What’s most notable about my work trip to Europe last November (2019) is what didn’t happen. I didn’t become violently sick in the cab, lose my luggage, or end up wearing a hotel staff cleaning uniform out on the town – all stories for another time.
I did, however, buy a shit ton of Delft, finish the Diary of Anne Frank minutes before the tour, and cry a bit at the Van Gogh Museum for reasons I am still processing.
My first fully-solo trip abroad, I padded my itinerary on each end to allow time for windmills and winter markets. With a lot of time to myself, I learned that going somewhere alone is likely easier when it’s warm. ‘Basking’ – a warm-weather activity requiring only one person – is off the table, and, in general, people are more reserved and private when it’s cold out. By day two I was watching a Dutch dubbed version of Friends in the hotel room – good training for the coming months.
Depending on my ability to board the right one, I also really enjoyed riding the train. In a quiet year, I miss the sound of people and movement. This helps.
Lodging: I stayed at the Hoxton Hotel located on the Nine Streets. I’ve also stayed at the Hoxton Hotel in Portland and had a great experience at both.
Eating: The best dinner I had was at Jansz, and my favorite breakfast spot was Slager Aan De Schans located in Zannse Schans neighborhood known for its windmills and green wooden houses.
Museums: Tickets to the Ann Frank House should be booked weeks or months beforehand. The Van Gogh museum, however, can usually be booked the day before.
Lodging: Lars and Jens, easily the best Airbnb hosts that side of the Rhine, let me stay at an apartment of theirs not too far from Altstadt.
Eating: If I could buy it from a cart, I ate it. Best cart finds included vodka cider and currywurst.
Christmas markets: Each little neighborhood in oldtown Düsseldorf had a market of a different theme. They begin in mid-November (earlier than others in Germany) and run until Christmas. Although closed this year, their tourism office created a video of how it should look again in 2021.