Tag Archives: Dusseldorf

Day 28 – Dusseldorf to Bochum. Surprisingly greener than expected

The previous evening, I had to say a farewell to Michael as he started work at a very early our in the morning the next day.

I’d like to thank him once again for being a fantastic friend, who’s made my stay very comfortable, entertaining at times and being a ‘sponsor’ paying for dinner, and ofcourse the many beers (altbier, alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties) which got consumed over the weekend. He’s helped finding me a German SIM, and arranged to pick up a replacement solarpanel package from the United States. If I hadn’t mentioned, we met unexpectantly two years ago on my way to Istanbul and have remained friends via the power of the internet. I hope to visit sometime in the future – if he’s reading this.

I lugged all my luggage down the few flights of stairs and loaded everything. I was on my way or nearly after picking up a few supplies for the day from Aldi – a minimal expenditure of 2 euros – not too shabby. I was on my way towards Bochum (near Essen).

The day started of fantastic with blue skies and most importantly no wind at all. The rickshaw was cutting through the road like warm butter and it was dream like; at times I was travelling at 10mph (16km/h). The roads went through residential areas but was surrounded by forest making it a plesant ride.

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I arrived in Rattingen, a small town. I went up a street to find a crowd of people huddled around a camera – getting closer I started to see it was a film set. I passed through the crowd, everyone staring, smiling or laughing. It felt nice being odd for once, and I replied with a smile. The town was plesant but had very little to see and wanted to make most the easy cycling.

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I conintued through dense forest of pine trees, with the surrounding carpeted with fernsand other greenery that contrasted against the autumn colours of some trees.

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The road was noticeably hillier in places, but wasn’t too difficult or tiring. I eventually came to steep slope (8%) downwards and marvelled at an easy ride for once. It had hair-pin turns and was a delight to steer a 100kg laden rickshaw around those tight corners, more satisfying than a bike is.

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I eventually came to a nice river – the Ruhr and had a brief dinner of bread and Quark – a fatty dairy product with a consistency between cottage cheese and cream.

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It was fairly nice in the sun. I kept moving to later find a fairly long ascent back up the valley towards Essen. Gladly it wasn’t too steep but with the temperature soon became sweaty work and I was drinking alot of water to compensate. I had to laugh at other cyclists who were struggling with that hill. The great merit of a rickshaw is that on hills like that I can say I never got off. I sat on the saddle and took advantage of three wheels.

I reached the top drenched, but satisfied. Towards Bochum was fairly straightfoward with a few gentle slopes. Along the way I cycled along the river over some industrial looking bridges.

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I arrived in Bochum. I walked around for a bit, some people (mostly children) gleamed with interest at the unusual sight of a rickshaw.

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I went for a quick coffee and later met up with another Warmshowers host Ehsan who lived near the University. Unfortunatly he was in a rush so he had to take the car and was going to escort me to his home. Following a car for 6km in a rickshaw was quite funny. There were many points where he had to wait for me to catchup, especially hilly bits nearer the University. Soon we got to his home. He had taken his landlady who remarked I was very brave, and wished me a gute reise. We took everything up stairs and I took the oppportunity for a shower.

Ehsan is an Iranian student, and has been living in Germany for 14 months. It was fantastic to learn abit more about his country as their is a slight shroud of mystery covering Iran.

After having our tea we went into town to try some Persian cuisine – something I have never tried. The cafe-owners Cafe Safran had specially prepared a meal for our arrival – Chicken in a slightly sweet spicy sauce made using pomegranite. The cafe-owners showed a warm welcome that is observed in Iran.

The meal was delicious and it was pleasant an made a very nice change. We talked abit more about our studies at University – he was working with lasers in Hannover as part of is Engineering masters an just asked abit about what I planned to do after my world rickshaw trip – this I couldn’t answer.

Finishing our meal, we departed with some kind words from the cafe owner – Mahmoud.

That evening we looked over a map of Iran and he helped instruct a route on Iran and pointed out things to be careful – in particular exchanging money, narrow roads and the many mountains in Iran that would make my journey even more difficult. It was useful knowledge to have as I admit my knowledge or Iran was patchy. In generalm that evening, we talked about the development of the country and the hope he has for progress with the new President Rouhani, who was elected around two months ago. Similarily he explained the behaviour and customs of people including their generosity and what to expect as a cyclist visiting small towns or villages and being invited as a guest into their homes.

The day finished relatively early as we took a good chance to recover some sleep!

Day 27: Final day in Dusseldorf

So once again I’m blogging in a field – I have no idea where because I was cycling in the dark for around an hour – yes I do have bike lights and they work quite well. Please bare with me, as I have had a few days to catchup on and typing on the back of a rickshaw makes things slightly slower.f

I spent Sunday with my friend Michael. Being a day of rest – the day was pretty easy. I made most of the lie-in opportunity, just as luxuirous as a shower nowadays. Later at 1pm we were later scheduled to meet someone at a cafe, who after referall was interesting in hearing more of my bizarre but interesting story.

We took the rickshaw out once again and went to a small cafe just over the nearby railway-line. I was most surpised how easy it was with just one passengers – I don’t think I emphasised that enough previously. We got to the cafe and I met Eva-Melina. She’s a online journalist professionally, but keeps her own blog as a form of exhibition of her work.

The most interesting thing about her blog – ingloriousplastics.wordpress.com was how she attempted to avoid using bought plastic for Lent – what originally transpired as a tradition, she made the effort to try this and suceeded. It as interesting to get questions from all angles which is always pleasant now to share as I become further confident with what I’m doing. We shared our points on journalism in general and it was interesting how things came together. Later she promised to write an article in German, and shared her homemade business cards.

We finally finished our coffees and I took her the very short journey home down the road – she seemed quite thrilled with the experience; I was because of the fact it was downhill for once! We took a photo and said our farewells!

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The afternoon was easy going. Later in the evening we went to a language meetup where individuals can practice talking in another (or own) language. It’s something I’d never been to, but nothing ventured is nothing gained. Taking the rickshaw 1km in the dark was quite fun especially having a professional navigator – Michael.

The meeting was quite slow in the beginning as we arrived late, but eventually we started talking to a group towards the end. We made the announcement of what I was doing and then a french woman, exclaimed ‘are you serious, I don’t believe you!’. I replied – “go and check the window”. She went to have a look and came back with quite a shock at the truth of this. In the end we talked about many things, and they all wished me well and good luck on my epic journey.

On our journey home, we took one of the people we met (Klaus I believe) to his car down the road – he enjoyed the experience or atleast the fact it saved his legs.

That was the evening over, it was pleasant experience although I commented how difficult it might be for a new individual.

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.