This weekend, fate, and my boss, did me a solid, I had both Saturday and Sunday off of work. Two whole days spent hanging out completely sans-power plant in Germany. On Saturday, Ms. Müller and I took off to spend a few hours in Dusseldorf. The little area in which I spend the vast majority of my time out here is right between Dusseldorf and Cologne. I’ve been to Cologne a bunch of times, but I’d only been to Dussledorf once, and I’ll be honest, I had a fair amount to drink that night, so I’m not really sure if it even counted…
So we drove from Bergheim to Grevenbroich, and then took the train into the city. There we spent a few hours walking around, getting some food, strolling along the Rhine, and I did my best to wear out Ms. Müller’s patience by stopping every two seconds to take pictures. If you feel so compelled, come along on our little stroll.
Switching trains in Neuss.
The monster train station in Dusseldorf…
Ever. Some of my friends have astutely observed that this dude looks a shitload like Rod Stewart.
Like this. No clue what any of it is, I never, ever do.
The canals that run through town. Pretty stuff.
Artsy still-life crap.
Stereotypes are funny.
Dude on the right is actually one of the friendlier Germans I’ve encountered.
Foreign languages can be pretty funny too.
This dude insisted that I take his picture. So I did. Then I published it. Joke’s on him.
We stopped here and got some falafel…
Don’t think this guy’s going anywhere for a while.
The stoop where all the cool kids hang out…
It’s a stoop with a view…
And coal barges on the Rhine. Pretty good chance I’ve worked on the boiler for which this is destined.
That’s all for this evening. The rest of our day in Dusseldorf will be coming soon…
On Saturday night I had the rather unique experience, for this ignorant American anyway, of taking in the Germany vs. Portugal match in the first round of the European championship… It was… interesting.
To be honest, and this might sting to some of my German readers, I didn’t much care for it. I called up one of my German friends, and met up with him at a hookah (shisha) bar in Grevenbroich, about 20 minutes from where I’m staying. I thought we’d be watching the game there… I was wrong. We headed to a concert venue that used to be a fire station in town to join 300 or so people for what the crazy Germans call a ‘public viewing.’ Turns out that’s a euphemism for excessive public drunkenness (and coming from me that’s saying something), shitty German-flag themed costumes, and a rather nauseating sense of national pride….
I suppose that’s an overly polite way of putting it. The pro-German shit didn’t bother me in the slightest. The anti-Portugal stuff was borderline scary.
My American readers, and more specifically those of you from Colorado, know what it’s like when the Broncos play the Raiders. I’d be lying if I said that the words “fuck the Raiders” never crossed my lips. They have, more times than I can count. But, and it’s a big but, that was directed at the opposing team. Not a people. I never said “fuck Oakland and everyone from there. I’m gonna beat the shit out of somebody from Oakland if we lose this game.”
The amount of anti-Portuguese hate speech I heard this evening was pretty incredible. Now my German is limited. Extremely limited. Ok, it’s non-existent, so I guess ‘heard’ isn’t so appropriate. But this sentiment was not encumbered by language in any way. Witnessing it was plenty. Truly legitimate anger isn’t too hard to pick up on…
In my own ignorance, I thought all the middle fingers and the ‘Fuck the Portuguese’ chants meant fuck the team. And then my buddy told me a story that sort of opened my eyes a bit. He told me that when Germany lost a controversial game to Serbia in the 2010 World Cup, he and a group of his friends “drove to the city,” batons in hand, looking for any Serbians they could find. And I sincerely doubt they were looking to drink a beer to the spirit of sportsmanship. He assured me that they didn’t find any innocent Serbs to assault, so they retired to a pub and drank instead, but it was still enough to make me a little sick.
Their hateful sentiments extended far beyond a healthy distaste for Ronaldo, with which I’d have no problem at all, and with my… distaste for Kobe Bryant, even less room to complain. But this encompassed the entire people. Every last person from Portugal would have been responsible for a personal affront on their German pride. Had they won. But they didn’t. So ze Germans drank and sang in celebration…
But, it was an experience anyway, I suppose. And it was pretty funny to hear someone say “your mother is a son of a bitch,” so there’s that… Anyway here’s some shitty cell phone pictures and a couple of shitty cell phone videos….
Before we even started…
I’m pretty sure Podolski is the White Sox’ new 3rd baseman… Ok, no he’s not. Interesting choice in hats though. I guess he’s on the German national team, and I hear he’s from Bergheim. Popular dude around here; see his name everywhere.
Now this next little clip I took about 30 seconds after Germany scored the only goal of the match. I was outside with Ms. Müller when it went down, she’s not to into this whole scene either… Sort of wish I’d seen the goal though. The place went crazy.
And that’s a wrap for this evening. I need beer. And sleep. In that order.
So little did I know that these here birthday festivities were a weekend-long event. They started Thursday, which is some national holiday in these parts. No one went to work on Friday, instead there were 3 outdoor stages that played host to multiple God-awful cover bands. And the festival carried right on through Sunday. That afternoon, I grabbed the camera and headed out to see what we were up to. Apparently, it was a city-wide potluck, with tables lining virtually the entire length of the pedestrian city center area thing.
As far as I could tell, just about every little group, business, and restaurant, from churches to soccer clubs, was involved. As far as I was concerned, this was much more pleasant than bagpipes, the middle ages, and Germans slaughtering The Doors.
It seemed to be quite the little show of solidarity, which I haven’t seen to many of out here. And the people were friendly; despite my linguistic handicap, I was handed coffee, cakes, and baguettes by different people in the crowd, and everyone put aside their cultural shit and made friends. Have a look.
Cute old couple.
The tables stretched a football field or two for sure.
You can’t fool me. Those aren’t Germans. Those are hippies.
Nice to get a little taste of Boulder.
Contrary to her appearance, this old lady was really sweet. She offered me a cup of coffee, which I graciously accepted, and short of ‘bitte’ and ‘danke’ neither of us could understand a word the other one said.
They start chasing women pretty young out here.
Hey, I found like 9 obese Waldos…
‘Merican cake. And French. And European. I guess. This is as well as the French, Germans and Americans have gotten along since… ever.
And finally, some kiddos chasing an errant soccer ball down an alley…
Some interesting shenanigans in the very least. With that the weekend-long party is over and one with, and it’s back to my normal 60-hour work weeks in power plants…
Do me a solid and check this out. A blog by a good friend of mine, without whom this here blog wouldn’t exist. With any luck, she’ll help me decorate my apartment one day…
Have a look at the life I lead and the work I do through another set of eyes…
The Found Generation
Once upon a time two damn good friends of mine started their own social media company in Miami, Florida. There they work their asses off to like, pimp out your social media and blogs and the like. Have a look, you won’t be disappointed.