Saturday morning Amelie had her last vaulting coach class and when she got home at 11 we left for the market! The market was in the neighboring neighborhood of Rüttenscheider. It was really cool to see all those stalls with different foods and clothing. I wish we had more of those in the States instead of just in the cities. After the market we bought our train ticket to Cologne for Tuesday. Cologne will be our first excursion without a German speaker with us so we'll see how we do.
After the market we went Geocaching-Germany style. It was pretty dang hard. The Schepers' neighbors Andreas and Anya have a GPS and they led us. They told us they knew of a multi station cache and had tried it before, but got stuck. We went through the stations they had already done with no problem but then the coordinates took us to a steep hill with trees all over. The trees had symbols all over them and we spent over an hour tripping around on the slippery ground but found nothing.
We went home for a barbeque with more friends of the Schepers.
It consisted of a lot of really tasty different flavors of sausage and good bread. The kids ended up inside playing German monopoly and the adults were outside talking. Their monopoly was a trip around the world so Kevin and I learned the German names for the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal and other stuff like that.
On Sunday we went a little out of Essen to Königswinter where there is a mountain called Drachenfels (Dragonstone). There is a legend that the hero of the poem Nibelungenlied
killed a dragon on the top of this
mountain. We walked 45 minutes at 20% grade with three little German kids running in front of us shouting "Nein! Nein!" and blocking our path. It was all worth it though, and not only for the view of the valley. After we took our pictures these 4 guys asked Amelie to take their picture for them. My mom saw that everybody was staring at them but we thought it was just because they were pretty good looking. All of the sudden Theresa and Annette started talking in rapid German. Amelie told me that they just realized that one of the four guys was actually Marco Schreyl, the host of German Idol. I had never even heard of him and still felt excited. Just to make sure it was him, Theresa shouted MARCO! as we were walking back down. She got a response so we giggled for a while. There was a serious discussion about whether or not to go and ask for a picture with him. In the end Theresa and Amelie ran off to find him. They came back with a picture! Theresa was pretty excited and the American boys were pretty sarcastic about the whole thing. They didn't quite see the excitement and were worried about being hungry.
We drove around for a while with kids in one car with Amelie driving and adults in the other car. I don't think the adults even told us where we were going until we ended up at a ferry crossing. Amelie panicked for a bit because this meant she had to drive onto the ferry. We all lived and got a really cool ferry ride across the Rhine. After more driving through little German villages we ended up at a restaurant. Kevin, Dad and I all had Sauerbraten. They told us it was a very German meal. It was roast beef-like in sweet sauce with applesauce and potato balls. We couldn't spend much time there because we were tired and the Germany-Poland opening soccer game of EuroCup 2008 started at 8:45. We made it back for the game and Germany won 2-0. People opened up their doors and screamed on the streets when Germany scored. I wish the US had some sort of unifying sport like that. Not enough people like soccer, American football divides us because nobody else plays it, and the World series really isn't the "world". Its amazing to see all the German flags on the cars and the people all dressed up on the street getting ready for the game. If we could get behind soccer maybe patriotism would be more popular.
Today we're finally getting to see downtown Essen after thinking every place we go is downtown because it looks like downtown Newton. Everybody is so densly packed in here with 3 or 4 story houses. Some of these differences I've seen are probably a city vs small town thing instead of Germany vs USA. I'm sure NYC probably has a lot of densly packed places that look kind of like downtown Newton.
It really is hard to get on here every night. Now I probably don't even remember what has happened the past two days, but I can sure try.