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Düsseldorf (Oct 12 - Oct 13, 2011)

Düsseldorf is pretty cool.  According to Julia they’re the “nice, happy, friendly people of Germany” - which, after meeting Berliners (the people not the donuts) doesn’t really say much.  But realistically they’re friendly even by American standards.  Baltimore-DC friendly.  Inner Harbor Baltimore not “The Wire” Baltimore.  What I’m trying to say is, they’re a decent city, they’re friendly, and they’re not hicks.  (skip to the bottom for the concise version of the trip)

Berlin Air: Do not try to get the flight attendant’s attention if they’re not directly addressing you.  I waited behind a flight attendant for 10 minutes trying to get to my seat and they made no effort to move the cart or acknowledge that I was trying to get to my seat.  I also flagged a flight attendant down only to be nodded at and then ignored.  Fuck you, we just want to get drunk on this flight.  Gotta love friendly German service.  

Day 1:  Arrived at DUS, got greeted by a nice German girl with a sign at the airport.  Took a nap.  Woke up refreshed and took the bus train truss*(1) to the mall - which is basically just like any mall you would see in America, except they replaced the “Forever 21” with “Forever 18” (does that have to do with the drinking age?).  Of note, the city is pretty ethnically diverse (considering my last trip was to Japan where everyone was GASP Japanese - no seriously, whites were rare and special unicorns, and I literally saw 5 black people in the 10 days I was there) Also saw a McDonalds and felt compelled to see if it was any different…they did have a greek wrap, and a ton of different dipping sauces, but the burgers were standardly shitty.  Yes I ate one.  

*truss: What Julia, and probably the rest of Düsseldorf referred to as a train, but it ran above ground on electronic tracks on the street among the cars. Seeing as we didn’t know the exact technical qualifications for a trolley are…truss.  Oh and no McDonalds on the truss (see above photo).  Or as I interpreted this, “No Aracely, No Risa”

After that we went home, showered and got dressed for dinner at a Greek restaurant.  I guess even when I flee the country to get away from my job for my birthday (side note: none of my bosses acknowledged my bday despite the fact that I cancelled all my bday plans to do extra work for them <—-me being a brat) I still end up surrounded by Greeks.  The food was pretty damn good.  The place specialized in lamb, and we confused the hell out of the waiter by not speaking German, and ordering in English, then answering him in Greek when he brought out food and our multiple shots of Metaxa in glasses with Ionic column stems.  

After that we went salsa dancing, which means, I went drinking in a corner alone watching people dance.  Although some sweaty guy from Barbados tried to teach me to dance (#fail) and then I sat and made friends with a Brit whose friend tours Europe going to salsa conventions.  Julia also made a friend who walked us home, while me and Aracely pranced down the street estatic about the lack of open container laws (2).  We also encountered this interaction (3).

Guy at kiosk: Where are you from?
Me: What?  We don’t sound German?
Guy: Actually, you look Jamaican
Us: WTF! 

Day 2: Woke up, bought train (real train) tickets to Berlin, then the Amuurrricans took the train to the main part of the city and agreed to meet Julia at the McDonalds (4).  Took a stroll around the town and “Längste Theke der Welt” or “The Longest Bar in the World” (it’s not one bar, it’s a street of bars).  After that we walked over to the Rhine River which made for a very picturesque walk, albeit a bit breezy.  We also got to see a nice church with a rather grotesque crucifixion sculpture, and a bunch of great dark, narrow alleyways perfect for any rapist looking for new stomping grounds.  We also walked by the touristy section which reminded me a lot of Little Italy with small streets with tons of restaurants and people cat calling us in Italian to try to get us inside.  Don’t ask why in Italian, I’m blaming it on Aracely’s Prada glasses.  

 (Rhine)

At some point we got hungry and went to Frite Box for some fries, then Starbucks for some hot tea (where we tried to sneak pictures of Asians there to prove to Jacque that they do exist in Germany), and then shopping!  (Yeah Leather shorts!)  Eventually we wandered back towards McDonalds where someone stopped us and tried to sell us insurance or something in German to which Aracely responded by looking him dead in the face and saying “I don’t speak English.”  

A bit later Julia met back up with us and we walked towards the Rhine Tower along the River.  You will never get a better Düsseldorf tour guide than Julia.  The city itself is really heavy on great architecture and art in general and seeing as she’s an interior design student she was able to give us all the history on the buildings and such.  We checked out the KIT museum, which a cool, small underground space with modern art exhibits.  Then the Rhine TV Tower for a sick panoramic view of the city, followed by a walk by the Frank Ghery buildings, some more touristy stuff (buildings, rivers and photos galore) then Woytons for tea and a snack then home for a nap.

 (view from the Rhine Tower)(Frank Ghery buildings)

We also at some point during the day got addicted to “Loca People” by Sak Noel but modified the words for our trip from “Johnny, la gente esta muy loca” to

Julia, Die Leute sind sehr verrückt! What the Fuck!

which also became our vacation anthem.  And one of two sentences I learned in German.

Later that night we went back to the Longest Bar in the World for dinner and got to try things Julia referred to as “it’s really special” - AKA traditional German food she was afraid to recommend to us, which turned out to be frikadelle (meatballs), kartofell suppe (potato soup with sausage), mett (pork tartar - yes pork), blutwurst (blood sausage), und leberwurst (liver sausage).  It was all fucking delicious, although it did take us the whole meal to figure out what meat the “mett” was.  Regardless, I could’ve eaten 50 plates of the mett and leberwurst.  Fucking delicious ass food.  We also got to finally try Alt Bier which is the local specialty.  Basically it’s a dark beer with a bitter hoppy taste.  Delish!(Alt Bier)

At some point, Julia’s friend Peter met up with us and joined us for our bar crawl which took us to this literal hole in the wall:

where they served shots to go.  Another “local specialty” (or as Julia puts it “something special” - a phrase which started making me nervous at this point) called killepitsch which tasted like a thicker version of Jaeger.  Ick.  Then it was off to Kreuzherreneck which is “the best and oldest bar in Düsseldorf” - according to Julia, where we tried “something special” called Salniaki which tasted like licorice (vomit).  While there we met some drunk Belgians who lacked the concept of personal space for asians, or people in general, and chose to speak to me atthisdistancebetweenourfaces while I cowered in the corner.  

Eventually Francisco joined our parade after we stole him from a pizza shop (Düsseldorf has awesome pizza FYI) and we went to club 3001 which was featuring a “Milch bar” which pretty much sounded horrible to my semi-lactose intolerant Asian stomach so I stuck with vodka tonics.  The club itself was pretty cool, it was also huge.  There was a downstairs floor which opened up to the ceiling and a mezzanine where smoking was allowed which had 2 more bars as well as some lounge tables.  The main area was mostly white with cool light effects on the walls and the guys told me that the club had featured some pretty big name DJ’s in the past.  The was also a small Western themed room (or at least that’s what my drunk memory recalls it as) where they were playing pretty much the same generic pop/dance music that I would expect in the US.  Julia, Aracely and Peter took to dancing, while I drunkenly tried to persuade Francisco to climb Mt. Everest with me (that quote “always do sober what you promised to drunk, that’ll teach you to keep your mouth shut” comes to mind) and then we made friends with a French dude which let me drunkenly practice speaking French, which I think came out pretty shitty, but that’s just another one of the occupational hazards of being a drunk.  At some point after that we stumbled home drunk, ready for Berlin the next day. 

2 Day Visit Generalizations … or Summary
Düsseldorf is a cool small city.  Everything is no more than 15 minutes away by truss (or so I experienced), and the people are pretty friendly.  Everyone speaks English, and people are willing to be helpful without giving you the stereotypical “German attitude.”  There are clubs, bars and restaurants aplenty, and a diverse population, which means if you’re staying a while you have the option for a bunch of different types of cuisine.  There’s a cool architecture scene with a mix of old and new (churches vs Frank Ghery) and picturesque views along the Rhine - where I’m told people BBQ and sunbathe in the summer (not an option while I was there). Fashion still errs on the side of darker colors, and has that European casual to hipster kind of thing going on - which is fine with me.  I’d definitely say stop in for a visit if you have the chance, but you won’t have a tour guide as good as our Julia!

Tips for Düsseldorf

(1) if you’re only taking the truss a few stops, don’t bother getting a metrocard (or whatever it’s called, fuck you, everything’s New York to me) as you can hop on and off without ever dealing with the driver/conductor.  Although apparently there are undercover agents that might ask you but we never encountered one.  

(2) THERE ARE NO OPEN CONTAINER LAWS.  Feel free to be a delinquent and chug your beer on the street sans paper bag.  

(3) Almost everyone we met in Düsseldorf spoke English.  Not necessarily fluently, but definitely enough to get by.  And they’re much nicer than the French about you just running up to them and speaking English without prefacing it with “Sprechen Sie Englisch?”

(4) If you stand in front of a McDonalds, there will always be a Burger King in seeing distance.  So if you’re particular about your fast food burgers - Düsseldorf gives you options.  There are also always Woytons across from Starbucks.  

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