We planned a short trip to Germany for Rishi’s birthday. Rishi also wanted to see if he will be able to drive long hours before his parents came here since we are planning all trips by road with them.
Day 1 – 17 June 2022
We woke up in the morning, had breakfast and started our drive to Germany by 10am. Since we were in Germany, I tried to spot as many cool cars in the entire trip as I could. I couldn’t take pictures of all the cars I spotted because sometimes the camera froze or I reacted too late but still I was able to capture a few awesome cars during the trip.
We reached Düsseldorf by 1:30pm and searched for parking nearby. We found a parking complex near our first destination. The origin of the name ‘Düsseldorf’ is quite interesting. Many kilometers east of Düsseldorf are the sources of the Little Düssel River and the Düssel River. These two rivers meet and combine into one that flows west for many kilometers, until it splits into 4 rivers at a small delta which joins the Rhine. It is that delta that defines the origins of Düsseldorf. It started as a small fishing village, known as a Dorf. Düsseldorf literally translates to “fishing village of the Düssel River”.
After parking, we went to Medienhafen which refers to the docks on the Rhine, which date back over a hundred years to the end of the 19th century. The place is filled with modern, high-rise buildings and unique architecture. The area serves as a ground for competition between German architects who regularly vie for the chance to design a new high rise to join the ranks of the post-modern masterpieces that adorn the harbor.
We walked along the Rhine river and crossed the tallest building in Düsseldorf, Rhine Tower. It is a communications tower standing 240 meters tall, with a restaurant and observation deck at a height of 170 meters. We did not go inside the building.
We then walked to Altstadt which is the historic center of Düsseldorf . It is only half a square kilometer in size, but it is the real attraction: historic buildings, narrow streets, nice shops and a huge number of cafes, bars and restaurants. Nowhere does the Altbier taste better than here, in the place where it was originally brewed. Large parts of the Altstadt are only accessible to pedestrians. We explored a few landmarks in Alstadt.
We went to St. Lambertus Basilika which is one of four Roman Catholic churches in Düsseldorf ‘s Altstadt district. The church has a twisted spire. It is probably the oldest building in Düsseldorf. The monumental high altar (17th century) is flanked by statues of Saints Lambertus, Apollinaris, Thomas and Pancratius. We were sweating in the hot weather so the cool atmosphere inside the church was a welcome change. We sat for quite a while and decided where to go for lunch.
We were going to a restaurant with decent ratings but we found a Pizza place on the way and decided to eat Pizza instead.
After lunch, we explored the Alstadt some more. We went to Rathaus (Town Hall). The construction and usage history of the town hall of the state capital of Düsseldorf goes back to the years 1570/73 in the oldest parts of the building. Since that time, Düsseldorf Town Hall , located in the middle of the old town and in the immediate vicinity of the Rhine , has been the seat of the city council and municipal administration. It was closed, so we clicked pictures from outside.
We then decided to rest by the Rhine. We sat in one of the ice-cream parlor and ordered an ice-cream. The ice-cream looked amazing but the taste was so-so.
We then walked along the Rhine at Rheinuferpromenade. The Rhine Embankment Promenade stretches from the Parliament to the harbor and the city’s busiest road is buried beneath it! Lined with cafes, restaurants, shops, and galleries on one side and the Rhine River on the other, the Rheinuferpromenade gives the city a Mediterranean flavor. With music playing and people dancing around, it really felt like the party place. Since we already had lunch and ice-cream, we didn’t stop at any restaurants but we really enjoyed the vibe of the place.
I had read about the shopping place Königsallee which was supposed to be the defining luxury boulevard in Dusseldorf. It stands on either side of a canal, lined with beautiful trees, about a kilometer long, and there’s hardly a luxury brand whose shop you won’t find along it. So we walked there and clicked pictures on the way.
After finishing our exploration, we returned back to the parking complex and started our trip to the homestay we had booked for the trip.
Rob’s Place is a homestay in Langenfeld which is 16 km away from Düsseldorf while Cologne is 20 km and Bonn is 44 km from the property. They had a room for guests with a bathroom just outside the room. We had access to their garden from our room which included a seating area. We enjoyed every evening in the seating area of the garden. There was a piano in our room in which I played 2-3 songs that I still remember from my keyboard classes.
Day 2 -18 June 2022
We got ready and drove to Bonn which is a city in Germany situated on the banks of the Rhine, famous for being the birthplace of Beethoven.
We started the day by visiting Bonner Münster located in the old city center. It was built between the 11th and 13th century. It is one of the oldest cathedrals in Germany. The church was dedicated to Cassius and Florentius , two soldiers of the Theban Legion. Today the church bears the patronage of Saint Martin. The weather was hot that day as well, so we loved being inside the church.
We then went to Sterntor which is the remaining part of Bonn’s old city wall. The gate looked awesome with its iron bar.
Finally, we went to Beethoven Haus, where Ludwig van Beethoven, one of Germany’s most respected composers, was born in 1770. The site has a collection of artifacts and rare documents about the composer. We didn’t go inside the house but went to the museum store & bought a Beethoven statue as a souvenir.
Generally the Alstadt (Old Town) of all the German cities I had previously visited were very pretty. I didn’t want to miss out the old town of Bonn, so we walked for almost 2km just to find that it was a residential area now with modern apartments. I clicked a few pictures on the way just to convince myself that I didn’t waste my energy on a hot day.
We then returned back to Beethoven Haus which had a street full of awesome restaurants nearby. We sat in a Vietnamese restaurant called Cay Tre and enjoyed the food.
After lunch, while heading back to our car we saw a band playing instruments on the road side and old people dancing on the road. It looked so much fun and just gave a fun vibe to the place.
We then drove to Cologne (Köln) which is the largest city of the North Rhine-Westphalia region in Germany. It’s a modern city with vibrant nightlife and centuries-old history.
As soon as we entered Cologne, we saw the huge Cathedral. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II. Badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city. The cathedral was grand and we were mesmerized by its beauty. Since we had come to Cologne in the 2nd half, we wanted to visit places which might close early. I checked my plan list and decided to come back to the Cathedral again after visiting other places.
Since it was about to close, we rushed to Dufthaus 4711 which is the birthplace of the famous Eau de Cologne and modern perfume. The perfume “Eau de Cologne – 4711” is produced since 1700. Its name means water from Cologne. 4711 is the house number of the factory at Glockengasse during the French occupation in the 19th. They had a small museum gallery on the 1st floor. After seeing the history of Eau De Cologne, I also bought a small bottle of Eau De Cologne from the shop.
We then walked to Alter Markt and had some Ice-cream while enjoying the view. There was a wedding going on in the town hall which was across the road. So we saw the bride and groom’s exit from the town hall on the white carpet as well as some of their couple photoshoot poses. Later, a band of old men crossed the street playing different instruments. The Alter Markt was highly entertaining place.
We then went to St Martin’s Church but it was closed so we clicked a few pictures and moved on to the next location.
We then relaxed in the Rhine Garden which is 40 hectares of parkland stretch along the river Rhine. I had seen the pictures of the place while researching, so I packed a bedsheet just in case we have time. Finally, we got to use it here. We rested and enjoyed the view like everyone else in the garden.
We could see the Hohenzollern Bridge from the Rhine Garden. With around ten thousand love padlocks covering the Hohenzollern Bridge, it is now commonly known as the lock bridge. Couples lock an engraved padlock on the bridge and throw the key deep into the Rhine River – a sign that their love is locked forever. We did not actually put our own lock, but the locks looked beautiful.
Finally, we went back to the Cathedral. At 157 m (515 ft), the cathedral is the tallest twin-spired church in the world, the second tallest church in Europe after Ulm Minster, and the third tallest church of any kind in the world. The towers for its two huge spires give the cathedral the largest façade of any church in the world. The outside of the Cathedral is not made of black material, nor is it just dirty, instead, the sandstone which most of the building is made from reacts with the sulphuric acid in rain and turns dark grey, giving the Cathedral its distinctive dark colour over time. We went inside the 2nd time as well. I lighted a candle while the mass was going on. We then clicked lots of pictures from outside which was magnificent.
Finally, we went to L’Osteria a famous pizza restaurant and ordered a Pizza to go. We enjoyed the pizza and wine at home.
Day 3 – 19 June 2022
It was Rishi’s birthday and we had seen all the cities on our list, so we decided to have a relaxed day. We woke up late, had our breakfast and got ready. The weather was pleasant that day after the 2 hottest previous days.
We drove to Burg Castle (German: Schloss Burg) which is the largest reconstructed castle in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. At the beginning of the 12th century (after 1133), Count Adolf III of Berg built Schloss Burg on a mountain overlooking the river Wupper. In 1632 Swedish soldiers laid siege to the castle. After the Thirty years war, in 1648, Imperial troops destroyed the fortifications of the castle including the keep, walls, and gates. The architect Gerhard August Fischer from Barmen proposed in 1882 the reconstruction and submitted drawings and plans based on old documents, primarily using the castle’s appearance in the 16th century. Since 1890 the castle reconstruction committee led the restoration of the castle during the next 24 years. Burg used to be an independent township until it became part of Solingen in 1975. The castle had a museum with detailed history of the place. The museum even had some interactive projectors. Since we were not in a hurry, we read all the history and immersed ourselves in the experience.
After finishing our tour, we had lunch in the one of the restaurants in the castle. The food and the view was great.
We then returned back to our room and rested for a while. We enjoyed the garden and played card games.
We then went for dinner in La Grappa which was near the guesthouse. The owner was a friend of our hosts, and he had made reservations before hand for us. We ordered pasta and celebrated Rishi’s birthday. The pasta was good but I couldn’t finish it so had to get it packed.
Finally, we clicked a few pictures in the garden and ended our trip with lots of memories.