Brussels, Copenhagen, Ruhr Area:

Waffles in the dirt, jazz in the rain and a hanging mountain.

March 24, 2019

The Little Mermaid of Copenhagen, lonelyroadlover, Travellife
The Little Mermaid - and a weird statue in the background

"We have only twenty minutes left to Brussels," I say, while a large piece of cookie is dropping out of my hand and dying somewhere under the driving seat. We have already left Amsterdam and Zandvoort behind on our Europe Road Trip and are now roadtripping to Belgium. My boyfriend is looking at me. "How can that be possible? Why is everything so close in Europe?"
I explain to him that in Europe you can cross twenty countries, while at home in the USA you just got a cup of coffee on the same route. On the way, I had to point three times to the tiny blue EU sign with the yellow stars to state that we were just crossing a border again.

 

I'm about to conquer the next big city by car. I am only moderately excited after I have already survived the left-hand traffic in Dublin, the endless traffic jams of Los Angeles the hell of Naples in the past years. But I'm looking forward to Brussels.

I was there once in 2010 and can only remember that I was totally drunk - which didn't make the city any better.

 

Two days later we will fly to Copenhagen and from there travel on to the Ruhr Area in Germany where I grew up and live. Where our Tiny House is waiting for us. I'm excited. Also because we will meet my family and friends then. Together for the first time.
But first I smash a Belgian waffle with cream on the street, cause public annoyance in a jazz café and die of fear of flying in a storm.

Grote Markt, Chocolate-Attack and a T-Shirt-Messie

Grote Markt Brussels at night, illuminated architecture, architecture of Brussels
The Grote Markt of Brussels - simply stunning!

Sunrays are shimmering in a foggy way through the roof of the elegant passage. On the left the colourful packages of sweets, truffles and waffles are glowing behind mahogany-coloured wooden windows and on the right a shop with old globes, binoculars and ships attracts my attention. We have been in the old town of Brussels for two minutes, got diabetes and are totally blown away. I'm trying to remember why I disliked Brussels in 2010. Maybe because I was 19 and stupid.

 

A little bit later we enter the Grote Markt. I feel like I'm falling into a huge treasure chest of gold. All the buildings around the square are sparkling and surpass each other in their curved and majestic forms. "Wow. I mean, I've been to so many places all over the world. But this is one of the most beautiful squares I've ever seen!" my boyfriend says impressed.

 

We sit down for a moment before I throw my credit card down the Hard Rock Cafe's roaring throat to buy another t-shirt there. At some point I started collecting these rags from every important city in the world. I could probably survive a whole month without washing by now. And without stinking.

The Fascinating Street Art of Brussels

Street Art of Brussels, Street Art Europe, Bob Dylan graffiti
Street Art of Brussels with Bob Dylan

The Street Art in Brussels is particularly impressive. Incredibly creative motives ar decorating the entire Old Town. We even spot Bob Dylan on the wall of a record store.The smoke that comes out of his cigarette is forming the words of the lyrics of "Blowing in the Wind". At a different corner there is a figure holding a three-dimensional heart in its hand that grows out of the wall. And down at the canal, multicultural portraits with colorful glasses stare at us. Brussels is a fucking awesome city! Only surpassed by its food.

 

We are on the verge of robbing all the chocolate shops, but then decide to go for an original Belgian waffle. Which somehow isn't edible because the mountain of cream on top is too high to get it in the mouth. I try anyway and promptly drop a large piece with strawberries and chocolate sauce. My boyfriend and I look at each other for two seconds. Then I grin, pick it up from the street and eat it. "Thank God you did it. Otherwise I would have done it," he says. We're totally nuts!

Crashing to Death with a Budget Flight - or to Copenhagen

The Atomium of Brussels at night, Brussels nightlife, architecture of Brussels
The Atomium of Brussels at night

The alarm goes off at 4 a.m. Of course the plane to Copenhagen takes off  at a completely silly time again. I run halfway into a cupboard and am briefly shocked by the sight of a terrible-looking person who is, however, only my reflection. My boyfriend runs around annoyingly awake and keeps talking with an enormous anticipation. About something that I cannot process in any way because my brain is somewhere between REM sleep and savoy cabbage.

 

I only regain normal consciousness when we are already on the plane. We booked a budget flight in a plastic hell machine. A fantastic idea when you're afraid of flying. But then again it doesn't matter whether you die in luxury or in the crap class. My boyfriend tries to cheer me up with technical details. While I nod monotonously and think about the perfect moment when the wing will break off and what this lifejacket is good for when you crash into a mountain from 36.000 feet ahead.

We arrive in Copenhagen at 9 a.m. - alive. We throw my backpack into the luggage storage at the main station and admire the impressive building, which is a mixture of wild west architecture and Hogwarts. Fancy chandeliers are hanging from the rooftop. It's almost like in the  Bronx!

Hans Christian Andersen and no Roller Coaster

The Statue of Hans Christian Andersen in Copenhagen, Danish author
Me and Hans Christian Andersen in Copenhagen

It's drizzling and stormy outside. It is my very first time in Northern Europe and I'm happy that the cliché works: it's cold and pissing cats and dogs. My boyfriend thinks it is warm. Because it is not minus 150 degrees like in Wyoming.
After that we are a bit disappointed, because the Tivoli - Copenhagen's big amusement park, comparable to the Prater in Vienna - is closed until April. We had planned on a murderous roller coaster and the freefall tower! I don't know why I'm saying this after what I just died mentally on that airplane. Maybe because I know that I'm falling on the Freefall Tower. And that it's intentional.

 

Close to the town hall square with its beautiful brick-coloured buildings and green-blue copper roofs, a giant statue of Hans Christian Andersen is on display. I'm thrilled and we're taking a picture of me sitting on his knee. Then I want to explain who Hans Christian Andersen is. But my boyfriend taps his forehead at me because, of course, he knows him. Because he's as much a European American as I am an American European. Then, unfortunately, it begins to rain more heavily and we entrench ourselves in the second floor of a large and cosy coffee house. There we share an awesome piece of chocolate cake and make travel plans. Because the first thing you do when you're traveling is making new travel plans! We talk about Peru and Ecuador, while outside the rain quietly drips down the high windows.

Confusing people in a Jazz Cafe

Nyhaven, Copenhagen, colorful architecture
The colorful houses of Nyhaven
In the evening we spontaneously decide to go to a little jazz concert. We get a table in a secluded corner next to a high dark oak bookshelf. "I don't know if this is such a good place - so far in the back!" my boyfriend begins skeptically.
Before he can say more, I kiss him.
"Well, I think this is a very good place!" he spontaneously revises his opinion. We laugh. Probably a bit too loud again, because an older gentleman from the table across stares at us in a strange way.
"I bet he thinks we're nuts," I say - quietly.
"Nah, he's wondering where I found you and why he's still with his grouchy wife who's been staring at her food all the time and doesn't say a word to him."
We now laugh a little louder.

 

The Little Mermaid, Nyhaven and a Storm

The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, Statue in Denmark
The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen - off from the bucket list

The weather only improves moderately in the coming days, but that doesn't stop us from ripping off 200 miles on foot through the city. We're going to the Little Mermaid because she's on my boyfriend's bucket list. From there we walk to Amalienburg Castle, Nyhaven and the Torvehallerne - one of the best food markets I have ever visited. We eat a fabulous pizza with crispy dough, wafer-thin potatoes, rosemary and goat cheese. I'm about to eat the table top, too, because the stuff tastes so incredibly good. The only thing keeping me from ordering another pizza is the horrendous food prices in Copenhagen. We decide to be fat and broke at the end of the trip.

 

The return flight a few days later is - again - accompanied by hurricane-like outgrowths. I briefly see the end of all days again - live and in color - as the plane slithers towards the runway in Charleroi. Then I say with a little shaky voice, "Fear will never be a reason for me not to do something!"

Doomsday: Meeting the Family

Lovebirds in Amsterdam
From Amsterdam to Doomsday: Me ♥ You

I look at the time. "It's time go. The interstates in Ruhr Area are... special," I say.

"Because in Germany you can drive as fast as you want," my boyfriend tells me proudly his knowledge about this country.
I can hardly hold back my laughter. "Yes. Especially on the A40," I say, very serious. THE traffic jam road in Germany par excellence.

We drive about an hour to the house of my grandparents, where we meet my dad, my grandpa and my uncle.

"Doomsday - all three at one time," my boyfriend jokes with a soft echo of anxiety in his voice. It'll be fun. He doesn't speak a word of German (except "Scheiße") and my family only speaks very bad English. I decide to make the best out of it and simply translate unpleasant embarrassments wrongly or not at all. Or shout out loud "Scheiße!" and laugh.

But then everything comes differently than expected. My grandpa opens the door and brings the old corny joke "Hang yourself up!" right at the wardrobe. We're already laughing in the hallway.

Family-Selfie with three Generations of Bullheads

Family meeting, long-distance-relationship
We are family - my most favorite guys in one picture

Inside of the house is my dad, who seems to have taken an English crash course overnight. Which leads to my boyfriend saying out loud and for fun that I said my whole family was old as the hills and about to leave the planet. Not knowing that my dad can understand him perfectly well. For the rest of the afternoon I am the nutcase who told bullshit about her family. Luckily my grandpa wants to do a selfie with everyone right away, which distracts from the somewhat unfavourable story for me. Especially because my dad and my uncle spend 15 minutes handling the camera. Nobody knows what they are doing but they are pretty good and giving good advices the other one completely ignores. In the end, my grandpa stamps into the basement to get the tripod, while we shout upstairs, "You don't have to get the tripod now!" Which, of course, my grandpa ignores. My boyfriend and I are close to tears of laughter. Then he looks at me for a long time with his wonderfully mischievous smile. "Now I know why you are such a bullhead..."

At the end my dad and my boyfriend hug each other outside in the yard and I hear someone say "See you next time!" so I quickly yell "Then in the USA!"

Ruhr Area at its Best: Gasometer, Matterhorn & Stars

The Call of the Mountains - exhibition in Oberhausen, Ruhr Area, Gasometer
The Matterhorn projection in the Gasometer Oberhausen
On our last day we roam around Ruhr Area a lot. My hometown area is a former coal mining area and full of treasures and interesting places to see. Former mining buildings that were turned into stunning museums, fancy restaurants and vibrant culture spots. Only few people know about it but Ruhr Area is at least as interesting as Berlin or Munich!
As we creep across the interstate, I point to all the colliery towers and slagheaps I can find to explain them a bit more. And I laugh my ass off when my boyfriend thinks the road markings in Germany were yellow like they use to be in the USA. Just because the entire interstate is a construction site - and outside of construction areas the markings in Germany are usually white.
Finally we end up in the Gasometer Oberhausen and the fantastic exhibition "The Call of the Mountains". A show that suits us perfectly: great photographs of wilderness, adventure and nature mixed with breakneck mountaineering stories and atmospheric sounds. My byofriend is especially impressed by the floating Matterhorn in the dome of the Gasometer. We sit on the steps for half an eternity and simply watch the changing seasons and times of day on the projection screen.

Eddie Vedder - Our Song

Planetarium Bochum, Ruhr Area, science
Waiting for the starts at the planetarium
In the afternoon we are at the planetarium in Bochum. Because we love science and documentaries. Because we have already walked  under the real Milky Way at night together and do believe that the universe has brought us together. Because we resisted being together for quite a long time and tried to be reasonable and realistic instead. But in the end, surprisingly, everything went to hell.
When we drive home in the evening in the dark, we listen to wonderful music and watch the asphalt flying by. We'll always be on the road. Everywhere around the world. And it doesn't matter where we are or where our home is - because we are at home wherever we are together. Later we cook some tasty pasta while Eddie Vedder is playing on my notebook in the living room. Society, you're a crazy breed I hope you're not lonely without me. "This is a perfect song for kissing," my boyfriend says out of the blue. He doesn't know that this song has had a very special meaning for me since I came home from my four-month-solo-trip to the USA in 2017. And now it's Our Song.
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