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I live one hour away from Solingen, stay put or go?

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I'm a university student who just recently arrived in Essen, Germany and I'm going to be living here in for the next 7 months. I'm in the heart of the industrial part of Germany and I thought I may as well use my time here and explore the region.

Thing is...I've always wanted a high-end German knife and I'd heard that the Wusthof factory is about one hour away in Solingen. Might sound like a stupid question but would the Wusthof factory happen to be "a tourist attraction"? Is it possible to buy Wusthof knives cheaper direct from the factory than if I buy them from a local German retailer? Is it worth making the trip to Solingen at all in the search for kitchenware? Anyone been to Solingen or the factory? It only costs me 2-3 euros to get there...

I'm thinking of getting an entire block set because the one my family is currently using in Australia is 12+ years old. It was rubbish when we bought it, and it's rubbish now. And we're looking to replace it. At the moment, once my 7 months is up, my plan is to ship them off back home by seamail to Australia right before I leave. Australian Customs will be another issue...

Basically my fantasy of going to Solingen has only 2 causes:

1) My (unfounded) belief that the cheapest way to buy Wusthofs is to go directly to the factory itself, if it can actually be done that is. I have noticed that it may even be cheaper to just wait until I go back to Australia in 7 months and buy it from there. Though it is a sensible option, I need a decent knife while I'm here in Essen because the apartment I'm staying at has no kitchenware and what it does have is rubbish. Besides, I intend any future Wusthof purchase to be a permanent investment both for myself and my family.

2) I've already come this far (20 hour flight). Why not try? I know that prices for Henckel/Wusthofs can be quite hideous, but if I wanted budget, I'd have just held off my purchase for Kmart in Australia. Besides, it only seems appropriate that I buy German while I'm in Germany.

I should add that I'm working Monday - Friday 9-6 so I'd probably have to make the trip on the weekend. What do you guys think? Have I lost it completely?

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    1. There is a store at the factory, but am unsure as to when they are open. No guarantees of seconds. When you add customs and shipping fees, it is usually less expensive to buy from the internet at home.

      If you can, make two trips on early Saturday mornings. Price them, and get a feel for selection, then do your homework on additional costs and return if appropriate. But I would definately get a chef's knife on the first visit irrespective of cost. Be thankful you are not in Nurenburg (crystal and porcellan outlets along the Czech border) or Frankfurt/Main (Villery and Boch in Luxembourg) 15 years later and I still haven't unpacked it all.

      Have fun in Europe. I sure did.

      And now I saw the original date of the posting and feel like an idiot.