The sound of the alarm clock jolts me abruptly from my sleep. The bright red digital numbers on the clock read 8:00a.m. I mentally run down what I have to do before leaving the house for my day date: eat breakfast, take a shower, shave my legs, iron a shirt, put on makeup. Yeah I should have enough time to get ready I think to myself. I hit the snooze button, pull the orange duvet up to my chin and roll over.
I knock on Joyce’s door at 10:45 am. Forty five minutes later than we had initially agreed upon. Joyce answers the door looking gorgeous in a brown, tube top jumpsuit that stops about mid calf. Her 3 inch black wedge mules are doing just as good a job at making me look stockier as they are at making Joyce look taller. All of her accessories complete her movie star look: a leopard print belt cinching her waist, a gold coloured bag slung over her shoulder, thick gold bracelets and necklace adorning her wrist and neck, and a wide brimmed hat covering black slick backed hair. The long black ponytail she has attached to her hair looks like it was deliberately placed over her left shoulder. I immediately feel frumpy standing next to Joyce, wearing my ballerina flats, jean skirt, green camo coloured top, grey camo coloured cap covering a TWA and let’s not forget the extra 20lbs that I accumulated during my 3 years in Germany.
Joyce welcomes me in with a big hug and a smile, telling me not to worry about about my tardiness, as I try to offer my weak excuses for being late. I have no clue what she has planned for our date, all I know is that we are going to the capital of the state of North Rhine Westfalia; Dusseldorf, for a girlie day out, and that her hubby is driving us there.
I put my self image issues aside and pile into the car with Joyce and her hubby Ruud. I’m so glad Joyce and I were able to coordinate one more outing before I return to Canada in a few days. We spend the hour long car ride catching up and laughing like school girls.
I’m really looking forward to this day because despite having read that Dusseldorf is famous for it’s nightlife, carnivals and events I’d never spent any time there, besides going to see a couple of shows at Roncalli’s Apollo Theatre.
Ruud drops Joyce and me off on ‘the Kö’, the nickname for ‘Königsallee’ (Kings Alley), a kilometre of tree lined boulevard with a landscaped canal running parallel with the street full of upscale shopping.
Joyce kicks off our date with a surprise visit to Parfumerie Pieper to get our makeup done. I wish she had told me we were coming here, I could have saved myself 20 minutes doing my makeup this morning. Don’t get me wrong, I still think this is a great surprise, and something special for me considering I’ve only ever had my makeup done professionally three times in my entire life. It feels good to be pampered. I left there with a new lipstick that I didn’t need and feeling very spoiled.
Faces on, Joyce and I are now ready to walk the streets of Dusseldorf. We leisurely stroll along the Kö, chatting, shopping and just enjoying the sun and breeze, while scoping out a lunch spot.
We tuck into some Italian food at restaurant La Terrazza, for a relaxing lunch on the terrace facing the canal. We simply could not resist the tantalising smells of pasta, and other Italian treats wafting from the dishes of the other patrons sitting on the terrace to our nostrils.
Afterwards we continue to wander the streets of Dusseldorf. Next on Joyce’s itinerary is a boat cruise, so we start to make our way to the River Rhine. While walking along we spot a small group of people with instruments, standing off to the side, not playing but eating. Joyce and I are curious about them so she suggests we stop and ask them what their story is.
These musicians are The Cagle Family. An Aruban mother and American father who met as missionaries in Puerto Rico, hit off and ended up getting married. This amazing couple home schooled 10 kids while travelling the world as a family of buskers. The Cagles just made my day, all of them smiling, up beat, eager to answer and ask questions. I am so inspired by this family for breaking the conventional norms of family life to pursue their love of travel and music that I ask for their card so I can read more about their story online.
After speaking with them for about 10 minutes Joyce asks, “So are you going to play a tune for us?”
“Only if you promise to dance,” the youngest of the troupe countered.
Joyce and I look at each other with a knowing smile (knowing that we were both going to dance regardless of if she asked us to or not.) “Deal” I say.
They entertain us with their rendition of Don’t Worry Be Happy, just as I think we are entertaining them by dancing our hearts out right there on the street. The passersby took just as many pictures of us as they did of the Cagle family.
Joyce and I continue to talk about the Cagle family as we walk towards the Rhine.
We arrive a few minutes before the departure of one of the boats, we take our seats up top and sit in silence for a moment as we bask in the warm sun shining on our faces. Once the waitress brings us our wine we go right back to gabbing and laughing. The boat tour itself is not that impressive, but when you have good company and a good drink that doesn’t matter.
After the mini cruise we slowly make our way back to the train station, striking up conversations with people that look interesting along the way.
It’s already 8pm. 9 hours just seemed to fly by. Joyce and I are now sitting on the DeustchBahn platform, eating shrimp kabobs that we purchased from a Nordsee restaurant in the train station. We eat mainly in silence, but not an awkward silence. A satisfying silence. I reflect on the great day we just had, getting our makeup done, eating lunch on a terrace, cafe and bar hopping along the way, shopping, meeting the Cagle family, the river cruise, the conversation, the laughs all culminating into thoughts of how lucky I am to even be here in Germany and how lucky I am to have met people like Joyce during my time in Germany.
Joyce and I board our train at 8:15p.m, after finding our seats the conversation picks right back up again.
Joyce’s stop comes up before mine. “You better come back and visit, you know my door is always open to you,” she says as we hug. I get choked up by this statement because I know she means it.
I wave to her from the window.
I know I’ll be back.