Part of my 2011 European travel adventures
Düsseldorf, the capital of the German bundesland North Rhine-Westphalia, could be well labeled as Germany's largest village. The name consists of two words, Düssel (a name of a small river) and dorf (meaning village in German). This previously small village near the river Düssel is today one of Germany's biggest cities stretching along the river Rhine. The city is famous for it's trade fair (Messe) and being a hub for Far Eastern companies, especially Japanese, who have here its biggest community in Germany. In addition, Düsseldorf is one of Germany's media centers, has a famous carnival, a very large airport and lots of shopping areas. Most notable landmark is the 240 meters tall Rhine Tower.
1. My impression of Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf would not be my favorite German city. I'm not too fond of the whole Rhine-Ruhr area, which is the biggest urban area in Germany - with over 12 million people. There are so many cities virtually sticking together and Düsseldorf is one of them. The population density is just overwhelming. It's already hard for me in Taipei, but fortunately it's a compact city with a chessboard layout, so it's easier to comprehend. The Rhine-Ruhr area is huge and scattered all over the place. I've been in Düsseldorf twice so far and I still feel I haven't understood, where the city stands among other cities in the area. Compared to Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg, it looks like a small town. There are no real historic landmarks, there is no medieval soul in this city, only in parts I have felt it. On the other hand, it's full of boring generic buildings from the times of West Germany. There are few architectural gems from the 21st century, but they seem very incoherent - they stick out like glassy mushrooms. It doesn't seem to me, that there is a comprehensive plan about in which direction the city wants to go in the near future, but maybe I'm completely wrong. It's just my shallow impression. Another thing I don't like is the public transportation: It's not friendly to outsiders, who come to visit for the first time. There is little explanation, which ticket you need for train or bus. I bought several tickets to the same area and paid different prices. Luckily I wasn't checked, because I was completely clueless about whether I did the right thing. Sure, you can say it's my fault, but then again, it was a piece of cake for me to get used to Hamburg's public transportation. The third thing, that makes Düsseldorf overwhelming for me is the population mix. There were several cases, where people spoke bad German or no German at all. In the evening, I saw a lot of obscure people and a bunch of drunks roaming around. It's hard to get used to this after living in Taipei for so long, but I surely remember this reality from the life back in Slovenia. The city surely has a diverse population, but it's something I'm not used to, not from Slovenia and certainly not from Taiwan. I was wondering, if this is functioning well. Even more so, I was wondering, why so many Japanese settle in this city. Why of all the German cities they choose デュッセルドルフ? What does it make so interesting for them to be here in such great numbers? I've no idea. Düsseldorf gave me more questions than answers this time, but maybe one day I'm lucky enough to meet someone, who will explain everything to me.
2. My photos of Düsseldorf
See my photos from an afternoon walk few days ago:
And then some images from Düsseldorf's main station or Hauptbahnhof:
A day before I had the pleasure to go on top the Rheinturm or Rhine Tower.
3. Düsseldorf in conclusion
I'm still somewhat trying to figure out, what this city is about. There are some nice spots, some cozy cafés with very friendly people. There are a lot of shopping malls, posh streets with branded goods and upscale restaurants. But all in all, I would not choose to travel here. I feel that most foreign visitors come to Düsseldorf, because they have no choice - it must be related to business like in my case or they know someone from here. Neverthe less, I'd still prefer to stay in Düsseldorf instead of Frankfurt, so in case you want to fly to Germany, the Düsseldorf Airport could be a great alternative to Frankfurt for you.