It was one of the best ‘let’s just do it’ decisions of my life!
As I mention a lot I frigging love booking an Airbnb and a flight myself. It’s flexible and I know exactly what I’m getting. However, me and my pal Katie found a Groupon deal to Budapest and thought we’d take a walk on the wild side. We made sure it fitted in with our times off work (being a teacher is very limiting as I can only go during school holidays), and made sure there was still lots available so we had a good chance of booking the dates we wanted.
However, that’s not how it worked. In a nutshell it wasn’t available and all the alternatives weren’t in our budget apart from Düsseldorf… After 45mins of bartering with the sales rep we thought why not, and booked our cheeky break. It was one of the best ‘let’s just do it’ decisions of my life!
Turns out the weekend we went was Düsseldorf carnival, a three day celebration that sums up the festival season and ends on Mardi Gras. Basically, it’s the German version of Rio Carnival. It was mental.
We turned up at Düsseldorf Wiez airport (Which is closer to the Netherlands than Dusseldorf by the way. Cheers Ryanair!) and travelled 2hours to get to Düsseldorf. It was an ok journey, not too expensive and pretty straight forward. But I wouldn’t recommend it. > chanting banterous remarks as they wheeled their Eurotrash music, booming speakers to the best day of their lives.
We arrived at the train station at 10am and were met by a huge crowd of people dressed in the most bizarre fancy dress. They were everywhere! There was a pineapple, an octopus, a rainbow and a shower!! And that’s just off the top of my head.
We followed a parade of the younger generation down the street as it was en route to our hotel. It reminded me of a scene from Kavos. Booze fuelled teens ‘avin it’, dressed like a sexy version of (insert generic job role here), leaving their smashed bottles of the street, chanting banterous remarks as they wheeled their Eurotrash music, booming speakers to the best day of their lives. I was thinking… What the fuck have we done!
We headed to our hotel, not the cracking 4* beaut that we had been offered… more like a 2* when you squinted your eyes. Our room wasn’t ready. The receptionist didn’t know the area, let alone what to do at the festival.
The little groups had their own fancy dress theme and some had really gone to town.
However, we changed are shoes and headed into the masses. We followed the Kavos crew to the centre and headed to the main strip. It was so bloody lovely. There were people of all ages dressed up from little bubbas to 70+. There were groups of friends and families with trollies holding speakers and beer. The little groups had their own fancy dress theme and some had really gone to town. The vibe was so nice/friendly/happy/buzzing, full of the festival cheers. There was also stalls selling German food and drink so we jumped on that!
We put on a hat but we just couldn’t beat the christmas tree!
The celebration was all over Düsseldorf, pubs, bars, restaurants and even cafes had opened up drinking/dancing areas in the streets! Roads were blocked off and there was even security to guide the festival folk. We stopped off on the waterfront for a schnitzel and currywurst (when in Germany hey!) and a beer to refuel. It was nice, calm and a nice spot to people watch!
The festival went into the night, it was mad! Music blasting everywhere, people singing and dancing! We went into beer house called Im Goldenen Kessel and the tables had been cleared for a dancefloor. People were standing on chairs waving their hands to traditional German folk songs. We put on a hat but we just couldn’t beat the christmas tree!
On the note of drinking most of the beer in Dussledorf was Altbier which is quiet dark and hoppy. My favourite was the one from this place and I could have happily had drunk them all night.
However, If you’re not a beer drinker at all I wouldn’t recommend as it’s quite strong. Katie tried a few times a couldn’t hack the delicious taste and carried on with her crappy, sweet german wine.
Some were absolutely beautiful and full of joy. And there were some that quiet intense.
The following day was the Karneval parade. Masses gathered on the sides of the streets to watch the parade. I have never seen anything so bizarre in my life. The floats and marchers had gone to town!
Some were absolutely beautiful and full of joy. And there were some that were quiet intense., using satire to highlight the current issues in the media, Charlie Hebdo and terrorism… It was eye opening to say the least.
I felt the desperation running through my blood..
I loved the jolliness and merry cheer in the atmosphere. As the floats approached, the crowd would shout ‘Haaaallooooo’ and then they would be greeted with a shower of sweets!
However, at times this got intense as people did start pushing and shoving each other to pick up the last chewit off the floor.
There was one old lady that stood there on her own the whole times. Elbows out, diving and snatching to her heart content. She was taking on eveyone, even children! I must say I don’t even like sweets and I felt the desperation running through my blood, driving me to grab anything that came my way… a kitkat, a packet of stale popcorn, an old ladies bag to take out a few sweets that belonged to me… I’m kidding. Or am I?
That night was a lot tamer. We ended up in Schweine Janes and it was oh so good. A little restaurant located in Altstadt (which means Old Town) that specialises in pork.
It stands out as it doesn’t fall into the touristy, overpriced, tacky category like a lot of the places in the area. It is what it is, and that’s why it is so good. I had the roast pork and mashed potatoes. Crispy, melt in your mouth pork that was washed down with a local beer. I loved it so much I went back for seconds and had a pork roll. We also visited here again on our last night and I had a pork knuckle, which was also delish.
As it was Bank Holiday during our visit a lot of the places were shut so we ended up exploring a lot. We visited the Harbour which was a nice walk along the river front.
There is some really views and interesting architecture which I recommend seeing. However, there wasn’t much in that area and found it difficult to get a bite for lunch or even a coffee.
You can’t go to Germany without trying their cakes and pastries. I would definitely recommend Hinkel who have a huge array of baked goods and fancy pastires.
If you want a sit down and coffee then I suggest Eis-Cafe Pia It’s an ice cream parlour but it served a lovely strudel that warmed your tummy.
I know there is a lot more to do in Dusseldorf and I didn’t get a chance to experience it all due to the holiday. But I wouldn’t change it. And I highly recommend going during Mardi Gras. It gives you the perfect opportunity to experience another culture and it’s people at there best.