Better than Berlin?

It’s wet, cool to cold, grey here in Berlin.
Colombia just smashed Poland in the world cup (a little competition you might have heard about) and Berlin comes alive with an annoying amount of car horns!  To give you a sense of scale, crows flew as a flock, adding to the noise, settling themselves on the nearest tallest building.  It’s been around an hour and I imagine it’s only stopped now because the cars have pulled in somewhere to get drinks and party in a more sociable fashion.
Did this happen in your city?
I doubt it  (unless you’re in Colombia).
Berlin really is the best city in the world. It’s also the ugliest, just like some of the best actors, sportsmen, musicians, it only adds to the charm.

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Brutal Drive to Berlin

We woke up early (holiday early). I was up late the night before, sorting out some IT problem for Myriam as a token of appreciation for using her house and even her printer.
Breakfast with Sinisa and Zelkja was nice but too chatty. We had to drive +400km to Berlin!

The drive began well. Mateo slept the first 2 hours.
GPS on 2 phones failed.
Baby screaming.
KFC wasn’t great like it should be.
There were construction sites and accidents on all the major Autobahns on our way.
Baby screaming.
GPS works on one phone for a section then fails. The second phone’s GPS decides to work.
GPS tandem with screaming baby.
No afternoon coffee.
7ish hours from driveway to parking area of the hotel.
Once the luggage is in, it’s almost 10pm and the parking in front of the competing hotel is free until 9am.
Do not park here, do not pay 18€.

King Tolmie of Köln

We landed safely in Düsseldorf. The final flight had over 100 seats free which enabled us to take some space to relax. Mateo flirted with all the stewardesses. He even got a few kisses.
Tolmie has lived in Köln for a few months now and has a favourite beer from the region as well as favourite places to go to for said beer and sometimes a side of food. His girlfriend is lovely. They both were very patient with us, it was very easy going with them. Sometimes, a little too much for our requirements… we normally eat breakfast during the hours before midday, they take it as the time comes. Tolmie and I talk so long about so many subjects that we were starving by the time we’d leave to get food.
We walked quite a bit, one trip down the Rhein, the rest around the more local area. Due to baby schedules, we had to abandon the lovely couple, dramatically changing their plans, so the little guy could sleep or was appropriately cared for.
Köln is very “hip”, an attempt at some of the Berlin, London, Sydney’s inner west, thang.
Tolmie’s best burgers were not a stand out.
We didn’t see the Dome.

Dis Time in Düsseldorf

We’ve been busy the last few days preparing for our trip back to Germany. We’re going to visit Tolmie in Düsseldorf before doing the tour of friendship.
 Today saw us go to Sydney for the Sydney Film Festival and to buy presents for those we didn’t already have something to give. The film we saw was a documentary called “lots of kids, a monkey and a castle”. It was a hilarious Spanish film about a family who’s Matriarch had 3 wishes when she was married: the title are the wishes. All these wishes came true. The documentary only briefly mentioned the monkey, showing a photo.
We then discovered that Paddy’s Markets in Sydney is only opened from Wednesday to Sunday. Not at all how I remember it. We also discovered that the Vietnamese Café and Bakery behind Sydney’s Central Station stirs the condensed milk into their coffee, which led Ingrid to saying that it was the worst coffee she’d ever had. We’ve been on the hunt for Vietnamese Coffee for some time, this was quite a let down.
How would you end your day? That’s a waste of time. We modified some cardboard boxes to attempt to send an artwork that’s made of glass overseas, like normal people do.
I’ll see if I get to write about the rest of our Hobbit slaying trip before Thursday or while we’re in Germany.

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

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…