As I;m sitting here drinking my second cup of free coffee in Dusseldorf Germany (blah back to American coffee), I can’t help but laugh at the events of the start of my backpacking adventure. After leaving Rome, I headed to Bologna for a day. It was a gorgeously wealthy city, medieval ruins spotted its small interior. My friend Karina, who I would be traveling to Germany with currently lives in Bologna, she took me on a brief walking tour and we saw all of the main sites I had heard of online. I liked Bologna more than the other northern cities in Italy which I went to, it felt more local and less taken over by tourists.
And then the adventure started. On the morning of the 20th we headed to the airport. Thank god we left in plenty of time because the journey took us two hours. After missing the airport bus stop, a mistake which led us across a freeway and probably about 20 minutes off track, we had to jump on the next bus going the opposite direction. Luckily we made it to the Bologna airport just in time to walk onto our flight. (I saw luckily because the airlines here will not put you on a new flight if you miss yours, you have to buy a completely new ticket which can be rather pricey last minute.
When we stepped off the plane in, what we assumed was Dusseldorf, it was freezing! Hooray we finally entered winter! This is where things started to get interesting. When we asked the taxi how much it cost to get to our hostel he told us 180 euros. WHAT?! We knew that our hostel was in the city center of Dusseldorf and that taxi fee just did not make any sense. So, after a brief amount of free airport wifi research, we discovered that the Dusseldorf airport is not, in fact, actually in Dusseldorf. It is in Weeze. Both my friend and I immediately burst out laughing. Well, now I can say I got to go to Weeze. At this point in our travels (both of us have been abroad for about four months), we have learned to take mistakes in stride. Something which at the beginning of the program might have sparked panic, turned into a story we were already laughing about. If you want to survive a year of travel, stressing over these kind of mundane (yet sometimes costly) mistakes would eat you alive. Stressing wouldn’t change the situation, we just had to move forward. So, after asking around to workers at the airport we discovered we could pay 15 euros for a large bus into Dusseldorf (it turns out we just as easily could have take a bus to the Netherlands or perhaps Belgium or Luxembourg. Thankfully Europe has fantastic public transport. Only putting us about an hour or two off track we arrived in Dusseldorf starving and ready to see the city.
This is when surprise number two happened. See, neither my friend or I were very thrilled about going to Dusseldorf. Both of us wanted to go to Cologne. Unfortunately the flights to Cologne were much more expensive, so Dusseldorf became our cheaper and easy pit stop before the German Christmas markets we so desperately wanted to go to. But then, we went into the city center.
I think we both just stood there without speaking for a few minutes because the city center in Dusseldorf was lined with restaurants and clubs all on one main street. Every building boasted at least two clubs, the music from each one bleeding out into the streets. Each building also had restaurants which lined the front of the street for people watching and stein drinking. A Christmas market ran through the center of the walkway, there were more people there than in the city center of Rome. We were stunned. Wearing hiking boots and ugly goodwill jackets we drank our first German beer (delicious) and just stared at the commotion around us. What a start to our Germany adventure!