About 2 hours west of Bielefeld, in the heart of Germany’s Ruhrgebiet, is the city of Düsseldorf. The city is an industrial powerhouse that sprawls the banks of the Rhine river and is the seat of North-Rhine Westphalia’s government.
I spent the better part of the week in a suburb of the city, speaking English with 7th graders. In my free time, I explored the city, went to the Kunstpalast and shuffled through exhibits. It was nice just going about and doing my own thing. It’s been a while since I had been away from home and out of Bielefeld. A global pandemic really puts a damper on things, huh?
Düsseldorf is a beautiful mix of old and new, with tall glass buildings butted up against medieval neighborhoods. The city is sprawling; the neighborhood I stayed in (Gerresheim), was a 20 minute tram ride from downtown. While most of my trip I spent inside a classroom, the time I had for myself I used visiting art museums (It was bonkers hot and the only place I knew would have AC was the museum). The museums were practically empty-definitely not the crowded places I remember from my last museum visits! I guess that’s what you get when you visit during an important football match.
A River Runs Through It
I enjoyed walking along the Rhine, and watching the city come alive (then subsequently die) during the Euro 2020 England vs. Germany match. Little kiosks and walk-up food stalls scattered the banks of the river and the closer it got to the game, the more people showed up, crowding small tables, backs to the water as they kept an eye on the TV.
Food in Düsseldorf is amazing. The city has the largest asian population in Germany and it shows. I went for Vietnamese and Chinese and was not disappointed. The city is also famous for Altbier, a frothy, hoppy ale traditionally brewed in the region and served in a stout cylindrical glass.
The city was loud and busy, and the river gave it an almost Los Angeles feel (in a good way).
On the other side of the river, the grassy banks are dotted by sheep, the city’s alternative to lawnmowers. You can take day cruises or commuter boats up and down the river and enjoy a view of the city from the water.
Small Big City
For a small-town feel in the big city, visit the Altstadt. Narrow cobbled streets and centuries-old buildings wind through the city and butt up against the modern Königsallee (Düsseldorf’s major shopping district-they have a Versace Kids store. Why?).
In the center of the Alstadt is the Carlsplatz market, which, like London’s Covent Garden, is open daily and is a bit on the posh side, but has the best variety of fresh foods and flowers in the city. The market also features outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Düsseldorf has a little bit of everything that makes Germany so great.
Germany has experienced a catastrophic summer, with extreme flooding that killed nearly 200 people and severely damaged towns. If you would like to help flood victims, visit German Red Cross.