On Tuesday morning, after nine hours of sleep, I woke up and had coffee and orange juice for breakfast, since I don’t travel well on a full stomach. We (me, Magnus, Tilde and Filip) piled into the car to go to the airport just after 7 a.m. The advantage of arriving at the airport so early was that security took about two minutes to go through, after which I went to the currency exchange, and also picked up my Swedish phrase book.
The flight to Germany was quick and uneventful, and they gave us muesli and yogurt for breakfast. The Lufthansa in-flight magazine was awesome though – all the articles were about traveling, and it sounds so silly, but they resonated so deeply within me. I ended up taking the copy with me…
Once I arrived, I received a text message from Johannes, informing me he’d gotten on the wrong train, so I sat down at the nearby Kamps and drank a coffee and wrote for a little bit, before we finally met up shortly after. We took the S-Bahn into the city, and headed to his place where I dropped off my stuff. I opened my Christmas presents from him, and afterward he walked a few blocks to a friend’s place to see if said friend needed help moving. He didn’t.
When he got back we had coffee and chocolate cake and some Christmas cookies, before having to leave to catch the train to Köln. When we got onboard and found our seats, someone called out to us. It was Moritz, who is currently living in Düsseldorf, and happened to be on the same train as us. As I remarked to the both of them, it was the very first time in Germany that I’ve encountered someone I wasn’t expecting to see. It was a strange experience, as seeing people unexpectedly on vacation always seems to be. Or maybe that’s just my own weird thing. I don’t know.
When we made it to the HBF, we got off and walked to the nearby Ludwig Museum to meet up with Kaspar and Jürgen, for the family’s traditional Christmastime museum visit. The five of us checked out the La Boheme and Russian Avantgarde exhibits, as well as the Picasso pieces, and some more modern pieces on the top floor. The museum had three Magritte’s, which made me quite happy, since he’s one of my favorite painters. Moritz and Jürgen also got yelled at quite a few times for taking pictures, which was rather inane, since they weren’t even taking pictures of the art or using flash.
After we were done, we headed outside where Marie met us, and the six of us then made our way to Früh for some Kölsch. Jürgen insisted I get some bread and cheese as well, and we all sat for maybe half an hour, talking and eating. It was still a very bizarre change of pace for me. Although I am quite familiar with the cities of Köln and Düsseldorf, having been in four different countries in as many days, it was an interesting adjustment to Germany. Also, I hadn’t spoken German in a couple weeks, so it was a bit rough getting back into it, especially having to pay attention to understand.
When drinks were done, we all said our goodbyes and parted ways. Johannes and I then caught the train to the suburbs, where we stopped at Rewe for beer, pizza and snacks, which we then took to Doris’ house. She was on her way out to pick up Anna at the train station, but the two returned shortly after and we all sat around and talked – us eating pizza and drinking Malz and them making dinner and cracking walnuts.
When we finished eating, Johannes and I headed to the train station and took it two stops down to Rodenkirchen, where his good friend Niko lives. I’d met Niko almost two years ago when we watched the Eurocup and the Eurovision Song Contest at his place. A handful of their other friends were there as well, a few of which I’d also met before. We all hung out drinking, smoking, snacking, talking and listening to music. It was quite fun, especially since this time around, I could actually somewhat understand their conversation and contribute to it. At the end of the evening, just before we had to leave to catch our train, we all had some Glühwein, and went out on the back snow-covered balcony to drink it, as that’s the traditional thing to do, apparently.
Then we said our goodbyes (I am working on instituting hugs over handshakes with the Germans) and made our way back to the train, making it back to the apartment about an hour later. We mapped out our respective plans for the following day, and then Johannes left to spend the night at his girlfriend’s place, while I took some Nyquil and passed out, sleeping straight and sound through the night.
Firsts for this day: first time on the Skytrain (unnecessarily so), first time meeting Johannes’ father, first time seeing a Picasso original (that I know of), first time slipping and falling on the ice, first time drinking Glühwein.