Saturday, 3 September 2011

Life in Bielefeld; Must Haves

Life in Bielefeld

I am sure that one of the most pressing questions at the moment for most of the readers of this blog (the one or maybe two of you) is, what is that place Bielefeld like? I mean Berlin I get, TV Tower, international flair, magnet for artists. But Bielefeld, what is the attraction.  Really.
Well, I am not going to overturn your preconceptions here: The answer is none.

But in case you do decide to come here on a visit, though, to become one with this noneness, you may want to invest in some accessories so that you fit in.
Fitting in is quite important in Bielefeld.  See Bielefeld  ==> fitting in.

Must haves of Bielefeld:

1. Riesenthal Shopping Basket.

You are on the number 4 tram and alight at Siegfried Platz, the hub of Bielefeld culture, where the look is University chic meets retired eco warrior devil-may-care, and you find yourself on a picturesque Square, which has the quaint nickname of “Siggi”, which doesn´t sound so inviting in English it has to be said.
You step out of the lift, it is a glorious day – I mean the one day of the year in Bielefeld when it isn´t raining – straight into a buzzing weekly market, as in farmers trying to palm off their fresh produce on you, apiarists trying to shift their honey, and florists trying to peddle their colourful perishables.  I ask you.
Bielefeld at its worst!

This is where the Riesenthal Shopping basket comes in handy. You can choose from a wide variety of colours, plain or patterned, which the manufacturers optimistically describe as baroque, folklore and art deco, but basically, as everyone else has got one, there is nothing individual about them at all, and they are ugly as hell.   If you are at the market, and you don’t have one of these, you might as well kiss the last chanterelles goodbye, and you certainly do not deserve them. The lady of middling years with the pointy white shoes with air holes in and beige slacks (illustration below) will be in there before you know it and you will be reeling from brushed aluminium steel (lightweight!) against the soft target of your shins.
See Bielefeld ==>Beige Slacks

2. Headband integrating ear warmer

You are walking up past the magnificent villas of the Musical district on your way up to the Sparrenberg, a dramatically situated castle perched high on the hills above Bielefeld, when you feel a tingling around the ear area. As you climb higher, the castle in your sights, your breathing getting faster as you try and cope with the lack of oxygen at this altitude, you suddenly feel a breeze a-whipping around your earlobes.  You drag yourself up to the summit, inadvertently kissing the castles medieval foundations as you do so, when there is that sensation again that you can´t quite put your finger on, a sensation that is the opposition of hot, well not even that, as it is not cold it is, yes, you´ve got it – chilly – and what is chilly? Your ears! Panic stricken you raise your head and squint up at the castle’s turrets, take off your coat and wrap it around your ears in a desperate attempt to stop the gnawing chilly sensation, but its still no good, the chilly feeling round your ears just doesn’t stop. You peer down  through the grate into the castles dungeons, thinking you might be able to fit in a tour today, if only your ears were not so damned chilly. Funnily enough though, the top of your head is just toasty warm, even though you are not wearing a hat, it is just your ears that are just extremely and maddeningly chilly.  You adopt a kneeling position, your hands cupped protectively over your ears, hoping, praying for an answer to your pressing chilliness, when you inadvertently trip up a passing jogger, who is running along the 127 kilometre Herman Way, with your elbow. You’ve downed a jogger, but what is this? Neither a head-band or a hat, ingenious, a head band that covers the ears, and hey, it looks sporty too.

You feel as if you have left the dark ages. Before the jogger is conscious you whip the Headband Integrating Ear Warmer off him and place it lovingly around your head and most importantly over those terribly chilly ears of yours.  What relief, now you can really start your tour of the castle, and strangely enough, the top of your bare head is still puzzlingly toasty warm.   As you enter the castle courtyard an eerie view greets you. Not only is the owner of the snack shop wearing a headband/earwarmer, but on closer inspection everyone in the castle grounds is wearing one! Nervous, feeling as if you have entered the hallowed grounds of a weird ear-warming sect, you venture  towards the tower, and the start the ascent of the 37 metre tower. You skip up the steps like a dream, your ears snug as a medieval bug in a medieval rug. It’s only when you take in the breath taking view of Bielefeld that you hear the jogger’s footsteps behind you, and the mournful groan of – "chilly ears, chilly ears".
See Bielefeld ==> snack shop

1 comment:

  1. Dear Catherine,
    Coming more or less originally from Bielefeld, even though I spent many years in different places, you just made me see things through very different (more distanced?) eyes: I hadn't noticed the Reisenthel (?) must-have, but suddenly have these vivid images of thousands of women carrying them while shopping and me lugging my bulky bike bags and the recurrent feeling of not-belonging without being particularly distressed about it. Whew!
    Thank you for this eye-opener!
    x Vivian