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 Visit to Duisburg, 2007 - My Diary  

Saturday 26th May. Leave Portsmouth at about 0700. As last year, usual mostly uneventful journey through the flatlands of Belgium and the Netherlands. The ferry was absolutely packed - although I could have done with a lie down, the only way I could get near to this was to sit on the floor. Although I never realised before that you could see Britain and France simultaneously.

Arrive in Duisburg just as the Women's Cup Final featuring FCR Duisburg against Franfurt is coming to an end, and going to a penalty shoot-out - which Duisburg lost (the men's Cup Final later in the evening was won by Nürnberg 3-2 against League Champions Stuttgart, after extra time).

Sunday 27th May. Spend the day with Heinz and Marlis, Hans and Ingrid in in Walsum in the northern part of the city.

We were able to get a superb view southwards right along the Rhein. Below in the flood plain, it was quite strange to see a flock of sheep.

We also walked along the Rhein from a distance further north, by the Walsum coal-mine.Only a couple of years ago, I read an article in Hörzu relating how German mines were becoming more profitable as demand goes up and prices in China etc. rise (so they were not going to close when temporary Government subsidies expired). I was going to translate it and send it to the press in South Wales, but the Walsum mine is et to close, tending to contradict the information in the said article. To add insult to injury, a new power station is being built adjacent to the mine, fed by coal from the likes of Australia etc. (boats have got a reasonable draft to carry coal this far along the Rhein but not for much further).

We head for the evening do the other side of the river via car ferry.

Monday 28th May.

Visit to the Neanderthal Museum, close to the town of Mettman.

The museum is very well laid out, having a spiral form upwards so that everything is laid in a linear manner. In the basement there was a special exhibition '1000 years of erotica' or something. Whereas in the main museum, everything was bilingual, this section was only in German (so Eileen had to get Wolfgang to translate everything for her).

We learn from Renate beforehand that Neanderthal is the correct spelling because that is how they used to spell it in the 19th Century, whereas today 'valley' is translated as 'tal'. The valley is actually the valley of the Düssel river- this small section was named after a clergyman in 16th Century Dusseldorf who had changed his name of Neumann to the Greek form of Neander. So there was some play on words in that Neanderthal man coincidentally has a name implying 'new man'. The original rural Neanderthal was destroyed by the mining operations which eventually lead to the uncovering of the few bones of Neanderthal man, just a few years before Darwin's Theory of Evolution was made known (this museum contrasts with Portsmouth's own Genesis Exhibition which attempts to say that Darwin was wrong).

The weather threatens to be a repeat of last year, and litte opportunity is given to follow the walk(s) in the neighborhood.

Tuesday 29th May. Reception at the Rathaus, hosted by the Burgermeister, Doris Janicki, of the Greens.

Free afternoon,

As last year, evening visit to the Altstadt area of Dusseldorf.

Return by skirting Dusseldorf airport, which was the scene of a major fire in 1996, a fire that caused many changes to be made to similar buildings. Further info

Wednesday 30th May.

Trip to Soest ( Wikipedia information) and the Möhnesee, whose dam was officially opened by the Kaiser himself in 1913 and breached by 617 Squadron on the night of 16-17 May 1943.

We went for a one-hour round trip by boat on the lake. The number of people who got off at the end was one less than the number who had got on in the first place. Luckily the boat had only gone a few meters before (Steve, for it was he) managed to persuade the crew to return!

I have collated information on the Dambusters raid on a separate file - go here.

In the evening, go for dinner at the nearby Kartoffel Kiste.

Thursday 31st May.

Trip to Essen, which incidentally is one of the European Cities of Culture in 2010.

In the evening, go to a special meeting of the Duisburg English Society in the Pianissimo bar.. Meet Duisburg's answer to Bert Trautmann, one Harry Hermann who went to Britain as a prisoner-of-war and ended up playing as goalkeeper for various local sides in the Gloucester area - there was a rumor that he had actually played briefly for Bristol City. Several others had gone to a favorite haunt just down the road - the Lindenwirtin.

Friday 1st. June.

Free day - Zoo. Since my last visit there has been a 60 program 'Doku-Soap' on television about the zoo - called Ruhrpottschnauzen.

The Dolphinarium now has a roof again.

Sechs Seen / Six Lakes, Duisburg Again, as last year evening is spent in a restaurant in the Sechs-Seen-Platte/Six Lakes Area.

Translation from German to English