Donnerstag, 13. März 2008

Back in Düsseldorf

We arrived in the Düsseldorf-Weeze airport to be greeted by my mom AND Shadow! Despite having lived here for over 6 months I’m still not used to dogs being allowed in most public places. I also don’t feel that Shadow is as well-behaved as most German dogs, so I tend to leave him in the car or at home. We were also greeted by the smell of cows when we stepped outside – the smell that lets you know you’re near The Netherlands. Anyways, mom drove us back to Kaiserswerth, where we did a quick walking tour through the village and grabbed some currywurst, bratwurst, and pommes (fries). I love German junk food! And then to be super-healthy we went over to the Eis-Café to get an Erdbeerbecher (strawberry sundae) and spaghetti ice cream. When we finally got to the house Kat and I decided the best plan of action was a nap – we were both completely exhausted from the busy week and early morning.

After our nap we went out to Vapiano (a new German Italian food chain concept – I think they’re starting up in the U.S. in D.C./northern Virginia) with Jenny and my mom for pizza. It was packed, but I guess that’s what you’d expect in Düsseldorf on a Saturday night. After dinner Kat and I went into the Altstadt to see what was going on, and as usual, it was packed with people drinking beer. We stopped at Zum Uerige briefly to try Altbier, picked up some drinks for the road, and went over to Max’s apartment in Oberkassel. We hung out there for a little bit with Max, Max’s friend Patrik, who was in town from Sweden, and Feli (who studied in Virginia for a year) before going into the city to meet up with Dinesh and Elise. We went to Buddha Bay, a club off of Berliner Allee, and danced the night away . . . literally. Kat and I began to get tired around 3AM and when we eventually went to the train station we figured out that the next train to Kaiserswerth wasn’t coming until 4:45am. Yikes! So we grabbed some food and hung out in a pub in the Altstadt to pass the time. In the end we wound up just taking a cab, which I was grateful for because it got me back to my bed faster. I can’t stay up as late as I used to be able to.

Naturally, we slept in the next day, but were eventually able to pry ourselves out of bed and hop in the car to drive to Amsterdam. Normally it only takes a bit over 2 hours to get there, and technically we were IN the city in that amount of time, but we hit terrible traffic in the city center. By the time we actually found a parking spot the trip time had hit 4 hours, which was annoying. It was nice to finally get out of the car, stretch our legs, and walk around the city. We walked through the Dam and moved onto the Anne Frank Huis. Then we hit the FlowerMarkt just as it was closing, managed to buy a bouquet of tulips from a stand that was still open, and went on a long search for a restaurant. We finally settled on an English pub (honestly, it was one of the only things we could find), got burgers (which I hadn’t had in a while), and enjoyed being warm and inside. By the time we finished dinner it was starting to get late so we wandered back towards the car, via the Red Light District, which is always a bit of a shock to see, and were able to leave the city with no further traffic problems. By the time we got back to Düsseldorf, Kat and I were both exhausted and went straight to bed.

The next morning was an early one because we had to get Kat back to the Weeze Airport near The Netherlands. It was sad to see Kat go – we had a lot of fun. But the good news is she may be coming back for a visit?

After dropping Kat off my mom and I drove to Essen, an industrial town north of Düsseldorf, for a doctor’s appointment. We parked the car and needed help finding the exact street and location of the doctor’s office, so we asked a member of the Polizei (a policeman) for directions. The woman next to him was able to help us out and we found the office fairly quickly. After the appointment we came out of the building to discover that a movie or TV show was being filmed just outside, and low and behold, the scene that was being worked on was a police car chase scene. And who was one of the main actors? The officer we had asked directions from. How embarrassing – he wasn’t even a police officer and probably had no idea where anything was in Essen. So, we had a good laugh, discreetly and hastily walked away from the movie set, and went to Vapiano for a quick lunch.

Since then, what else has happened?

Well, Mom found out she had a hernia (just like I did a year ago) and was scheduled for surgery less than a week later. She’s been home for a little over a week since surgery and is doing very well. She is still doing too much post-surgery if you ask me, but I can’t seem to stop her.

We received a package from Chris, who was here in January, filled with chocolate-chips, brown sugar, and assorted candies that you can’t get here in Germany. It was an extremely nice surprise and will be put to good use. Thanks, Chris!

I joined Dinesh, Max, and large group of expats for a night out in Köln last weekend. It was a lot of fun and Köln has arguably better nightlife, but the trek down there gets to be a little much for one night.

Laura has been in town since Saturday for her 2-week long spring break. We’ve been hanging out, but haven’t done anything tooo exciting yet, aside from going to a Bayer Leverkusen v. Hannover soccer game. Tim, Laura, and I went (unfortunately, Jenny wasn’t home yet from a basketball tournament in Antwerp, Belgium) on Sunday and it was craaaaazy! I’ve never seen more dedicated and excited sports fans in my life. We sat in the Hannover (away team) section because it was the only place we could get tickets together, and were possibly more entertained by the fans than the actual game. It would have been even better if we had been able to understand the cheers! Fyi, final score: Bayer Leverkusen 2 – Hannover 0.

And now Jenny is packing for her school ski trip to Austria (where she plans to learn how to snowboard) and the rest of the family is packing for a week-long trip to Rome. As soon as we are back in Düsseldorf again, Mom, Laura, and Jenny hop on a plane to go to Connecticut – Laura for school, and Mom and Jenny for a visit. So we have an action-packed couple of weeks coming up.

Hope everyone is doing well – we miss you all! Send emails with updates whenever you get a chance!

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