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OReilly Jan 6th, 2014 08:50 AM

Weekend in Dusseldorf ... or Cologne .. or other?
Hello all:

I am in Dusseldorf for meetings week of January 27th and thought I would take the opportunity to spend the weekend in the area (either before or after). I don't want to rent a car, so need to be city-based. Which city in the area (less than 2 hour train ride) would you recommend?

I am thinking Cologne may suit my requirements, which are: Museums, historic old towns, great architecture, art galleries.

Many thanks in advance for your assistance and recommendations.

Best regards Ger

bvlenci Jan 6th, 2014 09:38 AM

I've never been in Dusseldorf, but we loved Cologne. The cathedral is very beautiful. There is also a great museum on the Roman era in Germany. Much of the city is modern, because of heavy damage during World War II, but the modern construction is mostly very attractive.

PalenQ Jan 6th, 2014 09:49 AM

How about Amsterdam, a city far far more beautiful and interesting IME than either Cologne or Dusseldorf and it is ony 2 hours and 15 minutes by train from Dusseldorf.

Cologne is nice for a half day or so IME - I spent weeks there off and on on business as well as in Dusseldorf and neither city fulfills any romantic notions of an old-world Europe IMO.

Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Cologne's cathedral is magnificent and the museums nice but other than that there is little in January for the average tourist to do - ordinarily walks along the Rhine or boat rides on the Rhine would be nice but in the dead of winter Amsterdam will be much nicer - a fascinating city in many many ways. - the German Railways web site has schedules and if you book early you can get some really cheap fares. A good way to access the (German Railways official site) is to go to the home page of and click on the link "Best on-line European train timetable" or some such wording and up pops the English schedule page of - I reference this home page link because they also give you several valuable tips to using the site that may not be apparent to novice users.

Use for any German train schedule or pricing. And you can easily book your own tickets on it and then just have to hop on the train. Trains to Cologne are so cheap just buy those once there but if doing Amsterdam or any place farther you can save a lot by booking in advance.

treplow Jan 6th, 2014 10:17 AM

Been and worked in Cologne and Duesseldorf and agree with PalenQ about Amsterdam.

OReilly Jan 6th, 2014 10:23 AM

Thanks guys. Actually, I was thinking about Amsterdam. I have been there a few times, but several years ago and have lots more to see.


PalenQ Jan 6th, 2014 11:27 AM

putting in a dummy date for late January for Dusseldorf to Amsterdam I see fares as low as 19 euros for a direct morning train and 29 and 39 euros vs 59 euros for full fare which you could always buy once there if you don't want to decide on where to go before then.

You should have no problem booking hotels in winter in Amsterdam - there are always tourists there but not nearly like in warmer weather.

OReilly Jan 6th, 2014 12:38 PM

PalenQ - I am reading your wonderful post re what to do in Amsterdam - I am SOLD :). If I can manage it, I might take an extra day.

I am salivating thinking of the wonderful Indonesian restaurants Which is your favourite?

I'll have to be sensible about how many galleries/museums I plan to visit - spoiled for choice.

Would you recommend an organized walking tour, or should I just wing it myself?

Many thanks for the suggestion (and treplow).

Best regards Ger

PalenQ Jan 6th, 2014 03:05 PM

Would you recommend an organized walking tour, or should I just wing it myself?>

wandering around with a map from the VVV (Tourist Information Office) opposite the front entrance of Amsterdam Centraal station or on platform 1 (used to be at least) - they also have walking tours you do yourself for a few euros - themed ones.

as for Chinese-Indonesia restaurants no I do not have a favorite as it's been a while since I been to one and the one I used to go to is long gone I think.

You could make a separate post on Amsterdam and ask relevant questions like that!

Thanks for your nice comments. Now if you need any recommendations of coffeeshops let me know! (Places where you can buy and legally smoke marijuana - of which there are a few hundred left out of nearly 1,000 not long ago. The Dutch government banned foreigners from using them but Amsterdam officials refused to obey so you can still legally (well legal is up for debate) but de fact legal for sure.

OReilly Jan 6th, 2014 03:16 PM

Thanks PalenQ. Yes I will post again re Amsterdam. I have done some preliminary research, and have ordered my guide books from Amazon which will arrive on Thursday.

Nice of you to offer re the Coffeeshops, but I have never really partaken :)

PalenQ Jan 7th, 2014 05:07 AM

You may want to just pop into one of the most famous coffeeshops just to see them - anyone is free to enter and no need to imbibe though you may get a contact high!

The Bulldog Palace on the Leidesplein is one comfortable place to do that - really a large bar for younger adults but quite an experience - look in the basement for the pot dispensary and live plants!

Even in a few days I would get a Museum Card - 39 euros or so for unlimited entry into zillions of museums and in winter I find walking around town is nice but popping into one of many museums en route is nice too - with the card you don't feel you are wasting your money and have to stay a long time - just take a quick look and if interesting linger - some like the Dutch Resistance Museum or the Lord in the Attic or the Reubens House or the Bible Museum (in a neat old canal house) or Jewish Museum, etc. are rather delightful and small so won't take much time.

I've spent days walking around Amsterdam plotting my course by various museums I wanted to pop in.

PalenQ Jan 7th, 2014 07:48 AM

List of museums covered by the pass - includes the Anne Frank House - if you go to the house and two major museums it will about pay for the pass - Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh being the two major museums but then can go to many others - one museum I love is the Troppen Museum, showcasing life in third-world countries with re-created street scenes, etc and always something so so avant-garde.

And it's a nice walk to the Troppen Museum, located in an area dominated by the University of Amsterdam - one of the nicest parts of town that few tourists every stumble into. The Dutch Resistance Museum is near here too - again a riveting display of the horrors of the Nazi occupation.

PalenQ Jan 7th, 2014 11:57 AM

an acclaimed critique's best Rice Table (Chinese-Indonesian) restaurants in Amsterdam.

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