There’s no real rush to get up. We’ve already got some bits and bobs for breakfast. Which we make ourselves in the room. No way we’re paying 16 euros the hotel is charging.
Dolores has the morning all planned out. Eat breakfast, go to Lidl and buy meat. And booze for the kids. I couldn’t bear to see their little faces if we come home empty handed. Then come back, finish packing and check out.
There’s a Lidl just the other side of the station. We won’t be straying much further than that today. Thankfully. As it’s a bit wet out.
German Lidl is packed with all sorts of tempting stuff. But we’re concentrating on meat. Lumps of meat I can roast on Sundays. No decent-sized bits of lamb or beef. So, we stick to pork and duck.
Meat picked, I suggest: “Let’s check out the booze.”
It doesn’t take me long to find the cheapest rum and vodka. “That’s the kids taken care of.” The prices are stupid. Only 7.99 for 70 cl.
“At these prices, I should buy more.”
“And how would we get them home/”
“We can work that out later.”
“Right. You’ll have to carry them, then.”
“I’ll just get myself a bottle of bourbon.” Don’t want to be too weighed down.
There’s quite a queue at the tills. Which gives me plenty of time to look around.
“I see they still have the traditional impulse schnapps next to the tills.”
“You would notice that.”
I struggle to suppress the impulse to grab a little bottle of Chantré. But I remain strong. I’m so proud of myself. And with Dolores. Might have been different, had I been alone.
Back in our room, we spend a while struggling to fit all our shopping into our luggage. We just about mange.
We chill for a while, while I reduce the weight of my bag by getting stuck into my whiskey.
“This will lighten my bag.” I say as, I pour out a big glug.
“That’s your excuse for drinking in the morning.”
“Reason, not excuse.”
“Yeah, right.” And then makes that noise again. The one she often makes at my cleverest remarks. I think it means she’s dead impressed.
We spend the remaining time until noon chilling out. I drink a little whiskey while looking at the trains below. It’s very soothing.
Checked out, bags dumped, we wander off for lunch. We had the heavy German stuff yesterday. Time for something lighter.
Germany has really changed since I first visited in the early 1980s. Back then, you were lucky to find food any more exotic than a currywurst or kebab. Now Düsseldorf has a Japantown.
You may have noticed that I like Japanese things. (“You’re such a weeb, Dad.” Andrew keeps telling me.) Including the food. Dolores didn’t have to ask twice if I fancied a Japanese lunch.
After looking at a few menus, we settle on somewhere seemingly specialising in ramen. It’s not that busy. But it is just after noon.
Unlike everyone else, we don’t order ramen. That would be way too filling. Instead, we stick to a few starter-type things. Gyozas, fried squid, teriyaki. And beer, of course. Draught Kirin for Dolores, a bottle of Schlösser Alt for me. It’s OK. Not great, not awful, wet and slightly alcoholic.
Soon, lunching office workers surround us. All getting stuck into ramen. Umm. Maybe we made the wrong choice. But I remember last time I had ramen with Alexei in Tokyo. I felt like I was pregnant for 12 hours. Pregnant with triplets.
We’re in no rush. Our train isn’t until 15:30. Time to nip back into Lidl to get Mikey a bottle of cheap vodka. It’s the least I can do for him.
After retrieving our bags, we hang around in the hotel lobby for a while. It’s all very low-key. As I am myself, nowadays.
Have you noticed? What I haven’t done? Go to the Altstadt. First time ever on a trip to Düsseldorf. And the first time I’ve not dropped by Zum Uerige. Heresy, I hear you say. Like going to Bamberg and not bothering with Schlenkerla.
I did just that last year. Why? It’s all about being a well-travelled old git.
If I’d never been to Bamberg before, no way I would have missed Schlenkerla. But I’ve been to Bamberg – and Schlenkerla – loads of times. I don’t need to go there every time I’m in town. Last time, it was Saturday afternoon and I knew it would be packed. I just couldn’t be arsed.
Much the same here in Düsseldorf. Much as I love Zum Uerige, I no longer feel obliged to drop by every single time I’m in town. I was there twice last year. And I’m sure I’ll be there soon again. Unless I drop dead. Which isn’t, currently, in my immediate plans.
Inevitably, our train is delayed. But at least it’s running. Twenty minutes late isn’t that bad, really. We’ve still some stuff left over from breakfast and I make myself a ham roll. Along with a little whiskey. The roll would be too dry without it.
“It’s dead handy having this plastic beaker along.” I say enthusiastically.
“We wouldn’t want you having to drink straight from the bottle like a tramp, would we?”
“I was joking.”
“Well, it wasn’t very funny.” I don’t say out loud. I’ve learnt when to keep shtum.
The train isn’t too stupidly packed. At least where we are, in the very first carriage. Announcements saying that there are seats at the front of the train tells me that we made the right decision picking this carriage.
We get a tram straight away and are soon opening tour front door.
“It doesn’t look like they’ve burnt the house down.” I opine optimistically.
Ever the realist, Dolores replies: “That’s something.”
Ramen Kitchen Takumi
40210 | Düsseldorf