Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


Hello Sunshine! From Cologne to Duisburg

Monday 5 June 2023 9:08 PM

We just said good-bye to our friend Eva in Duisburg, and now it is time for our livers to recover. 

Eva hadn't only brought sunshine with her, but also a whole supply of safe arrival drinks! So while in Köln (Cologne) we worked hard so her effort of toting her innocent looking suitcase full of booze through Munich and Cologne train stations wouldn’t be in vain.

After all, walking along the Rhine bank watching an outdoor boot-camp or strolling through the old town of Cologne while catching up on one year’s worth of news is quite exhausting! So we retired to our stern deck where an expertly mixed Apérol Spritz (by Austin) was waiting for us.

Then it was time to fill Lodi up with diesel (at €1.87/L) and leave the lovely Rheinau Harbour of Cologne.  

Again we made it in record time to the Handleshafen in Düsseldorf where a couple of very polite young harbour managers took our ropes and guided us into our reserved mooring. Eva and I were very excited to be back in the town, where in the late sixties we strained our brains over anatomy and physiology at uni and on many brainless nights, shaked our anatomies around in the discos of the Altstadt (old town). Let’s say it brought up a few memories, some more hilarious and memorable than others! 

From the harbour it is a mere 1km stroll along the Rhine promenade into the center. Apart from the obligatory “river beach”, a grass area scattered with deck chairs for sun-hungry Cologners, the wide promenade offers itself to cyclists and in-line skaters leaving enough room for slow amblers like us. Further on, beneath the castle place, the old casemates have been transformed into a boulevard of bars and restaurants. Only a lone tower is left from the former Düsseldorf Castle, burned down in 1872 and now housing a maritime museum. Crossing castle place, next to the stream “Düssel”, a bronze monument shows scenes of the towns history and it’s city charter, detailing things like how often markets are allowed to be held etc..

Like Cologne, Düsseldorf has its own original characters. Eva and I met a fair share of them in the sixties and a few more this time. Some of them come out at Carnival on 11th of November, like the embodiment of the Düsseldorfer Carnival called “Hoppediz”. One can see him in bronze near the Carnival House. Traditionally, his likeness made into a straw doll is burned at the end of the Carnival season. Between Düsseldorfers and Cologners usually exists a bit of competition about  who has the better Carnival Parade, and Eva must have got in between one of those arguments in town.

Another character created by writer Müller Sclösser, is the tailor “Schneider Wibbel”. To avoid going to jail for insulting the emperor Napoleon during french occupation, he got his apprentice to impersonate him. When the apprentice died in jail, Schneider Wibbel and his wife looked on to his dead body and remarked: "Wow! What a beautiful corpse am I!” or in Düsseldorfer slang: “What bin ich en schön Leich!” 

A whole street and a Glockenspiel is dedicated to the infamous tailor.

On the “Kö”, short for “Königsallee”, you would also run into the unique “Düsseldorfer Radschläger”, cartwheeling kids which used to ask unsuspecting out- off- towners for 5 pennies. But we avoided the street because a) the 5 pennies are probably €2.- now and b) we didn’t have the right clothes for this high street of rhineland fashionista!

Instead we had a Düsseldorfer Alt beer in front of the old “Uerige” brewery and watched a poor guy being “shot” at by his buck’s party, seemingly disregarding the sign “foul” in front of his sensitive area. Comment of a patron:” Now he doesn’t need to marry anymore!"

In perfect sunshine, reflecting on one of the Gehry buildings (architect of the Gugenheim museum in Bilbao), we joined again the “highway" of cargo barges for the short cruise to Duisburg. There was not much going on in town this Sunday, as a matter of fact the city of Duisburg didn’t impress. Streets and buildings seemed dirty and un-cared for.

After a failed attempt to hire an Uber to the “Landschaftspark”, an old mining area reclaimed by nature, we scouted around a large flea market on the rhine meadows.

The rest of the day we spent in the friendly little harbour north of town where we had trouble getting rid of an even friendlier cat who obviously had taken to our boat - or was it that she smelled the salmon we prepared for our dinner?

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