Dusseldorf ~ First Impressions
March 5, 2014
Our trip across the pond went really well. Lulu was amazing - she's a better traveler than I am by far. No need whatsoever for the happy pills the Vet gave us, she basically curled up on Richards lap and hardly moved for the whole 10 hours. The flight attendants were even a bit startled when they came by as she was so quiet they would forget she was even on the flight!
Our flight brought us to Frankfurt on a slightly rainy Sunday afternoon and we then rode by train to our new home in Dusseldorf. The apartment manager was waiting on the sidewalk when we arrived and was warm and accommodating. His eyes were like saucers as he watched our luggage come out of the taxi though ... so much for thinking I had done a really good job letting go and cutting back on what I though I needed to bring. I suddenly found myself feeling a little embarrassed and like the epitome of a stereotypical American traveler.
I love, love, love our new apartment. I don't love that it is on the 4th floor and there is no elevator. I'm pretty sure Richard wasn't loving it either that first day as he dragged all that luggage up 4 full flights of stairs, but finding the good wherever I possibly can I am working on appreciating the workout I get each day as I take Lu out for her walk 3 times a day. No need for a stair-master... I am the stair-master!
But back to our place... it's truly perfect. It's a completely remodeled penthouse apartment that feels a little like living in an Ikea showroom. Very modern with cool skylight windows and a huge bathtub, we have everything we need to be comfortable but not more. What I love most though is the location and our neighborhood.
The local train runs right past our front door which definitely makes getting where we want to go easy. Our apartment is on the top floor of the 2nd building from the left in this picture - the one with the small balcony. The Church you see at the end of the street, The Church of St. Martin, has lovely old fashioned Church bells that ring 3 times each day.
Although he's not there much Richard's office is a block away ...
And the Rhine River is just a 5 minute walk. It has a beautiful walking promenade with plenty of cool shops and cafes. I found this sweet little place called The Loft my first day out on my own (Richard was already off to London on day 1 ...). A steamy hot chai, Thai yellow curry and finding out that dogs (hund in German) are actually welcome in the cafes and restaurants here ... doesn't get better than that for a weary traveler!
One of the elements that Richard and I have always enjoyed and wanted for our home is what we call "walkability". We actually rate homes we've looked at on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of it's walkability. So far every home we've lived in has come in at "0" because we've simply made other choices.
But this apartment is a definite 10 ... everything we could want or need is within walking distance. Cafe's, restaurants, cool little shops, grocery stores including a "Bio" store which means organic, and did I mention the lactose and gluten free (gluten frei in German) all natural frozen yogurt store that just opened a block from our house? Literally everything we need is just outside our door.
Something I noticed right away about Dusseldorf is that it is very quiet for such a large city. When you walk outside there is a gentle hum rather than the frenetic roar that you often experience in a city this size (600,000 people) and everything just seems to flow and move along as it's supposed to. Richard finds a little sleepy or lacking energy. I find it extremely peaceful and an easy city to be in.
Something else I noticed right away is how friendly the people are. Not that I expected them to be unfriendly, I just didn't expect go out of your way, are you lost or can I help you find something kind of friendly, which is what we've experienced almost daily. The more I travel the more I realize this is pretty much true everywhere you go. People are inherently kind, good, and want to be of service when they can. I really like knowing that and I think seeing that truth wherever I go is one of the things I love the most about traveling and why I return to it again and again.
A few final tidbits about Dusseldorf .....
From what I've read Dusseldorf was bombed severely during the war and about 80 to 90% leveled so it doesn't have as many historic buildings as other cities in Germany, but the result is an interesting mix of old and new. There is some amazingly beautiful postmodern architecture at the Media Harbor, which is located on the Rhine River and home to various advertising, film & video, fashion, publishing, and technology businesses. Many of the old industrial factories and warehouses that were once in this area are now being replaced with new, architecturally spectacular buildings.
A few of my favorites are shown below.
For more information on the Media Harbor click here:
Another amazing building near the Media Harbor is the home to Richards office, the Stradttor, which features a 15-story atrium and double-facades.
And I can't resist sharing this whimsical office building which is on the river front promenade.
Right now it is really cold in Germany. Putting on all the layers of clothes I need just to get Lulu and I out the door is quite a process. One of the things I find really endearing as I walk through our neighborhood is that the locals don't let the weather stop them from doing any of the things they like to do. Street cafés and sitting outdoors with good friends, good food and a hot cuppa something is favorite pastime here, so do they let the cold weather stop them? Nicht! They just wrap up in the blankets you'll see draped over the outdoor seating which line the streets of every neighborhood.
Bikes ... yep ... they're everywhere you go. Some are sturdy and practical however many of them are brightly colored or uniquely adorned in one way or another. The German people definitely have a whimsical side and sense of humor that I didn't expect. We have visions of Lulu riding in basket or little side car with her pink goggles on. Oh yeah ... I almost forgot. Those goggles flew out the window (at her doing) on street corner somewhere in Nevada City.
Graffiti ... there's lots of that too. But I find it beautiful. For the most part it feels like the intention is to express or create and it seems to fit in perfectly.
My first impressions are that Dusseldorf is a beautiful and vibrant city with a definite and unexpected sense of whimsy. The people who live here seem to enjoy life in a simple way and know how to have a good time.
Here are a few more of my favorite pictures from our neighborhood for you to enjoy.
Until next time!
XOXO, from me and lu