Altbier v. Kölsch: The showdown

One of the nice things about a weekend trip to Düsseldorf and Cologne was that I got to sample both sides of Germany’s fiercest beer rivalry.

In Düsseldorf, they drink Altbier. In Cologne, they drink Kölsch. They do not mix and match.

The irony, of course, is that Altbier and Kölsch are actually rather similar. They are both brewed using the old top-fermentation method, and are served in small glasses. Your waiter will continue to bring you refills, and tally the number of beers you’ve consumed on your coaster, until you put the coaster on top of the glass.

Not that you can’t picture a small glass and a coaster, but here’s a glass of Kölsch I drank on the Cologne waterfront:

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The joys of Düsseldorf — no, really!

This weekend, I traveled to Düsseldorf to hang out with a band of pirates.

The occasion was the state of North Rhine-Westphalia’s election for state parliament. And the upstart Pirate Party was set to secure enough votes to enter its fourth consecutive statehouse — this time, in the country’s most populous state.

My story on the Pirates will appear in the LA Times in the next few days. But I thought I’d give you a quick visual preview of my experiences in Düsseldorf.

It may surprise you to learn that Düsseldorf, which I’d previously thought of as an airport, was named the city with the fifth-highest quality of life in the world last year. And it turns out to be a rather lovely place.

Unfortunately, it’s a convention city, and I was there during convention time, which meant I had to overpay for an under-quality hotel. But even funky Hotel Fürstenhof was on a gorgeous little square. The view from my window:

The city lies on the Rhine River, and is best known for the area along its waterfront:

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