Existing Member?

Operation: European Husband A new last name and a European passport. I gots GOALS I tell ya...

more essen action

GERMANY | Wednesday, 7 February 2007 | Views [1028]

After the non-stop excitement of the London weekend, Essen greeted me with more of the usual - pommes frittes and the felafel stand, freaks on the tram and my increasingly messy room at the hotel (a ripple of surprised gasps tumbles through the crowd). Lovely moments were had though, and are detailed as follows:


Sorry, can i just first of all say that i now understand why people keep diaries - it's so much easier than constructing a flowing narrative.

on Tuesday Annabel and i slept in and were late for our first class, so didn't go to any of them ("would've been bollocks anyway", we grunted). Instead we wandered the town looking for a nice cafe (a long trek that ended in disappointment and hot lemon drinks at the only nice cake shop we've been able to find so far, breaking our 'never go to the same place twice when you're in an exciting foreign land' rule) and trying desperately not to buy things as the january sales, subtly forgetting their end date, continued to hound us with their relentless barrage of affordable winter clothing. in the afternoon we got ourselves a train timetable and a sonar device and trekked out to the tiny outer suburb in which the bus company who had my glasses is situated. this turned out to be a lovely trip and the sonar device was absolutely not necessary as we would happily have stayed there forever. Kupferdreh, as it is known to people who can pronounce such things, is exactly the kind of village one pictures when one imagines ye olde europa - quaint houses, the odd cobblestone street, pretty churches... naturally it's also been taken over by supermarkets and hairdressers (and a diving shop, which A and i stared at, bewildered, for a few moments before deciding that there are just some things in germany that we will never understand), but the pubs are still old and beautiful and it has a wonderful atmosphere. we wandered to the edge of the town looking for the bus depot - i say depot because having seen a number of buses belonging to this company traipsing around the place that's exactly we expected - much to our delight and amusement though, what we actually found was a tiny mechanic's workshop adjoined by a small lean-to office filled with grubby smoking old men. the surly secretary handed me my glasses and bid us a quick farewell before the old fellas could start in on us. they assured us that we're welcome to visit any time and we escaped, relieved, to an ice-cream café* via a gorgeous handmade jewellery shop before heading back to the dreariness of home.


After finally attending our classes in a manner similar to that of good students, we visited Dusseldorf. We were aware of how lovely Dusseldorf is and had for this reason put off our visit – we decided early that Dusseldorf would probably only make Essen look sad and tired by comparison and didn’t want to create such disappointment for ourselves too early. We were absolutely right and I was very glad we’d waited. Dusseldorf was exquisite, it has a beautiful old town, interesting museums and a very picturesque walk along the river. As usual we ate cake (in a traditional-ish greek café) and drank beer. The beer brings me to the long-established rivalry between Cologne and Dusseldorf, at the centre of which appears to be a feud over which beer is better. So, our answer to the age-old Altbier (Dusseldorf) or Koelsch (Cologne) question is…




But don’t tell anyone in Cologne I said that.


On Thursday we saw a performance (actually, half a performance, for reasons that will become clear) of Swan Lake that I will describe for want of better words as unconventional. Crazed modern dance students (Annabel calls them ballet-school-dropouts, she spent the better part of her childhood en pointe and so has earned the right to be something of a purist) flailing about with a flimsy grasp on the concept of rhythm and even less understanding of synchronized movement. The moves were unimaginative and repetitive, and gosh darnit, it’s just not ballet if they’re not wearing shoes. The costumes were odd, and apparently poorly organised because when they turned into swans they had only skirts to cover themselves with and so ran about the stage clutching their skirts to their breasts and looking most ungraceful indeed. Uncomfortable with such erratic and rough movement juxtaposed with the intense beauty of the music, Annabel and I left at interval like a pair of snobs so as not to waste another 40 minutes or so of our lives looking at each other, horrified, and trying to work out exactly what was going on.


There were workers climbing through Annabel’s window for reasons we were happy not to know so we escaped to the city for more coffee drinking (seriously, coffee drinking and beer drinking, it’s just like I’m in Australia except it’s cold.) and faffing about before returning home. I stayed in and discovered german tv – it turns out they’re hilarious!

Saturday was the train trip to berlin for the week, Berlin stories to follow.


*some explanation is perhaps necessary here, you did read correctly, ‘ice-cream café’. “are you insane??”, I hear you ask, “sub-zero temperatures and you’re eating ice-cream?!” and I can understand your confusion, as I was equally perplexed when I arrived here and saw these curious establishments bloody everywhere. Brisbane is almost always warm, and has only 2 cafes of this desserts-only persuasion, both owned by the same people, and because of the liquor-licensing laws, they’re not even solely devoted to desserts! The idea of freaky-cold germany being more excited about ice-cream than crazy-hot Brisbane did bake my noodle, i must admit. The idea has grown on me though, thanks partially to the presence of these cafes on practically every block but mostly to Annabel’s crippling penchant for ‘spaghetti eis’ (vanilla ice-cream pushed through a spaghetti machine and covered with cherry sauce and grated white chocolate). Oddly, I’m now completely ok with the idea of eating ice-cream in the cold (at least it doesn’t melt!) and do so (arguably a little too) frequently. Most places offer a dish which involves ice cream and bailey’s too, so that helps to warm things up.

Tags: Relaxation



Travel Answers about Germany

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.