TG Universes & Series:
“You sure this is a good idea?” Mand asked as we waited for the slightly delayed Rhein Express on a wind and slightly snow swept Remagen Gleis Drei.
“It’ll be fine,” I stated, “the market will be really er seasonal.”
“She’s right, Mand,” Con agreed.
“It never comes to much down here,” I added as the delayed train swept into the station sending snow in every direction.
Bonn, as you might expect on a December Saturday, was busy although we had at least run out of the snow somewhere around Bad Godesberg. We’re meeting the others at Friedensplatz that, if you don’t know Bonn, is at the other end of the shopping area from where we’ve arrived. Despite the number of times I’ve been here I don’t know of any short cuts to avoid the crowds so we cut around past C&A and it’s but a short distance along to Friedensplatz.
I got my handy out and sent Steff a quick text.
‘? R u? @ p/mid’
“They’re probably at the rink,” Con suggested.
“Yeah,” I agreed as I scanned the crowds.
My phone buzzed, a reply.
“‘Bout time,” Pia mentioned, I nearly jumped out of my skin.
“Don’t do that!”
“It was snowing at Remagen,” Con advised.
“There were a few flakes here earlier,” Bridg mentioned.
“So we gonna skate or what?” Steff queried.
“No Anna?” I asked as we headed down towards the rink.
“Said she was busy,” Nena told us, “something about costumes and having been to the market last week.”
We had to wait to get on the ice, compared to the acres at Köln; Bonn’s slipperiness is quite small. Once on though we were soon sliding around happily, for once someone was worse than me, Mand was doing the baby giraffe thing. In fact, once I got going I started to enjoy myself, Jayne Torville I’m not but coaching from Jess has given me more confidence.
Jess, I wonder how she’s getting on? I really should get in contact with her; we had quite a time at Lilleshall back in the summer.
“Watch it, Gab!” Pia prompted as she dragged me sideways.
“Eh?” I managed as a bunch of lads whooshed past in the other direction.
“You were away with the fairies,” my self appointed guardian mentioned.
The buzzer signifying the end of our session sounded far too soon, well okay we’d had our thirty minutes but you know what I mean. By the time we’d recovered our own footwear and exited the skating emporium it was gone three thirty, the bright lights over the ice had hidden the daylight’s retreat. Instead of the grey December sky above us it was now almost black and as I noted that flakes of white started to descend.
“So where are we gonna, you know?” Brid quizzed as we passed the Friedensplatz pyramid with its bright lights but limited clientele.
“It’s busier up in the Domplatz,” Steff suggested.
“Better food up there too,” I opined.
“Well how about we get some Kartoffelpuffer here first, I’m starving,” Con suggested.
To be honest I’m not that keen on the things but everyone else seemed keen so a plate was ordered.
“What is it?” Mand hissed eyeing up the stack of fritters and lake of applesauce on the paper plate.
“It’s a bit like that Rösti we had in Switzerland but without as much flavour.”
Now I like my pommes, a good dose of mayo and I’m in heaven, imagine dipping your chips in cold apple sauce and you sort of get what eating Kartoffelpuffer is like. You get where I’m coming from? The others were tucking in and it is food so I started on the plate I was sharing with Mand.
“It’s a bit bland,” she offered as she polished her first fritter off.
“Be better with a spoon of Branston®,” I suggested.
“Think I’d go for that,” she agreed.
Fed, we headed past the Sterntor pausing only briefly to look at the nativity display and soon the bright, busy and noisy Domplatz market was ahead of us. The snow wasn’t heavy but it was getting persistent, settling on cabin rooves and untrodden footpaths. We joined the crowds and started our trawl of the delights of the market.
“Well?” Nena queried as we approached the busiest of the beer and glühwein cabins, almost opposite the Dom’s entrance and its much bigger, well life-size nativity.
“It’ll look a bit dodgy if we all buy our own,” Pia mentioned.
“What’s going on?” Mand queried.
“Just gonna get some hot drinks.”
“I’ll get them,” Steff volunteered, “come on, Gab, you can give me a hand.”
“We’ll get a Stube,” Nena suggested.
Steff led the way, squeezing us through the static drinkers to the bar. The staff were busy, they seemed to be working around the long counter, we’d be waiting a minute or two to be served. I checked the pricelist, glühwein €3, pfand €2.
“You got enough, Steff?”
“Think so, €21 yeah?”
“Plus the deposit, that’s another €14,” I pointed out.
“Hang on, I’ll get it, I’ve got a fifty,” I mentioned fishing for my wallet.
“Ladies?” the barman enquired.
“Seven red, please,” Steff requested.
“Get a flask, you save €5.”
“Done,” I agreed as Steff was dithering.
With practised ease he filled one of those thermos jugs with glühwein, found a tray and added mugs to complete our order.
I passed over the fifty note and he went to make change.
“I’ll take this over,” Steff stated, picking up the tray of contraband.
By the time I reached the others’ mugs were already being filled.
“Here you go, Gab,” Con passed me a mug of steaming beverage.
When everyone had a mug Pia offered a toast, “Here’s to us!”
“To us!” the rest of us cheerfully returned before turning our attention to the drink.
I wasn’t the only one who nearly choked as the combination of heat and alcoholic fumes hit my throat! That caused laughter, and not just from our little coven. A more measured approach is needed, sips rather than mouthfuls, the warming effect almost immediate.
We chatted about our cabin, the costumes, skating, Mand and my trip to England – even Analise’s wedding. We had a nervous moment when a couple of Polizei strolled past but they weren’t looking for underage drinkers, well not ones that had at least fooled the bar staff.
“Anyone want the mugs?” I enquired when we were done.
“Something else to collect dust,” Brid suggested adding hers to those already returned to the tray.
“Mand, you want the mug?”
“We can keep them?”
“Well you lose the deposit but yeah, if you want.”
“I will then, it’s a bit different.”
You could say that, this particular example is a stylised pyramid with a traditional Christmas scene and the year emblazoned on the side.
“Okay, I’ll take these back, I’ll catch you up.”
“We’ll only be at the crystal stall,” Con suggested.
Being er, small you sometimes have to think big but my way back to the bar was trouble free and I was soon reunited with my hefty deposit.
You’ve been to a market right? Weihnachtsmarkt’s are the same but better, stalls full of stuff you don’t really need, everyone keen to enjoy themselves. We made our way along the alleyways but I kept getting whiffs of something good, despite the fritters earlier my stomach was rumbling.
“We gonna eat?” I queried.
“Geez, is that the time?” Steff announced.
“What?” Nena asked.
“Ten after five,” Steff supplied.
“Definitely food time,” I stated.
“The next connection is the six fifteen,” Con mentioned.
“Plenty of time,” I cheerfully put in, “sit in?”
The stall providing the enticing odours did indeed have a sit in facility that we all squeezed into, the atmosphere warm, bright and aromatic, the former welcome as it was getting chilly out in the still falling snow.
“What you having, Mand?”
“No idea, I don’t recognise anything on the board.”
The options were not exactly restaurant, Grünkohl, Bratkartoffeln, Pilz, various sausages and combinations thereof.
“I’ll get you something and me something different, we get a bit of everything then.”
“Er okay, Jamie*.”
We ended up with bratwurst, frikadel, mushrooms, fried cabbage and the fried potato, the portions were generous and the quality excellent. The others of course had their own favourites and conversation dropped as we all tucked in. it was ten to six when we returned to the cold and snowy exterior, the snow seemed to dampen the noise but the atmosphere was as seasonal as it gets.
It’s not far back to the Hauptbahnhof, the biggest problem was not getting distracted by the still open stores; it was a wrench not to go into Puppenkönig as we passed. We did gain a little by being later; the crowds at the station were less – which isn’t to say they were small just smaller. The Zug was pretty full when it arrived from Köln but there was a fair exchange of travellers and somehow we all got seated together above the bike carriage area.
“I need a wee,” Mand mentioned.
“I’ll come too, look after our stuff,” I requested.
These trains are at least fairly standard; the toilet is next to the bike area so we didn’t have far to go. The toilet was literally vacated as we arrived, we both piled in and the automatic door whooshed shut. I hadn’t given it a thought, Mand just peeled down to do her business.
“I should’ve waited outside,” I went to open the door.
“Don’t you dare!” Mand barked.
Boys, urinals, I wouldn’t’ve thought twice about it but girls, well having a wee isn’t the communal thing that ‘Drew’ was used to. As Gaby I know that but I just came in anyway. Mand didn’t however seem bothered by my presence, just by my intention to expose her to the rest of the train.
By the time we returned to the others we were halfway back to Remagen, outside, the carriage lighting revealed an even coating of white blanketing almost everything except the swirling waters of old Father Rhein.
Maddy Bell 06.02.16
* As in the TV chef Jamie Oliver
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