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Roving Reporter

Dusseldorf: Adored by fashionistas, jazz fans and historians

Dr. Einor Garely, Special to eTN  Aug 21, 2008

There are many wonderful cities in Germany that have high profiles including Belin (6.6 million over night stays) and Munich (4.5 million visitors). My newest Germany discovery is Dusseldorf with slightly more than three million overnights.

The Go–To City
Located on the banks of the Rhine River, Dusseldorf has morphed over the centuries from a marshy farming and fishing settlement where soldiers watched over the commercial and military use of the waterway to a thriving business and leisure destination that is a jewel among the treasure trove that is Germany. Blessed with mild winters and moderately warm summers, this city is a delicious selection regardless of the month reserved for a visit. Travelers often reserve hotel accommodations based on festivals – from the May Jazz Rally with thousands of visitors to “Karneval” in November where party-goers are counted in the millions.

Where to Start?
Air Berlin has a direct flight service to Dusseldorf from New York. It is worth the extra cash to select a business class seat if comfort and eatable food are key factors in your travel plans. Based in Berlin, Germany, Air Berlin is Europe’s third largest low–cost carrier. Do be wary of in-flight personnel – some get very mean if you don’t immediately follow instructions (i.e., stow that bag NOW). I was threatened with being “off-loaded” and reported to the airline supervisor because I was not moving fast enough. I think the proper response is to “cower” and act afraid. Remember that cookies and sodas are not available to “bad” passengers.

VIP Airport Services?
Luxury airline meeting/greeting, immigration procedures and limo transfer to hotels is the best way to enter and exit from Dusseldorf. Dusseldorf’s VIP Service offers up celebrity-level assistance the moment passengers exit the airplane and the courtesies extend all the way to transport in luxury BMW’s to/from the hotels.

Attractively dressed staff took very good care of me when I last visited Dusseldorf and waiting in a private lounge sipping scotch and eating chocolates sure beats waiting in line.

Where to Sleep?
There are over 1200 hotel rooms in Dusseldorf that range from upscale and modern suites to modest bed and breakfasts. Business travelers who are in a hurry to get a good nights' sleep will find happiness at the Maritim Airport Hotel - a short walk from the airport. The best choice for bulging executive budgets is one of the over-the-top suites, but more modest (but spacious) rooms are certainly fine for second and third tier managers.

One of the joys of this property is its abundant breakfast offering. Travelers counting pennies stock up on the wide assortment of smoked fish, and deli-meats, bakery shop selections of breads, muffins, pastries and crackers; eggs (your way); fresh fruit, cheeses, whole grains and yogurts; plus liquid refreshments that start with Champagne and end with coffees and teas (more than enough calories and carbs for the entire day). Other amenities include an indoor pool (small) a business/Internet office (also small), but lots of space for meetings and conferences, and a myriad of dining options.

How to Move Around?
Forget the expensive taxi, and don’t even think about renting a car. Dusseldorf’s public transportation is as good as it gets. Unfortunately, the transit maps are printed in teeny-tiny type face so bring along a magnifying glass or a really good pair of glasses. The next task is to purchase a Dusseldorf Welcome card – and explore every nook and cranny of the town without a thought to “how much will this trip cost?”

Where to Go?
Shoppers head for the “Ko” shopping boulevard, finding fashionable retailers, yummy restaurants and pubs where local beer and igneous sandwiches are displayed in incredibly clean and bright windows and behind glass counters, fresh food markets with glorious fruit, meats and poultry, and sweet goodies that will even temp size zero friends into breaking a diet. Make a stop at the “Galerie Fur Kunst von Picasso” to find a fabulous artist treasures as well as a museum for antique frames. If you are very polite, Annette Schwarz may also provide a tour of the historic town house that is home to the gallery.

To work off all the calories from breakfast and lunch, a walk or bike ride around “Media Harbour” is a “must” part of the Dusseldorf visit. Home to the local communication industry’s think tanks and noted for its new architectural concepts, the area is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, clubs and bars.

History hounds will include “Benrath Castle” on their itinerary. It is easy to envision the 18th century fox hunts that took place on the grounds. Although the sport now seems like a ghastly past-time – it is part of the history that should be seen. Perhaps an even better reason to visit the castle is the on-premise restaurant (Schlosscafe Benrath) that serves “to–die for” waffles with fresh fruit and an abundance of whipped cream. (A divine spot for a Sweet 16 party, a bridal reception or a new baby celebration.)

The weather is warm, the Rhine is blue, and there you are, floating up and down the river on a tour lazily and viewing the panoramic beauty from the boat deck. The sail passes Media Harbour, old town and the exhibition grounds.

“You are a Neanderthal!”
To make sure that you use the “slur” correctly everyone should include the “Neanderthal Museum” on the list of things to see and do. Don’t be intimidated by the vast number of children running through the corridors. It is really an interesting exhibit that chronicles the survival and evolution of this planet’s most adaptable species--us!

Arriving in May? Make sure you reserve ahead for the Jazz Rally. With almost 250,000 visitors, it is not wise to leave ticket purchases for the last minute. You can book online at

Time to Go?
Leave time to explore the Dusseldorf International Airport. I know, an airport is usually a place we want to get to and through as quickly as possible; however, Dusseldorf’s Airport is the exception to the rule.

As Germany’s third largest airport, it is modern, airy, offers a wide selection of very top-shelf shops and restaurants, hosts 12 intercontinental flights a day representing 77airlines, and is an excellent gateway for trips to North America, Western and Eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East. From Dusseldorf travelers can get to168 foreign destinations in 50 countries. The airport is also a rail hub with 350 trains stopping daily and the focal point for high-speed InterCity express trains and a myriad of ground transportation options.

Hate to Say Goodbye?
There is something about Dusseldorf that makes me want to come back. Perhaps it is the kindness of the folks who live in the town or the weekend bike rides along the Rhine with friends and family; I know for sure it is the good food and excellent beer. For me, Dusseldorf is definitely a repeater destination.

Dusseldorf:  Adored by fashionistas, jazz fans and historians
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