Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Ladies Nite" in Cologne.....part 2 /3

Meeting the ladies


I am sure some of you have had a situation where you meet someone virtually in some social network, hit it off, you find their jokes funny, and they yours, then after a few months you brave it to a meeting and BAM! ...... they are not at all like their posts !! Has this stopped you all from meeting people at all or making friends online?? NO... Then others set out to meet their Cyber friends and every thing turns out perfect! Well ours was a meeting made with all things sweet & positive and full of energy !! 

The thrill of meeting new people and going new places is something i have never been able to resist..I therefore went with an open mind as i set off to meet my new Cyber friends in Cologne!! The  night hadn’t been short enough for my liking, all the while i was thinking when is it day time, i can’t wait to meet all these ladies in the same situation as myself. They’ve been so near me all this time but also so far.... i hadn’t met them in all the years i have lived here !!!!

So we’re back at the hotel getting ready when a few calls  from some of the ladies started coming in.“We’re on our way!” , “We’ll be there in 10 mins..” etc etc.....:-)
At this point Donna & I are like ... yey .... they’re actually coming !!!!!

Lucy & Donna so excited finally meeting the ladies...

As some of the ladies arrived a little earlier, Donna went down to the lobby to greet them as we wait for the others, while i did my final touches and headed down as well. Before we got to the lobby one could already hear a number of excited voices in the lobby . This was definitely our day as M&H  ladies and boy was it a meetup !! 
I have to say I was NOT disappointed at all ! All the ladies were smartly dressed and armed with positive energy. You could actually feel it in the air ! The two ladies behind the reception desk actually found themselves smiling just looking at us all excited and talking at the same time.....

“oh.... is that you??”,  “nice to meet you!”, “my name is ....”  “ i know who you are!”
“Oh my God we’re all looking fab !!!!!” .  “So how many Lucys, Jackies & Solanges  do we have here?”, “Where is the restaurant ?”.... were some of the questions floating around in the first 15 mins ......
I actually had someone tell me i look shorter in my photos than i am in person .... sooo true ...  Sweetheart what do you expect ? I am always standing next to an even taller Donna :-)
This is definitely a group of ladies i would love to meet again .... every one of them!!

first arrival at hotel lobby......our beautiful & adorable sister duo(Solange F & Yvonne H) from the Netherlands


After the hugging and hellos and getting to finally meet each other, it was time for dinner. We all took a walked together to the restaurant which is about 5 minutes away from the hotel. We had dinner at the “Hof 18”, a restaurant with outstanding cross-cultural cuisine with a strong German accent in a very modern and stylish atmosphere with a view of the “Kölner Dom”(Cathedral).

ladies at hotel lobby all ready to go for dinner.....(Leah W, Jackie E, Sylvia K & Penninah K)

It was cold and a little windy outside but we hardly payed attention to the weather. The warmth and energy of these ladies could warm up even the coldest night :-) We talked and laughed all the way to the restaurant. Finally in the restaurant we got our table reserved for 15 in a corner room which turned out to be a great idea because we needed our own space where we could talk and laugh without being a nuisance to the other restaurant guests.  At this point of the night, the ladies had each warmed up to each other and the atmosphere was at its best. I had not expected anything less when 15 temperamental african ladies come together :-). We had ladies representing west and east africa (Kenya, Cameroon and Uganda ). 

Afro beauties in da house :-)

beautiful & charming afronistas

beautiful & very warm-hearted sisters

the energy & warmth of africa in da house :-)

the room was bursting with all these charming personalities
as bright, colourful and vibrant like a rainbow

with "the initiator" my beautiful & adorable Camer sister (Yvonne H)

Lucy with the charming Jacky K......Jacky is like a ray of sunshine , she brightened up the nite with her warm & bubbling personality

the meal was excellent

the variety was great

wonderful ladies....

yep, it was a great 1st meeting......
leaving the restaurant and off to after-dinner cocktails

It was a great mixture having all these different personalities who are united through a similar lifestyle (mixed relationships/marriages/families) come together. It was a very long and equally interesting dinner with delicious meals to choose from and  an excellent  service personnel. Thank you “Hof 18” for a great dinner. Somewhere around 22:30 pm we left the restaurant, heading off to after dinner cocktails but before we got there, we made a quick stop because it was time to make a toast to our first meeting with these fabulous ladies of the M&H house. Then it was off to the famous Harry`s New York Cocktail Lounge/Bar where we danced the nite away...............(coming up next in part 3. Watch out!!!)

time for a toast to a great 1st meeting

Prost!!! (cheers!!!) to future meetings

At this point I want to shout out a big thank you to the ladies. Thank you Yvonne H for initiating this meeting, thank you Solange F, Solange K, Lucy D, Eunice Z, Jacky K, Jackie E, Penninah K, Btrin A, Leah W, Sylvia K, Maria O, Kimm K. You ladies were wonderful and so warmhearted. Thanks for your active support in making this nite a nite to remember.........I can proudly say we have taken that giant step towards our dream of the “Big Convention”.

cheers to you ladies for a great nite & hope to see u all again . Muah!!!!!!

Watch out for part 3/3......dancing the nite away at Harry´s Cocktail Lounge. Until then, stay cool.

click here for more photos....

from "Deutschland" with luv,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Ladies Nite" in Cologne.....part 1 /3

How it all began 

.........the majestic & overwhelming Kölner Dom (Cathedral)


As far back as I can remember I have always loved the thrill and excitement in adventures, the fascination of travelling and discovering new cultures and meeting people. Living abroad faraway fom my home country is for me a great and exciting never-ending adventure. Like all adventures though, it does have it´s down sides and one of the major challenges I faced in the beginning was making new friends.
Back in our home countries we often have friendships that have lasted many years, and these form the backbone to our network of associates, giving us the strength in life to take on challenges and unfamiliar experiences. However, when we relocate overseas and leave these friends behind, for the first time since school or college we have to actively make a real effort to create a new group of friends who we are happy socialising with. Where does one begin? is often the first question we ask.

view of the "Hohenzollernbrücke" (Hohenzollern Bridge)

With the years, Lucy and I made the experience that meeting people is not a problem but making real friends is not as easy as it sounds :-) Being in a mixed relationship/family does make it even more challenging. First of all meeting potential  friends is kind of limited when one is in unfamiliar settings and hardly know who lives in the neighbourhood. We sometimes even went out of our comfort zone and tried to make friends with people we will normally not befriend . This was not too good an idea :-(((( The friendship was doomed to fail before it even started due to lack of similarities and wrong chemistry. This just confirmed the fact that we can’t like or be liked by everyone – and there are real barriers between some people that mean they will never be true and good friends. Accepting this reality and applying it in our new life, did help us from getting disappointed when we were not  accepted by a certain person or group of people. Besides it´s a  fact of life that you can choose your friends but not your family – so hey, choose as wisely abroad as you would at home!

beautiful view

So with these experiences in mind, I was set to find new friends who reflect my lifestyle and share my principles in life. Luckily I came across fellow cameroonian sisters who had similar problems and had the brilliant idea to start an online group for cameroonian women in mixed marriages. So this got the ball rolling and I got to meet other wonderful ladies from home who share similar experiences. Later on an extended version of the group was created involving afro ladies from all over africa(thanks to my fellow sister Anna Van B) and Lucy also became a member.

The great thing about an online group is one doesnt have to search through the neighbourhood to meet like-minded people.....with just a mouse click you have the opportunity to interact with over 300 ladies and share your daily experiences and support each other. Lucy and I talked often about what it will be like meeting up with these ladies offline. We slowly started planning on having an annual convention. But organizing a convention like this does need planning well ahead of time and finding a convenient date and location which is suitable to all members......This can be challenging. So we knew it wasn´t going to happen anytime soon. Until this fately morning, when one of the ladies(our dearest Yvonne H) came up with the idea of meeting up with the ladies closest to us just for fun. I found this idea quite interesting because this could be the test to see if a convention is going to be a success or not. So Lucy and I took up the challenge and we decided to go ahead and organize a fun meetup just for the ladies. So the idea "Ladies Nite" was born. We all decided on a location(City) which is convenient for all the ladies living here in Germany and since we had our initiator coming in from the Netherlands, we also had to take that into consideration when choosing a city. So, the city of Cologne was the final choice and the best location for our first meeting. So it took us a couple of days to plan and organize the "Ladies Nite".

the famous Harry´s New York Cocktail Bar

The fact none of us lives in the city of Cologne did not stop us from going ahead with the planning. With the internet at our disposal we did our researches and came up with our programme. Our programme looked something like this :

 18:30 pm til 18:45 pm -
"meeting-point" at the Reception/Lobby of our hotel (Hilton Hotel). A little introduction to get to know each other before dinner.

18:45 pm - 19:00 pm

a walk to the restaurant "Hof 18". Hof 18 is a restaurant with cross-cultural cuisine and a view of the famous cathedral(Dom). 

 22:00 pm til dawn
retreat to a cool and modern cocktail lounge bar called "Harry´s New-York Bar located within Cologne’s cutting edge Dorint Hotel, for After Dinner cocktails.

All, we had to do was just keep our fingers crossed and hope everything looked exactly the same like we planned  :-) The one question that occupied us the whole time was it going to be as exciting and interesting offline like our online meetings?? Well, well it wont be long again before we have an answer to this question :-)

arrival at our hotel

On the 12th of November was the D day and we (Lucy and I)arrived Cologne city way ahead of the planned meeting time. We had to physically check if all we did organized through telephone calls and internet actually lives up to our expectations. So it was off to our hotel to check in and off to the  restaurant to reconfirm and check out the settings, and later off to the Cocktail Bar to check it out too.
A trip to Cologne no matter how short, is not complete without a visit to the "Kölner Dom"(Cathedral). The splendor of the Cologne Cathedral can not be denied. It rises majestically above the city and is simply the symbol par excellence! The location is a dream, right next to the Cologne main station, you can see it even if u are only on transit or jumping from one train unto another :-)  It is really impressive and stunning, especially at night when everything is lighted up!

finally arrived
our was quite cosy and the service was great.

chillaxing after a long ride.....

Lucy refreshing up before we hit the city

mirior mirior on the wall..... :-)

a quick visit to the "Dom"

what a beauty.......awesome!!!!
Lucy inside the "Dom"......surrounded by candles at the "Dreikönigenaltar"

a quiet moment inside the Dom......

entrance into the restaurant "Hof 18"

checking the restaurant setting to make sure all is in place before dinner :-)

we decided on a window table with view of the "Dom"(Cathedral)

We squeezed in time for a very quick mini-sightseeing tour around the "Altstadt"(Old town) and a fast trip to the shopping mile(yes, we just can´t resist seeing what the shops are having on display :-)))  and then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. Yes, we were ready!!! Now the show can begin :-) Where are the ladies!!! :-)

couldn´t resist checking out the shopping mile :-)

see what we found at the shopping mile.......candy for our "high fashion" fashionistas :-)

huh!!! dat bag is surely worth it´s weight :-)

getting ready.......what I wore

what Lucy wore

ready to meet the ladies......

let the night begin....ladies here we come :-)

watch out for part 2 and click here for more photos

from "Deutschland" with luv,

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Laternenfest-Martinstag" (St. Martins Day)


A little history about Laternenfest (St. Martin's Day)


Laternenfest is an old tradition here in Germany that is well-loved by children because they get to carry hand-made lanterns and sing songs when it gets dark. It is usually celebrated every 11th of November to celebrate St. Martin's Day. St. Martin's Day is one of the most popular saint's days in Germany.
Martin of Tours was born in the 4th Century and started out as a Roman soldier, later becoming a monk, and because of his exemplary way of life was later appointed Bishop of Tours. Many legends surround his life, the most famous being that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak he had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me.".(Wikipedia)

On the eve of St. Martin's feast day (Martinstag), when it gets dark, the kids walk through the streets with paper lanterns and candles, and sing songs about Saint Martin. Sometimes, a man dressed as Saint Martin rides on a horse in front of the procession.

a hand-made paper lantern

On the 8th of November was the annual Laternenfest in my son´s Kindergarten. Louis was very excited joining his first ever Laternenfest. The children were accompanied by their parents....walking and singing in the dark. It was such a fun experience for me too it being my first time too. The Kindergarten was decorated outside with little lights and a camp fire. The atmosphere was really cozy. I am already looking forward to the next annual Laternenfest come 2012 :-)))

Louis and his latern....he was so excited and could not wait to go :-)

Louis and a friend at the Kindergarten "Laternenfest"

with my girlfriend and our kids

musicians playing St. Martin songs

outside was lighted up with candles and little laterns.....very cozy

the firemen made a camp fire

colourful paper-latern decorations outside
walking and singing in the dark.......through the streets

with my hubby

 Hope you did have a good time with us at the Laternenfest. I really did enjoy it and do look forward to other traditional festivals with such a flair. Wish you all a lovely week. Stay cool and be good :-)

from Deutschland with luv,