Thursday, November 13, 2008

Über Dusseldorf

NOW I know where Jerry Springer got his tv studio set from :)
Landschaftspark, Duisburg-Nord, Rhineland.
Post-industrial, apocalyptic Disneyland, without the rides. Or the cheesy grins.

flickr photo link: <Dusseldorf, 08-09 Nov 08>
08 Nov 08 FR2177 DUB/NRN 0915/1200
10 Nov 08 FR2176 NRN/DUB 0700/0745
As far as I can remember, I've never driven a Mini Cooper before. Especially not the new Mini Cooper, now lovingly crafted by BMW but faithful to the original British designs including the huge round dashboard instruments, etc. The boot is still tiny, but the Mini goes very fast on the Autobahn, although I was too gutless to take it much beyond 140kph. Especially when overtaking trucks full of chemicals as we headed south through the industrial Ruhr/North Rhine area towards Dusseldorf. Damn, it even has a 6 speed gearbox! The Garmin lady was onboard too, telling us to "exit left and stay left", or even "exit left, keep left and turn right"... Huh? She was also of no help when a small deer darted across the road near the airport, with shooters in hi-vis jackets in hot pursuit. Maybe that deer lived another day. And on Monday morning, Clare seemed almost willing to follow the Garmin lady into a 4 lane section of one way Autobahn traffic, the wrong way. Lucky I was driving :)
So we had a quick weekend in Germany to see our friends Gerald & Sandra, before we leave Europe (we'll have to call this "Clare & Joe's Farewell Europe Tour 2008"). Faultless & UBER CHEAP flights from Dublin to Dusseldorf-Weeze with Ryanair, Mini Cooper from Sixt Rentals, Uber German design at every turn, and of course brillliant food. Dusseldorf is a great city - smart & stylish, incredibly liveable, reasonably priced in many respects, nice places to walk & visit, and in the heart of Europe. On Saturday afternoon we checked out Landschaftspark, Duisberg-Nord - 200 hectares of industrial wasteland (ex chemical plant, glassworks, ironworks, etc.) We have some photos on flickr, and will add more when we get time. The Ruhr area is still dotted with massive industrial plants and smokestacks, both abandoned and active. Pretty amazing landscape. Back into town for the evening - a few local "Alt" beers in the very lively "Altstadt" (old town) and excellent food. Great cocktail bars. All far, far cheaper than Ireland of course. Dusseldorf is definitely a party town.
Had a great German breakfast on Sunday - bread rolls, meats & cheeses (definitely Clare's favourite), then checked out the "Media Harbour" area of renovated Rhine docklands - very funky architecture & design stores with €12,000 black & white leather chairs. Go wild! Yeah, right... New apartments & hotels are still going up here. Not sure when then slowdown will hit. Apart from the incredible interior design of Gerald & Sandra's apartment (think lots of glass & steel) and our Mini Cooper, our favourite design fitting of the weekend was the "Campari Light" in our little hotel room in Gerald & Sandra's apartment building. Very nice. Possibly Italian. But we're sure this could be easily recreated with a little imagination. Sounds like a challenge!
We were up again in the wee hours of Monday morning. Flew back to Dublin, temperature 5c, and straight into the M50 Motorway traffic for my last few days of work. Next report after our leaving party this weekend...

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