Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chapter 3, In which serendipity played a surprisingly large role

Greetings, salutations, and glad tidings from across the puddle! I'm sorry to say that this post comes (obviously) somewhat late, but hopefully it will make up for itself with content. This past week was largely uneventful, and given over to schooling, learning, and other droll things. However, the weekend was a long one -- we had Monday off on account of Whit Monday (if you don't know what that is, like me BEFORE reading this article, I recommend traipsing over to the Wikipedia article on the subject:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whit_Monday). I took the opportunity to catch up on sleep, and also to make an outing to the small town of Krefeld. I was expecting to visit the Deutches Textilmuseum, however that was simply not in the cards for the trip.

From my little town (Erkrath-Hochdahl) it's an 11 minute train ride to the main train station here in Düsseldorf. Then, it's a regional train from Düsseldorf to the small city of Krefeld. Upon arriving, you exit the train station, and if you should glance behind, you feel a bit confused:

Krefeld Hauptbahnhof
"Did I just teleport via train to that cathedral? Or is that cathedral actually a train station... gosh that's confusing."

In any event, it was then a simple matter of catching a local tram to Burg Krefeld -- the nearest stop to the museum. All in all, the trip took a meager 1 hour 40 minutes, including wait times at the train station. I may not have explicitly mentioned it heretofore, but the German train system is addictive. It's like candy. Except faster. And with better seats. And more people. All right, the metaphor breaks down quickly, but I claim rhetorical license. Moving on...

The feeling after getting off the tram was typical old European town ( I assume, as that's the association I have with this particular style of little house and cobbled streets with no cars and horse drawn carriages...). I felt a bit funny wandering around holding my high tech GPS enabled phone in my hand trying to find the museum. There was just this little problem: whenever I came anywhere near, these gates would get in my way, and I'd be told that I needed to pay money to enter some fair thing that was taking place. Eventually, after walking a pretty broad circle and finding all entrance streets to the local region closed off, I actually asked one of the gatekeepers. At that point, I was informed that the museum was closed, on account of the fair.

I figured that since I was already here, I might as well accept the workings of serendipity, so I ponied up the 8 euro entrance price, and was awarded a ticket:

(+3 venturesomeness. Does that goes towards INT?) 
The fair, as it turns out, was an annual event of epic proportions (in this particular case, the use of the word epic is an excellent case of foreshadowing, coupled with a subtle twist of irony based on the time frame the fair was based off of. *whew*). There were more than 200 stands, where a variety of peddlers/artisans/artists were either in the process of producing wares, or simply selling them. I saw woolen scarves being knitted, glass artwork being blown, clay bowls being shaped, wooden bows being carved, children's games being created, and even a blacksmith making iron tools. The selection was incredible, and all tinged with a certain "middle ages" feeling (hence the time frame irony).

To convey some image of the scale of the fair, have a picture:

The center of the fairgrounds in Krefeld, Germany.
You know what, have a few:

Lots of people. Take 1.

Lots of people. Take 2.

Lots of people. Take 3.

In terms of the individual stalls, here a couple of samples:

The aforementioned bow maker had several homemade  bows on display.

This was the first time I'd ever seen a real blacksmith at work.

This was a real artisan: he makes small slices in the paper, to make 3D folded paper shapes. Some are truly incredible!

A cane maker! This young girl is delighted -- he just helped her make her own cane, sized to fit. The process involved taking some really flexible wood and bending it into shape, then cutting off excess length to make it a perfect fit.

After a couple of hours of wandering, a purchase of some really excellent Halva (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halva), and a world class pretzel, I made my way back towards the main train station. But not before finding the dratted museum I was coming for in the first place!

Closed. Very closed.
I snapped a quick picture at the Krefeld train station before departing -- proof that I was actually here, and that I'm not simply a super-able Googler.

Me at the Krefeld Hauptbahnhof
I have another interesting entry planned some time this week -- it'll be a bit early to make up for my delay on this one. For now, however, I bid you adieu!