Until recently I have never been to Essen although I was born near D√ľsseldorf and grew up in the Cologne region. Thus I was all the more delighted when Janett from Teilzeitreisender and Anja from Travel on Toast invited to the travel blogger meeting in Essen #RBRUHR. Since 2013 they organize four travel blogger meetings per year in various locations in Germany. This time the meeting took place at the ATLANTIC Congress Hotel Essen which is located between Grugapark and Messe Essen.
Essen is situated about 100 kilometres north of Cologne, inmidst the Ruhr Area which is also fondly called “Ruhrpott” or “Pott” by its inhabitants. Formerly an important industrial location for the production of coal and steel and also famous for the “Zeche Zollverein”, Essen is nowadays a very green city. With a proportion of green areas of 53 percent it is said to be the greenest city of North Rhine-Westfalia and the third greenest city in Europe. That is why Essen won the European Green Capital Award (EGCA) 2017. Since 2010 this title is bestowed to a European city which manages to reconcile environmental protection, economic growth and quality of life of its inhabitants. The Slovenian city Lubljana won the European Green Capital Award 2016, the Dutch city Nijmegen will be the European Green Capital 2018.
Travel Blogger Meeting in Essen
The ATLANTIC Congress Hotel
It only took me about an hour to get from Cologne to Essen. From the underground car park I took the elevator into the hotel lobby where I was warmly received. In a conference room I met the other travel bloggers.¬†We were served welcome drinks before the presentations of our travel blogger meeting started. The representatives of Ruhr Tourism and European Green Capital – Essen 2017 told us how Essen has become the “European Green Capital 2017” and what would await us on the tours which were planned for the afternoon. Janett reported how she became a travel blogger and gave tips how to turn a good travel blog into an exceptional one.
Afterwards I checked into my comfortable hotel room. From here I had a wonderful view of the area’s greenery. The room included a bed, table, chair, wardrobe, carpet and a comfortable armchair. The smart bathroom had a floor-length shower, a large wash-basin and a toilet.
My comfortable hotel room
At the rooftop terrace of the hotel, which is exclusively reserved to the hotel guests, an opulent barbecue buffet awaited us for lunch. It left nothing to be desired. Meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans – everyone got one’s money’s worth. In additon we could choose from two alcoholic and two non-alcoholic cocktails plus from a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Our lunch was crowned by the magnificent view of the green Essen.
Delicious barbecue buffet
European Green Capital – Essen 2017 – an Experience Tour
Already before our travel blogger meeting Janett had asked us to choose one of two experience tours. I had decided to explore the European Green Capital Essen together with other travel bloggers. The other group discovered the industry culture of the Ruhr area with different modes of transportation. While the others first boarded a coach we were picked up by the “Green Capital Volunteers” with electric cars. Environmentally conscious and almost silently we discovered Essen and the surrounding region. We were accompanied by Dana Wegberg from the project office European Green Capital who showed us the green Essen.
Our electric car
Community Garden Siepental
Our first stop was the Community Garden Siepental which was established by the Transition Town Essen. At the entrance a poetry tree awaited us which was finely decorated by citizens of Essen. A few of the hobby gardeners were present and told us about their project. In the community gardens everyone is welcome to garden. The products are for the benefit of everybody. The Community Garden Siepental is one of ten collaborative garden projects, more are being planned.
Poetry tree in the community garden Siepental
Afterwards we continued to the Niederfeldsee, an artificial lake which was laid out on the terrain of the former railway route of the Rhenish railway in Essen-Altendorf. It is located at the 100 kilometres long cycle highway Ruhr RS1 which leads from Duisburg via Essen and Dortmund to Hamm. It is forbidden to swim, surf and boat to obtain the high water quality of the Niederfeldsee. Since we later had the opportunity to swim, we sat at the outside terrace of the caf√© “Radmosph√§re” and indulged iced coffee with black vanilla ice cream, soft drinks, cake¬†and ice cream and enjoyed the view of the seaside promenade and the nice weather.
Garden City Margarethenh√∂he
We continued to the first German garden city Margarethenh√∂he, a southern district of Essen. It was built between 1909 and 1920 and named after the founder Margarethe Krupp. Charming houses and a picturesque marketplace received us. Everywhere it was greening, blooming and sprouting. It was very peaceful and idyllic and it felt more like being in a small village than in a big city in the Ruhr area.
Houses in the garden city Margarethenh√∂he
The picturesque marketplace
A supermarket with a historic fa√ßade
Schuir is the least populated district of¬†Essen and is characterised by its agricultural use. Near a farmhouse was a stand where a woman sold strawberries and asparagus. We had a wonderful view of the meadows and fields. Here, at the so called Green Belt it finally felt like being in the countryside and not in the Ruhr Area.
¬†Around Lake Baldeney
Together with ranger Thomas H√ľbscher we explored the young forest around lake Baldeney. Here and there remains of the former industrial use appeared inmidst the trees and fields.
Remains of a former mine
At the shore of lake Baldeney we boarded a boat of the “White Fleet” and enjoyed the boat ride between the canoes and sailing boats. This brought back memories. When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time at the Rur lake in the Eifel region where my parents still have a sailing boat. The idyll on the lake was only interrupted by a group of girls of a stag party who sang German folk music and encouraged a group of seniors to sing along.
A boat of the “White Fleet”
After more than 40 years it is finally possible to swim again in lake Baldeney but it is only allowed at the recently opened Seaside Beach. The formerly bad water quality was significantly improved with the aid of treatment plants. At the Seaside Beach we met the other group again who had experienced the industry culture of the Ruhr Area. How much I had loved to swim in the lake but our bathing things were in the car which was parked in 15 minutes walking distance. Instead we enjoyed cold drinks and the view of lake Baldeney.
One hour after our return to the hotel we met again at the terrace on the ground floor where we had dinner √† la carte. With interesting conversations, delicious food and refreshing drinks we brought this nice day to a close.
Dinner √† la carte
For the following morning we had planned a picnic in the adjacent Grugapark but the weather didn’t allow it. In the early morning there were thunderstorms and heavy rain, so that we decided to have breakfast in the hotel. We were compensated by the generous and rich breakfast buffet. But we didn’t want to miss the Grugapark completely. After breakfast it had stopped raining so that we could at least take a walk through this botanical garden. I wish I had had time to try out the two saunas, the steam bath and the fitness center of the hotel but after our return from Grugapark I had to drive back to Cologne.
Disclosure:¬†I was invited to #RBRUHR, the travel blogger meeting in Essen, by¬†Ruhrtourismus, the project office¬†European Green Capital and the ATLANTIC Congress Hotel Essen. It was organized by Janett from Teilzeitreisender and by Anja from Travel on Toast. Many thanks to the sponsors and the organisers for the great weekend.
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