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I’m Sorry Essen, It’s Not You, It’s Me

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I told a German couple I met in London, that I was working in Germany. They were of course very excited and asked where in Germany I was working in. When I told them I was working in Essen, the excitement quickly vanished from their faces and they told me they were sorry.

So to back up a little, yes I got back from my Round the World Trip in January, and yes I’ve moved back to my expat life in London, but I’m also currently traveling to Germany every week for few days.

Well, I was, but not anymore.

Anyways, back to Essen, which even the Germans themselves don’t think is that great. And I can understand why. It does feel like a big suburb sometimes and it does seem to lack character somehow, even if I can specify what I mean by that.

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To bring you up to speed with Essen, I could tell you that it is part of Ruhr, the industrial area in west Germany. It has a population of over half a million, and it was actually one of the Culture Capitals of Europe in 2010.

It’s ok if you didn’t know any of that. I didn’t know any of that either until I got here few months back.

So what is exactly my problem with Essen?

I arrive in the morning, tired after I’ve woken up at 4am, and then I leave a few days later, basically leaving me just a few evenings a week to explore the city. Something which I’m often too tired to do or just don’t get around to as we just end up going to the pub to have a few pints and play some pool.

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Mind you, my pool skills have improved massively since I’ve been here, but then again starting from zero, that’s not a lot.

That’s the problem with traveling for work; it’s easy to see the place you’re traveling to as work also. So I haven’t really given Essen a chance.

Then again, I’ve also been to Dusseldorf a few times while I’ve been traveling here, a city that I actually liked; so maybe there is something missing from Essen. Although Dusseldorf does have the one of the biggest Japanese communities in Europe, which means there is a lot of awesome Japanese food available; something that always gets the points from me.

I just feel that Essen really only exists for the big industrial companies that are its core and whose buildings are scattered everywhere like pillars supporting the city. If you walk from the city centre, the suburbs just seem to go on forever. Even the locals usually don’t seem that impressed by Essen, but maybe they are just being courteous, I don’t know.

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The Essen city centre actually is quite nice. It’s a big area dedicated for pedestrians with plenty of shops, restaurants and such. It’s all centered around a big plaza, which has plenty of choice for beer gardens. And since the weather can be quite cold, many of them are offering blankets so you can still enjoy the beer garden, even if the weather doesn’t quite permit it. Nice touch.

On architecture side also Essen can actually be quite interesting. There is the Zollverein industrial complex which represents the Bauhas style, but of which I don’t have a single photo unfortunately. That’s another problem with traveling for work, I don’t usually carry my DSLR with me and I take much fewer photos with my iPhone also.

Then there is the Aalto Theatre that houses the local Opera and Ballet. It’s obviously a stunning building, but more importantly it’s designed by Finland’s most famous architect, Alvar Aalto. Go Finland!

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As we are now getting to the summer here, there are more and more events around. Last week there was a big event in the park near to my hotel called Park Sounds, with free music, sunshine and generally good atmosphere. It was nice walking around there.

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And of course there are the pubs and bars that I’ve started to like.

So yes, there are quite a few things that are good about you Essen, but I don’t know, it’s just not working for me. I don’t think you are the city for me. That’s why I’m leaving you.

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I’m sorry Essen, it’s not you, it’s me.

4 Comments

  1. You know sometimes you just don’t connect with a city, especially if you are tired and worn down. It’s okay you don’t need to like everything.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Learning how to scuba diveMy Profile

    • No, you’re right, you can’t like every place, and it’s ok!

  2. I’ve never been to Essen (the closest I’ve been is Düsseldorf…didn’t like it that much either), but I have some friends from there, so I will have to check out that city at one point! I’m surprised to hear that it has such a bad rep!

    I’m moving to Mannheim in a few weeks…haven’t heard anything negative about that place yet! :)
    Michelle recently posted..My 13 most memorable moments in ChicagoMy Profile

    • It’s worth the visit I think, but I don’t recommend staying longer there 😉 Looking forward to how you get along in Mannheim!

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