Six Wheels in Germany – November 2022 (Month 104)

Very little has happened this month so I’m afraid most of this blog post will be photos of cakes.

This is not that unusual I suppose.

The first visit to the Mühlencafe Elten

As mentioned lots of times in this blog over the last six months, our favourite café Bauerncafé Büllhorsthof in Winnekendonk near Kevelaer had to close as the lady who runs it, Karola, was unable to find enough staff.

In the end she decided to downsize to a smaller café in Elten which is near Emmerich, so right on the north west of Germany next to the Netherlands and north of the Rhine.

We were at Büllhorsthof on its last open weekend in October and we decided to visit Elten on the first open weekend in mid-November.

This is rather a long drive for us – one hour fifteen minutes each way so it isn’t a serious option generally – but we wanted to support Karola in her new café.

It is a lovely purpose-built café which has a small terrace and it looks out onto the windmill.

When we arrived we were the only ones in the café, but there were several chaps out getting the windmill going.

They were unrolling the covers for the sails, but ended up having to stop as the covers had frozen in place. So they came into the café for some cake instead. Which seemed like a good plan.

We were delighted to once enjoy some of our favourite Büllhorsthof cakes – Eierlikörkuchen and Oma Gerda’s Apfeltraum.

Karola gave us a hug when we arrived and chatted to us about getting everything ready. She will only be open at weekends and has some other irons in the fire to earn money during the week. We wish her every success – the cakes are as good as ever!

A visit to Mannheim Christmas Market

This month we had a flying visit to Mannheim to visit Klaus’s father and to collect a Nativity Scene carved from wood that he was giving to Lara. We took the opportunity to look around the Mannheim Christmas Market

Two years ago we were at the Mannheim Market and Klaus and I both bought hats and Lara bought a scarf. The same hat stand was there – they come from Berlin and we had also visited their shop in Berlin since. The same dark red hat was there but I managed not to buy any more hats as a colleague at work is making me one.

I bought a fresh waffle and really enjoyed it – but forgot to photograph it!

However, we were impressed by these huge bags of Popcorn, nearly as tall as Lara!

We stopped for a cuppa in a café and Klaus had some cheesecake.

Lara didn’t have any cake which turned out to be a bit of a miscalculation as we ended up eating very late on the way home – we stopped off at a pizzeria just off the motorway so we could eat as Lara was really hungry. Our lunchtime salads that we had bought at a supermarket in Mannheim on the way weren’t very filling.

Nearly a very expensive phone

I was considering upgrading my iPhone as I fancied the iPhone Mini as it was a bit smaller (thought it would fit in my pocket better) so when Lars asked me if I knew of a phone for sale as his was broken, I said he could buy my iPhone 11 and that was the push for me to upgrade.

So I ordered an iPhone 13 Mini (they didn’t have a Mini in the iPhone 14 range) and it arrived the next day. I transferred everything from the old iPhone 11 onto the new iPhone 13 Mini and posted my old one off to Lars.

However, I found as I was using the phone over the next two days that I didn’t actually like the size that much – it was actually too small – and the battery life seemed slightly worse than that of my old iPhone 11 (that had been at 84% maximum as it was 3 years old). Presumably this was because the battery in the Mini was much smaller, but I hadn’t read anything about disappointing battery in the reviews. But I was rather disappointed.

I decided that it wasn’t good enough for me so I phoned Amazon and asked them what to do and they said I could return it. Great.

I ordered a new phone, an iPhone 14 this time, more expensive than the iPhone Mini. But it arrived the next day, I did the transfer of everything to it and it all worked really well – it’s very quick and the camera is even better! The UPS man collected it from me at work and I got the receipt from him which I stored safely. And waited.

After two weeks my Amazon account was still showing that the return hadn’t arrived so I phoned Amazon customer service to find out what had happened.

And thus started a long, long story of phoning Amazon customer support, speaking to a nice Indian Helpdesk employee who would then press some buttons and I would get an automated email which said they were waiting for my item to be processed at the returns centre, and please wait three days/1 week.

I had seen from the UPS tracking that the item was delivered the day after it was picked up from me, so back at the beginning of October.

And then the info on my Amazon orders page changed – the Return Window had closed. They hadn’t received my item and it was now too late to return it.

So I was now making daily calls to Amazon and speaking to someone who said they would look into it for me, then 5 minutes later I got an automated email (but with the call handler’s name on the top) saying exactly the same – item had not been returned.

So I escalated a bit with my phone calls and got to the next level where someone said they would talk to the Returns Centre. And three days later I got the news that my item was returned but the box was empty.

Well it wasn’t empty when I sent it.

More phone calls. More automatic emails saying the box was empty and the return window had closed.

When I had called 12 times I managed to get escalated one more level. And this time they told me that when I answered the previous automated emails (which I did with tracking numbers, delivery confirmations etc) these emails weren’t actually monitored. But if I could send me photos of the UPS Tracking Number and stuff to a different email address that would help. So I did.

They told me that the box was empty but I said it had not been. They asked me if I could show the weight of the box and the UPS Tracking Page showed it was 0,3 kg. I sent them this information and got an email back saying they would now refund me the money.

Weirdly the emails still said “damaged in transit” for the status of my return so perhaps the box really did open underway and a shiny, boxed, barely-used iPhone 13 Mini just happened to fall out. But clearly the UPS weight of 300g showed that there had been something in the box and I was given the benefit of the doubt.

This involved 3 weeks of phone calls with lots of persistence. They saw that I was regularly calling and told me I didn’t have to phone any more when they were really dealing with it – perhaps there is some level where they think you aren’t bothered enough. But the value of this phone was 2 weeks’ wages for me so worth pestering.

The money was returned to my account a few days later so that was great. What a relief! My first bad experience with Amazon but at least it was resolved in the end, but took nearly a month to get the money back. I will be very careful in future when returning expensive items.

And now… cakes

There’s very little more to say about November. I did my running, we did a few cycle rides to cafes (I met up with Bella one afternoon for cake), I had two days off work due to the lurgy but fortunately not corona, and we ate lots of cakes. So here are the cake pics for November:

These were provided at work on 11 November which is Carnival in Germany. I ended up eating two that morning as they are very moreish!
The cyclists met at Auffelder Bauerncafé and Klaus had a day off so was also able to come along. We enjoyed our cakes there!

And the final picture for November is Poppy the dog watching TV on my iPad on my bed. Probably “Mountain Vets” or something similar…

I hope for some more interesting information in next month’s blog. Not fewer cakes of course but we will be visiting the UK, we also have Mini Honeymoon #13 and hopefully some more things to report.

One comment

  1. Hi Helen,
    For some years now I showed your cake photos to my French wife. Sometimes she makes now cheesecake, quite similar to the one you showed in this post. Totally unknown over here.

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