A Travellerspoint blog

22 July 2015

Essen

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The plan was to meet the other students in the afternoon for an outing, so I had the morning to myself. After some homework, I headed to the train station to do some shopping. I needed another pair of reading glasses (the pair I bought in Austria broke) and some food. The hauptbahnhof, or main train station, is very close to the apartment where we are staying, and has an entire shopping mall within.

This is the tram platform at the Essen Hauptbahnhof. This entrance is very close to our apartment. Pretty, isn't it?
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I found a drogeriemarkt, figured that was close enough to "drugstore," and went in. After wandering the aisles and not finding reading glasses, I went up to the pharmacy counter and asked the lady there if she spoke English. She said no. I took a pair of sunglasses off of a nearby rack, put them on, then stretched my arms out as if I were reading a book at arm's length and squinting, then bringing them closer, then back out again--the universal gesture of "I have old eyes!" Then I removed the sunglasses, tapped them and made a questioning gesture. She said, "Ahhh! <long stream of German>." I had no idea what she was saying, but it was clear that she understood what I needed and that they had them somewhere in the store. She waved her arms a bit, then said, "Left!" I smiled and asked, "Links?" She nodded. I was quite pleased with myself for learning "Links=left" by paying attention to Mark's conversations in Munich, and for the disembodied voice on the trains in Munich that constantly implores riders to "Bitte links ausgang!" That's how I learned: "Please exit to the left!"

Anyway, I found the glasses. I was pleased.

Next order of business was lunch. I'd intended to get a solid meal, something more than the snacky "travel food" I've been living on, but realized that I'd just spent my last small bills on the reading glasses and... more snacky travel food. I had about five euros and a hundred-euro bill. Fast food it is.

I went up to a Kamps, a German chain restaurant that sells pastries and coffee and such. I bravely decided to order in German.

"Puddinpretzl und milchkaffee, bitte," I said. (Okay, so that isn't terribly difficult German. I still felt brave saying it.)

Imagine my surprise when she promptly retrieved the yummy-looking pudding-filled pretzel-shaped pastry I'd been admiring, and a latte! Woohoo! It worked! I had my money ready, but when she said the total in German, I instinctively looked helpless and said, "No Deutsch," while handing her the money I had. She nodded and assured me that I had the correct amount, then made sure I knew where to look for a lid. Woohoo!

Puddinpretzl und milchkaffee. The pastry is pretzel-shaped, but soft and sweet like a doughnut. And glazed. And filled with yummy custard.
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This is the fabulous woman who actually understood my attempt at German. I love her. She's older than me, bald, and has big earrings, and I love her.
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Later, I met up with the group and off we went to the Zollverein, a UNESCO World Heritage Site here in Essen.

On the Mercedes-Benz bus--Dr. Scott, her sister Sheri, and fellow student Kay.
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In front of the iconic symbol of the Zollverein. Traci, me, Dr. Scott, Denton, Kay.
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It's a huge campus full of museums, restaurants, and other educational things, all built around a former coal-mining complex. The machinery is gigantic, intimidating, and depressing. Unfortunately, English tours are only conducted on the weekends, and there are no English audioguides or brochures, so we were a little lost. We spent some time wandering in the lobby of the biggest museum, then around the park area. The place is HUGE. (More info here: https://www.zollverein.de/)

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Home again, home again, jiggety jig. This is what one sees when exiting the train station nearest our apartment. The area we live has a large Turkish population, with no fewer than four Turkish "nightclubs" on our street. I wasn't kidding about the "Euro Turkish Bollywood disco" music! We ate at this restaurant our first night in Essen, and it was wonderful!!

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Posted by OhMissLia 11:26 Archived in Germany Tagged germany essen summer_2015

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