The Road Ahead : August 2014
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 31 AUG/SEP 2014 THE ROAD AHEAD MAIN IMAGE: AACHEN AT NIGHT (© AACHEN TOURIST SERVICE), ANDREAS STEINDL. CLOCKWISE: ALFRESCO DINING IN DUSSELDORF; AACHEN CATHEDRAL, TRADITIONAL GERMAN BAKERY, COLOGNE CATHEDRAL. IT HAD BEEN a long time since I'd travelled overseas, and I'll admit Germany wasn't at the top of my wish list. For starters I don't drink beer, so I felt like a fraud visiting a country famed for its ales. From the moment I touched down in Frankfurt, however, I realised my perceptions of Germany were wrong. Yes, beer is a big part of German culture, but so is fashion, food, art, theatre and architecture. And history ... so much history. DUSSELDORF By rail, the journey from Frankfurt to Dusseldorf takes about an hour, and the scenery helps pass the time. The dark brick buildings and industrial areas I'd seen in so many German movies are real, but the landscapes in between give it a distinctive beauty that can only be appreciated first hand. Dusseldorf oozes style and sophistication. It's obvious that this is one of the wealthier parts of Germany, with virtually every person looking like they'd just stepped from the pages of a magazine. There's no denying the Germans have style. And my assumptions about the food -- that it would all be beer, sausages and sauerkraut -- were proven wrong within minutes of arriving. This is, after all, the birthplace of schnitzel and strudel, not to mention bakery goods to die for. On the first night we wandered through the 'old town' in Dusseldorf. Cobbled streets, bicycles and a European charm I'd once associated only with France or Italy filled the air. It was mid-week, yet the restaurants were full of alfresco diners taking advantage of the spring weather. Dusseldorf was essentially rebuilt after about 90 percent of the city was destroyed in World War II, but the original architectural style was retained. The city is the business and the financial centre of the metropolitan Ruhr area, and a ... we wandered through the 'old town' in Dusseldorf. Cobbled streets, bicycles and a European charm I'd once associated only with France or Italy filled the air. city for fashion. With a population of about half a million, it belongs to Germany's 'Big 5' cities (those with a high quality of life) alongside Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg. German is the first language here, so brush up on simple phrases to overcome the language barrier. Don't be like me and assume there will be English translations. While there are many who can speak English, there are many who can't. Not to mention the menus, road signs and public transport announcements. Some are translated, others aren't, so be prepared.
June July 2014