Hello my lovelies!
Welcome to this week’s Weekend Coffee Share. How are you?
If we were having coffee today, we’d sit and enjoy the lovely sunshine out on the patio. It is a glorious day, and I’ve got sore muscles from a lot of walking and driving, so I fancy a day at home.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I had a blast this week! My best friend Véronique and her husband Dave came to visit me on their delayed honeymoon and stayed with me from Saturday until yesterday.
Their flight was delayed getting into Düsseldorf, but we still had enough time to head out to Schloss Burg in my hometown Solingen for the vista and to Café Kalkum for a traditional Bergische Kaffeetafel. A Bergische Kaffeetafel consists of fresh waffles, rice pudding, hot cherries, various breads, cheeses, jam, quark, Burg pretzels and biscotti, and coffee served from a zinc urn called Dröppelminna. After a somewhat rushed meal, I then took them to the North of my city, and we had a cool drink sitting on the Old Market Square in Solingen Gräfrath while watching the sun go down.
On Sunday, after my dad treated us to brunch in town, we headed south along the river Rhine to the border between North-Rhine Westphalia and Rhineland Palatinate. We went to Königswinter and took the train up the Drachenfels, one of the summits of the Siebengebirge (Seven Hills). As it was a lovely day, we could see for miles along the river, all the way to Cologne and beyond in the North. The Drachenfels is one of those locations that really could have been marked “Here Be Dragons” on ancient maps. From the ruin of a fortress at the very top, we took the train back down to the middle station and had a look around Schloss Drachenburg, a residential castle and now event location from the 19th century. Back in the valley, we decided to drive ino Germany’s former capital Bonn for dinner. We parked near the town hall, strolled around the impressive palais that houses the University of Bonn, strolled past Beethoven’s House and then I took them to my favourite brewery: Brauhaus Bönnsch. Luckily, everything was within easy walking distance. At the Brauhaus they sell a beer called Bönnsch, which is brewed on the premises. Naturally I got them to try it before heading home.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about Köln. On Monday, we took the train into Cologne (Köln in German). We ventured into Cologne Cathedral, but did not stay long as a service was about to commence and so made our way to the river. We decided to have lunch before exploring the city, so we dropped into Papa Joe’s at Alter Markt, one of my favourite pubs in Cologne and a jazz pub to boot. Then we strolled around and along the Rhine to the chocolate museum and back, and then headed into the town proper. After a bit of shopping on Schildergasse, we had a coffee and cake and then met up for a cold drink with my friend Bernadette who was on her way home and came past us. After some more shopping – especially at Mayersche Bookstore where I went a bit crazy redeeming a voucher and bought Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett and Holy Cow by David Duchovny – we made our way back towards the cathedral and the Brauhaus Früh. The local beer in Cologne is called Kölsch, and Früh is one of the Kölsch varieties – and happens to be my favourite beer. Hence the train to Cologne and no driving. Unfortunately, it started raining as soon as we’d secured the last free table outside. We still managed to get three rounds in before the rain drove everyone under cover or inside and the waiter came to collect.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you of the first of two cross-border trips we did this week. One of the reasons we took the train to Cologne was because I wanted a non-driving day before I drove all the way through the Eifel and into Luxembourg so we could have a look around Luxembourg City. I’d been before, but neither Ronni nor Dave had, so it was nice to show them something new. And for once, neither had to translate as we got by on our three languages: English, French and German. I even discovered I can read Lëtzebuergesch. We all agreed that although the architecture is similar to that of Paris, the town itself seemed warmer in atmosphere than Paris. Paris is all grey in grey, but the stones used in Luxembourg are a bit more yellow in colour, brightening the place up enormously. Even Ronni agreed, and she is from Paris. The best thing is: you don’t need a car or bus to explore Luxembourg. We dropped my car at the Kirchberg Park & Ride, took the shuttle into town and then walked. Haute-Ville is so compact you can’t really get lost. We walked around, had lunch and coffee, bought some more books (Me And Earl And The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews and Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz) and gazed over the suburb Grund. It was a fairly long drive to Luxembourg, but I discovered I can drive there and back on one tank of fuel.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you a bit about Düsseldorf, as that’s where we went next. We took it pretty easy that day, and before we set off I treated Ronni and Dave to a couple’s massage at the spa. It was their honeymoon after all and they deserved some time alone (something my flat doesn’t really offer). We just stuck to the old town for once, perfectly content to meander down Flinger Strasse to the Rhine, have a drink on a floating bar, the MS Allegra, stroll along the river and soak up the sun. To finish off, we had a drink at Brauhaus Uerige on Flinger Strasse – that way they had tasted all three of the locally brewed beers: Bönnsch, Kölsch and Alt. Back in Solingen, my mum invited us out for dinner and we had coffee in town before heading home to pack.
If we were having coffee I’d tell you about the highlight of the week: a trip to Amsterdam! I’d never been, neither had Ronni, but Dave had his stag do there. We set off early to get there for lunch time. I managed to get a spot in the ArenA Park & Ride, which only costs €1 per day and €5.90 for the three of us to get return tickets for the metro into town. I wasn’t staying at the same hotel as them. Me coming along was an afterthought by Ronni a while ago. I’d offered to drive them there and leave again, but Ronni insisted I stay. So I got a bed in a 14-bed mixed dorm at a backpackers around the corner from their hotel. It was pissing it down when we got to Amsterdam, but that didn’t stop us exploring. Dave wasn’t feeling well, so it was just Ronni and me for a while and we decided that the first thing we’d need would be coffee and pancakes. We crossed the Damrak and ventured into De Wallen and the Red Light District and had a look around the oldest part of Amsterdam. This is a place where sex shops (with doors wide open and all merchandise in the window) are located next to bakeries and family restaurants. It’s no big deal. We walked for several kilometres, and after checking in on Dave – who still didn’t want to come – we headed out yet again. We’d hoped to see Anne Frank’s House on Prinsengracht, but when we got there the queue was still massive despite the time (around 7pm) and the rain. We didn’t fancy queuing up for two hours and get soaked even more, so we decided to try our luck the next day and went on our way to the Tulip Museum. Next door was a pub we fled into when the heavens really opened up. That’s where Dave eventually joined us for a pint of Amstel Beer and an amazing cheese fondue before we headed back to the red light district for more drinks and the fabled nightlife.
Yesterday morning, we took it slowly, strolling along the Grachten (canals) and the Flower Market. The latter was quite disappointing. Where Ronni and I expected dozens upon dozens of flowers, we only found flower bulbs. Ronni’s brother Stéphane eventually joined us for lunch at a vegan & vegetarian place we found called TerraZen. After walking around some more, we decided to take advantage of the glorious weather and do a canal cruise, which was lots of fun. We did the loop from Amsterdam Station, down the Amstel and into the Grachten, especially Herengracht. With all the little waterways going this way and that, you can get disoriented. After one last Dutch pancake it was time for me to say goodbye as I had to get back home. It’s only a 2 1/2 hour drive home, but I didn’t want to get in too late. Stéphane also left, leaving Ronni and Dave alone in Amsterdam – they’ll be flying back to the UK from there.
I got home around 10pm. It would have been half an hour earlier, but I got stopped by customs. I didn’t have anything on or with me, so I had nothing to worry about, but I suppose my car (1992 model) made me a likely candidate in their eyes.
I’m home now and doing nothing except for having coffee. I really need to get stuff done for uni, but I’m taking one more day to relax. It’s been a long week.
Find the other Weekend Coffee Sharers here. I hope you had a great week as well!
Same time, next week?