Saturday morning we finished packing our “stuff” and said goodbye to our cozy room. We went to the dining room where had our breakfast , said goodbye to staff and friends and then walked to the train station, about 5 minutes away. Since it was early on a Saturday morning there was no traffic and no bicyclists to worry about.
Deciding to get to the train station early to make sure we knew which track our train would be arriving gave is a little too much time but we didn’t care. We went up the escalator to the track and we began to have a few doubts. We had second class tickets (non-reserved) and how would we know which cars were second class? How would we know which seats we could sit in since we didn’t book reserved seats. I’ve got the answers for you. When standing on the track look up. On the electronic sign board they will have an electronic image of a train with letters above it and numbers in the train cars. The letters above is where the train car will stop on the platform; the number inside the train will have a 1, or 2 for first or second class. Once inside the train, and underneath the luggage racks, if there is nothing in electronic red letters, those seats are unreserved. Many seats will have a destination and those have been reserved. We had chosen to not purchase reserved seats as they cost about $30 more each way. Since Amsterdam was the beginning of the route, we did not have a problem finding seats once we figured it all out. As the train got more crowded as we traveled to Dusseldorf we began to rethink our choice of not having reserved seats for our return as we saw people standing in the aisle trying to push their luggage. Dusseldorf would be after Cologne on our return and it was one of the larger stops on this route. Like Scarlett O’Hara, we decided we wouldn’t think about it today, we would think about it tomorrow when we were leaving.
When we arrived at the train station in Dusseldorf we went to the train/bus office to buy the tram ticket to go to the hotel. We made one small mistake at our stop – we didn’t get off. The tram stopped but we thought it was at a light but it wasn’t – it was our stop that we saw as we kept going. We decided that our problem was that the doors to the tram didn’t open. What we needed to do to let the driver know we wanted to get off was push the big button by the door for it to open. Luckily the next stop was about 75 feet away and we just walked to the hotel from there – the Radisson Blu. Since my cruise mate had booked the hotel we were going to be given a standard room but when I pulled out my Radisson Rewards (formerly Club Carlson) gold loyalty card at the check in desk, we were upgraded to a business room which was larger. Even though we were there for only one night and used to a small room, it felt wonderful. The best part – each of us had a queen bed rather than a very small twin bed from the cruise.
Having these credit cards that give you status in a hotel is really worth it. The ones I have are Radisson Rewards, IHG, and Marriott. I did have SPG till the merger with Marriott. Hilton will also give you some status as well as Hyatt. I plan on applying for the World of Hyatt card this spring since it will be 25 months since I closed my previous Hyatt card.
We spent very little time at the hotel and went to the tram stop where we were given help as to which tram to get on and which stop to get off. Now we needed to figure out how to purchase tram tickets on the ticket machine at the stop. After about four false starts, we were successful.
We got on the tram and went about five stops to get to the market area. Before we left the tram station, we looked around to get our bearings so we would know which side we needed to get back on and which tram would go near our hotel. We kept getting ourselves confused and finally a young American student studying in Dusseldorf took pity on us and walked us down to look at the electronic sign board and told us what we needed to look for. He was very helpful and personable and after we thanked him we found ourselves on the streets of Dusseldorf in all of its Christmas glory.
I think we were in the high end of the shopping district of Dusseldorf. It was much busier here than we had seen the entire trip but then, it was Saturday afternoon and ten days till Christmas. We passed by Prada, Dior, Chanel, Cartier and Burberry.
In the grassy area in the middle of the park separating the north and south lanes of the Konigsallee, was a skating rink. Along the sides were food vendors. My friend got a big sausage in a hotdog roll and I , I got the best meal! It was cheese wheel fettuccine pasta. Basically it was cooked fettuccine that was put in a hollowed out center section of a big wheel of parmesan cheese and the cook scraped some of the cheese into the pasta. Some truffle oil was sprinkled on top and the chef kept stirring the fettuccine around and around so it would pick up part of the parmesan and blend all the flavors together. Truly a decadent fettuccine Alfredo dish. It was so good I wanted to lick my plate.
We kept walking down and around corners finding different markets throughout the city. We found a large ferris wheel at one of the markets that we had seen from the ship as we sailed through Dusseldorf on the Rhine on our way to Amsterdam. We found very few restrooms and went into a large department store. The line was about 45 minutes long but what choice did we have?
Many of the vendor stalls we saw were very similar to what we had seen at other markets nevertheless, it was fun to look at what they were selling and be part of the experience.
The street decorations were similar to what we saw in other markets but only more of them as this was a large city.
It quickly turned dark and then the city really shone bright and festive. In the center of the park was a beautiful water feature with lights at the end that glowed as we walked along the sidewalk to get back to the underground station for our tram.
Thanks to our student from earlier the afternoon, we found the correct tram going in the right direction and knew when to get off the tram to walk back to our hotel. It was a long day beginning in Amsterdam leaving the ship, getting to the train station, finding our train, getting off and finding our hotel and then going to the markets in Dusseldorf and finally back on the tram to our hotel.
Tomorrow, we go back to Amsterdam, which will be our last night before heading back to the United States from our journey.