Marty and Deanna where kind enough to drive us all the way from Brussels, Belgium to Krefeld Germany. Angie and I were kind enough to sleep the whole way...giving them some "alone time". We're nice like that.
Krefeld ended up being incredibly dodgy, or at least the area around the car park was. We had fun finding a staircase out of the basement that wasn't inhabited by semi-dead heroin users and eventually made it to the street by walking back the way that we drove in. At street level we came to the conclusion (judging by the general populace and their vacant eyed state) that we had, in fact, arrived at the heart of the Zombie apocalypse. Later we would discover that they were just Russian immigrants...not all that different really.
Since we had arrived earlier than we had planned, we decided to take the opportunity to search out a restaurant for lunch. MoneyPenny (the onboard GPS system in the BMW) had informed us that there was a nice place just around the corner from where we parked. This was a complete lie and instead we got lost in a town with nothing open. Eventually we found something that resembled a restaurant, but when Marty stuck his head in to check he got stared down by a bunch of scary old German men who had clearly been drinking since 8am. We proceeded to the Cafe & Bar Celona (witty name) for Schnitzel.
A few hours later and it was 2pm, time to meet up with my German friends, Olaf and Vicky. We found their flat without too much trouble and I got a big happy German hug which, in no way, smelled like Sauerkraut as I expected it to. We were introduced then to another artist's apartment, similar to our friends in Finland, but substantially more 60's influenced (as they are both Mods) and with fun slippery wooden floors. Olaf showed us some fun tricks for sliding across the entire length of the hallway. I fell down.
After some catching up, Olaf and Vicky piled us into their car to head to the nearby city of Duisburg, a factory city with some sort of amusement factory light show thing.
Wait, I have to describe the "car." This vehicle, as Olaf described it, is more of a philosophy than a car. With only 29 horsepower, I can begin to understand where he was coming from. Driving on the Autobahn at it's top speed of 100km/hr it seems to float, more or less, in the general direction where you point it. This floating requires constant attention to a complex array of knobs, dials, and switches, which I imagine without care, could lead to a complete loss of control and certain death as the car is no bigger than the 4 passengers it maintains. There is also a panel of unmarked lights which sporadically flash and flutter as the car seems to make an attempt to communicate with its limited vocabulary. It's all rather like Flight of the Navigator...but much more terrifying.
Somehow Angie managed to peacefully sleep through this whole proceeding as though she was being craddled in the arms of safety. I had been on those suicide buses in the sub-continent of India where drivers enjoy a mortality rate approximately on par with military convoy drivers, and felt no fear. But in this vehicle, this French "thing" which was commissioned to "travel on French country roads with a backseat full of eggs and milk and not break either the product, or the driver's bank, kept me awake like a nose-full of speed.
It did, however, successfully bring us to our destination and, admittedly, it was well worth the risk. Duisburg has prematurely begun to preserve its history. Here, they have closed off an old steel factory and adorned it with all sorts and arrays of neon lights. It's kind of like being on the set of a Zombie movie shoot. Here's an example of what a Zombie movie might be like there...
After watching the sun set from the top of the slag furnace, we headed off back to the suicide car. Somehow we got lost on the way though, and discovered a visage of that stereotypical Germany factory that we all know. Walking around at night, aided in some places with placards of old photos, we were really able to capture the feeling of working a shit factory job. For those of your who are metallurgists out there, be thankful that these poor slobs managed to prove that automated operation of a steel factory is more efficient that burning off the soles of your feet on hot slag.
A quick drive and we were back in Krefeld with the night still ahead of us. Olaf, Vicky, Angie, a new friend Jo, and myself all piled into a cab and booked it to a local rock bar. Here we learned the joys of various beers, musics, and local youth. I also discovered that walking into the sharp edge of a bathroom door will:
a) solicit a surprising amount of blood
b) promote the purchasing of free beer from the nice fellow who threw the door open into your face, and...
c) give you a concussion that will keep you bed ridden the next day.
I'm just hoping that it scars well enough that I will have a proper souvenir from this place.
Somehow, despite the head wound, heavy beer consumption (you will remember that beer is my enemy as it poisons me in ways that other alcohols cannot compare) Olaf and I managed to stay up until some ungodly hour on YouTube, laughing at the folly of those bamboozled by Sasha Cohen's gay Austrian Hairdressing character, Bruno. Oh, Bruno, those homophobes are such a neich neich.