…Düsseldorf. The First Three Months: September – November

The Roller Blading Paradise

Moving without taking my roller blades with me? No way! But what if my new home will not be suitable for this activity? Indeed, the first skating attempt was not really encouraging. However, skating along the Rhine river is a very safe and very scenic approach. In not too long, and with help of  Fahrradnetzplan (a network of biking trails), I “designed” a 30km route running along the Rhine, crossing three bridges, leading through Naturschutzgebiet (a conservation area), passing a golf course, with a glimpse of the Rheinturm and after a detour through residential area returning back to the beautiful Rhine. I am pretty sure my favorite route can still be modified to let me explore new parts of the city or skate even longer.

I already look forward to getting in shape for the April Inline half-marathon in Bonn and many other skating events which will be available once we survive the winter time. Let me close with some numbers: 547 km and countless breathtaking views along the way in bit less than three months.


The River Is Beautiful

And it is true at any time of the day. The pictures say it all.

 


MedienHafen Architecture Is also Extremely Photogenic

MedienHafen is a harbor loaded with modern buildings, each of them being unique. The attractive city skyline is in fact a nesting site for culinary facilities and for headquarters of three quarters of Düsseldorf companies. Nonetheless, the modern architecture there is accompanied by a surprising sense of humor (see the human-gecko building).


Chinafest: Der Drache tanzt in Düsseldorf (The Dragon Dances in Düsseldorf)

While I look forward to learning German language and getting familiar with culture of my new home, why to refuse opportunities to experience other cultures? Annually and since 2011, the Chinafest takes place in Düsseldorf and I arrived just on time, to make my third weekend in Germany a Chinese one.

I did not dare to try any of the Chinese food. Bowls overflowing with to me unknown stuff of various shapes and suspicious smells were accompanied by captions but only in Chinese or German and neither one was of great help to me. I thus focused my attention on Chinese tea, dance performances and Gemüseschnitzkunst (art of vegetable carving).


St. Martin Tag: Martinszug

The day of St. Martin is on 10. November and Germans celebrate it with numerous parades and zillion of lanterns. Obviously, the lanterns are available in stores but majority of children (especially older ones, 12+ years) presented their hand-made lanterns and many of them were true masterpieces, including lanterns in shape of buildings. Another components of the St. Martin evening is a replay of a scene, when St. Martin, 4th-century bishop of Tours, shared his cloak with a beggar when he was a soldier in Roman army.

Besides that, Martin Tag is the time when Weckmann pastry (alternatively Stutenkerl) appears in North-Rhine Westphalian bakeries and will be available throughout the Advent time. These guys are funny and delicious.


The Fifth Season: How I Saw Bit of Karneval in the end

The famous German Karneval starts on 11. November at 11:11 and it was the only German tradition I have heard before for sure. It was thus disappointing to realize that the day is not a national holiday. While I have to wait to see the grand opening live for almost a year, I did not miss the Karneval entirely. When downtown on the first weekend of Christmas markets, I was surprised by a little Karneval appetizer, which makes me extra excited about the Karneval finale in spring.


Weihnachtsmärkte

Christmas markets are nothing new for me – I have been attending since early childhood. But Düsseldorf showed me how much I have missed. In the city, there are seven markets at seven different locations. Obviously, range of products overlaps greatly but the atmosphere of each single market is unique. i) The Marktplatz market, which decorates the Düsseldorf city hall for the rest of the year and which shows the best wood carving work. ii) The Flinger Straße market, whose highlight  is mulled wine pyramid, which remembers me of my Grandmother’s decades old Christmas decoration. iii) The “Angel market” at Heinrich Heine Platz, which fits so well with the impressive building of Carsch-Haus department store. iv) The Scandinavian village built of cute white huts and carousel at Schadowplatz. v) And finally the market at Schadowstraße, whose unique features are smoked fish and ice skating ring. Two more markets (at Jan-Wellem-Platz and Stadtbrückchen) still await to be discovered by me and I cannot wait to do so.

Besides already mentioned wood carvings, sellers can be proud of their knitted accessories such as caps and mittens, glass and wooden Christmas tree decorations, paper stars which turn a light bulb into a piece of art, jewelery, candles and toys. Worth mentioning are obviously edible and drinkable good too: all sorts of Glühwein (mulled wine), roasted almonds and chestnuts, waffles and crepes, champions in some kind of sauce and many specialties whose names I simply forgot, such as the Dutch one.

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… Uppsala. Sweden, Day 21

Since 5am I was looking forward to a lunch at the pancake place, Wallins. What an unpleasant surprise awaited us! At noon, after seven hours of hoping for two pancakes with jam and whipped cream, we found out that the place would be closed till August 9. Welcome to Sweden! It is July, you are supposed to take your vacation now! As Wallins is closed these days as well, there remained only one out of four restaurants opened for several weeks. This reflects, how many workers are left here during the summer, very well.

Our tour for lunch continued through whole campus to Logen, restaurant where we usually go. Once again, I was quite lucky with my choice: chicken with soy sauce (and with carrot and sesame seeds) and jasmine rice. Honestly, it is not so hard to make a fair decision: with only two dishes offered, the chances are fifty-fifty. Of course, the dish was followed by a cup of coffee, which is delicious there.

Clément did not show up until after lunch, but I still had plenty to do: more and more genotyping kept me busy whole morning and genotyping agony continued also in the afternoon. Also some of the stuff I did today has to be repeated in next few days, I think I was a very productive worker today and still managed to have a second cup of coffee in the afternoon.

Clément is starting his vacation tomorrow and is not going to be at work until Wednesday. I suppose he will enjoy his time in Instanbul, however plants do not have so much understanding: they will not stop flowering, producing seeds and getting dry just because it is July…Therefore, I got couple of tasks to take care about. Right now I will finally see how independent I can be, and how well I can remember and plan my responsibilities.

I decided to cook lunch for tomorrow and I did so right after I got back to the dorms. Being finished at 7pm and eating little supper in the meantime, I went roller blading early in the evening. The ride was about an hour long this time; at some points it was successful, at others not so nice. The good think was I found a way how to got very downtown in only 20 minutes, however hilly terrain and gravel and tiles here and there, without any warning, made not so enjoyable. Although I do not think I will ever do the same route again, I was lucky enough to take some pictures.

A statue near the Carolina Redivia, the main building of Uppsala University Library. I could not find any notice with a description, but I would say it was a statue of a local poet, who lived couple of centuries ago:

Statue of a PoetDetailed looked on the Library building. The University needed more and more space, so the building was constantly growing and as a result of that the whole complex is a “collage” of architectural styles. This part of the building looked as the newest one:

Carolina Redivia-Modern Part DetailOn the way back I made it to the Uppsala Arkivcentrum (Archive), which I considered to be an interesting building:

Uppsala ArkivcentrumI was impressed what a great bike garage they had there. I guess it is the most cozy bike parking lot in the whole city of Uppsala:

Bike GarageIn addition to some more pictures, the ride gave me two lessons:

  1. In Uppsala everyone bikes: age, occupation, pregnancy, time of the day and reason of biking being no issues. However, until today I have not seen anyone from Asia biking.
  2. Exactly three weeks after my arrival I also met the first person roller blading as well. However, this guy was cheating. He was using “wannabe cross country skiing sticks”, the same as those people skiing on short ski with four wheels use.