What a depressing place this is! I was staying in Ratingen, a suburb of Düsseldorf, near the airport, a fairly rough area. I went out looking for a supermarket on my first night here, past the “bottle store” (selling nothing but alcohol), and walked straight past one that was closed. It was sealed up tight, with painted windows, so I didn’t even know that I was looking at a supermarket at all. I got in the next day to find bottled water, but not much else was saying “buy me”, despite some absurdly low prices by Dublin standards.
I don’t spend a lot of time in hotels, thankfully; this week’s hotel looks fairly new, and must have been nice once, but it’s going downhill. A damaged bed, dirty upholstery, and a “brasserie” with inflated prices and no customers. After room service one night, then table service the next, I just did without dinner for the next two nights, since breakfast and lunch, and a little junk food, were more than sufficient for my needs.
I spent half of today on the buses, H-Bahn (trams) and U-Bahn, which is only underground in the centre of the city. After some local fast food – curried Bratwurst, salsa and fries with mayonnaise, I did some writing on the couch in a Starbugs in Altstadt, the fashionable equivalent to Temple Bar, Covent Garden or Greenwich Village. After that, another wander, then the S-Bahn (suburban train) to the airport.
The security was stricter than usual, for understandable reasons, but the metal detector must have been cranked up, since it triggered on nothing at all. Maybe the metal strips under the soles of my shoes, but I wasn’t wearing a watch, or a belt, or carrying anything at all in my pockets. I’m finishing this in the departure lounge of Düsseldorf airport, which is clean, orderly, and totally soulless. I can’t even get a soft drink at a sensible price, the beer in the restaurant is literally the same price, and the vending machine is priced to send business to the restaurant.
I really can’t wait to get home. Does that mean I am calling Dublin my Home, with a capital H? The jury is still out on that one, but I will say that the alternatives I thought I had are looking less-and-less interesting over time.