|10am Düsseldorf Christmas market|
On Friday, the bold adventurers left their respective work shifts and hopped on trains / planes / buses and powered our ways northwards to Düsseldorf!! Dom and Zara actually arrived on time, unpacked in the hostel and then sat in the Hbf McDonalds waiting for Joanne, but her train was delayed and she finally got into the Hbf at 01:44..
Our plan was basically to enjoy a fun-filled, slightly crazy weekend in a city together, and compare the starts of our Year Abroads.
Naturally we accidentally picked the hostel in the centre of the red light district, judging from the very adult and frankly outrageous stores and cinemas alongside.
That said, it was a decent enough hostel with a short 15 minute walk into the Altstadt and the edge of the Rhine, and the staff didn’t mind that we all turned up randomly and got the last person checked in at 02.20.
Saturday was spent discovering Düsseldorf city!
There were 7 different Christmas markets spread out across the city, and we sort of wandered around sampling the free stuff and exploring. Düsseldorf centre is fairly neat and has tonnes of trams everywhere.
The ‘Altstadt’ is basically all nice post-war renovations (thanks to the Allied bombings, oops) with some nice shops and fashionable streets.
|Selfie on the Rhine!|
|Chilling at the top!|
Out of the tourist sights we visited, of particular mention were the Mediahafen and the TV tower – the Rheinturm. The Mediahafen was described by someone on TripAdvisor as if all the buildings were designed by a drunk architect. I’d probably agree, but it does look quite cool!
The restaurant at the top of the Rheinturm has fantastic views across the Ruhrpott; lots of factories, lots of chimneys, and the Rhine cutting a broad and squiggly line through the landscape.
Dom, Zara and I went up in the late afternoon in time to watch the sunset, and then to sit in the restaurant and chill for a good hour, exchanges stories about daily life in our respective countries and speculating on life back in Southampton.
|MediaHafen is weird..|
Supper was found at a crowded pizzeria and then ambled back through the markets, acquiring a couple of glühweins (and their mugs!!) on the way 🙂
|Tiger and the Turtle|
On the Sunday, we decided to go train-hopping with our travelcards (lesson learnt from Riga clearly 😛 ) and see Essen and Duisberg. Neither of them are touristy, but we had an entertaining jolly around Duisberg, and especially up to the Turtle and Tiger Monument, and then went on to explore Essen in the rain.
The Tiger and the Turtle is the finest example of Duisberg’s tourism. It’s a really random metal frame which looks like a twisted railway thing, sitting on top of a slag heap 12km out from the centre, and it gives visitors the chance to lose their hats in strong winds, and gaze across the landscape to the various factories and cooling towers.
Incidentally, our S-Bahn from the Innenstadt was initially packed with football fans heading to Dortmund!
On our way back to the Hbf to get a train to Essen, we stopped off in the Weihnachtsbazaar and bought some currywurst!
Essen was rainy. And has a confusing Innenstadt layout. But seems fairly decent. We ended up taking a rather convoluted route to find the centre, but then found some more glühwein and a big fire stand in the Weihnachtsmarkt, which kept us warm. We decided that a comparable city in the UK would be Bracknell or Reading; perfectly good cities with everything necessary, but not filled with exciting sights or an awful lot of discoverable history. But of course, put the three of us in any city and we have fun!
We retrieved our bags from the hostel and had final farewell drinks in Düsseldorf Hbf. Zara left first; her flight back to Salzburg at 19:30 meant getting a train to the airport at 17:45. My train back south to Lörrach left 45mins later, and Dom sat in the cafe for three further hours, studiously completing his YARP Progress Report.