4 Nights in Germany
After making it into the airport, we jumped in a taxi at the airport and headed to our hotel close to the old town. To our surprise when researching, the Japanese Community in Düsseldorf is huge. Of all of the cities in the world outside Japan, Düsseldorf has the highest concentration of Japanese residents. Even our hotel was owned by a Japanese company, and featured a tasty breakfast.
We only had one night in Düsseldorf, so headed straight out to explore. We took the advice from Wikitravel and walked over to the Old town, which is effectively a series of bars, restaurants that spans a small district. Immediately outside the “food” district is every big name chain shop you’d imagine.
The biggest culture shock in Germany was their breweries. We headed to the highest recommended one in town, hoping to get some food and altbeir. The first place we went in was a confusing, disorganized, cavern of rooms with people standing or sitting around everywhere and no clear distinction of how to order food or even a drink. Tables were marked off as reserved, and hosts weren’t able (or perhaps willing) to slow down and answer questions in English.
Feeling more than a little stressed, we left and walked to the next place on our list hoping for better. Zum Schlüssel was much less cramped, and even better there were actual menus. Our server didn’t speak English, but “beer” was really the only word we needed to have in common.
We ordered up some schnitzel, sausage, and more - our first real food for the day. I’m not sure if it’s because we were starving, but this was one of the most satisfying meals of the trip. For beer, the waiter would come around and give you another glass whenever yours was out – leaving a mark on your coaster to indicate how many you had. Once finished drinking, you could indicate that by placing your coaster over your glass.
Did I mention it was January? We were freezing, but never more so than when we stumbled on the Rhine River. We enjoyed the views for as long as we could withstand the wind before retreating back to the warmer district.
After some wandering, we made our way through the upscale shops and stumbled into a grocery store. We make it a point to hit up a grocer anywhere we go, using it as an excuse to try new drinks and food. We loaded up on unfamiliar berries, juices and beers and started making our way back to our hotel
There is a thriving design district on the edge of the waterfront that was fun to explore as well.
Our hotel could best be described as a Japanese hotel for westerners. Sandals for the room, while still containing all the normal amenities. What most impressed us was the delicious breakfast, complete with a tofu & toppings bar, miso soup, a collection of cheeses and more. It was an odd Japanese-French-Germany mix that somehow worked.
Although Killepitsch is sold worldwide, I had never tried it. We attempted to find a small batch version somewhere, but unless we wanted 0.75l of liquor, the options didn’t look good. I ended up grabbing one at the train station to try it. I’m a huge fan of herbal liquors like Chartreuse, and Killepitsch had a similar flavor. Chartreuse is a bit stronger (110 proof), vs Killepitsch (84 proof), but the biggest difference was that it seemed much sweeter from the berries. Worth trying, but not sure I’ll be buying a bottle.
Train to Cologne
The next morning we jumped on a train for the long 30 minute train ride down to Cologne! Marilyn pre bought our tickets, making travel extremely easy. For this trip, our tickets weren’t even checked. We were the only ones in our train car anyways, so there was plenty of space.