Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Dusseldorf's an okay sort of place...

For a start, it's only about 50 minutes away from London Gatwick airport and then there's the fact that all the taxi drivers have top-of-the-range Mercedes and VWs. The trains arrive and leave on time and some of them have two decks, there's a decent tram system, which in many ways makes the taxi obsolete and yes, it's a good old place.
I disembarked from this train at Neuss, thinking I was David McCallum in 
a scene from The Great Escape. "Bartlett!"

What struck me most was the cleanliness. London is a dirty place. Dusseldorf is spotless and somebody here tells me that the quality of the clothes in the shops is better than on the other side of the Atlantic. Not that I'd notice stuff like that: I rarely buy clothes and I'd never vouch for the quality of anything I bought be it socks or a suit.

I'll be honest. I haven't had much time to get out and about sight-seeing. I'm on a business trip and there's no Bixi bikes like there were in Montreal. Also, it's dark outside. Remember, it's an hour ahead of the UK so it's darker in the evenings. When I went to Montreal we flew on a Thursday, did our business on the Friday and had the weekend free before I flew down to Atlanta. This time, I flew on a Monday, it's now Wednesday night and I've been working ever since I arrived. Not that working is a bad thing.

The weather here is roughly on a par with the UK. On the day I flew out there was less cloud in Germany than in the UK and it was a little warmer. Now there's a bite in the air, but it's still nicer, although I haven't checked on what the UK weather was like, but I'm guessing it's pretty poor – it has been all summer.

Yesterday I took a double decker train to Neuss, which is on the outskirts of Dusseldorf. Unfortunately, today I took the tram: big mistake. Yesterday I took the mainline train and it took me ten minutes. Today I was late for an appointment because I was all morning on the tram. I even messed up and took the wrong tram and then had to back track until I found the right one. Not good.

Aluminium lady by Bernd W Schmidt – it's very spooky and Schmidt
had a very firm handshake.
Back in Dusseldorf around 4pm and there was little time for anything. Now, having enjoyed dinner in the Schnellenburg Hotel on Rotterdamer Strasse (red wine, seabass) , I'm back at the computer typing this post.

I love travelling in Europe as, for some reason, I always imagine myself in The Bourne Identity or Leon or even The Great Escape. There's something about a European city that brings out the secret spy in me. I know, I'm a big kid, but because I've got a watch with a retro face that lights up at the press of a button, I consider myself to be a  spy carrying valuable microfilm. The reality is that I'm carrying nothing but a load of business cards and a copy of the magazine I'm writing for; still, I can dream, I always do.

When I got off the train from Dusseldorf Hbf to Neuss Hbf (Hbf stands for Haupftbahnhoff) I could have been David McCallum in that scene from The Great Escape when the Gestapo spot Bartlett and McCallum sets up a distraction to  help him escape. Later, one of the great lines from the film: "Your German is good. So also your French I hear. Your hands – up!"

During my travels, I met Bernd W. Schmidt-Pfeil who showed me some works of art he made out of aluminium. He once held an exhibition here in Dusseldorf entitled Aluminations. It's good stuff, if not a little spooky.


  1. mate- what sort of car did you get to replace the BMW?? seems you are a jet setter for sure now and need something of quality!

  2. Jet setter maybe, but I'm currently without a car and the two sides of my life are quite distinct: the job is very international, but it doesn't require (or provide) a car; my private life is where the car is needed for mundane things like the school run and shopping. We're almost there, but we don't need anything fancy, just something that works.