Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Düsseldorf Christmas Market

My day trip to Düsseldorf is actually pretty sudden; I didn’t plan on going anywhere in that one particular Friday and then my friend +Kiky Pulungan  who was planning to make a United Kingdom visa asks me to accompany her to the city of Düsseldorf as she was applying for her visa through the German’s office. I was initially reluctant but she convinced me and told me about going to look around the Christmas market there. Hours before leaving in the morning, we finally bought our ticket to Düsseldorf via by using a combination of NS train (back and forth between Rotterdam and Eindhoven) and DB bus (back and forth between Eindhoven and Düsseldorf). Our transport costs about EUR 38 each for the whole trip.

Starting at about 6 a.m in the morning, we arrive at Eindhoven at almost 9 a.m. in the morning. Our bus stop is close to the Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof which was also a short walk away to the visa application center. Being a good friend, I wait for Kiky to apply for her visa outside the office in the midst of the windy day, but good thing it didn’t take her too long. We then walk back to the Hauptbahnhof - station - to look for more information about the town. We were directed to the Tourism Office right across the station but of course, we left the station after buying a good amount of pretzel (or brezel, as the German calls it).

We were given the recommendation to visit Stromstraße which is a district that is famous for unique architecture and a view overlooking the Rhine River and to visit the Christmas market later in the day, as the market will be even prettier and more interesting during nighttime. We agreed, and then proceed to buy our 1-day transport ticket around Düsseldorf from the machine inside the station. The day ticket costs around 9 EUR per person for access to the bus, tram, and metro system.

We were dropped off the bus nearby Stromstraße with the help of the bus driver who first pointed us to one of the most famous building within the city, the the Rheinturm or the Rhine Tower. We took a bit of a walk through a pretty quiet neighborhood filled with uniform houses with similar monochromic paintings on the outside. There we passed through several cinemas and Asian restaurant (we were surprised about the great amount of Asian restaurant in Düsseldorf!) until we have a sight of a big metallic building overlooking the Rhine River. There’s our spot for the day.

We look around and take a few photos here and there until we find an empty sofa docked outside of the metallic building that is placed directly facing the River - probably a restaurant or something that was closed down due to the cold but we didn’t mind it at first. We sat down and ate some homecooked pasta that had turned cold in the midst of the windy day. We cannot bear the wind, hence we left the area once our lunch is finished. Again, we stroll around the area nearby named Erffplatz and discuss other places to visit as we wait for our bus.

30-minutes in and there’s no bus passing to our destinated area. We decided then to take the next bus passing us, which fortunately brings us to our previously planned destination, Königsallee, a high-end shopping district in Düsseldorf.

But then, once we arrive in the area as pointed out in our map, we were so confused about where to go and which direction leads to the shops. That’s the funny thing about navigating, even things still get confusing despite the fact that we’ve reached our destination. We then gave up looking and then just decided to go straight to the Christmas market area using the subway that is near to the stop we previously had. A couple stops away and we arrive at one of the markets directly after taking the elevator ride up from the subway station.

There’s about 9 different areas of the market, each area has its own characteristics and had different items on display — all are close to one another so basically it feels like one big open market at once. We first went to the market around Marktplatz as it is closest to our subway stop. There’s a lot of things to see; not particularly Christmasy-items, but definitely the decor of every shop is identical to the holiday theme. 

There’s a great array of goods such as candles, Christmas ornaments, glassware, winterwear and of course foods ranging from cotton candy, churros to currywurst. I almost bought a huge jar of honeycomb for myself (my idea was to have it with vanilla ice cream like how it is usually served in a Korean ice cream stores) but resisted the idea and bought hot chocolate instead for EUR 3.5 + EUR 3 deposit for the glass.

The Christmas market is held in large public spaces, in between buildings, monuments, and shops. We even took some minutes going in and out of stores and going window shopping. We went in and out the Apple Store, LUSH, and some other local brands I cannot seem to recall but they were all pretty interesting. They really embraced the crowd that was also pretty enthusiastic. The favorite shops are the one selling beverages, there’s quite a line for mulled wines and hot drinks, which is quite understandable considering the weather.

Good thing that the evening come up pretty early in these cold days. We get to see the lights being turned on pretty early in the day — at about 4 p.m.-ish. The lady from the tourism office was right, the market has a very different charm during night time but it does get harder to navigate around the market, but we’re sure we had made a tour around five out of the nine market.

The last market, funnily, is located nearby the high-end shops and mall that we intended to visit earlier in the day. Too tired and with no money in the midst of the afternoon that was also rainy, we didn’t go in (but were seriously impressed by the display on Tommy Hilfiger).

Our last stop for the night before going to the Hoftbanhof is to have dinner in a Korean restaurant. Why? Because we spotted a road serving Korean food nearby the station that we had seen while were looking at the visa administration office. We were so happy to find some Korean food options, although not in abundance, but is way more than what we usually seen in Rotterdam - we only have one to-go Korean restaurant in Rotterdam named Gamasot nearby the Blaak Markthal and they didn’t serve any banchan or side dishes. Imagine how happy we are when we figured out that we are having a good selection of banchan in the restaurant we chose to have dinner in. We left really full and happy.

We then take the same route back home and found out that there were Eindhoven Glow Festival that is so pretty and interesting even from afar. Too bad we didn’t knew it earlier and that we have a train to catch that we cannot have a bettehaur view of the festival. Anyways, our day in Düsseldorf is well spent and were above our expectation. Good thing I said yes to this trip.