I did a list of the last places I wanted to visit in North-Rhine Westphalia in the last two weeks left from my journey in Germany. And between those were Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord and the Magic Mountain – Tiger&Turtle, also located in Duisburg. I already visited the Landschaftspark last June with my father upon his visit. I so enchanted. I promised to myself that I would go back there before going to Portugal.
So in the last Sunday left, Ankit and I planned a trip to visit both those sights places. It was a winter’s sunny Sunday day and we would start our trip with the Landschaftspark. At 5pm we were leaving it and driving to Magic Mountain with the tram. That would take us approximately 30 min from our currently place. I had write the name of the station that we had to left the tram but as we were out of the it, there was no signs of any impressive sight. Quickly we realize that the sunset will favor us. We rush to ask two German old ladies where it was and they said that we had to leave the train in two stations, although it would be easily reach by feet. They explain us that we just had to go straight alongside the tram’s trail. The sky was fast changing his tons and I just wanted to run to get there on time to take amazing pictures.
We walk walk and walk. No signs of Magic Mountain. I was excited like a kid leaving Ankit behind and up to when he he called me “we have to ask someone Helga, we are lost!”. But it was a Sunday and it was very difficult to see someone in the street and as usual all shops were closed. So we decide to go back again and we turned in a parallel to the main road. We asked two different persons which by their physiognomy and the accent seemed to be Turks. None of them knew what we were talking about. I was even more frustrated. I so wanted to reach there with the sunset and time was quickly running out. We were lost in Duisburg suburbs. Finally Ankit asked someone that could answer us. A lady with his two kids and likely to be Turk as well. Before we were already in the right direction but we give up too soon. So she advised us to take the tram and left it at the stop “Tiger&Turtle”.
It was already past 6pm when we reach the arquitectural rollercoaster and were already without time to climb up there. Our train connections to go back to our ghost village in Tetz implied that we our last tram should be in 20min. We couldn’t risk go up to hill and we could only appreciate it from fair away. We missed the wonderful sunset from the Magic roller coaster and I was really disappointed and angry. I promise to myself that I would go there the next day and I did.
I had a meeting in Düsseldorf the next day, Monday. At 4pm I was dispatched. But this time, Ankit couldn’t join me because he had a birthday party. I was walking alongside the Ruhr river in Düsseldorf as I was advised to do and I started to hurry up to catch the train to Duisburg. Fortunately again I reach Düsseldorf Hbf and I checked the trains’ schedule, I started to run to platform 4 to catch the next train whose departure were in 2min. Get out of breath but at least I was on my way.
Oh, finally I knew which train stop I should leave the tram. There were no possible mistakes; there were no possible way to miss again the sunset. Fortunately I was right.
Some facts about Magic Mountain – Tiger&Turtle:
Since 13th of November 2011 the large-scale sculpture “Tiger and Turtle – Magic Mountain” by Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth is accessible for the public.
The visitor can climb the art work by foot. Although the course describes a closed loop, it is impossible to accomplish it as the looping emerges to be a physical barrier. On top, at the highest point of the sculpture – 45 meters above ground – the visitor is rewarded with an extraordinary view over the landscape of the Western Ruhr.
3-D stairs made from steel and zinc
120 tons of galvanised steel are mounted and welded for the sculpture on the heap – 17 posts ensure a safe stand for the 20-metre tall landmark. The walkway area will amount to 220 metres including 249 steps. The handrails will feature LED lighting that illuminates the stair race. “The materials steel and zinc provide the historical connection with the site where zinc used to be produced and where Krupp Mannesman is located – one of the most important steel processing companies”, says Söko Dinkla, director of the Capital of Culture office in Duisburg.
From industrial site to artistic location – even before its completion, the “Tiger & Turtle” sculpture marks another spot on the art map of the Ruhr area. A sculpture that visitors can explore without fear and that presents a great artistic landmark before a historical background.
In my experience of travelling alone I realized that people tend to make up conversation, or just smiled at you far easily than when you are with someone. And that happen to me that entire day.
Inside the monument I asked a lady to take me a photo (whose task she was taking very seriously, trying to frame me within the roller coaster and the astonishing sunset behind), and the fact that I was a foreign highly surprise her. “You’re tourist” she said. Well I can say yes I am a tourist or a very curious student, or maybe both. She was really kind and friendly. As people usually ask me, she asked me where I was from and what I was doing in Germany. She was delighted when I said I come from Lisbon, which she already visited and clearly enjoyed it. She described Portuguese as very relax, kind and enjoyable people. It is always nice to hear what the foreigners think about Portugal and Portuguese people but mostly the answer is always the same. We are seeing as very welcoming and warm people. And indeed I believe that the most cases is what happens. She also mentioned that despite that we are a poor country we tend to accept it and enjoy our lives. As Portuguese I think we complain too much and do too less. But the opinions can vary. I was surprised as she mentioned a friend from her living in Paris which preferred Lisbon.
The imperceptible Ruhr river
Other side of the view
Time to say goodbye
Once again it was time to hurry up to catch the train but the day was far away from the end. More 3 hours in trains to be home. I arrived Düren, where I normally have to wait to make the last change and, I had to wait about 40min. I sat in the bench outside near two girls they smile at me to which I politely smile back. One of them asked me a cigarette but I don’t smoke. After a while, one of the girls starred at me and from nowhere asked me from which country I came from. We started to chat and when they told me that they were Zigeuner I thought they were making fun.
“But what is Zigeuner? Which language do you speak? Where is it?” I asked them, “Here. and we speak zigeunisch.”, “Here where? Germany?”, “Yes”, “But how? Where are your parents come from?”, “From here. They also born here”
I found myself lost in Zigeunish and I asked her to write the name of it in my phone. When I arrived home I searched in wikipedia:
“”Zigeuner”, an imprecise exonym for several groups, is a word loaded with mostly negative or sometimes Romantic connotations. It has been used to designate ethnic groups like the Roma and cultural movements like the Bohemian movement of nonconformist artists”
And I still had no clue what was that. I was really curious about it and that I was zigeunish curious to found out. Surprise, I end up knowing they were gypsies!! How silly I was for not having doubt about it before. But in Portugal gypsies speak only Portuguese!! (do they, right?)
At the beginning I thought them to be Turks. Here in Germany there are big communities of Turks. After the Second World War II, the German government in its need for workforce signed a bilateral labor agreement with the turkish government. The Turks got the change to work in Germany. It was meant to be a short-term stay nonetheless most of them keep their place there and that explain why we can see so many Kebabs restaurants, Turkish supermarkets (where I used to grab my favorite cookies and the cheapest ones) all over Germany.
Very interesting article about turks in germany.
Turks are not the only immigrants. Throughout Germany there are large Portuguese communities. I have family that emigrated from a decay Portugal in the 70’s and settle down in Germany their entire work lifetime. They are already back to Portugal after their retirement but their sons are born and raised there, settled down and have currently German partners. One of them has already one son. And for me is as one Portuguese generation lost. At to which point do they love Portugal as we do? Will they even learn portuguese? And to end this post, I want to tell add a story. Once I crossed with a Portuguese lady in the Deutsch Bahn (german train). She recognized me because I was reading a german book and I was carrying the Portuguese-German dictionary. We chatted and she had already one son. And he didn’t know how to speak portuguese! Off course it is up to their parents to teach them portuguese and to motivate them about Portugal. Because we have an amazing country. Beatiful, peaceful and full of culture.