January 1, 2014: I was born in Düsseldorf and that is why they call me Rolf

Before I catch up on the backlog, I suppose I should address the fact that it is indeed a new year.  That can mean all kinds of fun and exciting things, and promises I might make to myself with no real intention of keeping.  To be honest though, I have only really ever made kind of vague resolutions with are overall beneficial to keep, but also realistic.  I think I’m usually pretty satisfied by the end of the old year.  But honestly, I don’t really have anything I want to make a resolution for this year.  I’m not saying there aren’t things that I can’t improve on or things I should do, but I just don’t feel like any of those really need a resolution.  I’ve really learned a lot, not just in 2013, but since I’ve started college.  It has taken a lot for me to get to this point in my life, and it may be the fact that I am currently in Germany on what could be considered a prolonged summer break, but I am pretty happy.  Not only have I managed to surround myself with some really good people back home in America, but I’ve also found some really awesome friends here in Germany.  I really look forward to the places I will go and the adventures I will have in 2014.  Most of all I will look forward to spending these moments with both new friends and old.  Now that I’ve gotten all of the sappiness out of the way: Düsseldorf, and the insanity there.

 

Let’s just say the first afternoon in Düsseldorf was pretty cool.  We got in around 3:30 to our hostel and settled in.  Then we walked around for a bit looking for a Japanese ramen restaurant that one of my Japanese friends here recommended.  We were not disappointed.  Despite what you may initially associate with the German city, Düsseldorf has quite a bit of an Asian population, thus a bit of a little Japan.  Regardless of whether or not our original destination was open, we would have been able to easily find another Asian restaurant not even half a block away.  The noodle bar we went to was, however, open so there was no need to look for another place.  Of course, like most good restaurants, the place was small and there was a small line of people outside of the door when we got there.  There really wasn’t much of a wait and it would have run quite smoothly if there was not a very disrespectful customer inside.  I felt kind of bad for the hostesses trying their best to make everyone happy.  The lady was upset because they would not reserve a table for her or her family (who was not there at the time) and they politely asked her to wait while they seated the other customers waiting and ready to eat.  I know this may not be a common practice, but I can see the argument being made.  Instead of being a rational and patient person, the lady then proceeds to get rather upset and then flat out lie to the hostess, saying her family is no longer going to be joining her.  After about five minutes of this, they finally seat her, and who should walk in but her family, who she claimed was not coming so they had to accommodate more people where she sat.  It was just a bit odd I think.  I don’t understand people sometimes.  The food and the general atmosphere was pretty good though.  I had (I think) shiyo ramen with egg and a Kirin beer.  It didn’t take long to get our order and it was positively delicious.  Sadly I couldn’t finish everything, but it was worth getting a taste of Japan while I was there.  After we ate we walked around for a bit more and then decided to call it a day.

 

The next morning we ventured out to the edge of the city to a little part of the town called Kaiserswerth which is the oldest part of Düsseldorf and has the ruins of an 800 year old castle by the Rhein.  It was a bit of an adventure finding the ruins, but we got to see most of the town, including some churches and an old hospital.  The ruins themselves were pretty interesting.  There was a bit of history there to read.  Turns out the town was first settled in the 700s and was originally supposed to be the site of a monastery.  The castle was first built in the 1100s, but most of the ruins date from about the 13-14th century.  The castle was actually destroyed in 1702 after the war with France when they reoccupied the area.  After walking around for a bit we decided to get out of the cold and rain and had some coffee at a nearby cafe.  Then we proceeded to go back to the city and walk around there a bit more.  It was nice, but a bit crowded.  The main shopping area had thick crowds, possibly due to the end of the year sales.  Then we decided to head back to the hostel for a bit of a rest.

 

This is when shit got real.  Despite our luck with previous hostel roommates, we were not so fortunate this time around.  The middle aged Dutch man who greeted us upon our return smelled vaguely of cigarettes and booze.  I was willing to overlook this, because who am I to judge?  Then he opened his mouth.  He started by asking where we are from, and of course we said America.  Then after telling us that wasn’t a place, and then repeating this utterance once more after we said we were from the U.S., he was finally satisfied with out answer of Alabama.  Then he told us he was from the smallest country in Europe.  Our first guess: Luxembourg.  Then after an embarrassingly long list of countries much smaller than his own, he admitted he was from the Netherlands.  What had at first seemed like a start to an interesting conversation quickly took a turn for the worse.

 

After making all sorts of assumptions based on the fact that we are from the conservative South, he begins to talk about Michelle Bachman, and no, not about her politics.  After admitting that she is a bit crazy, he then says that all of that does not matter because she is so hot.  Okay, a little creepy but nothing to get too upset over.  Then he goes into a tirade about how women are either bitches or goddesses, I guess depending on how they look.  I was starting to get really uncomfortable at this point, and my main defense against something like this is to tune said person out.  But it was a bit difficult.  He kept calling me pet names and trying to get me back into the conversation where he proceeded to talk about women in such a disgusting way.  I’ve never felt like such a second class citizen as I did then.  And while he never directly called me a bitch, you could see it seething through his eyes as he looked at me and coating his words.  This was even before he started talking about gay men, and how there were just too many in New York City.  I am not sure how New York City or gay men came into play, but there he was asking both me and my friend how we felt about the gay people in New York City and getting offended when we said we had no problem with them.  Then the conversation shifted back to women as this sexist, homophobic man began to explain his problem with homosexual men.  Apparently he thought it so abnormal to be able to look at a woman and not feel any sort of sexual desire for the cosmic being standing in front of him.  Now, reading that sort of thing does not do it justice.  It felt extremely rapey to me and at this point I was really uncomfortable.  After somehow managing to escape this horrid man’s soap box, we walked around the town and found a place to eat.  It wasn’t anything special, but it was nice all the same.

 

Then we headed back to the hostel where I stayed in the lobby for most of the evening, waiting for the guy to go to sleep.  My friend and I had a plan, he went to the room first and I waited by a window in the lobby where I could see our room.  He gave the thumbs up if the man wasn’t there, and a thumbs down if he was.  It was thumbs down.  So I ended up playing on my kindle and drinking a beer in the lobby of the hostel until I decided to go to bed.  Luckily the guy was asleep already, but that did not stop me from sleeping with a nail file clenched tightly in my fist for the entire night.  Even with this sad excuse for a weapon, I still managed to sleep decently.

 

The next morning we got up early to catch our 6 hour bus ride back to Erlangen.  There were some traffic jams along the way, but nothing too terrible.  The only reason why I am bringing this part up is because we did see one interesting thing on the way back.  I was talking to my friend and looking out the window, when what do I see?  This huge, hairy ass belonging to a slightly overweight man.  The most interesting part (more interesting than being confronted with a naked ass staring you and hundreds of other cars down as you navigate a busy highway) was the fact that his pants were nowhere in the equation.  Funnily enough no one on the bus quite knew what they were seeing at first.  Everyone just got really quiet as we all tried to comprehend the fact that we just got mooned while driving down a highway, the everyone burst into laughter at the absurdity of the situation.  It was like this man’s ass connected this bus full of strangers, if only for one second.

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