Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dusseldorf + Carson's Birthday!

I like to schedule my posts in chronological order, buuuut decided to do things out of order with this one. After a weekend in Spain, we were back in Germany for Carson's birthday. 
We flew from Dusseldorf, Germany to Barcelona and since we'd get back "home" to Germany on Carson's thirtieth birthday, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to stay the night there and explore a new city!

Our flight back arrived mid-afternoon and then we took the S-Bahn from the airport to the main train station. It wasn't a long ride (maybe four stops) and then the walk to the hotel was a little over five minutes. I'd booked our hotel online and it said it was close, but I was so impressed!

Here we are on the plane. 

We freshened up (I took a mini nap and Carson went for a walk to explore) and then headed out for dinner. This pretty church (I think) was spotted on our way.

We had dinner at Vapiano. We have one here in Munster as well and we really like it, and that's what the birthday boy wanted. Done. Even though it's a chain, the food is really fresh and prepared right in front of you. 

After dinner, we walked toward the water and explored some Christmas markets. Everything was pretty central and a super short walk. We were certainly staying much closer to the main city area in Dusseldorf than we live to things in Munster and it was nice to have a shorter walk to things! 

We liked this stand where the employees dressed in traditional Dutch costumes (I think that's what they are!)

Oddly enough, he's not posing here. 

We liked this brewery - It's hard to see here but there's a polar bear logo and it's called "white bear" in German. The streets were very festive and it was really cold so it felt very Christmassy. We walked around Christmas markets and in a few stores, exploring.

The Rathaus (town hall) there was very pretty! And beautiful with the market beneath.

The booths were elaborate also. 

Here's the stellar selfie we got. Carson didn't look at it and said "Yeah, it's great!" next time I'll check before carrying on our merry way!

Dusseldorf is right on the Rhine, and the view across the river was beautiful. It's blurry here (the night of blurry pictures, I guess), but it was so great.

This cartwheeler is one of the symbols of Dusseldorf, depicted all over the city. I think it's fun, and I sort of wanted to do a cartwheel also in front of it for a picture, but I refrained.

See? Another cartwheeler!

We browsed some stores, because this is also the day before we started our Christmas shopping (this is the first year we've only bought gifts for each other, so there wasn't a reason to start super early), so we wanted to give each other ideas. This is not on my Christmas list. 

We got back to our hotel at about 8:15 that evening and sat down to watch some TV. The channels were all in German, understandably, but we did catch one portion of a show we recognized that was dubbed into German. We watched for just a little while and then turned on a cheesy Hallmark movie via Netflix. 

The next morning, we slept in and then headed down to breakfast (provided with the room - love that) before getting ready for the day and checking out. The front desk was kind enough to hold our bags so that we didn't have to lug them around all day. This was a shopping day, not a sightseeing day, so we needed our hands free. Carson was in desperate need of some new clothes (his poor sneakers were THIS close to showing his toes), so we went in search of those. We first stopped at a gear store, where we could afford nothing but enjoyed looking at sweaters that were 400 euro.

We also went to Primark, which is a super cheap store based in the UK. Prices were seriously great and we scored some great things without spending much! Carson found jeans and some cheap T-shirts to replace the holey and too baggy things he owned.

We did some window shopping and some real shopping and sometimes hopped into stores just to keep warm. 

For a late lunch, we were going to have pizza or burgers, but Carson spotted a KFC and honed in on it, so we had a cheap lunch of chicken and mashed potatoes, which was actually really good. I had a kid's meal.

We picked up our bags and then went to a Starbucks inside the train station for a "birthday cake". I grabbed the most Carson-like treat and stuck a candle in it, which I'd brought with me on our trip (I didn't even get a birthday gift for poor Carson - I meant to and then forgot but at least I had this candle?!). I sang quietly to Carson in the busy cafe before his train left. We took different trains to and from Dusseldorf because we didn't realize that Carson's semester ticket only applies to a specific type of train and I'd already booked my tickets on a different kind. Our trains arrived to Munster only minutes apart despite Carson's leaving 45 minutes before mine (mine stopped three times but Carson's stopped in each little city). 

We enjoyed our time in Dusseldorf and actually liked the city so much that we found ourselves wanting to move there. We love where we live, but so many things about this city were so great! 

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