Tuesday, 16 October 2007

germany in japanese

I spent 48 hours in Düsseldorf and Köln over the weekend, adding a new country to my list and a stamp to my passport. I have never been to Germany before; German is one language I have never studied; and until I actually arrived at Düsseldorf Flughafen, I didn't realize how unprepared I was. The excitement of going to a new place was balanced with a tiny sense of vulnerability and unease. But I was soon reassured that everyone was friendly and helpful.

Perhaps the oddest thing was the large presence of Japanese people and businesses, especially near the main train station (Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof) and on/around Immermannstraße. (By the way, have you noticed that I am showing off my keyboard skills by using funky letters like ü and ß? Wait, there's more.)


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I don't usually take plane photos, but I wanted to capture my first impressions of autumn in Deutschland. The leaves were turning and the sun was shining. Lovely!


I had a great view of the city from my hotel as well. I stayed, as you do in Germany, at the typically Japanese business-style Hotel Asahi. Upon entering, I was greeted not with signs saying Willkommen but ようこそ. Strangely, it felt immediately familiar and comfortable.

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My "penthouse" room was on the secret 12th floor. I say secret because the elevator only went to 11 (insert Spinal Tap joke here). From there, I had to use my room key to open a door to a staircase that led to the top. Très chic and exclusive.

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I rushed out to the balcony to take some pictures, only to discover that it was a shared balcony... In other words, I could see into my neighbors' rooms and likewise, they could see into mine! I promptly ran back inside and shut all the blinds.

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I had about three hours to look around the city before dinner. I got a city map from the front desk and walked up Klosterstraße. It reminded me a bit of Lille; pretty, quaint European churches, shops and details mixed with rather nondescript sprawling streets and buildings. But I chose to focus on the pretty bits, and my walk took me straight to the heart of the Altstadt (Old Town).

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I did some quick chocolate shopping at Cafe Heinemann and headed to the banks of the Rhein River in time to catch the last sun of the day.

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But it wasn't all fun and games. I was there for work, which meant I was there for some serious talks and even more serious eating and drinking! (OK, I admit it was hard to think of the trip as "work." I love this job!) On Sunday and Monday, I attended the ANUGA Food Fair held at the huge Koelnmesse venue.

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After having Japanese food for dinner on Saturday at the trendy Sushi & Soul restaurant in Düsseldorf, it was a nice change to try a traditional German meal in Köln. I wasn't entirely prepared for 1 meter long sausages and mayonnaise-y potato salad!

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I had a nice, short trip. I have to admit, though: it was great to come home to smoke-free Britain!

1 comment:

fredda said...

Loved seeing Germany through your beautiful, sparkling eyes. And your key tapping is impressive as well.