Cruise control

I wasn’t a big fan of driving when we first came to Düsseldorf, but I’ve since adapted and have been driving myself around quite a bit. I find it to be a potent feeling of freedom – just me in my climate-controlled box on wheels and the road. As a reward for my assimilation, I promptly received not one but two speeding tickets. I also happen to like the gentle but firm tug you get when pressing the accelerator…

I since have gained a wary respect of the German efficiency with which they keep drivers like me in check. There are radar cameras in enough places, so, aside from those few kilometers on the Autobahn that are speed limit-free, I have become a diligent user of cruise control, to the point of me feeling spiessig, which literally translates into bourgeois but specifically implies the part of the definition having to do with concern for respectable behavior. (did anybody else notice what a German sentence that was? 57 words!)

While the tickets are not expensive and don’t give me points on my record, I’m not willing to be teased by Toby any more than necessary. Besides, those pictures really do look horrible…

20140414 cruise control

Little Things

This is the actual sign in front of the kiosk in the Underground station that sells newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, lottery tickets, and, I guess, ‘real wieners.’ Giggle, giggle.

“I’m a real one… 22 cm long, 200 g heavy, and recently increased in price to 2,70.”

a real wiener

Why all this talk about sunshine

As the dreary post-Christmas winter settles upon us here in Düsseldorf, I’m sure I will start complaining about the weather again. While I’ve been lucky and haven’t had to ride my bike in the rain in a while, my biggest point of contention is still the lack of sunshine for what feels like days (and sometimes weeks) on end.

Nice people who can’t fully fathom my climate-related distress are always trying to pep me up with statements like, “but it’s so nice to be inside and cozy and warm while it’s gray outside,” or “cloudy days make you appreciate the sunny ones that much more” (see more here). Oh, you poor people, I always say…

To put my obsession with sunshine and generally good weather into perspective, I grew up in the second sunniest place on the face of the planet, really. www.currentresults.com says so.

And, while researching sunshine stats, I also ran across this on weatherspark.com: “The median cloud cover [in Düsseldorf] is 85% (mostly cloudy) and does not vary substantially over the course of the year. On June 17, the clearest day of the year, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 17% of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 40% of the time.”

Numbers don’t lie. I’m not crazy after all.

And a final word, for all you pepper-uppers, “Düsseldorf has…no dry season.” (weatherspark.com)

Average hours of sunshine for the ten sunniest places on earth
Country Place Year Day
United States Yuma, Arizona 4015 11.0
United States Phoenix, Arizona 3872 10.6
Egypt Asswan 3863 10.6
United States Las Vegas, Nevada 3825 10.5
Sudan Dongola 3814 10.4
United States Tucson, Arizona 3806 10.4
Chad Faya-Largeau 3792 10.4
Egypt Kharga 3791 10.4
Sudan Abu Hamed 3763 10.3
United States El Paso, Texas 3763 10.3

Sunny Sunday

Germany is a nation of walkers. Sure, in general, people travel by foot way more here than other places I’ve lived. But spazieren gehen, to stroll or to go for a walk, merely for the walking itself, is an actual pastime, a way to actively enjoy your free time. ‘Hey, want to go spazieren?’

There doesn’t necessarily have to be a destination in mind or even a set amount of time to be spent walking. You just go and see what happens. Maybe you meet some friends, maybe you stop for a coffee, maybe you just sit on a bench and watch the people passing by. The idea is to just be out in the fresh air.

Yesterday was the perfect combination of sunny and Sunday, so Toby and I headed out for a two-hour Spaziergang, walk, along the Rhine in the afternoon sun. We certainly weren’t the only ones! Here are some impressions:

20140105 01 Spazieren

20140105 02 Spazieren

20140105 03 Spazieren