Monday, July 24, 2006

Shakespeare Festival in Neuss

Somehow, a year or so ago, I accidentally stumbled upon some exciting news. Neuss, Germany hosts a Shakespeare festival every year! And Neuss isn't far from here! Less than an hour by train.

So I've been scheming for quite some time to go. Lance, of course, not being a fan of literature in general, showed no interest in going.

So I gathered up a couple of interested friends, and we trekked to Neuss yesterday to see the Aquila Theatre Company's fantastic production of A Comedy of Errors.

I'm not going to waste my time writing about it here. I already wrote about it at the Shakespeare Revue.

Anyway, a couple of photos:

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Aside from this, Neuss has very little going for it. It wasn't in either of my German travel guides, and now I understand why. There really isn't anything there. They have a pretty church in the center of town, but as it was Sunday, we could not get in.

It's a shame, because we arrived there super early, giving ourselves enough time to get our bearings and then hopefully walk around a bit. I took my camera, but had nothing to photograph, except for this:

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Yeah...I know, right? I only photographed it because it was weird.

Anyway, because it's not a touristy town, we were hard pressed to find anyone that spoke English. So I was called upon to activate my extremely terrible German, and we still managed to figure things out, but not without making fools of ourselves time and time again.

First, the tram. We wanted to take it to the Centrum. But the list of destinations at the ticket machine were all out of town. What about taking the tram INTO town...was that allowed? After standing at the ticket machine for 10 minutes, pressing random buttons and looking frustrated, an elderly woman approached us. She, of course, spoke to us in German. I responded "mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut" (a sentence I learned very quickly to say). I showed her our "Happy Weekend" train ticket, pointed to the tram ticket machine and asked "Ok?" She examined the train ticket and said it was okay, so hopefully she understood our meaning...we wanted to know if our train ticket would allow us passage on the tram. Sometimes train tickets include public transportation, and sometimes not.

After that, I asked, "Centrum?"

She responded, "Duesseldorf Centrum?"

"Nein. Neuss Centrum."

She looked confused (why in the hell would anyone want to go into Neuss, when they are all trying to escape from it)...

Finally, I said, "Shakespeare Festival."

"Ach!" She pointed to the opposite track.

So we got on the tram, still not sure we were allowed to use our train ticket. But nobody busted us. We got off at the Centrum stop and proceeded to find lunch...a Turkish place. Had lamachun (Turkish pizza), which was tasty, but very oily.

Then we proceeded to get lost. But we still had several hours. And a really crappy map I printed off the Neuss website.

We finally figured out that we were walking the opposite direction of the Globe. Turned ourselves around and walked back, and ended up at the Globe, only to discover that it was a stone's throw from the Centrum. HAHAHA. We suck.

Once we figured out its location, we went back to the Centrum, sat ourselves down at a gelaterie with some ice cream, and chilled out for about an hour.

Around 2, we got up to walk to the Globe (the play started at 3). On the way, we were distracted by a Jack Russell terrier playing in a fountain. The fountain shot out streams of water in various places at intervals, and the Jack Russell was running around chasing the streams of water, sopping wet and looking like she was having the time of her life. It was hilarious. I should have gotten a picture of that (or even video of it).

So then...the play.

Then back to the Centrum for dinner at Cafe Extrablatt (this is a German chain restaurant, which is why I'm linking to it. For God's sake...go to one somewhere else, but it's not a reason to go to Neuss). It was tasty. First time I had ever been there. I was just looking for something light, since the day was hot. My Greek salad fit the bill.

We decided to walk back to the train station by following the tram tracks. It took 10 minutes. Gee, we would've saved ourselves a lot of time in the first place if we had just done that.

Figured out the train schedule...or so we thought. Wanted the train to Aachen (since it stopped in Geilenkirchen on the way there). That train goes through Monchengladbach. So we got to the track, and the sign at the track announced that the next train is going to Monengladbach. We figured that was our train. It wasn't. As we soon found out. We hopped on the train. It stopped at Monchengladbach. Then it started going the way that we came. WTF?

So we got off at the next stop. Took the next train back to Monchengladbach. Got off there, and then got on a train going to Aachen.

(Note to self: Monchengladbach looks more interesting than Neuss. Perhaps a trip there for kicks sometime).

That was a swanky train, at least. Air conditioned. Very comfortable seats. Relaxing. It was a pretty short ride from there to GK.

So our day was full of misadventures. But we still had fun. We got to see great Shakespeare. And I didn't get the cheesy t-shirt I was hoping to buy (they only sold one t-shirt, and it wasn't cheesy), but otherwise, it was fun. That's the only thing that would get me back to Neuss again though.

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