Friends, Food and Funny Festivals

Since my last blog post, I have become a bit more ‘active’ in the classroom. Last Wednesday I took my first conversation classes and they seemed to go pretty well – we started with introductions and then talked about what there is to do in Düsseldorf, what sports they were into and finally, we finished by talking about the play that they saw last week (as I had to write a short report to go on the School’s webpage!). As I had the day off on Thursday for der Tag der Deutschen Einheit, I was back in school on Friday to make up for the lost hours. I was in a new class that I had not visited before and met another of the numerous English teachers. The class (another 5th class) was really lovely and there was a good atmosphere so I will be in class with them every week on Monday mornings – I will be so pleased once I have a set timetable!!

Following on from school on Friday, I had a great afternoon and evening with some of the FLA’s (Foreign Language Assistants) in the city. I met up with Lily and Niamh, and after a short wander around the Altstadt we made our way to Sugarbird Cupcakes and gorged ourselves on what I can safely say are the best cupcakes in town!!

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Blueberry cupcake and Earl Grey Tea.. yum yum!

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From there, we met Alison and headed to H&M as Niamh had a few bits of shopping to do. Whilst she was browsing, the rest of us amused ourselves by trying on stylish headgear such as those shown below…

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Photo courtesy of Lily

We then headed to stock up on food for the evening with a quick pit stop on the way to freshen the taste buds with a cocktail. Lily and Niamh took us to a Chinese that they had previously visited and recommended it for the huge servings and the low price. We were not disappointed. I ordered crispy duck with mushrooms, onions and cashew nuts and the portion was absolutely ginormous! Needless to say, that despite normally being able to eat everything put in front of me, I couldn’t manage it all! Also all that was 9 euros – bargain!!

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After dinner we visited another bar for another drink – had to make the most of Happy hour after all! It was such a lovely evening and was nice catching up with the girls and experiencing the Altstadt atmosphere of an evening.

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The girls enjoying their jumbo cocktails

On Saturday morning I was up bright and early to catch the train over to Köln where I had arranged to meet my Uni friend Fiona, who was making a day trip from Lille with some of her Erasmus friends. After a few communication problems (I had given her my number with a digit missing and therefore we couldn’t get hold of one another) we met up in the Tourist Information office by the Dom (Cathedral). From there we had a look inside the Cathedral and went down into the Crypt, before strolling into the old town and finding a little cafe where we had a mid-morning coffee break. Fiona and friends decided where they wanted to visit on the map and then we were off again. Although I’ve been to Köln many times before, I saw parts of the city I had never seen before – including old churches, new areas of shops and parts of the city walls – which was all quite exciting.

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The remaining day of my weekend was also not a particularly quite one as I headed off to the south of the city – to a quarter called Urdenbach to celebrate the so called Erntedankfest (basically a Harvest Festival but celebrated with a parade on the streets). Apparently Urdenbach gives Düsseldorf the ‘dorf‘ in its name because it has kept its ‘village-like’ features intact over the years. The streets are lined with old ‘farm houses’ and compare to the other parts of Düsseldorf, you really get the feeling that you are in a countryside village. 

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I had been invited to join the celebrations of a family friend and her relatives who live in the village and upon arrival (at only 11am) was greeted with a grand buffet of Bavarian favourites – potato salad, Bretzel (Pretzel), Weisswurst (White sausage), Leberkase (translates as liver cheese however is made from neither liver nor cheese and tastes and looks like sausage meat), a variety of other Würstchen (sausages) and finally, Sauerkraut.

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from top left: Weisswurst, Sauerkraut, Leberkase and Bretzel

The food was all very tasty and I certainly made the most of free food! After everyone was finished eating we walked a short way through the village to bagsy our spot from where we would watch the Parade. We saw a variety of tractors, men in Lederhosen wheeling wheelbarrows full of vegetables, marching bands, women in Drindls riding horses and I saw lots and lots of wooden clogs. It was all quite bizarre yet fascinating at the same time!

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