48 hrs in Düsseldorf

I know you don't want to hear anything about Christmas anymore but I am running behind on blogposts! Last month I started the whole Christmas extravaganza with a visit to Düsseldorf. A city where there is not only one but six Christmas markets spread all over the old part of the city. Like I did this summer with his brother, I took my other nephew on a city trip, just the two of us. He loves architecture and at thirteen he is already a keen amateur photographer. He made all the photos you see in this blogpost, I am a very proud auntie! He also wanted to visit a Christmas market and looking for a place that has both on offer and is not too far away we ended up with a visit to Düsseldorf. It is only a three hour bus drive from Antwerp and the bus got thumbs up from the nephew because there was free wifi! 

Düsseldorf is of course more than just Christmas markets. There is the old part of the town, with city squares and a town hall straight out of a Grimm's brother fairytale, but there is also the postmodern architecture hotspot Mediahaven. The two parts are linked by a twenty minute walk along the impressive Rhine river. A walk we did several times that weekend, with my nephew clicking away with the camera. 

We stayed in the Mediahaven area at the nice Radisson Blu hotel, which might have kept a touch of the nineties just a bit too much but was very welcoming and all we wished for. A lounge with comfy sofas and cosy fire flames dancing, a great room and a breakfast buffet that met our high expectations (smoothies, pancakes, muffins, pastries, the whole lot!). The hotel is just a few steps from the iconic Frank Gehry buildings 'neuer zollhof'. Three buildings in a row, one in plaster, one in brick and one all shiny. All have curved walls and show the architect's expertise. It is especially the twisting mirrored walls that are fascinating to look at and a real eye-catcher in this urban harbour. Inside are flats and offices but also a new restaurant. It looked a bit too posh for our auntie-nephew weekend, but if you like a nicely grilled steak, I heard Rocca is the place to go to. 

We had lunch across the road from the wave walled house at the hip and trendy Curry. Real German bratwurst with fries, a fizzy apple juice (almdudler) for the nephew and a local lager for me. It was the first of many greasy sins that day. Oh well, it is only Christmas time once a year! 

There are other nice and relatively cheap places in Hammerstrasse to eat at with children. From burgers (Bob & Mary) and pizza's to 'brauhauser' with German pub food. All looked like recently opened restaurants, a trendy street. We had dinner at Vapiano, where you choose Italian inspired food from different buffet stations and you get a 'credit card' to pay with at the end. 

The other landmark building in Düsseldorf is the Rheintrum. You can see this 240,5 meter high broadcasting tower from almost everywhere. It is also quite impressive at night all lit up in blue and purple shades (see my Instagram photos) On the top is a restaurant and bar with 360° panoramic view, a great tourist attraction, but we stayed on the ground this time and looked up high. 
The walk along the Rhine river is really nice, it is like a promenade with joggers, cyclists, people walking their dogs and the big ferris wheel in the distance. 
When you go to Düsseldorf take some good walking shoes, by foot is the best way to discover the city. Also for the keen shopper, you will need heels to walk in. There is a great choice of shopping streets but the best one is the Köningsallee (or Kö als locals call it). These are two long tree-lined streets with a canal in the middle, on both sides of the canal are luxury shops. With the Christmas light hanging in the trees and reflecting in the canal water this was like a fairytale. 

Düsseldorf is a great place to spot funny and arty symbols. Like the photo above which was taken at Mediahaven. Colourful figures climbing the building like geckos.  The city's symbol is a cartwheeling boy that you can see here and there in different shapes on streets and houses. Everywhere around the old part are advertising pilars with life-size human statues on top. It became a game to be the first to notice them in a street. Great fun with statue hunting! The statues are the Düsseldorf Stylites, an art project by artist Christoph Pöggele. There are nine spread all over the city, I think we saw five this time.

Along the Rhine promenade is an underground museum: KIT, Kunst im Tunnel. There are temporary exhibitions, all on contemporary art. Quite an experience to see, although when we were there the exhibition was a bit dull, I guess you must be lucky with what is on. There is a nice museum café place above ground, which is perfect to watch the people on the promenade but what is special there is the free book kiosk. You can bring your second-hand books and leave them for other people to read. When we passed it there were two couples leafing through the books and taking one home to read. What a great idea and how nice to see that the kiosk was still intact, I guess in lots of places this would have broken glass and rusty doors because of vandalism, but not here. It made me like Düsseldorf. 
A ten minute walk from the Kunst im Tunnel is the K21 museum: an impressive Downtown Abbey style building, Ständehaus, with inside a glass dome roof and surrounded by a park to stroll in. In the old town centre is the K20 Grabeplatz museum with all the big names of twentieth century art history. We didn't have enough time to visit this museum but we did do a mini photoshoot the two of us in front of Paul Klee's colourful wall in the inner courtyard. And then we headed back to the bus, but I can only say I would love to go again!

Radisson Blu
Hammerstrasse 23

Food around Mediahaven:
Rocca Grill restaurant: www.gehrys.de
Vapiano Italian buffet restaurant
Bob & Mary burgers restaurant: www.bobmary.de
Curry bratwurst (opposite Gehry buildings) www.curry-deutschland.de

Christmas market food in Düsseldorf:
Reibekuchen: Rösti type potato cakes served with applesauce
Flammeküchen: pizza without the tomato sauce, different toppings
Lebkuchen: like gingerbread 
Heisse Maroni: hot chestnuts

Coffee places:
Bernstein un Inbar: www.bernsteinundinbar.de
Kunst im Tunnel Caféwww.kunst-im-tunnel.de/kit-coffeebar.html
Bittersüss & Edelweisswww.bittersuess-edelweiss.de

To see next time: the Japanse area around Immermannstrasse, Düsseldorf has the third largest Japanese community. Lots of sushi places! 

For all Düsseldorf tourist info see their website

Gute Reise!

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