Two of my friends, my little brother and I, were all free from work on the same day, a Tuesday. So what do you do on a day like that? Exactly, you take the car and hit the road. We decided to go to Düsseldorf, a two hour drive from our hometown in The Netherlands. We found a quiet German metropole which needs some homework to get the most out of a visit.
Düsseldorf is the seventh biggest city in Germany by population and the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It’s one of the best cities to live in and Mercer’s 2012 Quality of Living survey ranked Düsseldorf the sixth city in the world. On a rainy, foggy and cold November day it wasn’t as exciting as you might expect from a city of that calibre however.
Bars and beers
After a couple of hours driving we reached the inner city of Düsseldorf and parked the car in one of the underground parking garages in the center. On foot we accidentally walked to what is called the longest bar in the world. There you can find nice little bars and breweries with home brewed beers. It should be fun in the evening, but not on a Tuesday morning.
Because we got a little hungry we went to the market, where we found a place that served baguette’s with slices of steak and garlic butter for €6,- or something. Totally worth it, because it was delicious. If you fancy a juicy bratwurst or a soup of some kind, you are at the right place on the market too. Walking past all the little stands you could already see a tip of the Christmas spirit the city is known for, but we were too early for the real Christmas craze.
The Rheine and the boardwalk
With full bellies we were good to go and wandered towards the Rheine River. We made a couple of detours first however and came across the awesome Conflict sculpture of two men (three men if you include my little brother posing alongside of them) having an argument. We also walked through a little park which turned out to be a dead end, but a fun place to do some posing.
We finally got to the river. I love big cities with rivers running through them, I don’t know why. It’s a soothing familiarity of some sorts. We marched over the boardwalk towards Altstadt. We could see the Ferris wheel ahead of us and the Rheineturm behind us, but only the bottom of it, because it was still super foggy. There’s was no use going up there, because the world below us would be covered by a thick layer of white mist.
We moved passed some self-made cardboard shelters from the homeless and some empty restaurants. As the Ferris wheel, the naval museum and the St. Lambertus church with the twisted tower neared us, we went up the spiral steps near Altstadt.
Altstadt and St. Lambertus Church
We decided to see the church, which is probably the oldest building in the German city. It was finished in the 14th century. In 1815 the church was restored because of a fire, but the workers used fresh, and thus moist, wood, which caused the spire to be slightly twisted. They just went along with it and when the church was destroyed during world war II, it was rebuild with the twister tower on purpose.
As we got inside we noticed we were to only ones there. Not even a single church who worked in the church was there, so we couldn’t climb the tower. Not climbing towers was kind of becoming a recurring thing during the trip, but the church was pretty. Not as decorated as churches in southern European countries, but it was nice in a more rustic and classy way. Especially the colors of the stained glass stood out to me, because they weren’t screaming a biblical scene at you.
After our walk through Altstadt, which was very small and not that interesting to be honest, we went to the stadmitte, with Köningsallee and Schadowstrasse. Those streets equal shopping and are a nice place if you have money to spent, which I don’t. Düsseldorf is supposedly the German fashion capital, but in the cold November rain nobody looks fashionable really, so I’m not going to confirm it. Besides, I don’t know the first thing about fashion anyway.
When we were finished shopping we decided that Düsseldorf was done and we should head to Oberhausen, because Donny’s boss said it was nice. While we strolled back to the car we passed the nice looking St John’s Church and stepped inside to take a look. It was better from the outside, at least for me, because I don’t like modern interiors in churches.
We drove to Oberhausen and stopped at a gas station with a couple of shops around it to ask directions to the center. The woman at the pastry shop gave us directions to Centro; A humongous shopping mall on a former industrial area of the city. Not exactly wat we were expecting, since we wanted to see a little of the city before going to dinner. Two of us went shopping and two of us walked outside to see what was there and there was nothing.
So after shopping for the second time that day we got in the car again we went to the altmarkt: Probably a nice square in broad daylight, but dark and deserted in the evening. The whole neighbourhood was quiet, which we found odd, because this is one of the main squares of Oberhausen. After walking around we passed a Polish restaurant and a Balkan Café, but we settled for the steakhouse to have dinner. The menu was filled with loads and loads of different meat dishes, which was perfect for four hungry, heavyweight twenty-somethings.
Düsseldorf wasn’t really what I expected it to be, but that probably had a lot to do with the timing and the weather. With some nice views over the city, a nice meal at a busy boardwalk and a night out in the bar street, I think the Rheine city can be a blast and when you’re really into shopping you can go all out too on any given day.