Everyone has their own criteria for what makes a favourite cafe. For Joe Baur, Schwan ticks two important boxes – it’s close to home and the Apfelkuchen is excellent! And on the day we’re there, we’re able to enjoy the sunshine in their lovely outdoor seating area.
Joe is a relatively new arrival in Düsseldorf. A chance meeting at a travel writing conference, put him in contact with the marketing team at Trivago, and, long story short, he landed in Düsseldorf as Editor of the Trivago Travel Magazine for the US market. For Joe it was the perfect opportunity to not only secure a great job, but also put him in the middle of Europe, somewhere he’d felt a pull to explore for a long time. Normally it’s Joe out hunting down great stories, this time, however, he agreed to be on the other side of the table!
1. If you could invite one person to dinner who would you choose?
“Charlie Chaplin. I like his work. In college I watched Modern Times. It’s really hysterical I also read his autobiography and really appreciated the sentiments made. I admire his work a lot.
“Also the woman credited with creating the borders of modern Jordan, Gertrude Bell…
“And Teddy Roosevelt. He was very much a man of the people…He did phenomenally interesting things…After his mother and his wife died he went off to North Dakota and lived off his hands…He said he would not have been President if not for his time in North Dakota…He went off to the Amazon in his 50s. At that time he was still doing very challenging things.”
2. What is your favourite possession?
“Moses Cleaveland our dog, named for the founder of Cleveland Ohio…My camera and my bike. I won the opportunity to cycle the Tour of Flanders. They gave me an absurdly expensive bike and flew me to Flanders to ride in the race. I still have the bike.”
3. If someone gave you 100K for a legacy project, what would you do with it?
“I would probably do a documentary about refugees or something about how cars are more harmful than you think: I’d focus on people whose lives have been impacted and tell their stories.”
4. What are you passionate about outside of work?
“I’ve become increasingly interested in immigrant issues. I call myself a privileged immigrant. I didn’t have to come here…I want to continually learn more about the issues and what brought people here…especially now with the EU getting more borderless…I find the issues interesting and want to know more about it and what I can do to offer support.
“Public transportation and cycling; getting people out of cars…It’s a harsh rejection of what I grew up with…I got involved with a Citizens Advisory board and came to appreciate how badly funded this is…Cars kill more people than guns in the US…There was a cyclist in Cleveland who rode in the same spot I did. A truck hit him and a group of six other people. The driver said he couldn’t see them…The guy didn’t get any charges…”
5. Where are you happiest?
“Hiking. On a challenging trail where you can’t hear planes or cars or anything. The Rheinsteig was great: my favourite place of 2017. Hiking in El Salvador was really cool. We did it with the property’s caretaker and heard stories of when he fought in the Civil War.”