Prepare for Parents!

Both sets of parents are on their way to Europe as you read this!
We welcome them when they eventually join us in a few weeks time.  We’ve been busy planning all kinds of things to occupy their time, I hope we don’t wear them out!


Computer Museum Oldenburg: Monkey Island

The weekend offered something different and kind of special: a celebration of Monkey Island at the Computer Museum in Oldenburg.  We’ve failed to visit the Computer Museum on a few occasions, the most recent failure was when they had a gaming night.  We were keen but other plans intervened.  Turns out that the amount of old computer stuff on display is fairly impressive.  Most importantly you can still use or play a game on systems like the Commodore 64, the Atari 1040 (which, I think my parents still have – I hope so, “could be worth something”) and similar ancient but once important portals to other worlds.  I believe they also offer some games for each system, although I didn’t really explore this option because one game was installed on as many systems as possible: Monkey Island.  There was even one computer that was stuck on the screen, with a printed out of the results too, explaining that all the numerous attempts to install Monkey Island had failed.  All of the geeks could now chuckle.
Entry was only 2 Euro and they even offered some snacks and drinks by donation (with a recommended minimum donation).

For those of you who have never heard of Monkey Island, I’ll stoop down from my lofty perch and attempt to enlighten you just a small amount.  Weak intellectual one.  Monkey Island became a series of games based around a young chap, Guybrush Threepwood, who wants to be a pirate.  The game or games make fun of most things, including the main character’s name.  It’s the witty and humourous dialogue that makes the game shine.  The gameplay is simple, you point and click and can do a number of basic actions such as look, talk, pick up etc.  You have to solved puddles and riddles to progress.  A game where a sword fight is won by the man with the best insult and comeback combination is surely something different and worth attention.

Today, everybody, who hasn’t in a long time played the game, could enjoy it all again.  I couldn’t remember half of what you are supposed to do, I don’t even know which version of the game I had played before nor which one I was playing there.  It was in German too, so I had to try some rough translating, which was fun.  It’s actually a good tip for anybody learning another language, see if you can find some games in that language and play.  You’ll pick up many things!

Umlaut Codes

The German alphabet has a few additional letters, mostly vowels with a little accent above them.  These are called Umlauts.  They generally are pronounced as the vowel but with a short ‘e’ next to it, for example ü = ue.

If you find that you’re writing and you want to include these fancy letters, here’s what I’m memorising at the moment.

Ä     ALT+0196
ä     ALT+0228
Ö     ALT+0214
ö     ALT+0246
Ü     ALT+0220
ü     ALT+0252
ß     ALT+0223


In a tale that isn’t as magnificent nor with as much slow motion as a film with a similar name, I’ve reached 200 posts.  Ok it’s 100 short of the film, but you get the idea.

I’ve had the idea floated to me that perhaps I could make a book, I’m still contemplating it.  Maybe every 200 posts?


Had to mention that on the way home we stopped by the Restaurant Plünnhock, which is next to the Dankern See (which is a lake, ok).  We could imagine how alive the place will be in the next few months when the sun is out and the temperature gets to those roasty German 20s!  It was a very nice, but small town, obviously based on the tourist season, with many water themed attractions on offer.
The restaurant was very nice, good food, the walls were decorated with antiques and if it wasn’t for the poor weather, I’m sure the view is also great.

For those with the truly great interest: I ate a pork dish that had mustard and onions on it, that was then all covered in cheese and baked in the oven.  It was served with a gravy and a potato in a jacket with sour cream.  Ingrid ate Salmon with a creamy tomato based sauce and rice.

Düsseldorf: The Rich Man’s Berlin

Or the Poor Man’s Berlin, depending on which way you look at it.  What I mean to say is that things cost a lot more in Düsseldorf than in Berlin, so you have to be richer to live there.  It’s not quite as culturally rich as Berlin, but it’s not as big either so, there’s still time to catch up and become ‘better’ than Berlin, if possible.  In terms of the other major German cities I’ve visited it is certainly Berlin’s little brother, outgoing and multi-cultural, where the others are far more German-centric.

Ok!  Here’s the story!

It was St Patrick’s Day, we were reminded by an Asian woman who approached me in a Cafe in a Foodcourt.  She asked if I was from Ireland, a typical guess, it is the closest, most likely place a red head would come from.  BANG!  We started to search for Irish pubs, located one and immediately headed in.  With the luck of the Irish, we got a table.  The place was packed.  Guiness was on every table, drunk people wearing terrible gargantuan  Irish green Guiness hats were sucking down the beverages.  Some were attempting to play darts.
I ordered a Kilkenny, because I’m different.  We sat and we talked and we observed the people.  Our waiter only spoke English, I started eliminating accents and later confirmed that he’s from South Africa.  The menu in the Irish pub is for Mexican food.  That’s right, we ate Mexican food, in an Irish pub, in Germany that was being served by a South African!
There’s not much more to write of the night, truly, songs were sung, there was no dancing, we went back to the hotel and slept fairly early.

The next day was not so eventful either, the weather turned sulky, so we just cruised around a little bit, we ate at some Hipster salad free trade place across the road from the Irish Pub, which turned out to be on the main street or things to do in Düsseldorf.
At night we ended up in another Mexican restaurant.  The food was amazing!  We knew we’d hit somewhere important, the place was packed and more and more people were pouring in.  Turns out I get quite gassy after eating Mexican food…

Düsseldorf: The Drive and Day 1

Stephen wanted to be a part of my drive, but wanted to get off at Münster.  It wasn’t my plan to go so close to that city, but with Autobahns, everything is fairly close.  By avoiding the major highway, the A1, we also avoided pretty much anything worth writing about.  I dropped him off and was late getting to Düsseldorf.  This meant I missed Ingrid, who had only a short break for lunch.  I did manage to find a carpark, for free, in a very good position, so took advantage of what the Auto God granted me and then I went walking through the Nordpark, looking for a Restaurant to eat lunch.
Upon entering the Restaurant, I failed my first attempt of talking German… I thought that I could simply say “A table for one” (einen Tisch für eins – for those playing along) and would be pointed into the pretty much empty Restaurant.  The waiter had me repeat the phrase twice and then in English explained he didn’t understand.  I then said the English version of what I was saying in German and got the response I was hoping for…  After that I still ordered in German and later asked how I should have asked for the table and he added only two words: Haben Sie – Do you have.  -__-  Still it all goes into the brain bank for the future.
I ate, I drank, I did a little drawing and I waited for Ingrid to be available.
We shared an ice cream and Ingrid decided that we would be able to walk to Alt Stadt.

About an hour or so of walking, I believe she was regretting that decision.  Still we got to see the beautiful river that runs through the city, some of the architecture is typically old German and fantastic.  There is a lot of greenery, plenty of parks and lots of people jogging or riding bikes.
Once we were among the people, I noticed how many were speaking English, they all had accents from all over the world, but it seemed the common language was not the native tongue.  Very interesting for me, it is very different to the other German cities in this way (outside of Berlin, which is, really, a city of the world, so there is no native tongue).  Ok in Frankfurt or München, you’ll hear the odd American and 9 times out of 10 they are a tourist.  Even the greeting in Düsseldorf, in the shops and restaurants is “hi”.  I don’t think that is said in Berlin!