Frohe neues Jahr aus Düsseldorf!

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January 6th 2012
Published: January 6th 2012
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Jana and I at the Rhein.

I hope everyone is having a happy start to their New Year!

I must admit, New Year’s is not my favorite holiday. I think everyone has a holiday that just does not treat them well year after year after year and New Year’s always seems to be mine. However, I broke the curse this year! Hopefully it sticks.

Getting off the train I wasn’t exactly sure where to meet Jana. I got a German SIM card, but it keeps saying I’m roaming and my phone just is not cooperating here in Germany so I didn’t really have any way to reach her, so I just waited and watched all of the people going by looking for her bright blonde hair. It was SO exciting to see her! I honestly can’t believe it has been over eleven years since she was at our house. She hasn’t changed much though, she is still so happy and smiling and laughing all the time! She and her fiancé, Andreas, picked me up and their apartment was close enough we could just walk there. The have the coolest apartment! It is on the top floor
No Debt!No Debt!No Debt!

This is how long Dusseldorf has been debt FREE! Pretty impressive!
of their building and so it has this really awesome view of the city, especially at night and especially for watching fireworks! My room is super cool. It’s up in their little loft and I have a little munchkin hole to get there. Just as cozy as my little nook at Elisabeth’s! 😊

I got into Düsseldorf at around 5:00pm and when we got to Jana’s apartment Andreas made us dinner. Jana has nabbed herself a SUPER good cook. It was pasta with red pesto and chicken and roasted tomatoes…holy cow. This was borderline the best pasta I’ve ever had. Uh. He even made it look all professional with some herbs placed on top. I like Andreas. Haha!

After dinner we just sat around and talked and caught up for, oh, about five hours, hahaha! There’s a lot to catch up on after so long! Mostly Jana had lots of questions about what I have been up to through high school, college and now my time abroad. There’s a lot that happens between the ages of 9 and 20, I guess, haha! But there is a lot that happens between 17 and 28 too!
Mint TeaMint TeaMint Tea

This is the amazing mint tea that was just hot water and mint leaves!
Jana now works in a town about an hour’s drive outside of Düsseldorf, but she has spent time working in other cities around Germany (including Paderborn, also known as Paderboring, hahaha I thought that was a funny one), but she also spent three months working in Copenhagen and even three months working in Madrid and has even traveled down to Johannesburg, South Africa for work! Although she only got to be there for two days, such a long flight for such a short time!! She and Andreas have traveled lots and lots! I can’t read all of their travel guides but I love looking at them! This year, well last year now 😊, they went to Vietnam! And for their wedding trip they would like to go to Namibia! So interesting!! (In case you don’t know where it is, it’s a country north of South Africa and on the west coast).

Jana must get the travel bug from her Dad because she showed me a photo of the trip he took last year to ride a Harley down Route 66! Apparently he liked it so much he would like to make it a regular thing every couple of years! Right now he is busy getting their house ready for her and Andreas’ wedding in May that they are having at her parent’s house!

We also got to reminisce about some of her time in the States; the most memorable is of course our family trip to Washington D.C. where long-legged, power-walking Dad took us all over the city. “We walked so much that those days and we were so tired, and your Dad walks so fast and has such long legs!” Hahaha!! We still make fun of Dad for that week where we didn’t take one metro, bus, taxi, or car…what a work out. Haha!

The next day we woke up late and had some breakfast along with lots more catching up and then took a little tour of the city! Düsseldorf is really a pretty cool town (even in the rain 😊). It sounds like it has a lot of young people. There were lots of little restaurants, pubs, bars and breweries…I suppose all of those are just synonyms for places where they sell beer. Düsseldorf is known for its dark beer and Köln is known for its light beer. Jana and Andreas said Düsseldorf also has really good mustard. I might have to grab some for Mom, because if you have met my Mom you know she LOVES hot mustard. She likes spicy mustard, but I’m not talking about spicy mustard, I’m talking about clear-your-sinuses-makes-your-eyes-water HOT mustard, which isn’t in nearly as high supply as it is here in Germany.

We walked around for a while but stopped for some coffee on our way back to Jana and Andreas’ apartment. Jana ordered mint tea and it was unlike any tea I have ever seen! It was just really steaming hot water with real mint leaves all up in it. No actual “tea” just mint leaves and water! I mean, it makes sense, I’ve just never seen it before!

In the café there were lots of fliers for New Year’s Eve parties going on around the city. One of them cost 90 euro. For 90 euro I better be meeting, like, a B-list celebrity or something, but Andreas said all the 90 euros got you was in the building, no food or drinks. Well, thankfully we had a GREAT New Year’s Eve and it only cost some cheese fondue.

We went two floors down from Jana and Andreas’ apartment to their friends Karin and Henrik. Andreas said, “You get a very international New Year’s because you are with a half-Russian, a person from Turkey and two Germans!” Karin is originally from Turkey and Andreas was actually born in Kyrgyzstan and lived there until he was nine, so he can understand Russian which is pretty cool. And using his very handy iPad2 we got to see his school and his house he lived it on Google Earth. Then we had a sort conversation about how exactly does Google get the photos for the “Street View” pictures? Can you really get those from a satellite? Anyone? Anyone? Buller? Buller?

Well, back to New Years; Henrik and Karin are such a nice couple! They offered to let us have dinner in their dining room because they were going to have to completely clean it out today anyways to get it ready for their new baby girl that is due at the end of January. They are also SO funny. Jana goes, “Yes, Karin is also a very good member at my fitness center, like me, haha!” (Jana)

“Yes, I am a very good customer. I pay every month.”

Karin is really quick; I thought she was so funny! Well past midnight! Her husband Henrik is just as funny though. “We got the most amazing new washing machine! It knows when you put the clothes in and it tells you how long it will take to dry the clothes without pressing any buttons. It is so intelligent! There must be Chinese people in there!”

We spent the evening cooking and preparing our dinner of cheese fondue, appetizers and all different types of meat. Oh the meat! Chicken, beef, pork, and lamb. Mmmmm…

We just hung around and played games, and I got to watch the “Dinner for One” German tradition on Silvester. It’s actually a show in English from around the 50’s I would guess, about 15 minutes long, and the consensus seems to be that it really isn’t even funny, but they watch it every year and it’s on all the channels and everyone in Germany watches it. I’d explain it, but times like this are why God invented YouTube, so I’ll just post the link:

But, the best part of the night was the fireworks. Jana and Andreas say their apartment is quite small, but the view from their balcony makes up for it. Fact. We went up stair to their apartment to watch the fireworks go off all over the city just as midnight came around. I have honestly never seen anything like it, not even at Fourth of July. All of the fireworks going off all at once, and we literally had the best place to see them all. We could see the fireworks that the city lit off on the Rhein River as well as all of the fireworks the people lit off on the streets. Watching all of the fireworks go off (for well over a half-an-hour) was one of those few moments in life where you think to yourself that you are most definitely where you are supposed to be. That you are in the right place in the right time and that this is a moment you will never forget. The moment I stood on a balcony in the middle of Düsseldorf and watched the city bring in 2012 in a shower of sparks and flashes that lit up the fog and clouds as well as reflected in the windows of the skyscrapers. It was so, so, so cool. There are moments were I really miss home and wonder what everyone else is doing, but this was not one of them.

Fireworks were banned from being lit off from the balconies in the city, but just watching them was definitely enough. However to make sure we weren’t missing out we got some sparklers! Jana asked, “What do you call these in English, Devin? Wundercandle?”

“Oh, we call those Sparklers, but Wundercandles works! Haha!”

“Haha! Well, my Dad, I don’t know, he likes to speak English but he doesn’t speak it very well and so when he doesn’t know a word he just likes to make them up like he thinks they should be and he calls these Wundercandles! Hahaha!”

Well, I’ve decided. Wundercandles it is. I like that way better than sparklers, hahaha! But you have to say it with a German accent. Otherwise you are saying wrong. This one European trend I am most surly bringing back with me. There are so many, I only have room to bring back the good ones and this one is on the list up with sleeping in until 8:30 or 9:00 every morning (courtesy of Spain), having a little cup of gelato and espresso after lunch (Italy), rotisserie chicken with a baguette and Chèvre (Paris), and using the word “dodgy” as our waiter in Gibraltar did; so Germany gets the word Wundercandle. I suppose there are far more sophisticated things I could try to implement in the American world, but these are the ones I think I would get lots of enjoyment out of, so we’ll start with these and move out from here.

After the Wundercandles, a celebratory cheers with Campaign and another game of “Wizard” a card game that sounds like it could start a family war like Canasta did when Conor and I tried to teach it to our parents, Jana and I called it a night at 4:30. Four-thirty!! I don’t think I have stayed up that late (voluntarily) since I was about 13! Andreas had to finish his beer, which took about two more hours, haha! However he still woke up at the same time as Jana and I at 12:15. You would think that we would be in a hurry to get out the door and make use of the rest of the day, be we are not a people in a hurry. Late breakfast, chatting at the table and a movie. I think we can all agree that that is “Devin” style. 😊

Andreas was nice enough to go to the video store and get some movies that also come in English that we could watch while I was there. The first pick was “The Whistleblower.” I wasn’t even sure if I had heard of it. Funny story, the film starts out with a policewoman living in Lincoln, Nebraska who is trying to get a transfer because ex-husband is moving with her daughter to Dalton, Georgia! (In case some of you are confused, Dalton is where Uncle Rick, Aunt Lyn and Kelly used to live before they moved up to Seneca). The rest of the movie wasn’t so funny. It was good, but it was intense. Not for the weak-hearted or weak-stomached, really. It’s about human trafficking in the Ukraine.

The other
My New Year's Saxophone!My New Year's Saxophone!My New Year's Saxophone!

It means I will re-connect with old friends!
movie however was “Midnight in Paris” which Jana and I thoroughly enjoyed! Andreas however had to head to bed because he had to get up to drive to work in another town for a few days.

In between the movies though, we did get out of the apartment and drove to Köln to see the Cathedral there and go to have dinner with Andreas’ sister Olga. The Cathedral was pretty amazing. It’s SO tall! I have to say. Some days I feel as though I have seen every cathedral in Western Europe between Cádiz and the North Sea. I know I haven’t, but there are a LOT of cathedrals in Europe, and while all of them seem similar, they are all pretty cool. The one in Köln will stick out in my mind. It’s the only cathedral I have been to while a mass was going on, and (this may sound silly) but it’s the only one I’ve seen where the prayer candles are actually candles. Every other cathedral has had just little light bulbs that look like candles. I’m sorry, but these huge cathedrals are all made out of stone, I just don’t think they are
Colonge CathedralColonge CathedralColonge Cathedral

So tall it doesn't even fit in the picture!
going to catch fire. The real candles are so pretty I can stare at them for minutes and minutes. And minutes may not seem like a long time, but hey, when you are just looking at a candle in a cold cathedral multiple minutes is respectable.

We got to meet Andreas’ sister Olga for dinner after. Olga is really, really nice too. She is actually planning a trip to the States this year and she is going to Miami, where most of my friends went for Spring Break last year, so I actually got to help her out a bit because she is trying to keep it as cheap as possible and I knew of a particularly fun hostel all my friends stayed at. She is also really excited to go to the Abercrombie & Fitch in New York City. Y’all I don’t know what A&F did, but it is like the new hot thing in Europe. I remember when Conor was a freshman in high school and Abercrombie was what everyone wore, but it really isn’t popular anymore. Well, Abercrombie has had a re-birth in Europe and just opened up its first store in Germany here
Sweet DreamSweet DreamSweet Dream

That was the name of my Chicken Schnitzel!
in Düsseldorf. If you guys want to make some serious money, sell your old Abercrombie & Fitch stuff on eBay to Europeans because they love it! People wait in line outside the store just trying to get in. I told Olga that if she wants to have an Abercrombie store nearly all to herself she should take a trip to Southpointe Shopping Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. Apparently the store on 5th Avenue in New York has a constant line to get in and it’s usually all tourists from overseas. Again I got to feel sort of useful when I told her that if she waited until she got to Miami there would for sure be an Abercrombie with no queue to get in.

For dinner though, a lot of places were closed because of the holiday, but we found a very traditional German brewery that was open and had good food; namely schnitzel. Our waitress was so funny and attentive. “Oh, you all look so tired, don’t worry I’ll take care of you.” I guess we still looked tired from the night before haha! The rest was a little tougher, because she obviously spoke German most of the time. However the schnitzel lived up to the hype. Mmm mmm good! I thought about getting the Weinerschnitzel in honor of Conor since I think he lived on that for two weeks straight when we were here 10 years ago, but I just don’t have the heart to eat veal. Sorry Conor, chicken for me. 😊 I also got to try a traditional Köln beer. Köln is known for lighter beer and Düsseldorf for darker. I don’t think beer is my drink. Maybe I have to develop a taste for it, but…eh.

Jana had the next day off of work, not poor Andreas 😞, so she said “I was thinking we could go to Holland on Monday if you like? I mean if that sounds cool to you?” Oh yeah, we’ll just drive on over to Holland. Yes it sounds cool! So tomorrow I will tell you all about how we just hopped on over to the Netherlands. Isn’t Europe awesome?

I love and miss you all and I hope your 2012 has started out as nicely as it has here. 😊 Except for the Huskers and the Tigers. New Year’s Resolution: Score more touchdowns and fumble less on the 1 yard line.

Love always,

Devin 😊


6th January 2012

full of LOL-factor
"...It is so intelligent! There must be Chinese people in there!” Bahahahahahaha!!! Best quote EVER!!
7th January 2012

Haha! I know! Matti and Christian are hilarious! I they had so many but I either couldn't remember them by the time I got to my blog, or they were in German! Uhg! But Henrik and Karin were full of great quotes all evening long. There are so many times where I just wish there was someone else here to hear all this stuff, its priceless!!

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