I arrived early on a 7:20 Air France flight from Paris. Breakfast on the plane had been disappointing but welcome. This was not my first time in Düsseldorf, but I had previously travelled by taxi, the airport being quite close to the city. Willing to experiment a bit and maybe hindered by my last encounter with a surly taxi driver, I decided to take public transport.
The airport’s train station is linked to the car parks and terminals by a spectacular suspended monorail, as a showcase for German technology. At the station, I was quite flummoxed by the automated ticket machines and bought a €2.40 trip to Düsseldorf. Slightly worried I was going to encounter ticket inspectors, I boarded a slick and clean train. At Düsseldorf station, the connection with the tramway system also proved tricky but I managed to board a train which dropped me at the Königsallee station, still marvelling about the efficiency of it all. Later, my German hosts confirmed I had paid the correct fare, which reinforced my admiration.
After the meeting and before leaving to catch a late flight, I had time to wander around town and enjoy Düsseldorf under a cool but pleasant sunshine. Testifying to the area’s prosperity, the main shopping street, the Königsallee, nicely lined with trees along a canal, is replete with luxury shops: Ferragamo, Vuitton and numerous shops selling high-end watches such as FP Journe and Rolex. I stopped at Leysieffer to buy a box of cookies before going to the waterfront through the old town. Despite the early hour, people were enjoying food and drinks, often outside, an interesting sight in the run-up to the French presidential election, with politicians such as Sarkozy advocating the German model while saying that the French need to work more.
I am, however, a firm believer in looking for examples abroad and each of my visits to Germany leaves me in admiration of the Wirtschaftswunder. My forthcoming trip to Berlin should be an opportunity to reflect once more on this matter.