Düsseldorf was our inflection point as we turned north from France towards Scandinavia. My mother’s home town, it was somewhere I went to annually as child to visit my grandparents. It’s probably not on most itineraries for the Ruhr region (nearby Köln/Cologne is bigger and cooler) but it’s a lovely place to stop, accessible and welcoming, with just that right amount of familiarity (at least for me).
We were only there for a couple of nights, but that was enough to go for an evening stroll along the banks of the Rhine, snag some bargains in the city’s excellent clothes shopping, and, of course, find a super playground where the kids could get covered in water and sand.
One other, more sombre goal of the trip was to visit the memorial stone to my great-grandmother, who was killed during the Holocaust. Many German towns have installed “stolpersteine” (“tripping stones”) that replace cobblestones outside the former residences of victims with a brass plaque listing their name and dates of life and death, bringing some remembrance right into the ordinary streets and neighbourhoods.