Thursday, August 04, 2005


I came, I saw, I was Jet Lagged

4 Aug 2005

Arrived in Werden this morning right on schedule, in fact a little ahead of schedule. The flights were all on time. The first leg, from Duluth to Detroit, was not much fun. I had the bulkhead seat, meaning no seat in front of me under which to tuck my size 12s. I dozed a little, just enough to miss the beverage service. In addition, the lav was out of order (not important to me since I planned ahead), the A/C was weak, and the plane rolled past its mark when parking and had to be pushed back a few inches so the gangway would reach the door.

Leg 2 was uneventful, other than I did not get any sleep. Steerage was packed, so there was no room to stretch even a little. And there are so many things to do on a plane these days. There is a LCD screen in front of each seat where you can watch one of a dozen or so movies, play video games, and for a fee you can even send that important email message that can't wait until you reach the next airport.

The final leg took me from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf ("...and that is why they call me Rolf.") on a KLM Cityhopper -- a 50 passenger Fokker with the wing above the fuselage. The flight attendants (who pronounce it "Kay-lem") had just shy of a dozen passengers to entertain on the 30 minute flight. Saw my first castle of the day as we neared the Dusseldorf aerodrome.

Thank goodness some kindly souls from the German Saab Club had sent me instructions on which trains to take to get to my destination, the Essen-Werden Youth Hostel. There were a couple of false starts because the tickets are issued by machine, not a living person, and the instructions are in German, no English. I would have been completely lost. Made it to the Essen-Werden station without further incident and took a taxi to the YH instead of the bus. The bus costs 2 euro and drops off about a block away; the taxi took me to the door for 5 euro, including tip, of course. I was all checked in and ready for a nap before 10am.

Took a sort of nap for a couple of hours, then walked down the hill into the village of Werden for lunch. It was on that walk past lush green forest that I took my first photo of the trip… a banana slug. (It did not become part of lunch.) There were a few places open, but I chose the Café Werden, right near city center and close by the Ruhr River. The proprietress did not know enough English to explain the menu offerings, so – sensing my adventurous spirit -- finally said, “If I make a choice, will you eat it?”

“Sure!” said I.

I don’t know what it was exactly. It was thinly-sliced marinated pork in a roll with a rich brown gravy and fried baby potatoes, with red cabbage on the side. Accompanied by a Diebels Altbier, it was the perfect meal to start my German tour. I told her this must be heaven and that she was certainly an angel. That much English she understood.

I walked around the downtown shopping district for a couple of hours, had some fresh-made ice cream in the perfect after dinner small size for only 50 cents, watched several children splashing in the town fountain, and wandered in to the Katholisch Kirche of St. Ludgerus to marvel at the architecture and the statues.

Caught the bus back up the hill and took a nap for another hour or so. Cleaned up and went in search of supper, settling on the strangely named “Funghi Pizza.” Strange to me, at least, as I imagined the menu would feature all manner of mushroom choices. I was wrong. If not for the earlier meal, this would certainly have been the highlight of my day. It was chicken, salami, ham and mushrooms with half a hard boiled egg perched in the center.

Accompanied by another glass of Diebels Altbier, of course.

It is now past 23,00 local time (4:00pm in Minnesota) and I have only had a few hours of nap time, so am hoping for a good night’s rest. For those who may not know, Youth Hostels are generally dormitory style living, with several bunks to a room and the showers and toilet across the hall. Fortunately there are few people staying here, so I have a room to myself. One thing I do not have is a towel. This YH does provide clean sheets, but towels are 3 euro extra. I meant to pack one, but somehow it did not make it into the suitcase.

(posted 12 Aug 2005)

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