Getting Sick in Germany

american-3577500_1920
Picture is taken from here

Hello! I’m back in Germany again, by the way. 🙂

Two years ago, when I was just arrived in Germany, I asked one of my Indonesian friends about the procedures to use our insurance when we get sick. He told me that he doesn’t know since he never get sick (or at least, the sickness never be too bad until he needs to see a medical doctor)

I am so grateful that during these past two years living in Germany, I have never gotten sick that bad. Therefore, I have never visited any medical doctors – eventhough I am working and living in a hospital. I brought along some Indonesian medications when I moved here, and so far those medications could solve all of (mild) medical problems that I experienced.

In August, I spent almost the whole month in Indonesia. After living for 2 years in Germany, Indonesian weather felt so strange to me. Everything was fine when I was in Indonesia. However, on the last day -5 hours before my flight- I started to have a problem with one of my ears. It was a Saturday and not many doctors have practices on weekends. Long story short, I was flying back to Germany with my troubled ear. Of course that was totally uncomfortable.

I arrived in Duesseldorf on Sunday morning, driving to Essen, and still hoping that there was at least a doctor who could solve my problem. The reality is : none of the doctor practices in Essen open on weekends, including the doctors in the ENT ( or HNO in German) department in the university hospital. They have an emergency division, but they only accept patients with severe cases who need surgeries.

The next day, on Monday, I tried again to visit the HNO department and I knew the fact that actually they do not accept patients other than the ones recommended by doctors from smaller clinics. Therefore, they suggested me to visit one of those small clinics.

Surprisingly, the process was really smooth eventhough I went there without appointment. Most of the doctor visitation in Germany requires the patient to make an appointment in advance. First of all, they asked about my health insurance (Krankenversicherung). For your information, every person who is living in Germany (regardless of his/her nationality, without exceptions) must have a health insurance. There are two types of insurance – public and private. Luckily I have a private insurance, so I have more choices of doctors. The doctor was really nice and he speaks English (this is the most important!)

Ear problem solved. Next, suddenly I started to have a problem with the skin of my palms. It started to peel off and gives a kind of itchy feeling. And so I tried to find a skin doctor (Hautarzt). Apparently all of the skin doctors here in Essen require us to make appointment before visitation. Most of them are so popular, I could only get a time slot at the end of September. HAHA..Thank you very much. Finally I found this doctor who would be available today. Again, this doctor was really nice, professional, and speak English.

I used to hear some myths about German doctors, saying that most of them are paranoid (especially when they realized that you come from a non-European country), not informative, and do not speak English.

I don’t know whether I was just lucky or it is the reality, but in my opinion doctors here are really nice and open for discussions.

I hope this sharing of my experience will be useful for those of you who are just starting your journey here in Germany.

Essen, 09.09.2019

 Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria Germany

fullsizeoutput_4f1f

I went to Neuschwanstein Castle on early March 2018 together with a friend of mine. My decision to visit that place was pure based on my curiosity. Neuschwanstein Castle has been on the top list of my “places to visit before I die” since forever. And you know what? My first (and perhaps) last visit to the castle was far below my expectation.

Here, I would like to share my experience visiting Neuschwanstein Castle and also a little bit history of the place.

So, as you probably know, I don’t have much time to travel. As a PhD student, I don’t have any exact holidays, except weekends. Therefore I planned my Neuschwanstein trip to be as efficient as possible. If you are on the same situation, then hopefully the tips I share here will be applied to you as well.

I started my journey on Friday afternoon. I took an ICE train (around 100 Euro for a return journey) from Essen to Munich with one transit in Heidelberg. The total journey itself took 5.5 hours. On the day I traveled, the situation was a bit chaotic because there were changes in some train schedules which also gave impact on my train journey. I initially booked a train to Munich with a 30 minutes transit in Stuttgart, but then few days prior the journey I received an email from Deutsche Bahn (German Railway Company) that my booked train would not operate and instead I must take another train which have a 4 minute transit in Heidelberg. What a thrilling journey it was. Can you imagine, I had only 4 minute to transfer myself into another train. And I almost missed the connecting train. HA!

I met my friend in Munich Central Station. We spent the first night in a hotel located just 200 meters from Munich Central Station. On the next day, Saturday morning, we took a train from Munich to Fussen. We bought a Bayern ticket which cost 23 Euro for one person and 31 Euro for two people. The more people you are traveling with, the cheaper it is. So, that is a good deal. The journey from Munich to Fussen took 2 hours. Fussen is a very beautiful little town just on the foot of Hohenschwangau, where Neuschswanstein Castle located. If you have abundant of time, you can consider to stay in Fussen. It is now a touristic town, so there are many good hotels around.

From Fussen, we took a bus which brought us directly to Hohenschwangau where we got our ticket to the castle. Bear in mind, expect a crazy long queue if you decide to buy the entrance ticket on the spot. And it does not guarantee you to get the ticket. Like on the day of my visit, the ticket to Neuschwanstein Castle was sold out. The most logical option is to book the ticket few days before your visit and collect the ticket on the day of your visit. By the way the ticket price is 13 Euro for one adult. It’s quite expensive, I know. However, you only need to buy ticket if you want to go inside the castle. If you just want to take some selfies with the castle as your background, you definitely do not need to buy a ticket. In my case, since I wanted to have a full experience visiting Neuschwasntein Castle, of course I bought the ticket (and ended up being disappointed).

Normally there are shuttle buses that will take you from Hohenschwangau up to the castle. It is an uphill route to reach the castle. When I was there, it was raining and no shuttle buses operated. Maybe we were just so unlucky that day. So, we walked 30 minutes to the castle. Crazy!! If you are too lazy to walk (especially when you are traveling with kids or elderly people), there are some horse carriages that you can rent. I don’t know how much it cost. The downside is, unlike in Indonesia, when people put sort of containers for the feces, here they do not do it. So, always be careful with horses’ poo along the journey. It IS disgusting.

Finally, let’s talk about the castle. Well, let me tell you honestly. You can see basically nothing inside the castle. So, when people say Neuschwanstein Castle is only beautiful from the outside, it is totally true. However, it is worth to hear the history behind Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle was built by King Ludwig II, who once was the King of Bavaria. He intended to build this castle to be his holiday residence. Sadly, the building had never been completed until he died. He was diagnosed to be mentally ill and therefore was secluded in a place near Munich. The cause of his death was mysterious, but the official stated that King Ludwig II died of suicide. Looking at the picture of King Ludwig II, I think he was just a normal person and not mentally ill. He looks feminine. Perhaps he had uncommon sexual preference and in that time those kind of things were taboo, so the government decided to kill him. Well, so many speculation of the life and death of King Ludwig II. One of the stunning facts about King Ludwig II is that he adored Richard Wagner so much until he designed a ballroom just for himself to enjoy the opera. Sadly he just had a chance to live in the castle for 120 days and he could not enjoy what he had created. The castle since then remains empty and opened for public just 3 weeks after his death.

By the way, people (including myself, in the beginning) find it hard to spell Neuschwanstein. But actually it is easy if you understand German. Neuschwanstein means new swan on the rock. King Ludwig II really loved swans, and all of the door handles in the castle have swan carved on them.