Day 25-26: Staying in Dusseldorf

During the night, it rained heavily – It was around 4:30AM and it was unexpected – I quickly had to cover a few things in the rickshaw from getting wet.

It was a slow morning and with little to eat, and I was not keen to move. I felt recovered from feeling exhausted the previous evening. I started reading the Lord of the Rings, so I spent a fair amount of time waking up to that. The rain was intermittent and made putting the tent a snappy affair when it briefly subsided.

Fortunately being an easy day, I could relish a slower pace. I found a small supermarket and bought dairy and bread. It seemed expensive but there was little I could do other than buy scrupiously and consisted of sour cream, garlic dip, baguette, cola and milk for the muesli. Suprisingly 3 euros doesn’t go far, atleast in this supermarket. I typcally allocate a budget of around £5 per day – in Europe, but with the fairly poor exchange rate and the apparent inflation it seemed expensive.

As I set off the rain spitted half-heartedly and from that I put on the rain cape with darker sky looming overhead. The ride was fairly straightforward and relaxing into the centre of Dusseldorf but the light rain didn’t help.

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I reached the centre or the Alte Stadt and finally I could relax. I won’t address what Dussledorf has to offer, but it’s a historic city that is a worthwhile visit if you are visiting this area of Germany.

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I toured around for a bit and found a place for a coffee to write up the blog entries. An old guy, with a coarse white beard, interrupted my thought and asked “What’s better coffee or the computer?” – obviously first in German. I answered “Coffee, without that, i’d proably cease to function and that makes a computer unusable.” A better quote from another friend – Yorik is “courage and coffee”. He had recently visited the Faroe Islands and expressed his frustration that many people are glued to electronic devices – tablets, phones, and even five year old children fail to interact with each other, consuming themselves on these appliances. I shut my laptop, as a resolution to that.

He was good to talk to and he often sat outside this particular Chibo coffee house, between the metro and tram station near Königsallee – a boulevard of wealth and made a point to observe the traffic of pedestrians flooding by, pulsating with the timetable of the trains.

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It was interesting to hear about the history of Dussledorf and the sprawl surrounding Essen, Dortmund. These were formally coal mining areas, and Dussledorf had been the administration town. I also found out that here holds the largest residence of Japanese inside Europe, with the migration created by Japanese businesses setting up during the 80s. The established Japanese here are a magnet for other Japanses and so have increased in size over the past decades.

It was interesting to hear also how each province is set to control their own education or schools – it was devised by the Allies after the second world war, to prevent the rise of one government behaving as Hitler did – brainwashing the youth. It’s interesting to hear this stuff and it’s something that I’d never think of asking.

Eventually I left and just roamed around the centre. I was asked a few times in German for a tour, but wanting to write my blogs, I didn’t really want to get interrupted. I have been pleased so far that I’ve had a more positive reaction that despite being infrequent at times has welcoming to receive.

I later met up with my friend Michael along the side of the Rhine. It was good to see him after two and a half years. We first met when I cycled along the river Rhine just by chance, when I was cycling towards Istanbul.

We decided to hang around and had a few of one of the Brauhaus – to mark my arrival or to sample the Altbeer. We tried Kürzer, who are young compared to the older Brauhauses here. Having parked up the rickshaw, we was welcomed by one of the barmmen, who took great interest in what I was doing. Later in the year he would be going to Burma, and invited me to come along if I managed to get there.

We decided to hang around to meet Andy, one of Micheal’s friends, who runs an English Language School in Dusseldorf. He had a lesson on, so we had to wait till 6pm. Andy, who is actually British retaining his stoke accent, has done many cycle tours in the past – his biggest is cycling through Mongolia, Russia to get to China way back, which was quite impressive.

Andy took great interest in my journey and had several questions and even a proposition for a route through Europe, this was further discussed over more Altbier including company from his King Charles Spaniel who likened the beer but soon became drowsy.

We eventually had to part, but it was good to see him actually in person than through the phone. We took the rickshaw back to Michael’s place and headed back out later. Riding a normal bike into town was like cutting through butter – remarkably easy. I couldn’t believe how busy it was that evening and the streets were filled with crowds, the bars overflowing with people from its doors, incredible in contrast to back home.

The next day we went for a sight seeeing tour and photoshoot around Dusseldorf and I would be the chauffeur. We headed around the ‘Medienhafen’ – Media Harbour with it’s modern architecture.

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Afterwards we went tow see a popular fleamarket that sold many wears – it seemed like a carboot on steroids. Amongst the enless aisles of stalls, they provided variety of German food to eat, drinks and in the central tent – filled with antiques, was a live jazz band. In our pursuit for a cheap second hand Brooks saddle, we came out empty handed.

We headed back towards the centre, passing a permanently stations Donor Kebap Van – “My Doner Gemüse”. I completly missed it since it was tooked well away but aparrently it was the best in town. They knew Michael and they couldn’t believe they saw a rickshaw.

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The Kebap was very filling and pretty tasty and was good fuel to get us home. The speedometer clocked in 12 Miles (nearly 20km). The experience was strange mainly because it didn’t feel too difficult, probably because there was no wind for a change.

Later we met Michael’s parents who had baked an Apple torte, which was very nice and although they didn’t speak much English they were very friendly and often we laughed at things.

The evening was quite different as we went to an old bread factory on the outskirts of Dusseldorf – called Weltkunstzimmer – they play a tactful wordplay on ‘Zimmer’ or room. It’s an indepentan organisation/charity that promotes artistic interest in music, art and photography. I didn’t really know what to expect but went along with it.

The rennovated bread factory was a surreal atmosphere and would provide an appropriate setting for something contemporary. In the end, the expectation was high but the music performed was disappointing – I try to be open to new things, but it fell way out of my musical scope. Not everything goes as planned, just like the world rickshaw taxi.

Later in the evening we decide to go back to the Altstadt and have a few beers. The city was even more busier than Friday and made moving around especially difficult. In the end I won’t say much more – it was an interesting night out.