bürgermeister (mayor) a question in my lecture hall today (and no.. it was not ‘will you marry me?’ although that was the main question running through my mind).  It’s crazy to me because I know that 6 months ago, I never would have had the courage to do that.  You don’t really tend to notice that you are getting better at something until moments like these, the imrpovements only really manifest themselves in your head in retrospect. I remember being 17 and too nervous to phone people, like calling up the doctor to make an appointment or whatever.. and now I can speak out in a lecture theatre in a different language.  I’d like to think that small accomplishments like this tend to have the same weighting in defining our success in the same way that the big, obvious ones do, like exam results.

So this is why I am trying my best to sweep away these unreasonable expectations of revision.  I am trying to look at my year abroad as a series of small, personal achievements (with a side-order of embarrassing moments.)

For example, I’ve managed to control cravings and maintain a dairy-free diet for a prolonged amount of time.  And let me tell you, the land of no milk and honey isn’t all that bad. I’d also like to think that suffering through my first ever flu without a caring mother or father bringing me toast and lemsips was a huge achievement in itself! I will never forget the feeling of HEALTH after being eight days bedbound.  I naturally sprung up and embarked on a shopping spree which I have lived to regret. But I was celebrating my leap into adulthood (as surviving the flu definitely makes you an adult) and a girl gotta do what a girl gotta do.

And a girl gotta.. take lots of breaks.  I full believe that the time spent not studying is just as beneficial as the time spent studying during this time of year.

I’ll be honest – I’m writing this post to give myself a little boost.  To remind myself that everything will turn out for the best.  Mainly due to the sad fact that I have been revising for my Europarecht exam and so have been learning some set phrases that I found in a textbook for use in the exam.. after a few hours of this I suddenly realised that said textbook was actually written by my professor and that I could not use any of the phrases I had just memorised for the past few hours without my professor thinking that I am actually crazy repeating his own work to him.  Ooops. Lesson learned anyway.

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Aperol Spritz is a German/Italian beverage that is extremely tasty (and visually great)

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Education is great.  And it is great in Germany, in the best University in the country (and no.. not only due to the fact that it serves beer in the student cafes and study spaces). Germany really gets education – I mean they even were one of the first countries in the world to introduce compulsory (and free) primary education in the late 18th century. Sometimes studying law in the German language seems no more than a series of “je ne sais pa”s.. but I am really thankful that I have been given this opportunity. And in any case, we are all just daft people learning to be less daft. Even though it may seem like a struggle right now, it is manageable.

On another note, it is set to be 29 degrees this week and I usually turn into a swollen dehydrated slug type creature in this sort of heat so I better try and get some sleep now. Revision ramble over and out!

Lake Garda’s Lure

Land of sunshine and wine, I discovered last weekend that Italy seem to have it sorted.

On the bank holiday weekend last week (hold on.. is every weekened in Bavaria a bank holiday weekend?) we packed our rubber rings and our suncream into our Skoda Superb (yes.. we were the coolest kids on the Autobahn) and embarked on the road trip from Munich to Lake Garda in Northern Italy.

There were a few obstacles to this trip by road, namley having the ‘avoid Autobahns’ setting turned on on the Sat Nav, not realising, and adding a good few extra hours onto the 30 degree heat journey in a black car. However, due to this pesky setting we did end up taking a mountain side tour of Austria (this invloved lots of ‘heart-in-throat’ and ‘hanging-on-for-dear-life’ moments on my part caused by some rational vertigo and a lack of crash barriers). During this scary mountain goat drive we were forced to take an hour break in a mountain side town to let the Pfingst parade (pentecost) go past. It was a strange experience and I personally thought that we had landed ourselves on an episode of Derren Brown and that we would never get out alive. However, we did and there’s nothing like a roadtrip that can bring you closer to friends – 5 people squished into a car and 5 hours of conversation.

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Parade in Austria that caused the traffic jam

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Situated between Milan and Venice, Lake Garda itself is spectacularly beautiful. With a dramatic mountainous backdrop and clear blue water, you can see why it was a favourite destination of the famous German poet Goethe. The sheer size of the lake is breathtaking – it is 160km around and at 17km wide you really feel like you’re in the ocean (hence why I refused to jump off of our hire boat as I couldn’t shake my inherrent irrational fear of sharks).

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Our Ait BNB house was huge! The balcony went all the way around the house!

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The hire boat in itself is a story.  We, despite having no experience whatsoever, decided we would like to get further out into the lake and hire a boat.  It went a little bit like this:

Boat hire man:  Ok girls! This is your boat.

Emma: Emm. Ok.. Do you need our details or anything?

Boat hire man: Emm ok .. first name?

Emma: Emma

Boat hire man: Ok great Anna!  This is how you go forward, this is how you go back, please bring the boat back with a full tank of petrol, the petrol station is over there *waves vaguely out to one side of the lake*.  Off you go!

As you may be able to tell already, this did not go as smoothly as planned.  After attempting to get out of the harbour and doing some crazy out of control donuts which involved a lot of screaming and getting beeped at by a huge passenger ferry, we managed to sort-of learn how to work the thing.  Filling up the fuel was a ridiculous task, it turns out that reversing into a lake side fuel station apparently isn’t that easy!

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I caught the whole reversing into the petrol station disaster on video.

The trip involved lots of red wine and lots of good bread. We found the Italians to be wonderfully friendly even although our Italian was more a mixture of French and Spanish with a hint of Robert di Niro. On our last night we enjoyed some cocktails by the lakeside and the owner of the bar kept pouring Peach Schnapps into our cocktails and exclaiming ‘Salute!” while we tried to sip our now- confused Mojitos without grimacing. Not the cultural highlight of the trip but a highlight nonetheless.

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Our house in Italy.

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I think it is impossible to visit Italy and not fall in love with the culture and the mentality. The Italian people are the most chilled and relaxed people I have ever come across. Choosing between pasta or pizza at a restaraunt was the most stressful thing I endured all weekend.

Plus, Antipasto is a way of life.  Italy,  I’ll be back!

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