I spent most of August in Germany, teaching some school workshops and going to Documenta art fair along the way. My first assignment was in rural Nordrhein-Westfalen. The agency has a tendency to book you on flights at brutal times early on a Sunday, so instead I booked my own flight to Cologne on a Friday evening, and claimed it back off them. I have been to Cologne loads of times, and my colleagues were flying into Düsseldorf, which I had never visited. So I decided to stay in Düsseldorf, do a bit of sightseeing, and then meet up with the others before heading to the Sauerland. (A delayed flight and the questionable joy of rural DB trains on Sundays meant that that turned out to be a bit more complicated than planned, but everyone got there in the end).
I can’t say I knew much about Düsseldorf. It’s in the Rheinland, the most densely populated part of Germany, it’s a rich place with a big financial industry, Kraftwerk come from there, they say isch rather than ich (check out Kraftwerk’s Neonlischt), and they have an intense rivalry with their better-looking and more famous neighbour Cologne (to the extent of selling postcards everywhere saying “Düsseldorf statt Köln”- Düsseldorf instead of Cologne. Nice try Düsseldorf).
The centre of Düsseldorf is very posh- the Königsallee is full of expensive designer shops, and there are lots of expensive restaurants and gleaming modern corporate headquarters. It wasn’t really my thing. There are a surprising number of Japanese restaurants too- which I did avail myself of. There was cool looking modern art museum, but I got there too late for it to be worth paying to get in. The rest of the city isn’t quite so gleaming though, just kind of bog-standard Germany, and I stayed in quite a nice hotel for €30. There were a weirdly high number of stag and hen-dos/exam celebration groups in town too. There was an annoying group of Bavarian boys in lederhosen at my hotel. The sarcastic manager pointed them out to me and said “look, there’s some Bavarians in their famous sexy lederhosen. As a free gift from the hotel, you can pick one. None of their mothers will mind”. I declined.