Europe 2013 – Essen

by Diane on 27/11/2013

From Italy we went straight to Essen. That’s where I grew up, and it’s where I met Kai.

Once upon a time there was a big games fair in Essen, called SPIEL ’93. It’s where two nice kids met under the most romantic circumstances: one was selling games, the other one was selling popcorn. That’s how our story began. It involved quite a bit of watching each other, tons of popcorn being eaten by someone who doesn’t even like sweet popcorn, and a sweet first kiss on the fourth (and last) day of the fair.

20 years ago at the games fair.

20 years ago at the games fair.

When we saw that this year’s SPIEL would fall on the exact day of our 20th anniversary, it didn’t take us long to decide that we had to be there. It’s one of those things that you can only do once, and you might regret if you don’t take the opportunity. So at the end of our Europe trip we stopped in Essen to celebrate our anniversary.

Obviously we managed to do a few other things as well: we showed Helen around (unfortunately we were running out of time too quickly, Helen left two days earlier than we did), went to Gruga Park (my absolute most favourite park in the whole world) and managed to catch up with a few very close friends for drinks and dinners.

Anniversary day! Gruga park after SPIEL 2013.

Anniversary day! Gruga park after SPIEL 2013.

I was lucky enough to see my dad and my step mum again (they had already visited me in Moers at the beginning of the trip) for a nice breakfast. It’s quite bizarre; none of the cafes that offer breakfast in Essen open before 9:00 or even 9:30am, so we ended up having breakfast at our hotel. It does a nice enough buffet, so it was all good, but it really surprised me that we weren’t able to find an alternative place to eat.

And just before we had to pack our bags again for our flight home, we met with heaps of friends and family members at a cafe close to where we were staying. I always feel a bit bad that we kind of storm in, dictate a day/time/location where they can see us, have waaaay too little time for them, and then just vanish again. But there is no other way to organise a catch up with everyone – if we wanted to meet everyone individually, we would have to stay for at least two weeks. Given the cost of accommodation, the loss of income while not working, the limited time available for travel and the number of places that still need to be discovered all across the globe, this is unfortunately the only way it can be organised.

I talked to a couple of friends about this, and one person said something really wise: “I consider you a guest in Germany, so I’ll do everything to make sure that this is a fun and stress-free experience for you. If I want to see you in an environment where you make sure that it’s fun and stress-free for me, I’ll come and visit you”. I really liked this advice, and it made me feel much better.

It also reminded me of my stopover on the way to Europe this year. Kai had been working in Australia, and we met in Brisbane to start the journey from there. I had a whole day to myself before seeing Kai, and in my head I had planned to spend it with Meggy and the girls (Kai’s godchild and her sisters). Unfortunately I had totally forgotten to tell her about it, and only Facebook-messaged her a day or two before I was in Brisbane. But it didn’t matter. All their plans for the day got changed, I got picked up from the hotel and after running a few errands we spent the afternoon in their garden. At no time did Meggy even consider to say “Too short notice” – it’s rare enough that we see each other, so she did everything she could to make it happen. I think it might be a migrants’ thing: if you have moved around the world, you get a different view on friendship and the practicality of seeing each other. You just don’t feel bossed around if someone says “There and then”, you just do it, because friendship is important and everything else can be organised around it. After all it’s not every day that you have to arrange your life around someone else.

Underwater pics of the girls in Brisbane.

Underwater pics of the girls in Brisbane.

At Frankfurt airport we saw Kai’s parents again for a very nice coffee before we boarded for the first of five flights back home. This little Europe 2013 series ends here as well, you now know about everything we managed to squeeze into three weeks of holiday.


Trees November 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Aww….look at you guys!! Yah for 20 years!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: