23rd-30th August 2014
I was reliably informed that Dusseldorf is a great base to visit other places in the state. Sadly, I only had one weekend in the city so I decided to stay put- I guess I’ll just have to go back so I can explore more of Nordrhein-Westfalen.
I started my Saturday morning on a hunt for Marmite. I should explain. Earlier in the week I had met the Australian, who was also interning at the firm. One thing led to another and before I knew it, the Marmite-Vegemite debate had reared its head. He had Vegemite, I therefore needed Marmite so that we could place them side-by-side in the kitchen for a mite-off. I tracked down an international store that sold it so off I marched, bright and early. After almost an hour (I made a slight accidental detour, aka I got a bit lost), I found the place. It had closed down. Perfect, apparently the office would never know the joys of Marmite.
I traipsed off sadly to Königsallee (nicknamed Kö)- Dusseldorf’s famous and luxurious shopping street. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford anything there but it was meant to be beautiful so I thought I’d take a peak. It didn’t disappoint. Not only was there a canal running through it, but there was also a food festival there that weekend, providing ample amounts of meats, cheeses, wine and baked goods. I stocked up on the latter. The Australian had invited me over for dinner that night- he used to be a chef and was horrified when I informed him over our Friday night beers in the Altstadt that I was living off a combination of pasta salad and olives for dinner (I later branched out to potato salad, cold chicken nuggets and budget pepperami)- I therefore needed a few bits to bring along.
I treated myself to what turned out to be a rather miniature, yet tasty, burger before meeting up with a friend who had invited me out shopping. It turns out that Dusseldorf is great for shopping and it turned out to be somewhat familiar- Mango, Zara, H&M and Primark, I felt right at home. After meeting some lovely new people, grabbing some noodles and Starbucks and treating myself to a new maxi skirt, it was time to say goodbye.
I was sure I knew where I was going for dinner but it turned out that I wasn’t even close. About 45 minutes after I was due to arrive at the Australian’s, I finally pulled into the right train station and found my destination. The evening passed-by merrily with beer, wine, cheese, crackers, curry, assorted flavours of ice cream and my baked goods. In the early hours, I curled up on a mattress on the kitchen floor, later to be awoken to a breakfast of coffee and pancakes.
Once I left, I headed over to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. I had read a recommendation of the art gallery but didn’t really know what to expect. I was met with something rather similar to London’s Tate Modern, right down to the Picasso’s and the sculpture of Venus facing a pile of rags. Personally, I am a fan of renaissance art but I thoroughly enjoyed myself as I discovered some absolute gems and came up with my own obscure interpretations for some of the pieces.
After investing in a couple of postcards for my bedroom wall, I headed over for a wander around the Altstadt. This was clearly the place to be, with people spilling out of the bars and restaurants onto the street. I bought myself a currywurst, which sadly was not that great but was improved by the atmosphere as I sat down to eat it on the steps by Burgplatz, next to the river. I then explored the nearby church I had spotted from my step. The inside was unexpectedly beautiful- not that I didn’t think it would be beautiful, I just didn’t expect it to be so decorated. It was then time to mooch along the River Rhine, back to my hotel.
As the end of the week crept up, I can’t say I was looking forward to leaving. On my last day, the Australian bought me a goodbye Kinder Egg- the toy was ironically a mutant combination of a kangaroo and a great white shark- and a group of us ventured into the Altstadt for some beers, as another group of us had the night before. The Altstadt was, for me, quintessential Germany. The streets were cobbled, the beer was good and plentiful, everyone was jolly and the atmosphere was buzzy. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have to hold back some tears as I waved everyone off- I was going to miss Dusseldorf.
In the morning, I had a final breakfast of tea and a ham, cheese and gherkin roll- which had become my regular start to the morning- and checked out. I had to get to the Weeze airport which was quite far out of town. Thankfully, there were buses between the airport and the central station and, after a small amount of confusion, I found the right bus station, paid for my ticket, settled down in front of an episode of ‘The Honourable Woman’ and left Dusseldorf.