Kassel- the ship show

We drove into town to attend the big deal once-every-two-years 1250 Ship model show in KASSEL.

Everyone was excited. They were stacking up outside the door.

People were not let in before the appointed time. Only the ones selling things were inside. There were a lot of people selling things. Car Deal guy and Shipcollector were peering into the room excitedly, but Chris was motioned in by Norbert the German hippie. He would help Norbert sell, so he got a pass.

Usually, Chris would like to have a big selection of ship models to sell. But this year, he had some bad luck with the production of the models and didn’t really have enough to make reserving a sale table worthwhile. Norbert had kindly offered him space on the tables he’d reserved

I stood out with the rest of the collectors and watched in amazement as the hall filled up. Lots of people had gotten there early.

Then, the ticket sellers let us through. The collectors swooped in and began to buy ships.

It’s difficult to convey the atmostphere at this show. It was a lot of quiet concentrated peering:

many people peering:



It seemed to be bigger than the other time I’d been. In addition to the first big room, four other rooms were filled with model ships and model paraphenalia.

Sellers had devised many different methods of displaying these tiny delicate models:


This is a recreation of a harbor, one that loaded containers (best known as those trailers that semi trucks drag behind them) onto container ships:

As you can see, the typical ship collector is
1. Male
2. over a certain age

This homogeneity was broken up when I saw these two:

Twins, I think.


they were very cute.

I was sitting at the table with Chris, prepared to sell some of the ships he had brought. I felt pretty ignorant though. I could take money and give change, but as for answering questions about the merchandise, I had to defer to Chris


He was pretty busy answering questions.

Of course, he did have to slip away and try to talk with manufacturers and other people who could be useful to our business.

Those dicussions looked like this:

It was all about the models, friends.

Someone tried to take a survey of the attendees:

it was somewhat incomplete. But it was an idea of how far different folks had travelled to get there.

I got to meet some of the people behind the manufacturing lines I had gotten to know. That was pretty exciting.

There was a little snack bar where we got some food to get us through, but at the end of the day we were wiped slick.

We packed up and got ready to go. It was kind of hard to stop talking and saying goodbye to all these people. Everyone had stories or ship facts to share.

But we made it back to the hotel.

Chris had turned into a deflated balloon. His eyes were bloodshot and he had no energy. My man was sick.

“I used up all my energy reserves today,” he said. “I need to lay down.”

He crawled into bed and slept.

I went off to explore the hotel’s sauna.

They had the hottest sauna I had ever been in. There was a sort of cartoon on teh wall explaining how it worked. You were supposed to hose off, get into the sauna, then get into the freezing cold “hot tub”(was it supposed to be freezing?), hose off again, rinse and repeat.

it looked complicated, so I just went into the sauna. wow, it was hot.

There were two. One normal, and one that said it was at 90 degrees celsius. That’s 194 degrees! it was so hot, I almost felt like I should have a lifegaurd there to drag me out if I fainted.

But it felt good.

I went back upstairs to check on Chris. He looked worse.

So I showered, and read and hung around until dinner.

He was worse.

So I went to dinner alone and had a time with a bunch of ship people. Car Deal guy was there, and some new people I hadn’t met. It was a good time, but I was worried about Chris.

Car Deal guy and I talked it over. We realized we didn’t have much planned for the next day but to make it back to Frankfurt in the evening to meet our flight. I recommended we take it easy, and he could mosey into breakfast whenever and we’d find each other there.

I went back to the room. Poor Chris.

“Hey baby,” he said weakly.

“Poor thing.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t go to dinner with you.”

“It’s okay baby, you are sick. You can’t help it.”

“I’m sick”

“I know. Get some sleep. We dont’ have to get up in the morning anytime. You can just rest.”

“You’re nice.”

“Good night.

Lucy’s first haircut

I’ve been meaning to buy a set of clippers for Lucy. She needs a buzz cut…but i hadn’t got aroudn to it.

Thing was, you couldn’t even see her face:


I thought, “well, I can just take some scissors and clip her face a little.”

but once I got started, it was hard to stop::

She really enjoyed the hair cut. I sat on the floor, and gave her a toy to chew. From her perspective, it was extended cuddle time.

She looks smaller. More like a puppy again.

See how big she’s getting?
that’s 7 squares on the floor she is covering now.

when she was little, she only took up 3:

And now she’s had her first hair cut. I did a horrible job, but Lucy has a very positive self-image.

I feel dirty

I just finished registering for our wedding.

Chris is very good at this; he always distributes a wishlist to everyone for christmas. He knows to be considerate and ask for a variety of things, in reasonable price ranges.

He knows that people want to give gifts, but it is not easy to guess what people will like.

But…I just feel wrong about this. almost like some kind of begging.

I feel like I should give a disclaimer or apoligy…”I’m sorry…I dont’ really mean it…never mind”

I guess i can do that here…Please, no one is obligated to give me anything. Fond wishes are plenty.

More of Kassel

Chris dove in right away to talk to the manufacturers and collectors:

As you see, they are very intent on their discussions.


I thought the garden was lovely.

But..I forgot to mention. The airport had lost my bag.

I’d been wearing grubby tourist clothes this whole trip, but i had kept in reserve a nice dress shirt and skirt to wear for the Kassel pre-show dinner. I remembered it being formal.

But my bag was lost. The aiport was supposed to deliver it, but it didn’t come.

I remained in my grubbies, trying to carry it off with some level of suavity.

But here is the dining room:

I tried not to think about how I was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans.

There seemed to be a lot of suits and ties in the house:

But before I could worry too much about it, Norbert the German hippie arrived:

You can’t see it, but he has Birkenstocks on. He is an excellent model ship maker, and a truly wonderful man. He speaks fluent English and uses the term “hella” liberally.

But of course, the ship collectors were all very polite and did not make me feel out of place. They had lots of things to say about ships and models.

My bag arrived at last, right before desert. In addition to my pretty outfit, it also had some treasured ship models for the show. So, we had a great time at dinner and all agreed to get up early and see the show.

Driving to Kassel

So, this was the day we go to Germany. This very night is the night of the ship collectors’ dinner-before-the-show. We must be there to converse and create good feelings and maybe even new alliances.

we CANNOT miss the flight. Or the train to the airport. Or the wake up call.

These were the things Chris was concerned with the night before.

We did not miss the flight, or all it’s predecessors. We arrived in Frankfurt on time.

NOW, the plan was to meet a fellow American ship collector. He got a great deal on a rental car (because of his employer) and invited us to save even more money by sharing the bill and riding together. At the end, there was car-deal guy, another ship-collector friend, and Chris and I.

All in Frankfurt airport, to meet on the same day.

Car deal guy was going to arrive the earliest, so he was waiting around (according to the plan) before we got there. Shipcollector was arriving at about the same time as we were, but from America and therefore required to go through customs. We were all supposed to meet at the car rental counter and sally forth.

But Frankfurt is a big airport. We found a map, went off to the rental counter. No Car Deal guy.

Maybe he is coming.

But were is Shipcollector?

Are we in the right place?

Being the Murphy that I am, I asked the question. Rental counter said Car Deal guy had left a message that he was at a different rental counter.


So we ran off to find the OTHER rental counter. We saw Shipcollector from far away, and Car Deal guy was right there too. Oh good.

…should I be frustrated at the lack of question-asking gumption of those around me? Should I just feel superior and enlightened? It is unlikely that anything I do will cause a change in the behaviour of others…so maybe I should just feel smugly superior, since that is a slightly happier feeling than frustration…

Although, to be honest, it was my asking for directions that led us to that (wrong) rental counter in the first place…

Okay, so we are settled in a nice rental…Ford…? Tooling along the autobahn in a ford station wagon, everyone had print outs of the directions, but Chris actually got us there.

It was a pleasant ride. I do enjoy the conversation with the ship collectors. They are smart people, and almost uniformly polite and gentlemanly. There is an on-going discourse about “the Wives” feelings concerning the hobby of ship-collecting. Many wives feel a bit of resentment towards it.

I feel a bit of resentment at the phrase “the wives” (what a horrible stereotype of a phrase!)

But then again, as the wife-to-be of Chris, I see the ships as an inflow of capital. The other “wives” see it truly as a drain on the family budget.

So, I am free to enjoy the company and conversation of these nice men without resenting their peer pressure to spend wads of dough. It is a little odd, though, when at ship event I am shoved towards “the wives” as if our shared gender will mean LOTS of THINGS to DISCUSS. These ladies are all very nice, but I seldom find much to really talk about.

I’d rather go hang out with the men. I guess this is what comes of being the youngest with three brothers..”Whatcha doing? Can I see? What’s that? What are you talking about? …cool…”

This will be Chris’s 3rd Kassel meeting. Shipcollector had been once before, and Car Deal guy had never been. I’d been once before (and met Shipcollector for the first time then). After our traipsing through Scandinavia, Germany felt like home.

The hotel was cozy, and they gave us free coffee in the lobby. We quickly packed our bags into the room (hey, we got a free upgrade! Look at this suite!) and came back down to begin early schmoozing. There was beer served in the patio and garden, and a generous show of empty glasses. The party was on!


Tivoli at night

I was pretty psyched to see the pantomime.

The curtain dropped:

The story unfolded.

Some French looking guy in a white clown suit (possibly the illegitimate son of the Pillsbury dough boy) was involved:

There was a halequin and a girl:

Of course, a magic sword appeared in short order:

But, in an unexpected twist, a dancing bear arrived:

In the end, even though I was rooting for the bear, the harlequin got the girl AND…
…the blessing of the Greek pantheon.

Chris commented “Maybe it made more sense in Danish.”

We were STARVING at that point. It was tough to decide on a place to eat.
There were a lot of places to eat. But they were

I was just about ready to cry with how tired and hungry I was.

This is where we ate.

It was really nice and yummy. And we were in the non-smoking section.

TIvoli was really beautiful at night:

Tired and beat, we made it back to the hotel.

Tomorrow, Kassel Germany. The real reason for our trip was to get to the ship show.

“We can’t be late. This is really important”

“Don’t worry baby. Good night.”


When we entered Tivoli, I saw this little guy holding up the handrail on the stairs:
We walked down the stairs.

A little ways down the path, I saw this theater:

“Oh yeah!” I told Chris. “We are going to want to see their performances..They have pantomimes!”

We determined to check out when they would be showing.

But first we took a tour.

Here is one of their signature rides:

and another:

See the question was, do we buy the bracelet that let us ride on all the rides for one price? This required some looking around.

They had bumper cars:

There was a roller coaster thingy:

how cool is that?

Well, after we walked all around, we decided to go for the bracelets.

But we also noticed the gardens:


Pretty benches too, with very tame looking gryphon monster:

Also a tame Lion:

I’ve already said, I like my monsters fierce.

This was a ticket booth:

We got the bracelets, but then I wanted an ice cream:

They also had a lot of carny-type games. This was the view of that alley:

There were also a lot of restaurants:

This ride I called Mohammed’s hammer:
we chose not to ride it. Didn’t want to be hammered.

THey had a pirate ship:
It was a restaurant.

We rode on this one ride:
It was called the traveling suitcase. It was full of fairytale references.

This was the fairytale of the swineherd:

Here is the evil snow queen:

and everyone’s favorite that needs no introduction:

Look, Ma! No seashells!

We rode the ferris wheel too, and had a nice view:

The gardens really were pretty:


It was getting time to see the pantomime. We made our way back. On the way, we saw this band:
They were playing Pomp and Circumstance

“There is no way a band could play that in America and not be ironic.” Chris was sure of this.

Their little stage reminded me of the old hollywood bowl.

But then we made our way to the theatre:

I didn’t see that peacock last time.

We got a good seat.


Technology scares me

Okay, so I’m an engineer. I do technology for a living.

and it is humdrum when it’s something that I’ve done before.

But when I encounter technology…NEW technology..Something that I am supposed to know, to be responsible for and I’m the only one

it scares me

As in

my lungs can’t quite fill
my head feels light

I look at that problem and don’t have clue one about what to do

I don’t know what to do or where to begin

and this monstrous vaccuum of knowledge will somehow swallow me and destroy me

…it’s related to the steamroller

What do I do? I pace around and try to figure out if there is an EXIT sign

usually not

then what I do is shotgun out as fast as I can to as many places as I can to find a clue

I talk to EVERYONE I see about it, look at the problem and poke at it from different angles, and google like mad

because somewhere deep inside I am sure that I will die if I continue to not know

I have some friends (why is it always the female friends?) who say frequently “Oh, you’re so good. I could never do what you do. Technology scares me.”

Well, it scares me too. But if it’s the only path to get from where I am to where I want to be…

then, like a terrified person crossing a rope bridge over the abyss

I suck it up and figure it out

because I have to get there.

And then there was Tivoli

We’d been looking forward to Tivoli since before we left California. I remember Chris telling me about it:

“Did you know that Copenhagen has an amusement park that is even older than Disneyland?”
“Wow, really? We will have to check that out.”
“I think so.”

Tivoli was created in 1844, with rides and shows and restaurants. Thing is, Europeans are not as impressed with castles as we Americans. So…if you can’t have a castle in the middle like Disney, what do you do? What’s exotic and romantic to you? Arabian nights! So, they have a bit of an arabian theme. Oh, and Chinese too.

So Chis and I had been really waiting to see this old school European disneyland…But one thing we did want to see what Tivoli with all the lights on. Which means we certainly couldn’t go there first thing. So, we had to kill some time in the morning.

We hung out in the hotel room and relaxed for a while. This was the view from the hotel:

Chris thought we should go to the national library. But maybe we would just wander around the city a bit first:

We walked past a famous museum, but didn’t go in.
I liked the mural they had on the side:
There was a pretty little garden along the way:

But we made our way to the library. I love libraries! And plus, they had a book store.

See, when I go to a foreign country, I like to see if I can find an illustrated book of fairy tales. It seems to me that a people’s sense of themselves and their taste gets expressed in the fairy tales. To me, it makes a very good souvenir.

Of course, Denmark loves it’s Hans Christian Andersen, so I figured I would have a good chance of getting a good book.

You know, all the best libraries have lions:


Elsinore (or Helsingør..if you want to be accurate)

Morning in Denmark, breakfast without danishes and then


…we’ve been riding on the railroad—all the week-long day… Yes, another train ride. This time North and not over any water. We were going to see HAMLET. Or at least the place that Hamlet was supposed to have lived. This makes me very very very excited. Love the shakespeare.

We made our way through the town, seeing the sites.
The danes like domes:

This fountain looked puckish:

Helsingor is a cute little town, but the sky looks ominous.

The again, this is Hamlet’s home town. It really should be ominous, shouldn’t it?
We made our way toward the castle:
Don’t those towers look sharp? They remind me of fangs…It’s sort of gothic. Some cities I’ve been to (like, Edinburgh) have so many of these steeple fangs that it reminds me of the rows and rows of teeth in a dragon-dinosaur mouth. It looks like they should hurt.

But still, it was Shakespeare, so I had to get in front of it:

That spiky fortress is Kronborg, the castle in Elsinore.

Mr. Swan watched us come up to the castle:

We walked through this to reach it:

We noticed Mama Swan in the corner on her eggs:
She didn’t seem too choosy about the material for her nest…All kinds of crap in there.

The other side of the entrance was even better:
Chris had to admire the towelled crabby man. I can understand why he is crabby; any man that had to depilitate all of his body hair might have that expression on his face.

As you might imagine, the danes are justifiably fond of this place. There was all sorts of information about it, and four tours which you could go on for a special price.

I learned a lot about Helsingor.

As it turns out, Hamlet and his dad would not have lived there. The thing was, Kronborg was not the kind of castle that a King lived in. It was a bully kind of castle. They put it up there to stop ships from going by without paying some fees.

They were serious.
Check all those cannons waiting to shoot you if you didn’t pull over and cough up the money.

Look, There’s a ship going by right NOW!
*cshk* PULL OVER, buddy.

They had a tour of the cellars of the castle.
Man on man…They were dark and scary. I had to hold Chris’s hand.

“Baby, the walls are cold and damp.”

He said “Do you think that when a king is ordering up his castle, he might say ‘Look, we need a little more dankness in the cellar. It’s not as dank as I would like it to be.'”

They wound around, thick square pillars with vaulted arches that didn’t quite vault enough to stand up straight.

But right around the first corner we found this:

“I knew you would like him,” Chris said, “He is a ancient Danish hero buried under this castle. He is supposed to come back to life in the time of the country’s need.”

WHOA! forget whinging Hamlet! This guy is awesome!

…It’s a nice thing for a country to have in their back pocket. Just ask the Brits about Arthur

The Danes like him. Here’s another statue of Ol’ H.D.:

But then we pressed forward in the cellar caves:
Forget his hand, i was holding Chris’s entire right side. And then he started making spooky noises that echoed down the hall.

i was quite happy to get back above ground:

Enough spooky ghosts! Let’s go into the chapel:

No Chris, you can’t swing from that:

Each pew had a different character carved on the top, as well as a different face lower down:

What a lot of artistry to do all that. Here’s a closer look of one with a moustache:

Another ghoulish carving above the doorway leading out:

We had lunch right by the wall; cliff bars that we’d brought with.
It was windy, so we stayed ducked low to stay out of it.

Some guys were there with a pole, the one trying to teach the other to fly fish standing on the rocks. They were having a great time.

NOW, on to the Chambers!

Lots of Kings visited this castle. But the C4 above the door stands for Christian the fourth, I think:
It strikes me as sort of hip and modern to use the arabic numeral ‘4’ instead of the roman ‘iv’.
Daring in a monarch.

There was a lot of art happening in those chambers. Art through the ages.

I really liked this Rhino:
That was done when Rhinos were not such a common sight. Rhinos often look like they are wearing armor, because their skin folds that way. But this tapestry-maker had the rhino in the coolest spiky armor.

Yet another entry in the gallery of the grotesque which I find so delightful.

Okay, here is a funny thing. The chambers were full of art of the ages, as I might expect from royalty.

But let me tell you something about the Danes. They are into ‘design.’ They think very highly of their own art, in particular their furniture.

It reminds me of how America tells itself that we don’t do manufacturering anymore, that we do “knowledge” work. Danes want to have their design be their big export. I guess it’s working for them.

Anyway, art is a very high form of design, and they cherish art. So, in the middle of all this respected canonical art they had some contemporary artists on display as well.

I found it sort of jarring. But before I said anything, Chris commented, “It’s kind of cool how they have let artists display here. They are supporting art.”

Then I felt ashamed. Okay, so it was not pinky-up-teacup art. It was rougher and more experimental. But they were letting artists be seen. And I agree with that.

Oh no. They had a MARITIME MUSEUM.
You could see how Chris was quite thrilled with this trip. Everywhere you turn, more ship things. Look, a Prow:
“I stab at thee!”

But what are these stairs?

“They go to the roof. Do you want to see?’

Of course! But they went on in a lot of circles. Round and Round and Round. But we found the top:

It’s kind of windy.

Look! A ship!

If I stood on my tiptoes and leaned over I could see the bottom of the castle square.

Chris saw me. “BABY! Dont’ do that.”
Then he pointed. “I was hoping I have a chance to say it. ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’ ”
oh…real nuns walking by. You can’t even ask for that.

Okay, back down the spiral staircase…and we have to stop at the gift shop!

Look. A Holger Danske doll..a Holger Dollske?
That’s one sexy little figurine.

Alas, they did sell Skulls.

And the Precious Moments Hamlet and Ophelia:

…makes me wonder if they read the end of the story…

They also had a poster showing the Danish monarchic line. It begame with Gorm the Old, whose son was Harald Bluetooth.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up! I LOVE IT!

After the roof and gift shop, it was time to go.

We wandered back into town, discussing what we might do about dinner. The way we figured, a town like this might have a grocery store in it. The 7-11 was the closest we could find in Copenhagen.

But if we found a grocery store, they probably would want cash. Krona, that is.

We looked around and discovered this place:
YAY! at LAST a full on grocery store. We asked, and they took credit cards, but only if you had a PIN.

Back to the Currency Exchange, one of which seemed to be at every train station, and then to fill my backpack with lovely foods. Cheese and bread and coke and cookie snacks, and also little focaccias with Pepporoni for dinner. How nice not to feel swindled as we bought our food.

It was at this shop that I found the one and only thing in Denmark that cost less than one US Dollar: Pretzel Sticks. They were 75 cents, just about.

Now back to the train. What a long day. Fabulous.

The hotel picnic with pizzas and bread and cookies was great.

“I can’t believe I didn’t know about Holger Danske. Where are we going tomorrow?”

“Well in the morning, I’d like to check out the library. But in the evening…”

“I know! Tivoli!”

“That’s right.”