We recently visited Essen, a town about 90 minutes away from Bielefeld. I was excited to explore a new city. Matt was excited because Essen means “food”.

Our first stop was das Museum Folkwang, which was well worth it. We went to see some German art and learn more about the culture in which we are living. We’re all cultured-like, see? So we started off our trip by poking our heads into the photography installation.  Which was by a guy from New York. It included photos from New Jersey, the Outer Banks and Harrisonburg, VA. The room was full of Germans, and I wanted to stop and explain each photo to them – “Do you get why he did a whole series about malls in New Jersey? HEY! I used to live near Yogaville!” – but I don’t think that would have gone over very well.

The rest of the museum was very cool, though lacking that American touch of home. It got weirder and weirder as we went through it – er, I mean, more and more modern and abstract and lovely. It began to match our light-headed mood as we got hungry for lunch, stopping to stare at an exhibit that involved, among other things, a standing fan blowing air onto a series of painted rugs. We also thought that we saw the painting that Burt Cooper has in his office. Unfortunately, the one on Mad Men is called Red and Orange, and the one we saw was something like Pink, White and Mustard. We are but plebians. *Hangs head in shame*.

Here are some sweet statues that we saw at a fountain in a downtown square. There was a plaque explaining what they’re all about, but there also was a couple having a massive make-out session right on the edge of the fountain. They weren’t young, either. In Spain, this would be no biggie, but everyone around the plaza seemed slightly nauseated. For your convenience, I give you only the cropped photos from this moment, and I will lie and tell you that these statues represent a celebration of good, clean family fun and people not sucking face in public.

The other major spot that we visited in Essen was the Jewish Culture Museum. It was a fairly minimalist building with scattered exhibits, but they were all very well done. One exhibit placed the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar side-by-side on large, interlocking wheels, showing where each calendar lined up with the other. As we moved up through the floors, we could hear music coming from the top exhibit. I joked that maybe they would be playing Adam Sandler’s Hannukah song. About 30 seconds after the words left my mouth, we started climbing the stairs to the musical exhibit, and we had to stop to gape at the photos lining the stairwell – Ben Stiller, Amy Winehouse, Woody Allen and, yes, Adam Sandler himself. Does he know that he has been immortalized in a synagogue in northwestern Germany, along with most of the cast of his Hannukah tribute?

This has nothing to do with Essen, except that I found it while searching for Rothko information:

2 responses to “Essen

  1. Your blog made me laugh because I recently got back from a trip to Berlin where I took photos of every sign I saw that had the word “shmuck” in it. I was amused that shmuck means jewel in German. Did you get any knishes in Essen? P.S. I have pictures of the chocolate shop windows, too.

    • Yes, there are a lot of things about the language that make me smile. I just learned that a Christmas ornament is “Baumschmuck,” which is great! No knishes, just some deep fried Spanish churros. I’m loving that you can get food from pretty much anywhere here. Thanks for reading!

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