Saturday, October 17, 2015

Life in Düsseldorf

The reason I was in Düsseldorf: to work.

I worked in a new building, which was amazingly well-designed, new, modern, clean and beautiful. The building had two different towers, right and left, and then a "bridge" in the middle. I worked in the bridge, on the second (European first) floor. A delicious restaurant was on the first floor, which essentially became the best part of the day (an hour of talking, practicing my German, people watching and eating mouthwatering food) every day. 

The view from the front of the building. I never went up the TV tower, not in Berlin and not in Düsseldorf. I'm not sure of Germany's obsession with these towers, as they're not always new, but the Germans explained to me that they were more or less tourist traps. Restaurants are usually on top and the bank had a party a few years ago up there, so it's probably a good place to bring out-of-town guests. As an out-of-towner, I failed going up.

Next to the bank were two lakes, with paths that looked like this. One of my first days of work, I was eating lunch with two of my co-workers, and one asked if I wanted to go on a walk. I was half confused that I had understood him correctly, but also into this Germany thing where I said yes to a lot of things just because it's Germany and that's what I thought in my head you do when you're working in a foreign company for a summer. 

I ended up taking quite a few walks here throughout the day, sometimes for a break and sometimes because I was going somewhere and wanted to take the scenic route.

There were so many birds, very unnerving German, stoic birds. Half would not move as you walked by, and the other half would move their head, staring at your ask you walked by. As the geese and the ducks don't seem to be the calmest of bird types, I didn't go out of my way to make eye contact back, but was still sufficiently freaked out. The amount of pictures like this one in my phone at the end of the summer was upsetting, but goes to show how unnatural it was and how much I didn't love it. 

My view at my desk. The TVs were always on the news, and I was lucky because the Greek crisis was happening while I was there. Number one, I was at a bank with European investment bankers and they could explain it to me and tell me things about Europe and money that I wouldn't have known or learned had I been in the U.S. 

Also, Angela was on the news a lot. I always make a point to stop what I was doing so I could listen to Angela. 

The famous Königsallee in Düsseldorf. Had to pass right by it every day on the way to work, and sometimes after work I'd go shopping or just take a walk. Sort of a change from the desert view.

Oma stayed with me for a while, and made me dinner. On the right? I came home, said hi to her, she asked if I was hungry, and when I responded affirmatively, she replied "I have pasta in the kitchen, it'll be ready in 20 minutes."

I was expecting boiled noodles, and got this lasagna-type meal that was beautiful and incredible and all mine. 

Oh, and the bread. That bread basket was a great sign.

Running in the suburb I was living in was amazing. I ran through fields, between farms, down little town streets, through cemeteries (am I going to hell?), next to water and on wooded trails.

And sometimes in the morning, if I was lucky, I brought my phone and saw sights like this.

And in the other direction: this.

Our backyard was essentially a farm. There were strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, apples, potatoes, turnips, zucchini, lettuce and tomatoes. Due to the fact that it was summer, I got to pretend I lived on the land and reap the benefits of their hard work.

And I picked a lot of raspberries.

The way to the train station. In this photo, where you see the street end, you'd take a right and then be at my house. To walk to the train station took about eight minutes, but I found out the hard way (a few times) that you can get there in four minutes if sprinting.

One of my favorite memories was running to the train, seeing it pull into the (only) platform all while I was across the street. I sprinted across the street, through the parking lot, and through the people walking away from the platform. A guy walking away from the train saw me and turned around, ran back to the train to hold the door open. Then he started yelling "Faster! Faster!" It was a huge sigh of relief that I made it and didn't have to wait the 30 minutes until the next train, and I like to think it was a sigh of relief for everyone on the train and on the platform (those who saw me) that I made it. Made for a good morning.

Have I mentioned I picked raspberries? Even in the rain. And not like it started raining so I picked a few. More like it started raining and then I went outside and stayed there until all the ripe ones were off the bush. 

I'm making my ancestors proud, probably. 

Dinner in the garden.

On the table: mesquite BBW sauce, cheese, cottage cheese, caprese salad, butter, more cheese, sausages, bread, lox, peppers.

Not pictures: the literal sticks we used to spear our food and then roast it. (Next picture.)

The goal was to roast the sausages, but I added the peppers.
Have I mentioned I picked berries from the backyard?
And a few weeks into my time there, there was a fair right across the river that happened once a year for a few weeks, and every person from Düsseldorf was insistent that I go. It was free to get in, which was great, and things there weren't expensive really at all.

However, as you'll see from pictures, it was largely exactly like any fair that you'll go to here in the states.

Just more beer.

And Hungarian langos, because eating Bratwurst or Sauerkraut at a German fair would just be too cliché.

That's what America is like, everyone.

More America: hot dogs and hamburgers. I'm not sure you could buy them there, but probably wouldn't have been good anyway.

Classic Germany.

Ohio, because why not Ohio? And the Ohio booth serves Dutch french fries, so that's appropriate.

The fair seen as we were walking away. It was huge and amazing to see from above. They put the entire thing up amazingly quickly, and seemed to be gone with a few days afterwards.

It was one of the only times I went to the other side of the river, so it was beautiful to see the water and buildings from the other side. Those buildings (up close) were gorgeous and you can just barely see the line of cut trees (more like shrubs on trunks, really).

And the morning before I went to Venice, I took a walk to the bank down the street. This was main street in our little town, and it was such an idyllic place, quiet during the mornings and day, but more full in the evenings with people having a drink or a meal or people just walking around.

I ran almost every morning, and loved running through these cobblestone streets.

The church of the town. If you can see, there's tan bricks in the ground in front of the church (you can see between the tables and the bushes, on the right side of the church) was the place where the church used to be. It was too small, so they tore it down and built it again, bigger. During evenings, those tables were full with people enjoying the summer weather.

And onto my other adventures during my vacation time...

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