After a long 5 hour train trip, made longer by the fact that we were stuck in seats facing the wrong way with a pole in the middle of our window, we arrived in Cologne.
Now we were a little concerned about our accommodation as we booked it on a NZ site and the price seemed to be way too good to be true. We booked a family room with four beds and a bathroom for considerably less than the double room was advertised at!
We left the train station and within a minute or two walk we were in our hostel. The hostel seemed more like a hotel and we were surprised yet again when there were no problems with room and they provided us with a free Buffett breakfast token for each of the days we were staying!
After settling in to our family room we walked the 100 meters to the Dom (Cologne Cathedral) the symbol of the city of Cologne, a huge gothic church with massive towers that lead the eye to the sky. We thought the exterior was impressive but once inside we were rendered speechless. The church was massive and the decorations and stained glass windows were incredibly detailed.
After visiting the church we wandered along the walking streets until we found a massive beer garden complete with wiener stand “yum curried spicy sausages!” Our evening was spent exploring the streets, but due to a public holiday most of the shops were closed, probably a good thing for our bank balance.
Our first full day was spent exploring further afield. We grabbed a great map from the tourist information office and spent hours walking from one magnificent site to the next and wandering along the banks of the Rhine river. We started walking east to the first landmark and from there used the map to find the next closest point of interest, and so on. It was a great way for us to see the sights that are not on the tourists must see list but worth a visit.
Our second and third days were both cold and wet. Lucky for us we hadn’t packed for a German summer but for all eventualities complete with thermals, hats, gloves and warm jackets…and we needed them all. It was as tropical as 6 degrees but the wind made it feel a lot colder. We felt like we spent a lot of time hiding from the weather but we actually managed to get in a lot of sight seeing and even a bit of shopping.
One afternoon we crossed the famous Hohenzollern Bridge. This amazing steel structure, once a train and vehicle bridge, was destroyed in 1945. It now is used for trains and foot/bicycle traffic. The walkway offers amazing views up and down the river and has been used by those with romance on the mind to lock a padlock to the fence and throw the key into the river, a sign of giving your partner the key to your heart or some other shit.
On the far bank of the Rhine, almost opposite Cologne Cathedral, is the 28 storied high triangle building which, for a few euros, you can get the lift to the observation deck on the very top and get a stunning 360 degree view of Cologne.
Although it rained and was cooler than expected we enjoyed Cologne. The city was great for us as walkers. There are so many walking streets and a wide walking area along the river. I would recommend getting a hotel in the centre and explore by foot.
Next stop Amsterdam