Monday, February 11, 2008

Germany - Day 10: 2/9 (Messin' Around Essen)

Beatrix and Volker have left for Spain this morning at about 5 A.M. I only awoke briefly as I heard them preparing for their departure. Knowing that I have been burning the midnight oil, I decided to sleep in this morning and did not get out of bed until 8:30 A.M. It was a nice feeling and I thought this I had managed to catch up o

with a six week old baby in his home (born on Christmas Day, no less), I thought it very generous to spend a day showing me around. We drove to Moers and picked up Frau Canavan, and set out for the city of Essen. I found this an amusing title because it literally translated means “food” or “to eat”, which confused me at first. On one of the first days here, I spent time leafing through the German-English dictionary that my wife bought for me and stumbled across essen. In any event, if food was the name of the town, I assumed that I would enjoy the trip.

n sleep (especially after nodding off and on in Beatrix’s car on the way home from Aachen). At about 10:15, Hendrick Lemm picked me up to visit the town of Essen. Newly married and The first place we visited was the estate of Frederich Alfred Krupp, the steel tycoon who owned Krupp Steel, who Herr Lemms says is a constant source of political controversy because Krupp Steel helped power the Nazi war effort, not so much through political support, but through accepting government contracts to build munitions for the Nazi military. His palatial estate was indeed impressive, but lacked some of the historical weight that places such as the Berliner Dom or the Reichstag held. It was what I would picture the estate of Rockefeller to be like, even though I have not been. It was almost like Hyde Park, where Franklin Roosevelt lived. Big, beautiful, and impressive, but largely missing something compared to the other sites that I have thus far seen.

After leaving the Estate of Frederich Krupp, we headed into the center of the city of Essen and to its pedestrian center. There was a winter festival going on and they set up a shi/sledding hill and an ice skating rink. Looking like I was ready to fall over, Herr Lemm suggested that we get coffee. I ordered something off the menu without having any idea what it was, feeling like I needed to be adventurous. It was a cherry crumb cake that went very well with my cappuccino, which was laced with cinnamon. Note to others: most German restaurants do not take cards. Since I had not been to an ATM since Berlin, I was rolling with only a few Euros in my pocket. When I mentioned to Frau Canavan that I would be using my card, she made a face and said that this restaurant, like most German restaurants, probably don’t take cards, here. Being that ATM’s are also not as plentiful (not at gas stations, supermarkets, etc.), this made having cash on hand something that I would have to get used to.

Next we hit a four floor bookstore. I was like J-Fogg shopping for shoes…except I was low on fundage. We looked around a bit and then I went up to the third floor to look at books in English as my German skills were limited to reading a German-English dictionary, if you can’t tell by my German spelling in this blog, which former and current German students are kind enough to point out to me. What really started to hit home was the weakness of the American dollar. Each Euro is currently worth about $1.50. When Frau Canavan picked up a copy of the last Harry Potter book to complete her set in German, I thought that might be an equally nice memento for me to sign stay in Germany. I asked her how much and she said 27 Euro…a second for conversion…about $40. She walked around with it for about ten minutes before she decided she'd just get it in German in the U.S. and probably for a cheaper price. This has been, by and large, the experience that I have had shopping. D.J. (or was it Casey) said that they are just treating Euro prices as if they were dollar prices and not worrying about it. Being that I am on a shoestring budget, I cannot afford that mentality. It did make me long for China. A place where a single American Dollar would yield eight kuai, which you would get you a great meal that, at times, I could hardly finish.

After the bookstore, we left Essen, with Hendrick deciding that we could buy anything that it had to offer for cheaper in the States. We headed next to Duisburg and its harbor district for lunch. There we enjoyed a nice sunny afternoon at an outside table right next to the water. It was great. Conversation was pretty light; mostly chit chat and small talk about school and the trip. Eventually a couple with a new born sat next to us and in minutes we were chatting as they recognized our English as the original product and we discovered they were recently moved to Germany so the husband could play professional hockey. For dinner/lunch (sometimes it is hard to tell, here) I ordered Pizza Diavolo. It had a lot of pepperoni on it, and in German, pepperoni means hot peppers. Thus forewarned, I was excited to get at my piazza, and it was as good as I had hoped!

After that, Hendrick dropped of Frau Canavan and then me, apologizing for leaving me to my own devices from 6 P.M. onward. He has a six week old baby himself at home and I told him I thought I could manage until Frau Lohoff picked me up at noon tomorrow. In honesty, I was looking for a little down time as I am discovering that this trip is wiping me out more than I thought it would. I took a nap from 7 – 9 P.M. and then woke up to edit my pictures from the day and write my blog. Now it is back to bed.

1 comment:

jesssclarrrk said...

Man, I wish I met a German Professional hockey player! Do you remember his name by any chance? I think there was once a professional hockey player that came from Moers but I think that it's pretty rare that anyone plays hockey here.