In a similar fashion to previous years I currently find myself once again blessed with numerous school holidays and fully intend to make the most of them. As a result, just four weeks into term I found myself on a flight to Germany for a long weekend at the beginning of November.
In a similar fashion to my trip to Belgium earlier this year when I visited Brussels, Bruges and Gent in the space of two days, I aimed to cram as much as I could into three nights. The first stop was Dusseldorf as that was the cheapest flight out of Bilbao airport and I arrived in the city at around 5pm, full of a head-cold and one sausage down before I’d even left the airport.
As per usual there was very little planned in advance so I left it all to Wikitravel and highlighted a few things to do and see that evening whilst on the train from the airport into the city. On the topic of the airport, you can’t go wrong at €2.80 for the 12 minute journey between the airport and Dusseldorf Hauptbahnhof Station which, in typically efficient German fashion, left bang on the dot!
The ride into the city also reminded me of my Belgium trip as I arrived in a very rainy and grey city. Top tip: don’t plan a city break with me if you like good weather!
I made it to my hotel via a quick stop at a pharmacy for some cold meds and the first thing I noticed was the unusually high proportion of sex and erotic shops on the short walk. Seems the Germans love their sex. I dropped my bags, gave my phone a quick charge and headed out to the Altstadt (Old Town) to make the most of my one night in the city.
It was a national holiday, so the idea of one square kilometre containing over 260 bars sounded like the best use of my time.
It was a case of just wandering around and stumbling into whichever watering hole took my fancy and I opted for Uerige to start the night. I’d heard of places serving the local Altbier where you just get them brought to your table as soon as you’ve finished the previous drink and this was one such place. In fact, my first beer came to the table without even being ordered. I was in my kind of place!
The way it works is that they keep a tab of how much you’ve had by marking it on your beer mat, which I can’t help but think would be open to all sorts of abuse in England.
I was getting peckish and after talking to a few locals at the table next to me they recommended the goulash which was also marked on my beer mat. The night was underway! That said I quickly regretted my decision when I saw some of the more expensive stuff being dished out. The pork knuckle in particular made me weak at the knees!
The same people also recommended a nearby place specialising in a local spirit called Killepitsch. Unfortunately it was due to close half an hour later, but in hindsight that might have been a good thing as the local Altbier was going down an absolute treat. It’s said that there is a huge rivalry between this and Cologne’s speciality beer – guess where I was heading the next day! I can never be accused of not embracing the culture.
My new friends made tracks after recommending me a few more similar establishments so I put away one final beer and followed their advice. Five beers and a pot of goulash set me back less than €20 so no complaints from me there!
Unfortunately due to it being a rainy night in November my options were more limited and apparently it’s a must-visit in the summer as there are plenty more bars on the banks of the Rhine. One to bear in mind.
As it happened it turned out the aforementioned Killepitsch place wasn’t closed – just the gift shop next to it – so I opted for a quick stomach warmer in there. It tasted like a slightly less painful Jagermeister, for what it’s worth. The bar itself was cool though and certainly worth a visit. It was tiny and had a nice warm atmosphere, a bit of a throwback to a time before I was born!
I headed on towards another recommendation from the people in the last bar and headed to Hausbrauerei Zum Schlussel.
I put back a couple of beers here but truth be told it was very similar to the last place. Maybe these bier hauses are a bit like temples in Asia in the sense that once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, especially on a Thursday night!
In my aimless wandering I stumbled upon a street which appeared to have three and perhaps four Irish bars in a row which seemed a little bizarre. I resisted temptation however and headed down to the riverbank to see what it was all about before everything closed down for the night.
To be honest, there wasn’t a great deal as I was told. There was a big wheel, a tower of sorts and some bars under cover but not enough to tempt me as I had a big day in the morning. Ah well, nothing ventured nothing gained!
The next morning consisted of breakfast and quickly seeing the city in the daylight before moving on to my next stop.
I opted for a bite to eat at Cafe Knulle and took a gamble on the entirely German menu. What greeted me a few minutes later was a plate of cheese, various meats and bread. Perfect.
I took a walk to the Media Harbour area of the city which is apparently a quite new and up and coming district. Unfortunately it seemed like it’s still very much in the development phase and felt a little unfinished as there wasn’t a great deal to see and it reminded me a little of Odaiba in Tokyo.
Still, it was a nice place for a quick wander and led me to the bank of the river which was the place I wanted to be to walk back towards the Aldstadt where I’d been the previous night.
I took a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Rhine (how romantic) and it was interesting to see that the desolate riverside bars and eateries from the night before were a hive of buzzing activity during the day. I can only imagine what it’s like in the summer!
There was the opportunity to visit a few museums and galleries but as I’ve said many times in the past I often feel I don’t get my money’s worth in such places as I rush my way around them without taking much in. Instead I made my way towards the train station made my way towards my next destination: Cologne!