Monday, 5 December 2011

Vicki in Deutschland! (Nov 30 - Dec 5)

Guten Morgen!

I have a bit of catching up to do here, so let's talk last day in Lisbon and German fun!

Nov 30
This was my last day in Lisbon, and the only real thing on the schedule was "get to see that freaking cemetery." Which I did! Cemiterio dos Ingles (British Cemetery), and it was lovely (I even found Henry Fielding's grave). Did I mention that this time the tram stopped halfway there and let everyone off? End of the line because there was a protest across the tram tracks, so it did end up taking a 30 minute walk to get there (uphill, which is the way of the world in the Estrela district). On the way there I found a beautiful church called Igreja de Santa Catarina, not even in my guidebook but well worth the detour.

I was feeling pretty lousy at this point (with the cold), but I decided to stick it out and take the bus to the other side of town so I could hit the Museu Nacional de Azulejos, the Museum of awesome tiles (a loose translation). This museum is dedicated to the azulejos that became popular in Portugal in the 16th century and have been used ever since to decorate buildings and tell stories. If there is one museum in Lisbon you must see, I would say it's this one. This is also the home of Igreja Madre de Deus (Church of our Mother of God), the most ornate church I have been to yet. In short, absurdly glad that I came.

I spent my last night in Lisboa Central Hostel, they even made gluten free chickpea stew for me :) My stay here was fantastic and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Lisbon!

Dec 1-5, Deutschland!
Okay, so trip to Germany was fairly uneventful, except that the change in cabin pressure did terrible things to my clogged sinuses. At one point I was fairly sure my head would split open, to the point that my left eye started watering uncontrollably... I must have looked a mess. But! I arrived in Dusseldorf and Shannon was waiting to tram me back to the apartment. We went out for seriously the best Indian food I have ever tasted! It seems the first thing I eat in each new country is Indian :) If I ever go to India I'll get a burger or something to make it fair.

The next morning Shannon and Dave left for work, so I wandered around a bit and got some groceries. Side note, food here tastes better. The yogurt is amazing! But so is the cheese and the meat and the butter and the everything. The eggs at the market are all free run and the yolks are the brightest orange I've ever seen. If you've been to Europe you probably are just rolling your eyes at me, but Canadian food sucks. There, I said it. I was on to it in Portugal and now I am convinced. Moving on though, after that I alternated between reading my Stephen King and working on this absurdly hard puzzle that Shannon and Dave started (assume that in my downtime I was doing one of these two things). That night we went out to the Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas market), which I can't even describe it was so great. They set up all these little booths selling Christmas food/drinks and little trinkets, plus they deck the streets out with trees and lights, right off of a postcard. I tried feuersangebowle too! Basically it's a giant copper vat filled with red wine that they heat over the fire, then they have a massive sugar block balanced above the vat that they pour steaming rum over, so the rum and the sugar end up mixing with the red wine. It was delicious, but I felt a little wobbly after only one cup. We wandered around and checked out all the gingerbread booths, candied nuts and so many pastry shops you can't even count! We also had kartofflecken with kraeuterquark (read french fries with delicious garlic tzatziki) for dinner. Then we headed back to the apartment and watched Fright Night, and when Dave got home from work headed out and spent the night with their friend Babette. We played Looping Louie (great game, highly recommend) and had gluewein, a hot red wine that is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and a few other spices. Such a great introduction to Dusseldorf!

(you pay a deposit for the cup and then you can either keep it or return it and get your euro back, but I definitely kept it).

On Saturday we went to Babette's and Bodo's for a Christmas dinner party which was great! Note to self, upon return to Canada, will throw dinner parties. I met a bunch of their expat friends, Pete and Natasha, Dinesh and Eugenia and Anirudh. They all brought dishes and I stuffed myself with food. There was bryndza halushky, a traditional Slovak dish made with potato dumpling noodles and bryndza cheese (and back fat, naturally) brought my Dave, turkey cordon bleu from Shannon, awesome appetizers from Natasha and Pete, moussaka, a Greek lasagna with mincemeat and eggplant from Eugenia and Anirudh, and Irish coffee from Dinesh. Babette and Bodo made dessert, and a special flourless chocolate cake for me. The night was amazing, I wish I could stay in Germany and repeat it everyday. After the stuffing was over we played who am I with post it notes stuck to our foreheads, it was a riot... until people can't guess their thing, and then it gets testy. On the last round I had "CEO", Dave was "Vitamin C" and Dinesh was "Candlelight Dinner." (you could tell that after the first round people were out for blood). Lots of yummy food and the best company since I left, you couldn't really ask for more :)

The next day (Sunday) we slept in really late, I laboured over the puzzle some more and then Shannon and I visited Benrathschloss, a barbie palace, essentially. We laughed about how the seagulls sound like they're getting murdered here, Canadian geese have forgotten their Canadian voice and how Germans like to "make" everything (would you like to make a party, would you like to make a photography?). Who knows, it was great. P.S. Shannon and I met in first year University and lived together until third year. Did you even know that? Well, now you do.

And this brings us to today, my last day in Germany. Shannon and I trammed around the city and went to a Japanese Noodle place for lunch, the soup was great (and homemade rice noodles don't hurt). We also watched documentaries about purity balls in the States and then one about the inheritance of epigenetics, with some puzzling thrown in between. When Dave got home we went for Mexican and that brings us to right now!

(Shannon buying the biggest pastry danish type thing I have ever seen)

As I sit here writing this I'm getting emails from Khalid saying that everything in JFK is shutdown and he's stuck in Pearson. This is bad news bears, because I'm relying on him to orient me in Istanbul (which I currently know nothing about). Anyway, my translator is stuck in Toronto and I'll have to make sure I get more Euros to pay the hotel (what a clever scheme, Khalid!). I haven't packed anything yet, but Shannon did my laundry today, so the most important things are done. Also, I have a TON of chocolate to bring because it is ridiculously cheap here, so if all else fails I'll just sit in the Ast Hotel lobby and eat chocolate until my "husband" arrives. Send good vibes our way that everything pans out, if not, I'm going to have a great time getting sugar high at the blue mosque while Khalid camps out in Paris. It's all good, folks.

Love from Deutschland,

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