30 Mar 2011
The nights are still cold here, just like in Japan, but the days are beautiful. Passing the trees you hear a slow buzzing coming from the flowers, as if someone with a tiny little engine was sitting inside - and it is, it's the bumble bees buzzing one can hear.
Today when I left the office it had started to rain, not a heavy horrible rain but a light rain that hit the warm asphalt and made it smell in that special way you only feel in the spring or possibly summer, it's a kind of peppery aroma that meets your nostrils and makes you feel that there is hope... Hope of a summer to come, hope for new life, hope for new adventures. I love the smell of warm asphalt.
29 Mar 2011
28 Mar 2011
And then they changed the time tables, now I only take an earlier train if the previous is delayed (4 minutes between turned into 10 and I'm not there that much earlier, instead I take the train that goes all the way).
My sandwich place has changed staff and changed layout as well as ownership, and the prices have gone up too, but I barely noticed as I don't pass it very often anymore. Today I happened to get to the main station earlier though, and I went to get a sandwich.
Not going to buy there any more...
The man was outside smoking when I arrived. When he was done he put out the cigarette, went inside, and straight onto preparing food. No washing of hands - hello stinky cigarette but hands - and no gloves, but direct to handling food. Disgusting!!!
And considering how many people I see not washing their hands after having been in the bathroom at various venues, who knows where Mr Sandwich-seller had been with his hands...? Seriously, whatever venue you go to in Germany, watch the people coming out from the toilet, many of them just pass the wash basins (opera, pop concerts, shops and so forth).
On the other hand I rarely hear about stomach bugs in Germany, perhaps they are all more used to a flora of various bacteria? Half of Sweden seem to have had stomach bugs this winter and there washing of hands have gone to a fanatical level in many places...
Regardless though: I don't want anything else from the sandwich man... I don't know what bugs the the most, him handling my food with his bare hands or him not washing after smoking.
27 Mar 2011
I really (used to) like Zakk in Düsseldorf, non smoking event place with lots of very different acts - I wrote about it here for example, and I have mentioned it elsewhere too - I have seen concerts there (Alex Amesterdam, Dune, just to mention two).
Today, Sunday March 27, I went to a concert that, despite my earplugs, was really really really loud, painfully loud. It was OK to start with but then the band asked to have the volume turned up, and the sound technician followed their lead. When my ears are bleeding despite me being careful, it's not fun anymore. I was hiding in the backroom waiting for my friends to come out, but eventually I gave up and went home.
I've only got one set of ears, I value them too much to risk them at a concert where the sound technician can't do his job properly. Good music is not about destroying your hearing, I'd like to be able to see, no HEAR concerts also in the future... No band is so good that I am going to risk my hearing for it.
Came back from the ballet - no, I didn't perform, I watched - late Saturday evening. Extra late as I had over an hour train ride from the city where the ballet was. I was really tired on the train, you know, tired in the way that makes you wonder if you'd even be able to keep your eyes open, but the fresh air when I walked home from the train station woke me up - so in the middle of the night I started to bake bread, something I actually haven't done in years. I used to bake a lot, just not anymore, nowadays I cook more than I bake, simply because I don't eat that much bread.
I got tired again before the bread was done but once started you have to finish...
I have to admit that when I woke up this morning I was quite happy though, the smell of fresh bread was phenomenal, I don't know how to describe it, but it is such a homely feeling - and it was as tasty as I was hoping it would be. I can't make it again - because it is an improvised bread - but I am sure I can do something similar, and I anyhow have plenty left, even though I had friends over to help me eat it.
What a fantastic Sunday it has been!
Although I still think it is mad to bake in the middle of the night...
(The jam I also cooked was great as well... Very fruity, with a hint of cinnamon)
23 Mar 2011
And still people at work ask me "and how is the weather in Sweden now?"
For those who wants to know I recommend SMHI - because I really don't have a clue. Although I read somewhere that it has been unusually cold in most of Sweden this winter.
It felt great.
Anyhow: This week my whole body is sore. But now it is sore from NOT moving. Amazing how fast you get used to it! I am back in front of my screen, at my desk, and my body is SCREAMING that it wants to move. I go for walks during my lunch break but that doesn't help enough, body wants to be active, more active...
It's bl**dy unbearable!
(Oh, and new active holidays ARE already in the planning, by the way...)
22 Mar 2011
21 Mar 2011
I suspect it will take a LONG time before the charges have covered for the cost for installing the machines, and for servicing them - it it will even pay off...
The flight taxes went up but that pushed people abroad instead - see article from The Local. I really hope people won't accept being charged for the trolleys either... I won't.
And I will not do shopping in the airport either, as I don't want to carry my purchases around. So on me they will not make that extra Euro but lose instead...
18 Mar 2011
Quite a few of the Brits do.
(Almost) None of the French.
Among the French it's basically only some of the advanced skiers that do.
Does that mean that the French have nothing to protect?
(Sorry, couldn't help it but helmet is such a good life insurance, it just seems stupid not to wear one, but the French make fun of the Swedes for wearing helmets. I don't care, I'd rather look stupid than become (a serious fall may not kill you but cause brain damage) - plus the helmet is nice and warm.)
Oh well, each person to themselves I guess - but I at least want my loved ones to wear a helmet!
16 Mar 2011
Staying at the centre. This means sharing rooms, a bit like dormitories. They have double rooms for an extra charge in many centres but travelling alone that's obviously not available.
Anyhow, sharing rooms you need to be a bit more thoughtful - you are sharing after all.
Most of the days it's kind of early bedtime, you can't stay up very late anyhow, you are too tired after a day of skiing, and I always wake up early too, so it's just better to make sure you get your sleep.
Tuesday was an exception.
A bunch of us went in to town for a "pub round". Living in Düsseldorf I don't really have a huge need for pub rounds with international crowds when I am travelling, I have full access to that at home when I want it, but it is anyhow nice to join and see the town, but I took an early bus back together with one of the women who is in my room. When we got back I ended up going for a quiet drink in the bar though and she went to bed.
I ended up chatting to some people and it got later than planned for. Not really an issue.
Except when I came back and wanted to be quiet and sneak in without waking anyone up. I think I did relatively OK, I had the light from the phone guiding me, picked up my things, went to the (shared) bathroom and changed there, did my teeth, too of my makeup and so forth. And then I returned, put all my clothes in one spot in the cupboard, closed it, and climbed into bed. So far so good.
Except then I lay down on a small bag of crisps.
Let me tell you, bags of crisps (chips) are noisy!!!!
(The neighbours coming back from town at the same time didn't help either... But at least I could blame them for waking up the people I shared the room with...)
15 Mar 2011
I visited my regular sushi place on Saturday, Maruyasu in Schadowarkaden. Absolutely brilliant place, open until 20 Monday to Saturday, if I remember correctly. I used to go there really Often, but now I "only" go now and then.
Sushi is prepared during the day and you just point at what you want and pay per piece. They don't take cards, only cash, so I always make sure I have plenty, because I can't resist the sushi, I get plenty of pieces of sushi I wouldn't be able to find in most European style sushi places - and I suspect they enjoy me coming in, because they always recognise me, and they always have interesting suggestions in regards to which pieces they think I should test. And they spoil me. Most of the time I get to try something new or something special - and they know it pays off, because the next time I am very likely to buy the same they just allowed me to test.
The sushi is not cheap, but its worth every cent, if you ask me...
But the best part is still that they recognise me!
13 Mar 2011
Oh well. I'm sure it's going to be fine! And worst case, there is always walks and good books.
12 Mar 2011
Anyhow... I am planning on visiting US later this year. I have been before, plenty of times, but this time I am going back to Atlanta, and south. I haven't spent much time in the south before.
And I want to visit a few other places.
In Atlanta I don't need a car, I'll be staying with a friend and she has a car. But then I thought about getting from place to place.
So... A thought: Roadtrip in US?
In the south, I wouldn't be out that long, but I'd get to look around a bit - I need to get to Texas as well, he trip would basically be Georgia - Texas in one of the directions.
I have done kind of road trips before, in US, (andsteal ones in Europe, both in Sweden - one of the biggest countries in Europe, looking at land mass - and across western Europe) but never alone, alone I have just more or less transported myself, by car I mean, by train and plane I have been all over the place. But I like to drive and don't mind distances and long drives, I just bring my audio books and I don't get stressed OR bored. Commercial radio drives me nuts but audiobooks are good.
So should be good, from a distance perspective.
But would I enjoy it? Are there things to see? Will I be able to find interesting things along the way?
Oh well, we'll see, distance is one thing and I need to get hold of some people with experience - need to know what it is like, driving in the south, if there is anything special I need to consider. I would be doing the trip on my own. Had it been on the west coast I wouldn't have hesitated but with south east I do need to do more research. Before I book. And that is unusual for me.
I also need to check prices etc, what I'd have to pay for the car of course matters. If it would be super expensive I would have to reconsider.
And most important: I have to stop and listen and hear if I really want to do it or if it's just something I came to think about because it sounded cool and would I do it just to prove something to myself? That's the question. I don't need to prove anything - I have been around enough as it is and know that I can do anything.
10 Mar 2011
I like to hear whats going on. Also, I am Swedish and my German is far from perfect, and this course is in German. I want to see and hear what's going on.
So I am on the front row.
And I am totally alone.
The back rows fill up first.
It's just like when we were teenagers in school, sit where you are not seen. Hope that no one will ask you any questions. I used to do the same. Not anymore. I stopped it in school.
And besides the teachers know about it too so the first row is nowadays often safer... ;-)
8 Mar 2011
Checking Lufthansa as Lufthansa flies direct Gothenburg to Düsseldorf, as sis hasn't really travelled much by flight and especially not alone I thought that would be easier - and who wants to change if it isn't needed, anyhow. If there is a big price difference, of course, but otherwise?
So, anyhow, I'm checking Lufthansa to see what is available. And I enter the dates I want to check, plus the cities - from Gothenburg to Düsseldorf. I am on the German Lufthansa site, Lufthansa.de.
To my surprise the prices that come up also on this website is in Swedish crowns. It seems, oddly enough, that if I book, I will be charged in SEK?
But I don't WANT to pay in SEK. If I wanted to pay in SEK - Swedish Krona - I would have gone to the Swedish website, Lufthansa.se. I want to pay in EUR as I am making my money in EUR and I want to buy with my German card, I don't want to care about exchange rights.
But it seems this is not doable?
How odd... Or is this some sort of special rule?
By the way, I may as well mention it: It is not very cost efficient to fly Lufthansa TO Germany, it is only if you fly FROM here it seems to be a cost efficient way of travelling. No, I think I'll check flying from Copenhagen to Düsseldorf instead, then I can get her onto the train and she can take the train to Copenhagen and then fly from there to Düsseldorf... Yes, I will check other options too, but I want her to come to Düsseldorf airport, not to some airport far far away...
4 Mar 2011
Once a year they come to check the heating, for example - how much you have used. The bill is consumption based in Germany rather than what used to be common in Sweden, included in the rent and then the whole building was splitting the bill.
Personally I really like the fact that my bill is based on consumption, it gives the user a chance to impact your own bill and I personally it is better for the environment. Same with water, we pay for what we use. I know that is coming in Sweden too, but it didn't use to be the case.
The water meters for where I live are in the basement, which ensures easy access for the water company, and that is great. For the heating that has up until now been different, once a year they have had to come in and check the system from inside the flat, but now that is going to change, we will get the radio controlled devices that are rather common nowadays, here in Germany. And that is great - no more need to try and organise to be here - sometimes tricky since I don't work in the same city as I live in.
I am always always the one causing trouble, forcing them to reschedule or add an extra appointment.
The different companies never coordinate their effort, unless you tell them to (between us I also suspect that the Germans normally just accept the time slot they are given, there are so many house wives and so forth that it isn't a problem but to someone like me, who lives alone and who works in another city it is more troublesome. And I tend to question these things.)
Sometimes I contact the company itself or I contact the landlord to get them to coordinate, and especially the have actually really made an effort so it is getting better and better.
But sometimes it is not just about coordination...
Most odd is when the chimney sweeper and the "gas-heating-device"-controller wants to make an appointment...
Well, it is GREAT that they want to check the gas pipes. Gas pipes that start leaking are deadly.
Except I don't have any gas-devices in my flat. Heating is through warm water and is controlled centrally, although I can turn the heating up or down / on and off on my radiators. And warm water heaters for bathroom and kitchen is electric. And since everything is electric I don't really have a chimney either. I have a kitchen fan but there isn't really anything to do with that one either, I clean it from time to time to make sure there isn't any fat in the filter, as fat can catch fire, but other than that, what are they to do? I have tried to talk to them. Will have to see in about a weeks time if I was successful... If they still come and ring the door I wasn't.
(In Germany it is most common to have your own hot water boiler also in flats, in Sweden that is normally coming from a central system too, at least in flats. When you have your own house it is different).
Carnival is really really important in this part of Germany - I have written about it before, here for example, or here. Or 2009, when I wrote a few posts, here for example.
It really is a serious party, and I am just about to get a grip of it...
3 Mar 2011
I have three different outfits. Today I'm keeping it simple as I'm starting about 6 hours after everybody else. And I don't have synthetic clothes but combine my own, the cigarette smell will be bad tomorrow - it is Düsseldorf and it IS carnival after all...
2 Mar 2011
It becomes clear when I visit old friends and hear them talking about life. Some of them have gotten so old (sorry, but they HAVE!)
(Update: This is nothing to do with real age, there are 20-year-olds that are old and 60-year-olds that are young, this is all just the perceived age).
Personally I feel that I am getting younger and younger, especially after I moved to Germany. Odd.
Probably something to do with life in general, as well as your attitude towards it. The beauty of being a foreigner is that I have a bunch of different friends, from all age group and from different backgrounds, although most of us have a good education and saw good things in life, otherwise we would hardly be expats. But you HAVE to get to know new people, you have to make new friends. Here we all meet and we all enjoy life together, regardless if we have years of experience or if we just finished our education - or is in the middle of it.
One thing is of course location: Düsseldorf is in the middle of Europe with everything within reach - and we inspire each other to go and explore.
People are travelling, people find new challenges, people find new gyms, people try new things. Haven't been to the ballet? Well, a group is going, let's join them and see what it's all about. Haven't been to a Stand-up-comedy event? OH, but there is one in Cologne. Should we go and check it out?
Heard about a book club, wonder what that can be? I'll contact them and see if I can join.
What? Are you going to see football? I want to do that too, can I tag along?
AH, cooking Japanese food? I'll be there, teach me!
Ice skating? Yes, sure, I haven't tried since I had to switch to figure skating skates and I lost my ability, but it would be fun to try again.
Well, you get it; There are so many opportunities, and being a foreigner in a foreign country you HAVE to push yourself to go out and try new things, you don't have a "safe" group that you have known for many years that you can trust, you simply have to challenge yourself if you want to experience something new, get to know new people and truly enjoy the experience. And yes, people come and go but don't see that as a bad, see that as a good thing, it gives you an expanded network and new places to go and visit!
It really IS all in the attitude!
And when you enjoy life, and allow yourself to try new things, you also, magically, realise that life is too short to worry about the little things that doesn't matter at all - like what year mentioned in your passport. Or where you are from. What counts is that you are around people that you like, and that you have fun and do things you like. Money is not the matter, you can have fun with very little.
It's all in the attitude.