Dortmund is all shops and nothing more. It’s taken me a long while to determine that. The city has an elusive quality, making it difficult to determine its essence, but in effect, that’s it – shops.
The city is nothing to look at, and the beer’s nothing special, but it does have a few mitigating attributes – flying rhinos, a great football team, and friendly natives.
I discovered the flying rhinos on my first visit quite a few moons ago, and am happy to report they’re still beating their colorful wings on the city’s streets. They’re everywhere and simply fantastic. Any animal with horns on its nose and wings on its back is fantastic, with the notable exception perhaps of Angela Merkel.
The team routed Real Madrid 4-1 last night, and it could – nay, should – have been more. Most Madrid fans would be upset, but Dortmund plays with such joie de jouer that it is hard not to be seduced by their style.
Jürgen Klopp, the coach and one of the best-named people in Germany, a country that excels in great names, is brilliant, fast becoming my favorite human.
“I also scored four goals,” he said, after Robert Lewandowski destroyed the Madrid defense. “1990 in Erfurt.”
Klopp was only ever a second division player, and a defender at that, but he’s found his niche in guiding others according to wise ways.
Asked if any of the goals he scored were quite as brilliant as Lewandowski’s, he replied: “One of them was similar. I’m sure you will find it on the World Wide Web.”
I was stifling back the laughter while attempting to capture his words.
Then there are the people. The Dortmunders I met are down to earth, open, friendly. They’re real, genuine.
I guess they need to be if they’ve only shops and football. It’s impossible to walk down the street without bumping into them because their eyes are constantly drawn to shop windows, but the welcome they’ve provided me has always been first class.
The city itself is flipped. On several visits now, anytime I think I'm going north I'm going south, anytime I think I'm going south I'm going north. The same phenomenon applies when I go east and west so it’s as horizontal as it is vertical.
I missed two trains when I attempted to leave, the second while I was waiting for it on the platform. Deutsche Bahn decided at the last minute to switch it to another platform and I wasn’t paying enough attention. Germans demand 100 percent attention, 100 percent of the time. Daydreaming is strictly verboten.
Duly chastened, I got out on the next train, but the memories remained warm all the same.


  1. Dortmund is quite an odd place - the souless buildings seem to mask its cultural identity - a vacuous space with quite unattractive boxes, sorry if that sounds harsh. The Pott People - like you say, have absolutely no pretensions whatsoever. And good so. I like the Ruhrpott. Moers is an ok festi.


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