Dale Yu: First day in Europe

Well, the fair hasn’t quite started, but I’ve managed to make it to Dusseldorf without any issues.  I’m glad that I made the flight changes with Delta – even with the extra 40 minutes or so that I had to argue for, I still barely made it to the gate on the connecting flight by the time boarding had started.  I think I would have been doomed had I kept the original flight that Delta had rescheduled for me.  No sleep on the plane, we were apparently watching a few exciting movies on board and there were a couple of folks on my plane who couldn’t help themselves from talking to the screen and making loud random outbursts that woke up everyone in the coach cabin.

So, I managed to get in a few more rulesets and read 2 and a half books on my Kindle. I arrived about three hours before my brother (my road trip buddy this year), and we had already planned to just go our separate ways and meet in Cologne at our hotel there. I figured that I could just get breakfast and walk around and enjoy the day.  That almost happened. I took the train to Cologne, and I was again blown away by the Cathedral being right outside the station.


Yes, this is really about 200m outside the station.  I was planning on dropping off my bags at the hotel and wandering around, but as I’m trying to get to the hotel – which is just on the other side of the cathedral, my plans have to take a significant detour:


Yup, that’s right. The frickin Marathon is in town. Most of the pedestrian shopping area that was going to keep me occupied was shut down for the race.  Interestingly, over my multiple trips to Europe, this is the fifth marathon that I’ve managed to hit… Koln, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Rome.  In the end, it didn’t turn out to be that big of a deal – as I was only going to get some window shopping done anyways.  Just about every store in Germany seems to be closed on Sundays.  I managed to grab a quick breakfast of some pretzels (managed to limit it to two today!) and then window shopped on the few streets that weren’t shut down from the race.


Above: Some of my breakfast choices – from left to right – plain pretzel, pretzel with cheese, pretzel smothered in sesame seeds, pretzel smothered in poppy seeds, pretzel covered in nuts.


Above: And then there was the “Nougat-Pretzel”… This one looked too dessert-y for me.

Fully armed with my carbs for the morning, I set off to walk around and see what I could (and really, just try to stay in motion to stay awake) while I was waiting for my brother to arrive.


Super creepy mannequins without eyes. This whole storefront looked like it was a Doctor Who set because no one had any eyes.


Apparently TJ’s little brother sells discount clothing too.


Weird public toilet. You stand on the green feet and then water cascades down the reflective wall in front of you. Yeah, I almost didn’t figure this one out…


Some cute sheep I saw in an art store window… only 200 EUR each. And each one would take up most of my carryon… Maybe next year!


Without many other options, I ended up back at the Dom.  The bells were pealing, and I poked my head indoors.  Lots of tourists were in the back and there was a church worker there carefully standing guard over the entryway.  Still having two hours to wait, I decided to just go to Mass.  After butchering the German language a bit, I convinced the guard that I wasn’t there just to take pictures – and I was allowed into the pews.  Even though I’m not really Catholic anymore, having been raised Catholic really ingrains the service into you.  As I couldn’t really understand much of what was being said, it was a nice relaxing hour to meditate.  The tunes of the songs were all familiar at least.  And, I wasn’t going to be thrown off by all the new words and responses in the Catholic Mass because I didn’t know what the old ones sounded like in German, much less the new!

Finally, my brother arrives and we head out to dinner.


One of my favorite dishes: Himmel un Aad – fried blood sausage served with mashed potatoes and apples.  Topped off with Koelsch, the local beer.  Yum.

And to top it off, we had some delightful conversation with Jens Peter Schliemann, the designer of Nacht der Magier, Chateau Roquefort and many other excellent games.


Time for bed – gotta catch up on jet lag – and in the morning, maybe a quick trip over to Jens’ office/studio to see where he creates his games!

Addendum – definitely no problem falling asleep. Between the 35 straight hours being awake and the couple of beers at dinner, I was fast asleep.  However, I mentioned that we’re right next to the Cathedral, right? Apparently church services start at 7.  And the bell tower rings for a good 5 minutes before service.  There’s another one at 8.  And to top it off, there must be 22 different Catholic churches in the old town, each of which has Mass about 5 minutes after the last.  The joy of living in the Old World is that no one can possibly sleep past 7!

At least the showers here are nice.  Best water pressure I’ve had in a shower in a long time.  And, if we rate showers by fixtures, this one wins.  6 controls for 3 spigots/showerheads.  Awesome.  And to boot, the shower had that funny half length door/partition that is common here.  I have always been meaning to ask my friends here whether they’re just less splashy than us?  I couldn’t figure out how to not get about 2 gallons of water on the bathroom floor!



Rainy monday morning view from my hotel room…

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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9 Responses to Dale Yu: First day in Europe

  1. This is awesome Dale… really hoping to go to Essen on my work sabbatical in the next couple of years. Are you seeing Essen as part of the GeekNation tour this year?

  2. Dale Yu says:

    Brian, I am not part of the GeekNation tour this year. I’m on my own, and I am completely exhausted! TIme to head to bed to catch up on sleep.

  3. Bruce Miller says:

    Thanks Dale! A great reading as always. The snaps are great, expect for the fried blood sausage which is factual. And love the sheep, they look a bit like the Serta sheep.

  4. Fraser says:

    Hmmm pretzels…

  5. David Reed says:


    I look forward to once again reading of your adventures, finds and impressions of this year’s Spiel. I hope that you are well-rested by the time that you read this. I had a similar experience on my last flight to Europe. Sleeping on the way over always seems like such a good theory, but being able to put it into practice seems so very hard to do.

    You needn’t worry about new Mass parts in German – English was the first modern language to get them. They’re coming at some point in the future, but I have no idea where the process of implementing the changes in German is.

  6. Jacob says:

    I really feel like I’ve experienced part of the Essen trip through this blog. Thank you very much! I’ve read lots of these kinds of blogs before, but this one made it real for me better than anything else I’ve read. Those cathedral pics are stunning.

  7. Kai says:

    I completely share your pain about being woken up by church bells. It’s pretty much impossible to find any spot in Cologne that doesn’t listen to five different churches minimum. That all start mass at different times, obviously. But other German cities are not much better, so we have to get used to it around here ;-)
    You really picked a bad day for the window shopping, by the way, shops in Germany have to be closed on Sundays by law (with a few exceptions, bakeries and gas stations, for example), so you can get a lot of window but very little shopping.

    I hope you’ll have a great here, and a good Essen fair, too.

  8. Dirk says:

    Hi Dale,

    good choice: “Himmel un Ääd!” It´s my favorite local dish – I´m from Cologne, I´ve been born here…Next year you have to order “Riefkooche”, a special sort of fried mashed potatoes with a special apple purée and brown bread, sometimes eaten with beet sauce…

    I think, I will see you a few times on my way through the Holly Halls, then I will bring you a little bottle of “Kölsch”…

    Thanks for the amazing reports!



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