I’d heard mixed reviews about Dusseldorf before I actually went there. It didn’t seem to be much of a tourist destination and my friends who had been there for work-related reasons had said that it was quite industrial and they weren’t big fans. My experience of Dusseldorf was quite different. I found some beautiful areas and met some great people. Apparently, the city is a great base from which to visit other places in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, due to its handy train links. I didn’t get the chance to take advantage of that but the city had enough to keep me occupied. I’ll admit that Dusseldorf may not be the ultimate holiday destination, but if you’re looking for stop-offs on a Europe trip or for a destination for a weekend break it is definitely a city you shouldn’t under-estimate.
1. You can drink beer on cobbled streets:
On my return, I asked my friends who hadn’t been fans of Dusseldorf whether they had made it to the Altstadt. They said no. I was getting closer to realising what they had missed. The old town pretty much stereotypes what I love about Germany: cobbled streets and beer. Obviously, there is more to it than that. The streets were alive with people at the various bars and there was a merry vibe. The beer was good too and, at one place in particular, the staff were very helpful, replacing your drink when they noticed it was empty. The area itself felt traditional and full of character. It was the perfect mix and my favourite place in the city.
2. You can (window) shop at places like this:
Königsallee (or Kö is it is known to the locals) is an internationally renowned shopping street that draws people from various countries, far and wide. For a budget traveller, like myself, shopping there is an observatory activity only as opposed to a participatory one, as it is lined with luxurious designer shops. Luckily, when I was there, there was a world food market so I could get a bit more involved as I fought my way through the crowds to the stalls. Whether a market is there or not, however, it is still worth a look. It’s a pretty picturesque street, as you can see, with a canal running through it. There’s also some more budget-friendly shops a couple of roads over.
3. You can see some weird and wonderful architecture:
It is true that Dusseldorf is quite an industrial city- it is a hub for business. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t things to see. My office was in the Medienhafen, which is an area known for its architecture. And I don’t mean conventionally beautiful architecture (although examples of this can be found in the city), I mean weird and wacky. From coloured men climbing up walls to buildings of all shapes and sizes. One of the activities that the company I was working for put on for the interns was a guided tour of the architecture in the harbour. I’d regularly seen this going on when I went out for my lunch breaks. Unfortunately, being in German, and considering the technical language used, I understood very little but I could still appreciate the buildings. I’m sure there’s the option of having these tours in varying languages. Maybe that’s what I’ll have to do next time.
4. You can take long walks by the river
As I wandered back from drinks on a Friday night, along the river Rhine, I found that some of the atmosphere from the Altstadt followed me. People were relaxing and socialising and when I picked up some lunch in the Old Town at the weekend, it was the perfect place to sit and relax. I love cities but I do like finding somewhere to relax and the river provided that. I could walk along the river from the Medienhafen, passed the Landtag (where the state parliament sits), to the Altstadt and then over to Königsallee, saving the pennies as I explored and took in the sights.
5. You can delve into the city’s art scene
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is the state’s art collection, housed in three venues in Dusseldorf: K20 at Grabbeplatz, the K21 in the Ständehaus and the Schmela Haus. I only made it to the K20. Although I am more of a Renaissance art girl, I loved the modern art there. I find that sometimes I don’t want to read every about every artwork or listen to an audio-guide going into every tiny detail. I don’t feel like I have to do that with modern art, instead I have fun looking at all the pieces and coming up with my own interpretations. That’s what I did at the K20, which includes pieces from Picasso and Jackson Pollock. The other two are still on my to-do list.
6. You can meet some really great people
This was ultimately the reason I had a really great trip. Although I didn’t know any of them, my fellow interns took me under their wing so that I didn’t get too lost in translation. We went for lunch on the weekdays, played table football on our breaks in the office and met up in the evenings and weekends for drinks, dinners and shopping trips. The thing is, anywhere can be found if you’re with the right people.