Monday, November 16, 2009

Kettwig - home

Where I live and have lived for the last two + years.

Kettwig is a suburb of Essen (a big city) which is either the 7th or 8th largest in Germany.
To describe Kettwig as a suburb of Essen is politically and factually correct but most of the locals think of Kettwig as an entity in its own right and while the correct address for anyone here is Essen-Kettwig most people will just say Kettwig.

Essen is a big industrial city in an area called Nord Rhine Westphalia (NRW) which itself is renowned for its industrial nature. So much so that any Germans we met prior to moving here to whom we told we were moving to NRW reacted as though we'd said we were moving to a war zone (ok, I exaggerate, but the reactions were never positive along the lines of 'how lovely, what a beautiful area', it was always 'why on earth are you going there?')

It's true that previously NRW was a seriously industrial region I guess before people wised up to pollution and governments started having to behave in a more responsible manner, perhaps then the area wasn't so pleasant to live in - I can relate to this, having grown up in an area of Britain known as 'the Black Country' due to the high levels of pollution from all the industry that turned both the air and the buildings black. This would have been before my time and so my memories of the Black Country have nothing to do with grimy cities and a shortage of countryside. Consequently when people sucked their teeth in shock and horror at the thought of us moving to an 'industrial' area like NRW I couldn't take them seriously, having spent most of my life in Britain's equivalent region.

Kettwig is more of a town than a village and straddles the Ruhr which flows down through Essen and into the Rhein. It feels like a village because there is so much countryside all the way around it, and also I guess because the actual centre of it is the Altstadt which has cobbled streets and black and white timbered buildings, yes there are four supermarkets in the centre (but remember, this is Germany and the word 'super' can rarely be legitimately applied to the supermarkets here) but there are also at least 9 eiscafes/cafes, 4 bakeries, several little pubs a handful of jewelers, 2 chemists, 1 butchers and so on - just enough, especially when you take into account the twice weekly market with meat, cheese, fruit and veg and flowers...

Before we moved to Germany we aked no. 1 son if he had a choice would he choose to live in a village (as we did in England at the time of asking - little village, 5 pubs, 1 post office, 1 butchers, a first school, a corner shop and a bus service that ran once a day if you were lucky...) or a town/city - he liked the idea of living somewhere with a bit more to it than another little village, and I have to say that I think with Kettwig we have it all.

It's small and quaint enough to have a village-y feel yet has a train station with a service that runs every 20 minutes into both Essen and Düsseldorf (not that I do public transport (as my friend Alison will testify) - but more of that in another blog) and 2 or 3 high schools.
And best of all in the summer there are pedaloes on the river - how good is that?!

thanks to my dad for the photos....

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