From there we moved on to a more traditional store, also in Heinsburg. This was a huge warehouse almost identical to something like a Haverty's. The showroom was impressive and even included a fine china section. We were immediately able to ascertain that the items in this venue are out of our budget. The clerks seemed to be amused by us. I usually feel accosted by salespeople in furniture stores but we had the upper-hand this time. I think the clerks knew we wouldn't understand their sales pitch so they didn't even bother.
For months we have been planning to buy our new king-sized bed from IKEA. We deliberately waited until we arrived to Germany because we thought the quality would be better, and since it's a European brand, less expensive. We were wrong on both assumptions. The quality is the same (not bad- not the best) and IKEA is actually more expensive here.
IKEA is 40 minutes away in Dusseldorf. This journey required us to take the Autobahn. We thought we would just jump in and get our feet wet even though this is only our second day driving. We were immediately confronted with the insanity of this highway system. Within one minute of merging, a Mercedes whooshed by us. It was going at least 130mph. I was uneasy the entire time. We were clocking about 75mph most of the time and other cars were passing us as if we were standing still. Blanche, our GPS announcer, was telling us when to exit but also providing additional information that wasn't needed.
"Take the next exit, exit 47a to 13b to 48c to Geisghisdgndkfglunmph." Inevitably 13b and Geisghisdgndkfglunmph turned out to be the only important indicators and we spent valuable time looking for 47a and 48c.
We arrived at IKEA and discovered that it looked like any IKEA in America so we were instantly comforted and excited. We weren't intimidated by all of the Swedish names because that's the way things in IKEA are always named and described. I'm not sure why, but I was definitely shocked to find that any translations of Swedish were done in German.
Imagine walking into a furniture store, searching for a bed. It's helpful to know if a mattress is soft, medium, or hard. Fortunately for you, that description is available. We had to use Google Translate to determine the German words for soft, medium, and hard.
We decided on a bed and mattress and our next plan of action was to find a clerk who speaks English. I planned on asking a nice-looking young woman who seemed eager and knowledgeable. She was busy. I was left with Helga. Helga effectively ignored me for a few minutes. We finally made eye contact and she gruffly barked, "Hallo."
"Hallo," I replied nervously. "Sprechen sie englisch?"
"NEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!" This means no. Definitively.
I assumed she would immediately direct me to a colleague who is fluent in English. Instead she proceeded to enter into a staring contest. I lost and sheepishly asked, "Anyone? Speak-a English?"
She gestured behind her and dismissed us.
The only thing behind her was a wall so we assumed she wanted us to go to the front desk, or to leave the store entirely. We decided to just go home and decide firmly which items we want and go back to IKEA on a Wednesday afternoon when it won't be so crowded and hopefully Helga will be using her day off.
We drove back home, stopping in Geilenkirchen along the way so I could choose one more birthday gift for my sister. To our dismay, all of the shops were closed. It was only 5pm. Apparently everything shuts down at 3pm on Saturdays and aren't open at all on Sundays.
Defeated, we drove home and thought we might try to go to the local Oktoberfest celebration in Gillrath. I took another look at the flyer that was left on our doorstep last week.
Unfortunately we did not go. I couldn't determine the correct address.
I think our only safe goal is to drink some German beer by the end of the day. This was accomplished by some Erdinger we had at home-- very good. And I think beer might also be the logical aim for tomorrow since everything else will be closed.