Our trip to Düsseldorf had already gone sideways, but neither of us could say it was a bad thing. A twisted ankle forced us to go slower, a pace which suited Düsseldorf's penchant for small and thoughtful details.
As I returned back to the hotel after a full day of walking, Brian was able to make it to the only pharmacy open on Sunday - at the train station - just before it closed for the day. Patched up with a bulky ankle support and tiger balm, I was good to go for dinner at a beer hall.
German beer halls are just the best. Hundreds of people on even a Monday night spend time with their best friends, family, co-workers, or complete strangers refreshed by bottomless beer. Although we had our hearts set on schnitzel, true locals order the massive pork hock and finish it. Everyone is family here, and it's the kind of dinner that satisfies more than your hunger.
The next morning we set out in the opposite direction for a different side of the city. Heading for Rhine Tower for a great view, we stopped often to admire monuments and architecture along the way.
For us, the old-style buildings and architectural details were exciting. Düsseldorf has a unique blocky and weathered style that manages to look incredibly elegant when it wants to. Much like the parks that dot every other corner of the "concrete jungle", traditional and modern blend seamlessly together in surprising ways. Before we knew it, we found ourselves in modern Düsseldorf.
So, Rhine Tower. Here's the thing, Rhine Tower was pretty cool, but it was also kind of a rip-off. Because we have the blog and because Brian is our official photographer, getting great photos is important to us and the view from above is one of the major reasons we were attracted to Rhine Tower.
It costs nine euros in cash to enter, and you go directly up in a steel elevator up to a café. There is a restaurant a bit higher but you cannot enter unless you have reservations. No matter, the café's view is really beautiful, and we enjoyed a quick lunch and drinks overlooking the city and river. Stunning view!
The windows were slanted out at such an angle on this floor that it was almost impossible to take photographs. We took the stairwell down a couple of flights to the "observation deck" and found the view completely obstructed by steel barriers. It was such a ridiculous waste of an opportunity to show off this beautiful city. We walked all the way around the howling wasteland just to check if there was any place to peer out, but no luck. Rhine Tower doesn't do Düsseldorf justice without a real observation deck.
We had a wonderful time, but it was a steep entrance fee just to get to a café! If you're in the mood for a fancier restaurant you might get a little more bang for your buck if you made a reservation up top, but if you're interested in the view and not photos, Rhine Tower has got an awesome panorama, and the café is charming.
The other reason to visit Rhine Tower is that it's next door to one of the coolest places in town. This part of Düsseldorf is full of creative and whimsical architecture that is just really neat. I think we could have wandered around much more, but we had to get back to the bus station. We weren't going to cut it so close on the way back, at least that's what we said.
The sun had come out and it was just beautiful in the sun. I thought that one of the best things about Düsseldorf was that it gave slow-moving, injured me something to think about, and a great place to think, around every corner. I loved that it was a city for people with parks, public art, interesting buildings and creative spaces weaved together very organically.
I knew almost nothing about Düsseldorf when I arrived, but I left feeling as though I'd met a new friend who made me excited about doing regular things. I'm not sure if I would have felt the same if I hadn't hurt myself and been forced to slow down.
We did make it to the bus in time, only because the bus was late. I didn't mind, and I thought if Brian wasn't able to convince the driver to let him on without a passport, it would be nice to spend a little more time in Düsseldorf. My ankle throbbed painfully in its uncomfortably tight shoe, but I left Düsseldorf with a big smile on my face and a resolution to make space for slower exploration.