Das Title

Das Ist Normal
Part 7

"Urgh!" I managed through my pillow next morning as I grappled with the alarm clock doing it's best to shake my brain loose. A shower woke me up and a couple of aspirin eased my throbbing head, damn that schnapps! I decided on my favourite dress, how can I have a favourite? Okay whatever, I pulled my Italian leather dress on, did up the side zip and admired my reflection.

Hmm, not bad if I do say so myself! Maybe I should wear tights? I fished around in my lingerie draw and found a fresh pair, which I soon had in place, yep that looks a bit more professional. I am never drinking again!

Today I have to earn my keep a bit more, it's a driving tour with several stops and they'll want a bit of spiel at each stop! At least I'd managed to pick Mika's brain before I got too sizzled last night, so we now had an extra stop this morning. At least Den looked sober enough, it wouldn't do to have a pie-eyed driver!

"What does that woman put in that stuff?" Den greeted me.

"Dunno but I still feel rough!"

"Best get some coffee then" he led the way into breakfast where we were greeted by a room full of happy, sober holidaymakers.

What can you do? You get paid to be the life and soul and it's our own fault that we're not firing on all cylinders yet. We managed to get through breakfast okay, the coffee certainly had a sobering effect so that by the time we were ready to load up, we were both in much better fettle!

After their day off yesterday today's optional was well supported, in fact a couple of 'extras' had signed up this morning! It looked like it was going to be another fine day and I looked down the bus at a sea of sunglasses as I did my count.

"All here" I told Den who closed the door ready to depart.

Once we were underway and once more heading north alongside the river I started my usual daily meet and greet of everyone on the bus. Before reaching Remagen we turned into the Ahr valley and sort of retraced our excursion on the train. As we started onto the Ahrweiler transit road I returned to the front and mike in hand, perched on the dash so I was facing the passengers.

"Hello everyone"

"Morning" was the consensus of reply

"I know you enjoyed yourselves yesterday but you have to put up with me and Dennis again today"

That got a bit more response.

"Okay, in a few minutes we have our first stop at Mayschoß the oldest of the Ahr grape growers, how do you say, yes co-operatives. We will have about a forty minute halt, we have a short tour und wine taste, after you can buy your wine in the shop."

 wine taste

The wine tasting venue.!

Timed to perfection! Just as promised by Mika there was the winery and by luck the Dutch coach already there was just leaving. I'm not a great fan of this sort of thing but it always goes well with the punters. Den stayed with the bus while I took our customers inside out of the bright sunshine into the cooler, damper atmosphere inside.

Well I have to say it was better than some I've done. Our guide explained in good English how the system worked and then took us through some of the working cellar space before finishing in the little museum. Another party was already following us through so we were ushered through to the tasting room where we got to sample both the famous red and lesser-known white vintages in our free souvenir glasses. A great ploy, at least half of my lot bought at least one bottle of their in my opinion, overpriced produce!

I got everyone back on board, did a swift confirmatory head count and we were off again just after eleven. The road up into Altenahr is quite steep and twisty then through the tunnel and we popped out into the town. It looked quite different from the coach, much smaller and we were soon through and approaching Kreuzberg.

Den managed to get us onto the right road, not much more than a lane really. After about six k's we turned up hill and to the passengers delight and Den's cursing made our way around the series of switchbacks taking us up to Effelsberg.

I took the mike, "over to our right in a moment, you will just catch a glimpse of Europe's largest radio telescope" I wasn't kidding, it was a glimpse!

It didn't take a great deal of time to cover the ten kilometers down to Bad Münstereifel, our next stop and lunch break. Following Mika's advice, we took the bypass then turned back into the southern end of the town. We pulled up at the dropping off point a little before twelve.

"We have two hours here people, please be prompt getting back as we can only stop here for ten minutes? The town is through the arch; there are plenty of café's and bars for lunch. Have a good time"

I saw them all off in the right direction before rejoining Den for the short drive back to the coach park. With us there were six coaches at this end of town, it will be busy in the little town! We locked up and started walking back to the town.

"You feeling better now?"

"Much. You?" I asked

"I'll live."

It was obvious when we saw two more coaches dropping off that eating should be scheduled early in this stop and spotting a bakery cum café by the drop off area we decided to give it a try. A good menu was on offer and we both opted for Gulaschsuppe, Den went for coffee and I chanced tea.

"Well the wine cellar was a hit" Den mentioned

"It was quite good actually," I fished my 'free' glass out, "and you get a free glass!"

"Another six visits and you'll have a set!"

"Give over, the passengers like that sort of thing"

"Yeah I know. I hope they enjoy this afternoons entertainment"

"I hope we can get on this time, when I came with Rob there was some sort of club day so we couldn't go round."

Our food chose that moment to arrive and conversation was replaced by feeding our faces! We emerged back into a still warming afternoon decided to have a look at the town before retiring back to the bus.

 Bad Munstereifel

A typical little German walled town greeted us.

"Well I never" Den was pointing at something vaguely familiar.

"Is that what I think it is?"

"Sure looks like it!"

Indeed it was, yep here in a quiet little medieval walled town in Germany was an old-fashioned British red telephone box! Den couldn't help himself, the camera was out and he joined the other budding David Bailey's. We walked back up through the town, we spotted several of our passengers in one hostelry, they called out to us, we waved back and continued, stopping occasionally to look in a shop window or at the postcard racks.

"What's the 'Römisches Glaswerk'?" Den enquired pointing to a sign as we approached the gateway again.

"Roman glass factory? I'm intrigued"

So we followed the sign and found ourselves just by the drop off point in a big stone built building, hot and noisy. I was a bit disappointed; it wasn't a Roman glass factory but a glass blower using Roman techniques. We stood and watched the end of a demonstration session then sagging a bit from the extra heat of the furnace moved next door into the shop.

"I can get something for the missus here, she collects this sort of stuff" Den informed me as we admired the shelves of coloured silica.

"Yeah my mum might like something too" I agreed.

It wasn't all glass; there was some local silver jewellery and even cuckoo clocks on offer. I left Den to look around on his own and became fascinated with the jewellery.

"Kann ich Ihnen helfen?"

"Oh, ich suche ein Geschenk für meine Freundin Julie"

(I'll translate this bit for you!)

"Have you seen anything in particular?" the assistant asked. She was about fifty and had an infectious smile.

"The ring on the right there" I pointed to it, "but I don't know the size"

She pulled the tray out and passed me the ring.

"It is very nice, your friend is lucky to have such a good friend"

"EVE? Can you sort out this English please, I can't understand" one of the other women called over.

"I won't be a moment"

"That's okay"

She hurried over to the main till area and started to talk to the customer in perfect English with maybe a hint of a Yorkshire accent! I tried the ring on myself, it fitted my third finger perfectly, and I was admiring it there when Eve returned.

"That looks wonderful, you have such pretty hands"

"Er thanks, you speak English well"

"That's because I'm English, from Doncaster"

"I know it, I went to college in Nottingham!"

I swapped to English

"So how did you end up here?"

"My husband, bless 'im, before he died, was a doctor in Euskirchen, I met him hitchhiking in Africa. Now my family is here, I work here part time, you meet such interesting people. Your English is very good"

"I'm Nena by the way. I work as a tour host on English coaches at the moment"

"That explains it."


"The English here today, we don't get many English here, too far off the beaten track Nena, too far off the beaten track."

"I'll take a chance on the ring size, I'm sure it'll be okay" I told her passing it back.

"There's a matching necklace, I can do you a special price on the pair?"

Well I had seen the necklace before but it was stretching the budget a bit. Eve however was not put off.

"Now lets see, the ring is thirty Euro and the necklace is forty, that's seventy, less forty percent, I can do you the pair for forty two" she beamed at me.

Damn that was tempting! I did a quick calculation, if I get Nena style tips this week, and I reckon I will.


I paid Eve and she wrapped them up.

"There you are Nena"

"Oh hi Den, just finished." I turned back to Eve, "thanks Eve"

"No problem Nena"

"Oh Den, this is Eve, from Doncaster? Eve, Den my driver" I made the introductions.

"Nice to meet you Den, you must bring Nena here back to see me"

"I think my wife will be sending me, she adores this glass stuff"

"Eve?" a call went out

"Have to go, nice meeting you Nena and you Den, teuss"

"Bye" Den replied

"Tschüss" I gave a little wave

"Come on kiddo, its nearly time to pick up the punters"

We walked back out into the now hot afternoon.

"I was going to pop into the bakers, get some cake for later"

"Okay, I'll go bring the bus up then, see you in a few minutes"

Den hurried off up the road and I went into the bakery where we'd eaten a while back. Now if there's one thing I've got a weakness for it's cake and so far this week has been a bit of a washout! I did manage to get a slice of a cheesecake type thing in Bad Neuenahr with Mika yesterday but I'm going into withdrawal! I selected a variety of different offerings and went outside to join my accumulating passengers in waiting for Den and the coach.

For the second trip in a row I didn't have any laggards and so when Den arrived everyone was there waiting. And that phone box was a big hit! Weird or what?

"So how unlikely was that then?" I mentioned to Den as we pulled onto the main road.


"Eve back in the glass place"

"Oh right, yeah I guess you wouldn't expect to find someone from England living round here"

We picked up the right road for the 'Große Eifel-Route' and climbed steadily for several k's before dropping down to the upper reaches of the Ahr. We followed the river through Schuld and Insul before turning south to Adenau. We passed under a road bridge at the top of the town and now inside the famous Nürburgring forked left at the next junction. We emerged, after a steep climb close to our first destination, the road circuit entrance.

 circuit entrance

We pulled up in the queue for the gates.

By now, most of the coach was aware of where we were and there was a frison of excitement as we pulled around to join the short queue, it looks like our luck's in! Den hopped out and went over to the office to pay and book in and I grabbed the mike.

I waited until Den gave a thumbs up from the office before talking.

"Well ladies and gentlemen, we have a treat for you now, a drive around the famous Nürburgring motor race circuit!" well that really got their attention. "Can you all please make sure you have your seat belts fastened," there was a round of snaps and clunks as the previously ignored lap belts were fastened.

"Okay, five minutes" Den advised handing me a pile of paper, "one for everyone I hope", then stuck a small card in the front windscreen.

I quickly walked the aisle checking belts and handing out the souvenir 'certificates' to everyone. By the time I resumed my seat at the front and buckled in myself, we were at the entry barrier. The bar lifted and we were off!

"Here we go!" Den exclaimed as he gunned the engine into action.

 coach race

Den was having a great time haring around the circuit!

The coach has a speed limiter, supposedly set at 100kph but the speedo was definitely showing us doing a fair bit beyond that! Den was enjoying himself as he skillfully took the bends. Of course the cars on the circuit left us standing but you don't normally get to drive a coach like this! All too soon we were behind the Grand Prix circuit and Den put his foot down again. I was expecting him to pull off but we sailed straight on for a second lap. He cornered a bit quicker this time round and I could see a huge grin on his face. Men!

We pulled off at the end of the lap and once through the exit barrier, we parked up.

"Now the fun is over, the toilets are inside!" I joked, "seriously we have a few minutes before we have to leave, there is a shop inside and toilets, fifteen minutes please."

They all piled off and then Den insisted on taking a photo of me in front of the bus with our circuit entry number in the windscreen.

"They have coach racing you know?" Den stated

"What? With passengers an' that?"

"No don't be daft, no the company that made Betsy here run it every year, the Setra Grand Prix"

"I'm not sure I'd want to be on one, that was bad enough, I thought we were limited to 100kph?"

"Well we are, but there's a safety allowance, if you floor it you can get an extra twenty on top, the brakes kick in at 125"

The passengers were back, 'Betsy' starred in a few more photos before everyone was back on board and we pulled away from the track. Den took us up through the village to join the main road then started us towards our last stop of the day. I did a quick drinks run; all the takers wanted cold drinks so that was easy. We pulled up in Mayen a bit after four for a forty-five minute stop. Of course I had to point out the twisted church spire, 'just like Chesterfield' and once we'd ushered everyone off I went to make us some tea. I wanted one even if no one else did!

"You know Nena, this is turning into a decent trip"

"What today?"

"Today, yes but the week in full"

"Even with Frau Polch's schnapps and me getting mugged?"

"Well the schnapps wasn't so bad and you weren't hurt or anything"

"I guess so"

"How 'bout you?"

"Well apart from the attempted mugging and drinking too much last night, it's been okay I guess, even if I am wearing women's clothing"

"I'd sort of forgotten about that," Den admitted

"What do you mean forgotten, you can hardly miss the fact that I'm in a dress!"

"Well, I've sort of got used to it you look..."

"Yeah I know, like a woman" I interrupted

"Well you do"


I pulled my book out and sat on the step to read it.

An hour later we were back at the hotel and I'm afraid I was still giving Den and anyone else who dared speak to me the cold shoulder.


"Hmmph! It's you"

"Not you as well, look I'm sorry about last night, it wasn't my fault, honest"

"You were drunk"

"Slightly merry?"


"It was Frau Polch's homebrew, Den was a bit out of it too"

"Hmm. Well I suppose you're off the hook. How's it going?"

"Weird. I'm not talking to Den, I'm sat here wondering which dress to wear for dinner and I'm...I'm not a girl!"

"Calm down. Now then, start at the beginning, what happened when you went to see Mika yesterday?"

So I spent the next half an hour getting everything off my chest so to speak.

"If you weren't a bloke I'd say you'd got PMT!"

"Thank you very much!"

"I think you're getting it all out of proportion. Get yourself dressed and go apologise to Den."

"I'm going to cancel tomorrow night"

"Don't you dare! I want to hear all about it on Sunday"


"Love you Chris"

"Me too, not me of course, you, oh you know what I mean!"

She giggled down the phone at me.

"Get on with you, talk to you later"

"Yeah, night"

"Night lover!"

Well I'm still confused but at least I'm in a better mood! Damn, no time for a shower now.

"You in a better mood now Chris" Den asked cautiously

"Sorry about earlier Den, I don't know what came over me"

"Lets go eat then"

 Thursday night

It was that black dress again!

I shrugged into my jacket to walk the short distance up to the main hotel building, I'd decided on the black dress again.

"Ah Nena, I have a message for you" Margrit called over when we got to reception.

"Oh right, won't be a minute Den"

"I'll get in the queue"

"Here you are," Margrit plucked a post-it from the desk, "yes, Mika will pick you up at seven and wear something you can dance in, make sense?"

"Yes thanks, we're off for a girls night out tomorrow"

"Ah to be young again!"

"Hey, it's not all it's cracked up to be!" I joked

After dinner, Den insisted we go out for a drink - no schnapps allowed. So we walked into the main square and joined the other drinkers in one of the pavement bars. A couple of our passengers joined us and we spent a low alcohol, but pleasant evening chatting.

Friday. A pretty easy day for Den and I, drive to Cologne, dump passengers, mooch around all day, pick up passengers, return to Andernach! We took the Autobahn north and we were in the city just after ten. We pulled up in the shadow of the Dom to unload our cargo of itching to explore tourists. On the drive in from the motorway I'd already given them my spiel and offered advice on what to do and so on so that now it was just fine detail.

"We will pick you up back here at four o'clock. Please be on time, we can only wait here for a few minutes. Have a good day"

I helped them disembark, most headed straight up the steps that lead to the front of the Cathedral, a few went along towards the tourist info office or maybe MacDonald's almost opposite! Den got us around the block and by half ten we were parking up down by the river.

Days like today can be a nightmare, around five hours to kill.

"Cuppa?" I offered

"Please. We going up into the city later?"

"Yeah, I guess so, we can eat down by the river or there's that Thai place in the Altmarkt." I called down the bus

"You eating before Mika picks you up tonight?"

"She's coming at seven so I guess we'll be eating wherever we're going" I told him returning to the front of the coach.

Den already had his paperwork out so I extricated my book from my bag for a few minutes reading before we head into the city. Not my usual reading matter but Mandy recommended it and it's her copy I've got now. Oh sorry, it's called 'Cat' by Freya North. Strange plot of girl meets boy whilst reporting on the Tour de France, Le Grand Boucle! As I say not a book I'd buy but I must admit that it makes a change from my usual reading matter.

"We going then?" Den asked

"Eh?" I checked the time, ten past eleven. "I was just getting into this" I waved the book at him.

"We don't have to go now," he offered

"No lets get off"

We walked along the river walk back towards the Bahnhof and Dom. Being another pleasant day I left my jacket on the bus although the thin skirt and sheer top left me feeling a bit exposed!

We cut up to the Dom then took to the back streets to make our way to the Neumarkt. I always find it easier and quicker going this way; there can be quite a crush of humanity in the shopping zone! We started along the Schildergasse checking out a shop here and there, C&A, even Marks and Spencer have stores along here. Then while Den was looking in a jewelers I found myself glued to the Orsay window display. There was that dress again.

In the right hand display three mannequins displayed what I would describe as clubbing out fits and the other side of the door two more outfits, perhaps a bit more demure occupied the window space. The unifying factor between the two was 'that' dress, albeit in different colours!

 left window  right window

My gaze was pulled to the Orsay window display.

I was attracted to that dress like a bee to honey!

"Don't tell me that you're thinking of buying another frock," Den mentioned as he joined me.

"Well I don't really have anything for tonight, I wasn't exactly planning on a girls night you know"

He rolled his eyes, "Women!" but he followed me inside anyway.

I knew what I was after; I was a girl on a mission!

"Ich würde gern das Kleid im Schaufenster sehen" I asked the pink haired assistant hovering at the till.

(Author translation!)

"Which one? They're mostly down to the right"

"The sort of," I hesitated. What would you call it? "Er, with the straps and laces?"

"Oh yes that's down there, you need a good figure to wear that", she added


With Den trailing, I realised that he probably gets a lot of practice at this with his wife; I made my way through the packed rails to a clearer display on a head height shelf above the racks.


"So I take it that conversation means you've seen something then?"

"Well I have to admit that I've got my eye on something, but I'm open to suggestions?"

"Come on then"

 dressing  up

I was in and out of more combinations than you could shake a stick at!>

Over the next forty-five minutes I was in and out of more outfits than I care to mention! That looks good, I look fat in that, don't like that, too revealing! And so on. The little changing cubicle looked like a bomb had hit it. I was running Den ragged fetching stuff and the girl looking after the changing facilities was getting a bit uppity as more stuff passed in and out of the little changing room.

I'm sure Den was starting to get near the end of his patience when I eventually made my choice, or should I say choices. Jules is going to do well out of me after this trip, that's for sure!

"Looks like your buying the place up"

"No!" I replied defensively. My decision was actually influenced by the hemlines. The three outfits (two dresses, two tops and that dress!) I decided to buy went from a fairly conservative knee length peasant style to a black Chinese style dress at mid thigh to the short pinafore style thing I started out with! At least I'd have a choice. Thankfully Orsay is not too expensive so I actually only spent seventy Euro. Only!

"I'm ready to eat" Den mentioned when we returned to the Schildegasse.

"Okay, what are we doing?"

"Dinea?" he suggested.

"Yeah okay"

We walked up towards the huge Karstadt, that plane emerging from the shop front always amuses me. By the time we'd eaten, I'd bought some more tights and Den had purchased some of the famous '4711' cologne for his wife, it was mid afternoon. By mutual consent we headed back down to the river and the bus.

We had to wait a few minutes for one elderly couple at the pick up point, for some reason they thought I said half four. Well that's what they said; funny that everyone else heard four o'clock! For a bit of variety, Den headed us out through Deutz and past the airport and the Frankfurt Autobahn. I took a runner on those over shopped individuals wanting a drink, nearly the whole bus eventually had something before we took exit 36 to drop through the Rhein-Westerwald to Neuweid and our crossing back to the west bank and Andernach.

Five fifteen. Less than two hours before Showtime!

Maddy Bell 18.04.04
Photo's © Maddy Bell 2001,2002
© 2004

Pictures of Nena have been generated using Ania's 'Cherie' Fkiss doll on Angy-Chan's template and are Copyright 2004. They are used with permission, if you'd like to see more go to www.acharsi.prv.pl

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