I want to sleep in Shanghai

Just writing first to let my families and AJ’s family know that I’m safe.
Last night I was in the area of Wiesbaden, staying at a friend’s place before the flight. He offered (and we tried) to eat Ostrich, kitchen was closed. We had a drink and went to the next nearest restaurant. I must say that the Rhein area here is beautiful, many castles, the water, the forests and generally everything compliments the place. Unfortunately the smaller towns are a little distant, it took around 30 minutes to get to the “next” restaurant. We ate very normal food.
The next morning went fairly well, my friend Morgan, drove me direct to the airport. My bags were checked through to Sydney and I had the pleasure of discovering Japanese whisky at Frankfurt airport! I tried 4 different types.
My seat rows were the first called, sweet… once in the air I discovered there was no whisky on the flight and after my first beer all they had left was red wine!!
We landed safely and I found Shanghai airport quite confusing. The signs are fairly vague and nobody really directs anything.
I learned that the WIFI doesn’t allow you to use Whatsapp,  it turns out all over China has this ban, which is why I’m putting energy into the blog.
I caught the fast train to the city centre, got a photo at 431km/hr and after quite a lot of walking, I had dumplings for lunch at Century Park. To accompany them was a nice black tea with lemon and honey.
Shanghai is easiestly the tallest city I’ve visited, but it feels dead, no pubs or bars, even cafés are rare, although there’s a Starbucks in every building. The people look disinterested. I did notice that the numerous KFCs were lacking fries, it could be a factor. My walking had me going to Fumi Coffee for a coffee and boy is the service there actually service! The coffee was also good. The place was too warm and I was close to falling asleep, so I decided to say goodbye to Shanghai and returned to the airport.
My feeling is that Shangai is the precursor to the future world depicted in Blade Runner: everything is big, advertising is all over and inescapable, there’s a lot of enforcement just being around and there’s this kind of city grime.

Ingrid and Mateo, love you!! xoxox

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Frank’s English Night

Once a week Frank goes to a church operated class to improve his English and at the end of the year his class meets to have dinner together. Frank thought it would be good to ask the Australians along, particularly my dad, to test his teacher’s English ability.
The teacher piked. She said she was sick but Ingrid highly suspects that a person rarely let’s illness stop them on an event they organise.
We sat at the hat of the capital T formation of the tables. The lady nearest my parents put her lessons to use, introduced herself and explained how she travels every year, for 25 years, always to Thailand. Other than Frank, nobody seemed to talk English.
OK, not quite true.
A part of the event was a game using “joke” presents. A lady at the other end of the table tried to explain the rules in English and really made a mess of it. The sentences she was saying didn’t even make sense if you tried to replace it in German…
So that being said, my mum won a trophy. It’s a strange gift to get or win or whatever, but she got it. My dad won a guttering leaf filter and I won some biscuits.
It was something different, it was kind of fun, the pub got so packed that it got very warm and I drove Frank home at the end of it all.

Disappearance of Carlos

We currently have 7 adults at home and the back seat of our car can make 2 adults uncomfortable sitting next to the baby seat, so organising a trip out for us all can be a little difficult. A few days ago, we went with Carlos to the city centre of Hooksiel and sent him to look at the bus schedules to let us know when and where the buses go. He was unsuccessful. I don’t know.
The agreement this day, at least as I understood it, was that he’d go jogging and return within an hour and we’d go to the Christmas market in Wilhelmshaven. We were all in the process of getting ready. The little one being fed and changed, all his bags packed. The grandparents were cleaning themselves, getting their gift wish lists sorted, so they could go directly to the right place to look for the gift. The hour passed and there was no Carlos. He didn’t answer his phone.
Two hours turned to three hours and we were torn. We needed to go but what if the guy is lost somewhere? Why won’t he answer his phone?
We wrote him a message so that if he returned home, he’d be OK, then we left for the market.
It turned out he was there already, had been for most of the time. He decided that we were all going there and he had a friend who was in the area, so he used the opportunity to go there himself. It never occurred to him to tell anyone…

Picking up my Parents

The plan was to drive to Frankfurt, scoop the parents up and return as quickly as possible. It would take around 10 hours as a round trip. That’s why the plan was changed. The first recommendation was to take a passenger alone: Carlos or Francisco. That could have worked and after we’d had dinner, that seemed to be settled. Then came the idea to look at buses or trains with maybe the return journey involving renting a car. A bus could go direct and would only cost 19€ and 7 hours of my day. There are trains, many of them are needed to get to Frankfurt and it isn’t as cheap as the bus.

The plan was decided, it was midnight and I’d be getting the direct bus in 5 hours. After meeting my parents, we’d talk about how we’d like to return.
Sorry for all that information but the actual trip was very uninteresting, the bus wasn’t full, nobody sat next to me.
I met my parents without trouble, we drank a coffee and decided to take the bus home. The trip was so remarkable that my parents took turns sleeping during the journey.
We’re all safely in the holiday house, thanks for asking. There’s a total of seven adults, making day trips full of organisation and coordination. Everyone is getting along well.

First Snow!

We had a baby! Most people will call him Mateo. When pushed, they can include his middle name Arthur. We are so happy to have the little guy in the world, he brings us much joy and trades that for sleep (I’m not sure that the exchange rate is quite fair, but it is what it is).
Today we had to visit the hospital, of course that means it had to snow. No way out of it, had to hit the roads. It’s not normally a problem, drive a sensible speed, don’t accelerate rapidly, don’t hit the brakes too hard and even if there’s fresh powdered snow on the road, your car will get you there. What you cannot properly account for is the idiots in a hurry who still cling to their speed while the car is sliding out of control. I’m impressed, as always, that there aren’t as many deaths on the road in Germany as there rightly should be. It’s not because of the driver’s skill, they have none, it has to be the reasoning behind “German engineering” – it has to be superior, to level the playing field with the lack of driver ability.

Hopefully it’ll snow fresh for Christmas… a White Christmas would be perfect!

We’re planning on visiting some Christmas Markets while Carlos, Ingrid’s brother, is visiting friends. It means we can all fit in the car, but while he’s here, unfortunately, at least one of us has to stay behind, always. With the weather the way it is, that will make things hard/interesting. We don’t want to risk the health of our new born, of course, so is it really worth it? How will this riddle be solved? Stay tuned for our answers, when I get around to writing what we did.
Tonight we’re going out for dinner to celebrate Ingrid’s parents meeting 39 years ago. They’ve been married 35 years. It’s very sweet. On the way to the restaurant, there’s a house that take Christmas lights very seriously. We’ll see how they react to it when they see it for the first time on the way.

In other, not so interesting news, I learned that Ingrid’s mother writes her name with either a Y or an I at the beginning, depending on what she is writing it for.

Boys’ Burger Night

I originally had plans to pack up the apartment and get our stuff into a van to move to greener pastures. Everybody else must have had the same thought,  all the vans were booked out. I had to cancel my moving personnel, except, then I thought, maybe I could get things ready to dump into a van, when it is available. So I organised to have Khaled over to dismantle some things and also organised that we’d meet with Haitham for dinner.
Things ran late, I was starving, nothing was dismantled, Khaled arrived and we ditched work for the chance to eat.
I don’t know why but Haitham was the king of the day and it was his choice as to where we’d eat. He chose what I consider to be one of the least exciting places in Wilhelmshaven. It’s not that the place is bad, the food is pretty good actually, it’s just that everyone seems to choose here or the American joint.
The guys ordered burgers… another not so inspiring choice. I decided to make fun of them and partly because of eating a burger recently with Ingrid, I ordered a schnitzel.
We talked crap for 3 hours with topics such as: your glass is dirty or has detergent in it and that’s why the head of the beer dissipates quickly, getting Khaled a girl, babies, moving houses and languages.
After paying, we dropped off Haitham at a Nepalese Night his wife helped organise.

Back to Bremen and Back Again

Ingrid’s brother has graduated his Masters degree in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her/his parents, naturally, wanted to be there for the ceremony. We booked them some cheap tickets so that they could spend 5 days in the -2 to 4 degree warmth.
The morning was a bit stressful, in part, because of a miscommunication that lead me to believe they were completely late and were going to miss their flight. Luckily it was only a miscommunication, they were delivered to the airport, safely and with more than enough time to catch their flight, have a coffee and relax. I didn’t know that until afterwards.
The highlight of their trip, other than seeing their son graduate, was a tour of a whisky distillery. They also have around 4000 different whiskies, including an affordable £5000 bottle.
Picking them up involved extra luggage. Ingrid’s brother, Carlos, accompanied them back and will be staying with us until mid-January.
No whisky was brought back…