New to Dusseldorf
As my ICE train hurls toward its destination I watch the Porsches and BMWs on the Autobahn fade into the distance. The slight aroma of fresh brewed coffee combined with the warm morning sun and atmosphere of a new day beginning in this foreign land becomes almost too much to comprehend.
This is no ordinary moment, no ordinary train ride, for this is the moment when the realization of what is happening around me becomes fully apparent. This is my new home. Literally overnight everything and everyone I have ever known is left on the other side of the world. The anticipation, the planning, the excitement, the joys, the stress, the fears, the doubts, the waiting, the goodbyes, is all for this moment. This is why we travel. This is the moment when we stop to breathe in our surroundings and the magnitude of our differences and similarities as human beings comes rushing in. You realize instantly your comfort zone is shattered, gone, left thousands of miles away. Your senses are over loaded within minutes, your mind is operating at the speed of light, you are stressed, fatigued, but so incredibly alive. Every moment you want to slow down, capture it in all its detail, mystery and beauty. As hard as I try, I cannot take this moment anymore. My senses have become numb, the fatigue and jet lag taking its toll, and I drift into another state somewhere between consciousness and sleep.
The train jolts me back into consciousness as it switches tracks preparing for arrival. Although I have no idea where exactly I am, I instantly get the feeling of being home. A minute later my thoughts are confirmed by the white signs with black ink reading “Düsseldorf Hbf.” All I can do is grin from ear to ear. From the minute I step off the train and onto the platform, I feel this where I belong.
The city of Düsseldorf has a unique quality very rare in most cities. It has the ability to instantly pull you in, entice you, comfort you, and then overwhelms you all while leaving you craving more. A quick glance through any guide book will leave you with the impression a traveler can “see” the city within a few days. At best a few pages are dedicated to Dusseldorf. While true you can probably see the major tourist draws within a few days, it is everything else you will experience while in this wonderful city that will leave you craving more.
Düsseldorf might just be the most underrated city in all of Europe. Often thought of as an industrial city with not much to offer culturally, this could not be farther from the truth. The city is overflowing with unique art exhibitions, music halls, jazz bars, and events that range from international trade fairs to the world famous Carnival. As if all that is not enough to satisfy your cultural desires, Amsterdam is just 2 hours away, and Brussels about 3.
The extremes of human existence are very alive and well in this city. A stroll down the world famous “Ko” will not only entertain your wallet, or your husbands, but leave you with a moral debate as to what defines needs and wants. The mix of high end retail stores on one side, banking giants on the other, multi-millionaires, excessive wealth, beggars, and homeless, all on a single beautiful boulevard is a truly fascinating spectacle to see.
Many transport options are available for discovering Düsseldorf, but none can come close to the efficiency and intimacy of exploring the city by bicycle. On a warm sunny afternoon, start on the north end of the Rhine Park, cycle down along the gorgeous Promenade, circle around the base of the Rhine Tower, catch a glimpse of the surreal architecture of the harbor, head back up town to the Altstadt for a refreshing Alt Bier, and you may never want to leave. I know I don’t, and I am proud to call Düsseldorf my new home.