Here I am today writing about my latest journey in a city that I had never visited before; Dusseldorf, West Germany. When I arrived, this charming city greeted me with a spectacular sunset under the setting on DUS airport, absolutely magical! The flight journey from London to Dusseldorf is just a little over one hour, one of the reasons why my is love is in the air……..line industry 😊!.
Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), is the third largest-busiest in Germany after Frankfurt and Munich, it has two runways and handled over 25 million passengers last year, which I thought for a city of 600000 residents is pretty remarkable. The airport includes three passenger terminals linked by a central spine, although the terminals are really halls within a single terminal building. The airport is located about 7 kilometres north of the city centre. All areas of the airport are easy to reach with public transport.
My mission this time is to reconnect with my fabulous and very good friend Paolita. My flight this time is with British Airways, which luckily arrived earlier than planned. My new mobile network, Vodafone, agreeably greeted me with a text notifying me that I would not incur in extra charges while in Germany as my UK plans cover the whole of Europe. (luckily Brexit has not hit us on this yet!).
I then left the airport and expected to see Paolita waiting for me, but as it happens… I realised I left the building by wrong side, contrary to the specific instructions she had given me earlier…oops. Fortunately, she forgave me and welcomed me with an amazing hug, an eight years overdue hug! Very happy indeed to see the lady in the red coat. It was a great joy to see her again and I am today grateful for her friendship as she embraced me and welcomed into her house and her life, for these coming few days. It is a magical feeling then again to feel the connection has not been lost despite the distance and many years passed by. The night continued with a great life reciprocal storytelling catch up about our life’s, what a great moment to share and for that I was appreciative.
I promised Paola that I would try to be a good guest and attempt not to break her vacuum cleaner while trying to help with the chores (as I did in Velletri when I was trying to help my friend Bonita to clean her house!). Anyway, life is certainly improved with friends.
Divided by the Rhine River, Dusseldorf is a thriving city on the west of Germany, well known for its fashion and art scene. I had the pleasure of visiting many places and activities, which I summarise as follows.
Scenery Walk to Altstadt:
I took me 40 minutes to walk from Paolita’s house to the famous Old part of the City; Altstadt, and I must say I truly enjoyed this stroll by the Rhine promenade while listening to my favourite songs and mesmerised by the beauty of the river. I passed by many lovely gardens, including the Rheingartchen, before arriving at Altstadt, Dusseldorf’s old town.
I found Altstadt a truly charming area, full of character, pubs (apparently more than 260!), local breweries, cocktail bars, restaurants and various cool cafes to sit down and relax, all located throughout a series of pedestrian alleyways. Some of the unique buildings I crossed included the good-looking Schifffahrtmuseum, Kunstammlung or better known as K21 (will talk a bit more about this one later), the opera as well as other art venues such as the Tonhalle Concert Hall, no wonder why Düsseldorf’s is well recognised for its art scene.
I also had the fortune to meet one of my fellow couchsurfers, his name Ahmed, who was kind to take me around for a walk around Hafen, one of the most affluent areas in the city. The vibe at that moment felt really cold and solitary but perhaps just because the weather was still pretty chilli for me.
Girls Night Out
The evening consisted of going back to Altstadt peeking on the Rumba Latina and then heading towards Sir Walker, one of the most popular nights out, not really my type of place, but nevertheless, the company of the girls was great enough for me to have all the fun required for the night, I also enjoyed talking with fellow-party-goers while sipping one of the Paola’s recommended cocktails “Mosque-Mule “. Weirdly and thought-provoking night out for me! … the night ended at 2am, just before heading off to the bus home…mmmm not really……….
… just before calling on my favourite app of all times, Uber! which took us safely and satisfied to our…well Paolita’s humble abode…, chit chat and zzz.
Nacht der Museen – Night of Museum
This is an event that occurs once every year, and I was lucky enough to fall on the weekend when it was there. The event runs from 7pm until 2am so you can visit all the museums you want within that time for a reduced cost of 12 Euros. the downside though is that it was crowdy! Very crowdy! So, patience was one of the virtues to have on this particular night of museums.
Aquazoo Lobbecke Museum
This is an impressive place which gets together the best of a natural history museum with the best samples of the marine species, all on hold under one roof. I did not stop thinking about how much my son would have enjoyed this visit in particular.
The only problem is that all the labelling around the species was only in German, nothing in English.
This building was, until 1988 the seat of the Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia. Four wings with numerous arcades border the structure’s core area, a large plaza. This is undeniably a contemporary museum building with both history and character. The whole area, which is comprised of a hall for temporary exhibitions on the ground floor and the upper galleries cover an area of 5300 m² of art space!
What a delightful museum! We even had the chance to experience first-hand a piece of real art. We climbed along a real piece of art by Thomas Saraceno, an Argentinean artist. The exhibition called “In Orbit” which was a both a wonderful and yet an anxious experience!
In Orbit: Suspended at a height of over 25 metres directly above the central plaza, this giant art installation “in orbit”, sits; the air-spider inspired artist Tomás Saraceno, seems that tries to resemble the unreal landscape of shadowy sky where the sky is not the limit of a world, but the whole of other universal forms in motion.
As we entered the area, we could not avoid being a bit edgy CLICK ME, despite me trying to convince myself this was a piece of cake and tried to act as natural as possible. As I went down, I could clearly feel the movements of others through the many vibrations. Thank goodness, I never looked down, otherwise, I would have been terrified. Paola was braver than me on that! in orbit was strategically perceived and arranged by Saraceno together with engineers, architects, and biologists from 2011 to 2013 to create a spatial condition with meticulous precision, resembling a structure of a spider’s web.
Truly a great place to visit if you are patient enough to queue on the night of the museum’s event! the night ended again at 2am. and again with my favourite app of all times, Uber! which took us safely and satisfied to our…well Paolita’s humble abode…, chit chat yet again and at a really late hour, or shall I say really early ones.
Next morning, I set up for a two-hour walk while Paolita was sleeping graciously. While at it, I encountered a pleasant surprise, it was a sunny day, I mean it! a proper sunny day of spring, so I had the blessing to experiment out various observations of local people, many families pushing their bikes everywhere, while many others enjoyed in serenity their picnic ashore the river bank. Truly an inspiring city view.
One of the things that most caught my attention was to observe a large group of sheep and goats, happily grazing along the river, I wonder what was all this about, so I asked my best friends or everyone best friend. Mr.G!.
Enjoyably, I discovered that City grazing is an early stage project that has been developed to inspire a sustainable way of managing weed in urban areas. I found it bizarre at first, the more I looked at it the more bizarre I found it, yet I thought it was a fantastic idea. City grazing is an innovative and sustainable lifestyle, which functions as an ecological solution to weed control, where goats and sheep are borrowed to the naturally clear public and private land.
This practice eradicates the need for toxic herbicides, chemicals, and fuel powered lawn mowers. The animals also clear also areas that otherwise would be inaccessible to people or machines. Also, the goats help to bring back soil fertility by providing organic fertilizer. City grazing then turns out to be a great alternative for clearing and maintaining urban landscape and parks, popular in other worldwide cities such a San Francisco and Paris. Miniclip here
Fischmarkt – Fish Market
My last day in Dusseldorf was absolutely delightful, the weather was brilliant. Paola and I enjoyed a pleasant stroll along the Rhine past the old town and down towards the Rhine Tower. We passed through the attractive modern buildings in the nearby wharf and encountered beautiful trees and green scenery along the route …great vibe with many people enjoying a picnic on this gorgeous sunny day of spring until we reach Fishmarket.
This Sunday Fish Market, which takes place at Tonhallenufer, is only open on specific dates, so I was lucky to be precisely when the market was on, especially on this lovely sunny day. The market, contrary of you would think, is not just about fish, there are plenty of other sellers, offering from flowers, fruits and vegetables, plants, clothing and many other things. Shopping at this lively market can always be topped off with a chilled local Altbier or tasty snacks while enjoying live music from talented local musicians.
And as your thought become reality, as we were walking along the promenade, I thought I heard the sound of some Latin-salsa songs, so we obviously approached them to find ourselves amongst a group of salsa dancers practising Cuban salsa, under the lovely music played by Marcos Echavarria, from Arriba Rio.
What an excellent way of finishing my Dusseldorf experience.! With a great friend, a great atmosphere, great music, great weather, great dance! Absolutely amazing!
“You do not travel to arrive, but to travel.”
A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams. Herb Caen