"Do you fancy a trip to Düsseldorf, Ronald"
Trying to keep my cool, I reply: "That could be an idea." While in mt head I'm shouting "Yes, yes, YES!"
It takes Dolores a while to find the dates. Not being burdened by employment, we're pretty much 100% flexible. She has to balance when the hotel is cheapest with the best value train tickets. Eventually she finds a combination which only costs 150 euros for both of us. Bargain.
There was one remaining worry: would the trains run as scheduled. Dolores has had a lot of bad experiences recently with DB. Lots of late or even cancelled trains. DB's service has really turned to shit. It's depressing as they used to be so reliable.
The day doesn't start too well. When we get to the end of our street we wee that there's a big pile of sand where the tram stop is supposed to be. I can't imagine we'll be able to get on there. Fortunately, the previous tram stop isn't too far away. We manage to scramble to it just before our tram rolls up.
We don't have reserved seats. Which is a bit of a risk. Luckily I have Dolores with me. Who, from years of travelling on overcrowded Deutsche Reichsbahn, is an expert in elbowing her way to grab seats. It's not too difficult as the train isn't totally packed.
Obviously, I've brought a little something for the journey: fours cans of Gulpener Gladiator, first choice of the discerning street drinker. I've also brought along a plastic beaker. I'm not going to drink straight from a can. Only philistines do that. I'm civilised, me.
True to form, the train won't complete its full route to Franfurt, instead terminating in Düsseldorf. Which is handy for us. Not so handy if you have a connection in Frankfurt.
It's not a long journey. Only two hours something. It could be a lot faster, as the ICE barely gets out of second gear. It doesn't hit 200 kph once, mostly idling along at 140 kph. Or less.
Our hotel isn't far from the station. We're lucky and get a room at the back, which looks out over the end of the platforms. Trains constantly bustle back and forth along the myriad lines of track.
"Andrew would have loved it here as a kid. We could have just left him looking out of the window all day." Dolores isn't wrong. I'm tempted to do that myself.
But we can't dally. We have an appointment. A very important one. We've a table booked at Schumacher at 17:00. Why book a table? Dolores was here earlier in the year with her sister, and they couldn't get into Schumacher. So we're playing it safe.
On the way, we indulge in some light shopping, picking up a few bottles of beer. Though the Rewe Dolores wants to go to is being renovated. Leaving us with more walking than planned.
Once settled in Schumacher, we get stuck into some Alt straight away. It's very good. Light in the mouth, but sharply bitter on the way down. A couple of glasses soon disappear stomach-bound. 2.75 euros for a quarter litre. You'd be lucky to get an industrial Pils for that price in Amsterdam.
What to eat? I fancy Bratkartoffeln and a big chunk of pork. But the Schweinehaxe just comes with a roll and Sauerkraut. Dolores orders a dish with the spuds and I swap my roll and Kraut for them. Everyone's a winner.
My Haxe is full of meaty goodness. Really full of meaty goodness. Just as well I've an appetite. I haven't eaten since breakfast. Even so, there's a bout as much meat as I can manage in a sitting. Probably enough to last a Japanese family for a year.
We only have the table for two hours and can't hand around too long. The room fills up around us as we eat.
More shopping for the walk back. Though we have to walk in the opposite direction from our hotel to find an open Rewe. Where I get myself a bottle of hotel whiskey: Jim Beam.
I'm a bit knacked after more walking than I expected. Weighed down both by shopping and the kilo of pork in my belly. I sip on whiskey while Dolores flicks through the German channels. We only get five on the Amsterdam cable.
It's not that late a night. We have quite a lot to get through tomorrow. More shopping, Japanese food, train home.