The second we stepped out of the train station in Düsseldorf around 4 pm, we immediately felt a different vibe than Cologne, despite only being 30 minutes away. A new friend from the bar the night before suggested we make a visit, so we arrived with expectations to fill, yet were not sure what to expect. I had been curious about the town ever since speaking to an au pair family there before I decided to move to Karlsruhe. It was quiet and felt almost like a deserted downtown in an American city. Since arriving on a whim, we stepped into the nearest Burger King for some free WiFi. After madly checking up on our Instagram feeds, we did a little Wikitravel research and figured out how to walk to the old town and to the riverfront.
The city didn’t fare well during WWII, so it is mostly modern but still beautiful. The old town was rebuilt to its prewar look and the needle, called the Rhien Tower, situated on the river provides a memorable landmark in the city. The town is famous for its Altbier, a darker beer. Don’t get confused and order a Kölsch, the famous brew in Cologne, in this city!
On our walk into the old town, we spotted dozens of Japanese restaurants. We would have been super confused had the wiki not filled us in on the large Japanese population in the city. It was a Sunday, and as Germany tends to do on Sundays, much of the city was shut down, which really contributed to the deserted feeling. That was until we neared Koenigsallee closer to the Old Town. Koenigsallee is normally the shopping street, but on Carnival Sunday, it turns into one massive outdoor party. It immediately became apparent that we’d just missed something. We were salmon swimming upstream against a river of drunk, tired people in costume. We continued up current and encountered Koenigsallee and the confetti filled streets. The once large crowd left only small groups still celebrating. After grabbing some Glühwein to warm our frozen bodies, we peopled watched and imagined the possibilities of what had just occurred on this apparent party street and gave ourselves a kick for not making it earlier. That was until we kept on trekking…
Once we made it to the Altstadt (old town), it turned out we hadn’t missed a thing. The party just moved right down into the Altstadt, which is often called “the longest bar in the world” due to its high concentration of bars and pubs. Here, the streets were filled, shoulder to shoulder with people partying and moving in and out of the various bars. Music played throughout the streets, while people celebrated the year’s “fifth season” with friends. We were sure to not miss the sun setting over the Rhine, it was an incredible sight – one I’d love to see again!
Have you been to any of the cities in the German Rheinland area?