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Destinations with Mireya Mayor: Dusseldorf

Königsallee, by Sabine Bungert

Photo by Sabine Bungert

The Königsallee shopping district, known to locals as the Kö.

You have to love a city where elegance, charm, culture and nightlife collide despite it being nestled among steel and chemical works. The incongruous mixture that is Düsseldorf, the capital of Germany’s most industrialized state, is the equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue and New Orleans’ Bourbon Street (minus the beads). Before the sun sets in this posh metropolis, you can visit superb museums and fine shops. After hours, be sure to explore its scintillating nightlife.

       
 Stop at the Neanderthal Museum. Photo by Sabine Bungert.        

There is no better way to get to know a city than to stay in a central spot. In Düsseldorf, I like Steigenberger Parkhotel for its quiet yet cardinal location. The hotel sits on the edge of Hofgarten Park, a green oasis at the heart of downtown and a centerpiece of Düsseldorf culture. The breakfast buffet at Restaurant Menuett, where you can sip champagne and feast on salmon, is a great start to a retail expedition in nearby shopping district Königsallee, known to locals as the . I love strolling down its wide, double boulevard, which is divided by an ornamental waterway and lined by crème de la crème designer boutiques. The clothing store Eickhoff offers more than 10,000 square feet of must-have pieces straight off of international runways. While you’re in the neighborhood, sit at one of the wonderful sidewalk cafés near the rows of chestnut trees.

For an anthropologist such as myself, a Düsseldorf experience would be incomplete without a stop at the Neanderthal Museum, built at the very site where the bones of a Stone Age ancestor of modern man were found. But if it’s the works of masters such as Picasso and Klee you’re after, pay a visit to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen museum.

       
Brauerei im Füchschen. Photo by Sabine Bungert.

       

Later, ease into the city’s sizzling nightlife with a good meal. One of my favorite restaurants—boasting notable former clientele such as artist Joseph Beuys—is Brauerei im Füchschen. Flooded with local color, this rustic space is known for its filling wurst and schnitzel, plus lighter seasonal specialties such as white asparagus. It also does a mean, gut-filling Schweinehaxe (roasted ham hock).

Next up: drinks in the Altstadt district, brimming with inviting bars and historic beer taverns. There’s nothing like a pub crawl to dispel misconceptions about Germans’ general lack of humor. Jokingly known as Germany’s longest bar, the area can get boisterous, but it’s all in good fun. And few places in Europe rival Düsseldorf for great beer. Almost every pub in the city sells Düsseldorf’s signature Altbier, a dark, semisweet brew. Don’t miss a stop at The Brauerei Schumacher, a well-loved brewpub with exposed timber overhead and tile-decorated walls. This stalwart only serves its own beers, including Schumacher Alt, its version of Altbier. Prost!

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