Ruhrgebiet 2016 Continued

I think the second day of my holiday in the Ruhr area of Northern Germany was the best. It was certainly the most alternative, and very spectacular. However, there is a drawback to doing alternative activities in non-touristy paces: even though the public transport in Germany is fantastic, the places we went were quite difficult to get to.

We spent our second day in Duisburg, part of the “Industriekultur” or German Industrial Heritage cities. Duisburg Landschaftspark-nord is a suburban landscape park with a difference. It’s on the site of an old steel-works, and the industrial structures have been stabilized and left in their abandoned state, in the centre.

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This is the kind of place that suits me!

But, by far the best part, is that the towers are open for anyone to wander around. The walkways are just exposed metal grids, so you can see right down to the ground. All the structures are an impressive height, but they make fantastic viewpoints because the area all around is so flat.

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I just think this is an amazing idea! It’s a celebration of German industry, but a lot of fun to visit. Plants are slowly growing over some of the structures, and the old warehouses have been turned into decorative garden spaces. I particularly appreciate this, because I studied Bernd and Hilla Becher when I took a photography course a couple of years ago. They photographed industrial areas in stunning black and white, and aimed to show that something so mundane as a steel – works chimney can be beautiful. They photographed a lot around Duisburg, and helped create a love and appreciation of the unusual shapes.

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That afternoon, we went for a boat trip on the Rhine. But instead of gorgeous rural scenery, this boat celebrated what’s left of heavy industry. We passed cranes unloading goods barges, and machines squashing scrap metal. It’s bizarre – all the German tourists loved seeing piles of materials and were commenting on how photogenic the cranes were. Given that Britain seems embarrassed about what industry it has left, it was a refreshing – if unexpected – attitude.

 

It was an exhausting day, but well worth it!

 

 

Ruhrgebiet 2016

I have just arrived home from a fantastically wacky holiday in Northern Germany with my dad. I’m now really looking forward to writing about it, because it was such a strange week! The area is virtually unknown to tourists, but I found it a welcome alternative to the dirndl – wearing, wealthy Southern Germany.

Getting there was quite a challenge, because the only cheap flight was to Düsseldorf Weeze, which is nowhere near the city! It took us a whole day to get from the airport to Essen, where we were staying, so we only had time for a quick meal.

Our second day, April 10, was the real start of our trip. To ease us into the industrial area, we went to Bochum – Dalhausen Railway Museum. We took the “Schweneschnäuchen” or “Pig’s Snout” train to get there, which was a highlight for me because it was just so bizarre. It’s essentially a bus that works on the train track, and gets the name from its unusual shape at the front.

The museum itself is really interesting to wander around, because the warehouses, sheds and turntables have just been left as they are. Everything’s pretty rusty but most of the trains themselves are beautiful. The sheds dimly lit by natural light, so it’s a bit unnerving to wander so close to the massive steam engines! Although it was a fantastic museum, with lots to see, I did find the WWII trains very unsettling.

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In the afternoon, we went to the Folkwang Museum, which has a lovely collection of 19th and 20th century fine art. It was really the building we went to see, because it was designed by the British architect David Chipperfield in 2007. I really enjoyed both the building and the collection, but the gallery is so difficult to navigate, we ended up walking a lot further than we intended!

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Every day in Germany should finish up with a decent beer. Despite being an area which tends to reject the traditions of the South, the Ruhrgebiet has some wonderful (and cheap, because it’s not touristy) Brauereien and Bier halle. We ended the day in the Dampf Brauerie in Essen. The plates of food were massive and really well-priced!
Writing this is making me wish I was back in Germany! Had such a great time, I’ll make sure I write up the rest of the things we did later on.