I want to first apologize to all my avid blog readers. As you'll see in a few moments, the blog was not entirely on my mind this week, but I'm going to get us up to date today, if that works. Sorry.
We got to Dusseldorf late on Saturday night. Incidentally, at Passport Control, the officer kept speaking to me in German, thinking that I was German ("you do have a German name, right?" he kept saying).
After checking into the hotel, Howard and I decided we would venture out for some food (having eaten very little that day in Marrakech and in transit). The hotel recommended the Kirmes funfair, a wonderful fair held annually during the summer that has nearly 1,500 attractions, including roller coasters, rides, shows, etc. On our way down there (and across the Rhine) we shared a Tram/Trolley with two groups of bachelorette parties, each with its own unique theme (complete with customized shirts, with the participant's name), Tonja's Bunnies and Lucy's Luau. Both groups brought champagne, beer and other beverages on the tram and were openly serving and drinking it while singing some pop songs, including "Sweet Home Alabama" and "99 Luftballons" (the best had to be "Jump in My Car", a classic David Hasselhoff song, further proving that Germans love David Hasselhoff).
When we got to the fair, Howard and I immediately found the Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancake) saleslady and got three with applesauce (yes, it did feel like Chanukah!). We then walked around for a bit, taking in all the weird rides and attractions, including a massive log flume, roller coaster, and "Jurassic Park"-inspired ride. It was pretty interesting:
A few minutes later, we found the appropriate bar tender and picked up 2 large beers (roughly 32 oz) for 3 euros each (the glass was 2 euros - unfortunately, neither of us had room for the glasses in our bags, so we gave them back in - sorry Arie):
After grabbing a few slices of pizza, we headed for this large area, where tons of people were standing and watching this "boxing promotion". Turns out, one of the big attractions is amateur boxing, with random fighters from the crowd (3-4) fighting professionals for a few minutes in the ring. Howard and I figured we needed to see this, so we went on in, and had great seats ringside:
While waiting for the matches to begin, we ran into a German stag party for a guy names Andrew. He was dressed as some kind of woman, but he didn't pull it off that well. He asked Howard to fight with him in the ring, but Howard declined, saying he didn't want to hurt his (Andrew's) beautiful face. We asked him why everyone seemed to be having stag/engagement parties now, and he told us that the most popular wedding days of the year in Germany this year were July 7th and July 20th (07/07/07 and 20/07/2007 respectively) , and that he'd been roped into the latter. At the very start of the event, Andrew was asked to dance around the ring, before fighting commenced. Here's Andrew:
When fighting started, we saw 3 fairly intense matches between amateurs and pros. There was some very heavy hitting, but no blood and no knockdowns. It was pretty cool nonetheless:
After these contests, the promoter, named "Rocky", but looking a lot more like a old Sargent Slaughter, faced off with the referee from the amateur matches. After being knocked down once, he knocked out the referee twice in a row, with some fairly crushing blows. While i'm sure this was choreographed (the crowd was chanting "Rocky, Rocky" the entire time, and Rocky was wearing jeans, so it couldn't have been that intense), it looked pretty painful. Good show:
After boxing, we walked around further and found the "Gurken Fas Frisch" (pickle vendor) and picked up a very tasty pickle to wash down all we'd consumed up to that point:
Then Howard picked up a crepe with banana, nutella and avocado liquor, for dessert and I picked up a local dessert, made up of "sponge cake"-like dough covered in vanilla and cherry sauce. This actually looked good at the time I ate it:
We got back to the hotel at some god forsaken hour and immediately hit the hay... At around 1pm, we ventured out for lunch and ended up at an Italian place. I didn't feel all that hungry, and my stomach started bothering me. After lunch, I went back to the hotel to rest, only to realize that I had a much more serious issue than just a stomach ache. Without going through the gory details, I ended up with food poisoning of some kind, either from Marrakech or Dusseldorf, that kept me in bed for a day and a half in Dusseldorf, sick on the plane to Istanbul, and in bed for the 1st day and a half in Istanbul. I am feeling a lot better now, and will hopefully take in some of Istanbul over the next day and a half to make up for the lost time...