We sang, we traveled, we ate. This is how we conquered Europe for the first time as husband and wife.
We got to do it for almost a month. And even if we were traveling with a group, we cannot miss the chance to go out on a just-us date. So, on that one free night in Cologne, Germany, before we head to Spain, we had our first European date.
We strolled along the cold streets, looking for a perfect place for that first European date, and ended up in a cozy bar just across Cologne Cathedral.
Funkhaus is the restaurant on the building of the WDR Funkhaus, the radio broadcast center, which is important in Cologne’s history.
Next, what to eat?
Eat local, but don’t splurge. That has been our eating out mantra. So, we settled with currywurst and Kölsch (Cologne brewed beer).
We learned about the beer from our hosts in Weroth, and they were right, it tastes good! Not a beer fan here, but this one is worth the try.
Spent precious moments here, but not for long. We had to walk back to the hostel to catch our early morning flight. And did I say it was freezing cold that night? And that we were walking by the River Rhine? There you go.
This date is definitely one for the books! We are just beyond grateful to have experienced this, and so much more, while celebrating a special milestone in our married life, and traveling with a choral group we consider family.
If I were to sum up the past ten years of being married to the love of my life, only one word comes to mind: GRATEFUL.
That my husband and I are stronger together, and we’ve proven it to each other and to other people many times already.
That we have a home we can call our own.
That we hurdle life’s challenges together, big or small.
That our witnesses stand true to their roles as second parents (sadly, we unexpectedly lost a ninang a couple of months ago).
That our families and friends are with us, in good times and in bad (we still grieve though for the loss of my husband’s father).
That we get to do things we both love–choral singing, making music, travel, writing– and also do things on our own–his passion for martial arts, my various interests and advocacies.
That we have our little treasure, Ariadne.
That we are Schatzis (treasure in German). And this union is #schatzinfinity.
So, how did we celebrate this milestone?
Well, we were in Europe for this.
I have posted pockets of words and photos over my Facebook Page and Instagram (LIKE TOURINGKITTY please!) and will slowly (and I mean slow….ly!) gather them in one post, real soon!
Going back to celebrating, we did not have anything planned, really. Since last year, the ACS began their preparation for this trip. My husband was planning to come home in time for our anniversary, but I suggested that he finish the whole trip instead. You don’t get to go to Europe everyday! So, we settled to celebrating belatedly, perhaps with a Mass, Renewal of Vows, and fancy dinner.
But God has his own way of surprising us. Two months before the trip commenced, I was invited. To join as soprano. Bubble thoughts went like: We will sing in a choir. Together. And tour Europe. In time for our wedding anniversary.
I. Am. Stoked! Who am I to say no?!
And so I said I DO (haha I mean, yes, I am honoured to join!), and right on my birthday, I applied for my visa which was granted two days after. It was meant to be.
10th Wedding Anniversary, Barci style
We had a full schedule on the day of our anniversary, but the previous two days of it were absolutely free days. And we were in Barcelona, Spain! We shopped and ate and strolled, and did most everything just the two of us.
One of our godparents treated us for an unforgettable Tapas dinner, and got ourselves almost drunk with Sangria (lol). Our pastor-friend and choirmate (yes the ACS is super blessed to have a pastor!) gave time to lead us in scripture reading, reflection, and prayer. We read and reflected on the same Gospel passage on our wedding day.
The best part:
We got to tour the church (few photos on my Facebook Page!) and I can’t help but cry while praying.
A Spiritual Pilgrimage to celebrate a decade of marriage
We had a long day on our anniversary day, which began with this.
We were scheduled to visit two more Ignatian sites (because Ateneo) — Montserrat and Manresa. Few days before that, we were privileged to visit Loiola, the birthplace of St. Ignatius.
We sang a couple of Marian songs as offering to Our Lady of Montserrat. Video courtesy of Enric Genesca, one of our host-organizers from Polifonica Puig-reig:
We were told that choirs who visit here would have to get permission to sing inside the Abbey. So this is a rare and special and blessed opportunity for us.
After which, a sumptuous Chinese buffet lunch (yum!) and dinner at the hotel, where we also performed for an awarding ceremony for the Polifonica Puig-reig, our host choir, which celebrates its 50th year as a choir.
Who gets to spend their wedding anniversary this way? We are truly thankful that this has all happened. All in God’s plan and perfect time.
We are grateful that we got to spend this special occasion with the people who are dear to us, our ACS family.
Bonus photo! Check out our ACS Fam ten years ago during the wedding reception!
Just like any other marriage, ours is a work in progress, every single day. But we keep in mind what our father-rector and spiritual tatay said during the Homily on our wedding day, the three things our marriage should have: Communication, Care, Be fair.
We missed our daughter for almost a month, but we are more blessed that my mother and sister willingly took care of her while we were in this trip. We cannot be any more grateful for that.
I don’t know how to end this post, and I must try to sleep (hello jetlag, it’s been a week and you are back!) so let me end with this Bible verse that we have reflected upon ten years ago, last week for the 10th anniversary, and forever until death parts us.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
…do as the Europeans do! But of course, be mindful of yourself and your belongings.
So, for this edition of Touringkittyps, here are five important things you should be doing when in Europe.
Always bring your passports. Especially that you are not within the jurisdiction of your own country, it’s best to have your passports with you wherever you go.
Know your train or bus number and stop. They come in almost the same names, like in Italy, Venezia is not the same as Venezia S. Marco and Venezia Mestre. So read, listen, and be alert! Likewise, trains or undergrounds have a PA system, so make sure you know your stop and listen to the announcement in order not to miss it.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Almost every tourist spot can be visited by foot, so expect a lot of walking. Watch out for cobblestones, so best to wear flats or sandals than heels or stilletos. Keep your clothes light, but always bring a hooded jacket, you’ll never know when it will be cold or raining.
Learn a few helpful phrases in each country. There may be instances that the locals will not converse in English, so better know how to greet Good morning/afternoon/evening, Please, Thank you, How much is this (especially when shopping for souvenirs).
Speaking of souvenirs, buy one thing that would remind you of the city/country you visited. In my case, magnets or a shirt or whatever local produce they have, like food. I also make it a point to eat local food as much as I can. So even when I would want to save and opt for McDonald’s (which is also expensive, by the way), I try to look for local food. Gelato in Venezia, Steltze in Vienna, and more.
Sent a postcard to your home. This I forgot to do during last year’s trip, but sending postcards back home is a good souvenir as well.
Take lots of photos and videos. I also take notes at the end of the day, so as not to forget what I visited. I use Google Photos to save photos online and free up phone memory space to take even more photos.
Ready for the Euro trip? Buon Viaggio! Gute Flug! Happy trip.
You probably noticed my slight hiatus on the blog. But I’ve been rather active on Instagram (follow me @touringkitty!) so you might have known the reason/s. One word: BUSY! But very happy.
2015 was definitely a great year. If there is a word to describe it, it would be “miracle,” just like how His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales describes life. Yes, life is a miracle, and so is each passing day that we’re able to wake up to.
I challenged myself to post the best photo of the month. But I chose those which are very memorable. They may not be frame-worthy (some may even be blurred!), but as they say, a picture means a thousand words. In this case, I will post 12, so that’s 12,000! But trust me, the descriptions I will write will be very brief and meaningful.
January last year was very important to the Roman Catholics, and probably to some believers as well. Pope Francis visited the country for a spiritual and political reason. Our family of three treated his visit as a pilgrimage, wherein we can be seen waiting in the crowded lines for the arrival of his Pope Mobile wherever he may go.
FEBRUARY: Long and meaningful life
Nanay Pining Canlas is our Rector, Monsignor Bobby Canlas’ mother. She celebrated her 96th birthday last year, with about 40 priests concelebrating the Mass, along with Archbishops and Bishops (yes, Cardinals Tagle and Rosales were in attendance). Great to witness God’s blessing of life to Nanay.
MARCH: Finding my voice
Attending Nelly Miricioiu’s masterclass last year was definitely one for the books. Her expertise, talent, humility, and positivity was a great source of inspiration for us, masterclass students, and even the observers and our audience during the two night concert. I definitely found my voice, and slowly getting back on track.
APRIL: Saving Lives
God has put me in every aspect of a production last year–from artist to audience to production staff. Here’s one, where I was part of my uncle’s production team, to give life to a fundraising concert by pianist and CCP President Raul Sunico for OstreaVent, a lower-cost ventilator which was invented by Filipino doctor Dr. Buddy Ostrea (who happened to be one of our hosts in the Madz during a US tour). I know I could not avail a ventilator, but being part of this project made me realise how noble Dr. Buddy’s invention was, knowing that there are premature infants who will benefit in this equipment.
MAY: Gift of Life
Bloggers were given this opportunity to bring in our own mothers in this event by a fabric conditioner brand. Timeless beauty my mother really is! Three generations in that photo!
I haven’t been able to blog about the entire trip! But I still hope to, before the trip turns one year in June! Anyways, this was one unforgettable trip. Two weeks, five countries, ten singers, one great work premiered and showcased to the world. Wow. Just wow.
JULY: Homeschool mom at work
After the European trip, I got sick, but we had to begin homeschool because we have a preschooler enrolled! So we did, albeit slowly and surely. We’re now at the homestretch of the first homeschooling year, yay!
AUGUST: Turning five
I blinked my eye and saw five blissful years as a mother. No words can express the joy my heart feels. Probably, those five emotions in her favourite movie, Inside Out, could. Still, joy over everything.
Instantly I became a Stage Mother. And why not, I had to accompany my daughter in five separate Halloween and All Saints’ Parties all over town! She even performed for her homeschool’s party (video in this link).
NOVEMBER: Seventh heaven
Time flies when you’re having fun, indeed. Very lucky girl to have him as my partner for life.
DECEMBER: Christmas Musical blessing
Each of us had separate singing engagements. Ton with his choir, the Ateneo Chamber Singer, who had mall shows and Masses. I at some private functions– for retired and elderly priests and for a Sacerdotal Anniversary. Aria sang at church and with my choir for a caroling event. Together we sang at church on Christmas Eve. Music is God’s gift to our family. We’re happy and ready to share it to the world.
The beginning of the year gave so many surprises. I definitely was fulfilled as a wife, mother, musician, teacher, traveler, advocate, and servant of God. I actually didn’t expect 2015 to be as busy, as fun, and as packed as I imagined. And this year, I just pray that more meaningful things will happen to me and to my family.
Here’s wishing you all the best and praying for all of you this 2016.
Europe is known to have very beautiful churches. Those old (think Renaissance and Baroque), elaborately decorated, pipe-organ adorned, huge-domed churches. For the past Europe trip, one thing I made sure was to pray in a church in each city we’ll visit. I was happy to accomplish this, and more.
We got lost on our way, but was guided by some signages of shops bearing souvenirs of the Infant Jesus of Prague, and that Infant Jesus image on top. Sto. Nino, or the Infant Jesus, is very close to Filipinos. I can’t really remember if I was able to pass by this church the first time I was here in 2006, but I made sure to visit it this time.
The Solemnity of the Sto. Nino is one of the most important feasts in our church community. Since it also coincides with the Children’s Mass, a special concelebrated Mass is always prepared, complete with drummers and dancers, reenactment of how the Sto. Nino came to our country, and some pakulo for the churchgoers after the Mass. And that our church is dedicated to the youth, I prayed even more for His blessing to our priests, volunteers, especially to our young volunteers (my own child included).
2. Katholische Kirche Salvator am Wienerfeld (Wienerfeldgasse 11, 1100 Wien, Austria)
It was a Sunday and our performance came after an English Mass for the Filipino community. The church was made of wood, you wouldn’t even notice it being a church at first.
As soon as I started my first note after we positioned, I knew it will be a great performance. Indeed, it was, that I immediately found a place to kneel and pray and thank the Lord for that wonderful performance of the Pasyon. The acoustics are so beautiful, it’s like the sound is instantly mixed.
Vienna is definitely one of the cities I’d like to visit again and again. A trip to Vienna isn’t complete without visiting one of its busiest tourist centers, Stephansplatz, where St. Stephen’s Cathedral can be found. It has an active calendar of performances and concert masses, and my co-performers were able to catch one on the Sunday night we were there.
I was lucky enough to visit this church in both day and night times during this trip. During the daytime visit, we went inside the church, and there was a queue going in, which moved quickly. Made sure to offer prayers and candles, and buy some souvenirs for family and friends. No photos are allowed inside the church, so we took as much outside.
And yes, a Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help (on a Thursday night). Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hour was also held, just before a (very short) Italian Mass and then our concert followed.
Since this was the last official tour stop, I offered again candles and lots of prayers.
Take note that candles would cost about at least 0.50 Euros, or about 25 Philippine Pesos.
7. Propsteikirche St. Johann (Hohe Str. 2, 28195 Bremen, Germany)
We weren’t able to chance upon a Mass because the English Mass happens only every two Sundays. Took a quick visit inside and look what’s the last thing I’d see:
Either I missed my husband, or my husband just assures me they’re doing great back home.
Seven churches in five cities. Hooray for this #TKEurope2015 achievement!
It was a humbling experience to see all of these beautiful churches, one pilgrimage I will never forget. And to have shared the music of the Pasyon to our audience, fellow Filipinos especially, it was a blessing to bless them with our music.