Among other things, I made a small tour of Germany of about 1600 km in just four days, visiting Cologne and Hannover in a rental car. But it was worth it. If you are a beer lover, you can not miss a couple of days in the city of Cologne. Today we had the intention to move to Cologne 45 km from Dusseldorf.
Upon arrival, we visited the tourist office located near the Cologne Cathedral. When we landed in Cologne the temperature was few degrees less than zero, but with a jacket at night, it was fine. We had already booked the hostel and decided to go by taxi since we were a little tired from the trip and it was quite late. But the trip could be done on foot. Despite being a big city, the distances between the tourist spots are not very large. In fact, we never picked up transport again on the weekend.
The taxi left us at the door of the hostel. We did the check-in and decided to go out and taste the rich German beer before going to bed. Near the hotel, we find the Eigelstein-Torburg, one of the medieval gates that gave access to the city of Cologne. Walking down the street from our hostel, we realized that we were in the neighborhood of Cologne, full of shops and bars.
In that same place, now there is a square with restaurants and ice cream parlors. We look at the menus, and since everything was in German, we finally decided to get into a bar. The waiter was very nice to us. And well, we ask a little at random, because they did not have a letter in English, but what we did understand were Caesar salad and Ham and mushroom pizza.
We listened to good music and had a great beer selection. We order our first Kolsch! The Kolsch is the local beer of Cologne, and in the city, there are several factories of Kolsch (Brauerei) where you can go to eat the typical food of Cologne. We see that when they see the empty glass, they bring us another. So until we put the kettle on top of our glass they did not stop us from bringing beers.
We liked the place so much that we repeated the following night. For the first night and to get in touch with the city it was good. At the end of dinner, with some Kolsch in the body, we were tired and returned to the hotel. We fall into bed soon as the next day would be very long.
The next morning we set off in the morning at 10 am and went out to see the city, starting to walk along the Rhine River. As the temperature accompanied, the streets of the city were lively from very early. We checked what we had read about the city. It has a different environment than the rest of other German cities.
The tour started with the Church of St. Agnes, which we had near the hotel, and it was an area that we would not return to. It is the second largest church in Cologne and was built in 1895, with a tower 60 meters high. The next stop was on the way to the center, in one of the 12 Romanesque churches of Cologne. It was the church of St. Ursula, built on an old Roman cemetery. Inside the church, we can see reliquary busts and there is even some writing with them.
And just a few steps from the cathedral, we find another Romanesque church, the Church of St. Andreas. In the crypt of the church, there is a sarcophagus with the remains of Alberto Magno. We visit the cathedral with our particular guide, where I was impressed to find this great work of art in front of me. We entered the Cathedral although we could not do the full visit because it was time for mass and we can only see a small part. You have to be there to feel like an ant in front of the cathedral.
When leaving the Cathedral, we went to a car park right next to the Cathedral, where Roman and Carolingian ruins were found and we could see a small sample. I feel as if I was moved to another time as we set out to visit the other Romanesque churches of Cologne. The weather did not accompany us much in Cologne. We had many moments with rain, and this was one of them.
So we decided to take shelter from the water visiting the Romano-Germanic Museum. In the museum, we can find archaeological works from Prehistory to the Middle Ages of Cologne and surroundings. Here we can get an idea of what Cologne was like in Roman times and how important it was during the Middle Ages. When we finished our visit to the museum, we went to eat at one of the breweries in Cologne, specifically the Fruh.
And luckily we had someone to translate the letter because it was all in German and we did not understand. We ordered a salad (which they serve in a small bowl) and a steak with sauce. The dishes are quite strong in these types of places. So be careful when you order. The Fruh is next to the shopping street Hohe Strasse where we walked to get to Casa Farina, a store and museum of perfumes with a lot of history.
In this place, the Italian Jean Marie Farina manufactured, since 1709, the Original Eau de Cologne. Casa Farina is just a few steps away from the City Hall or Rathaus, a Renaissance building and recognized as the oldest town hall in Germany. The oldest part is its tower, from 1407.
When leaving the town hall we pass through Alter Markt (old market), and the square that faces the back of the town hall. It is full of bars and pubs with terraces where you can stop for a Kolsch, for example. We continue walking in the direction of the Rhine, from where we see another of the icons of Cologne, the Romanesque church Gross St. Martin, with a 75 meters high tower.
We walk along the banks of the Rhine to Heumarkt, the old shopping center of Cologne. There we see the equestrian statue of King Frederick William III, looking towards what would be the exit of the city. It is said that it is expressly put in this way because apparently he was not very well liked in Cologne. We went back to take the Hohe Strasse, full of people who went shopping!
Near Neumarkt, we find St. Aposteln, another of the 12 Romanesque churches of Cologne, dedicated to the twelve apostles. We also see the Church of St Maria im Kapitol, being one of the most important after the Cathedral. We also passed another important point in the city, Rudolfplatz, where another medieval gate is located. It is the meeting point for many people to go to dinner, or have a drink since the area is full of restaurants and cafes.
We passed by to reach Aachener Weiher, one of the largest parks in Cologne, where we walked along the lake and a little further along the roads. It gave us the feeling of having completely left the hustle and bustle. We left the park on the opposite side to the one we had entered to go through Zulpicher Street. It is the neighborhood where younger people live and known as the Latin Quarter, due to the colorful and originality of the bars and restaurants.
Because the city is home to many university students, its typical beer and the laws on nightclubs are milder than in the rest of the country. There is a lot of youthful atmospheres. It is one of the favorite cities of Germans to party and celebrate their bachelor parties. That weekend, we saw, without exaggeration, around ten farewells in the city.
Then we took the street where the Cologne Synagogue is, which after being built in 1895, was devastated in World War II by the Nazis, like the other seven synagogues that existed in Cologne at that time. This is the only one that in 1959 was rebuilt.
And so we came to the Belgian Quarter, where we went into one of the many bars to have coffee and a Chai Tea Latte, the best I had in Cologne. While we were there we saw how people started to dine and how good the dishes looked, and we even thought of coming someday if it caught us nearby. The Belgian District has its center in the Brusseler Platz, a neighborhood with many modern or more vintage cafes and restaurants. The truth is that I liked this neighborhood very much.
Once recovered from so much walking we have given the body today we plan to go to dinner. After trying it in the place where we had planned to take (was full of people and the wait was long), we decided to take us to another one. Here we order some pancakes with minced meat, tomato, cheese, and vegetables. We go a little further and we went rolling. And to end the night we went to have some cocktails at the bar, a little away from the area where we were, and there we just finished the day.
Today we wake a little later, as we needed to rest after a day like yesterday. About eleven o'clock in the morning, we sat down to have breakfast on a terrace. We were surprised that there were so many people at that time and everyone with a beer in hand. But it was eleven o'clock in the morning! But things did not stop there. All those gentlemen who were drinking beer made us enjoy a free concert. They began to sing in chorus wonderfully. They encouraged us so much that we just had the beer with them.
After having a cold beer, we go through the narrow streets of the city center. We really enjoy getting lost in its narrow streets, always full of people. Cologne has the most commercial street in Europe, Schildergasse, which was founded in Roman times as a commercial hub in the Middle Ages. We walked around the main shopping streets. We had a coffee because the afternoon was a bit cool. Then we went to the Bruhl Palace, which is north of the city of Cologne, about 12 kilometers away.
We continue walking towards the Rhine, and after passing over the Cologne Philharmonic we reach the most famous bridge in Cologne. It is the Hohenzollernbrucke or the great Hohenzollern bridge. And from the other side of the bridge, we stop to see the beautiful skyline of Cologne. It is dominated mainly by the cathedral and the Gross St. Martin (on this side of the bridge there is also a tower with a viewpoint that we will visit tomorrow).
It is worth exploring through the views offered by the city from the other end. The bridge was destroyed by the German military itself in 1945 to prevent the invasion of the city in the Second World War. It was rebuilt three years later. Now it is a railway bridge with a single pedestrian part. The number of locks hanging is striking. In its entire length, there is no more padlock, although people manage it.
These padlocks symbolize the love between several people. As you can see, for some it was a very special place. In Brunnen der Fischweiber we can see the old colorful houses with the tower of the Gross Sankt Martin Catholic church in the background. It is one of the most beautiful pictures of the city.
We cross again and it starts to rain but this time it seems that it has only been a downpour. Now our intention was to follow the remains of the medieval wall that can help us imagine the size of the city in those times. And it is following the wall as we arrive at the St. Gereon Basilica, the oldest church in Cologne. It also part of the 12 Romanesque churches and is dedicated to St. Gereon, a decapitated soldier.
A little later we passed through the Media Park, which would be like the business center of the city, with the tallest skyscraper in the city (the second tallest building after the Cathedral) and several Crystal buildings, with a nice park around.
We go back to Rudolfplatz, to try our luck with the restaurant that we could not go yesterday. We ordered some burgers and I have to say they were very good and at a good price! We go to the Barbarossaplatz area to visit another Romanesque church, St. Pantaleon, from the 10th century.
In Heumarkt Square, we found a large crowd of people around a stage. It is nice to see different cultures and races together. There is no better way to learn it than traveling. We follow the path towards the Rhine, and we pass in front of the Chocolate Museum (one of the most important museums in Germany). The Imhoff-Stollwerck museum is quite interactive with the public.
Through smell, flavors, and touch, they explain the history of chocolate from its origins. They teach us the process of making chocolate from the beginning and you can appreciate how the product is transformed until it is ready for sale. At the end of the tour, they give us a cookie dipped in hot chocolate from the famous chocolate fountain next to the window overlooking the city.
We decided to go to Rudolfplatz, making a stop on the way to have a coffee. In the last part of the tour, we visit the shopping area where we take home a variety of chocolates for all tastes. We went to the hotel to rest for a while until dinner time, but in the end, it was late and the only thing we found open (and about to close) was a very young brewery with a great party atmosphere.
It is not on our route but we passed through the door and we liked the roll. The waiters were encouraged to the party. They picked up five glasses and drank one in one gulp. I would not lose it. In this brewery, we had to wait about fifteen minutes until they gave us the table. It was worth it. The food was very good and they have their own beer. After these feasts, there was also time for dessert.
As you can imagine, after so much walking, drinking and eating, we ended up tired.
On Sunday, there was a little hungover. Today is our last day in Cologne, but we have practically the whole day ahead. We took a boat trip on the Rhine River, passing through the different bridges of the city. Nor did we lack beer in hand. We tried to go to lunch at a cafe we had seen the day before when we were going to the center. But when we arrived it was closed. Well, we are not looking for another place to have lunch and we return to the Cathedral area.
We had lunch and this time yes we got it and finally, we can make the complete visit to the Cathedral. Once inside we find huge stained glass windows, mosaics on the floor, the choir carved in wood and the urn containing the alleged remains of the Magi that brought from Milan (1164), which made Cologne a place of attraction for pilgrims in the Medieval Age.
At the exit of the cathedral, we find an exact replica of the pinnacles that are at the top of the cathedral, which from our point of view we see as something very small. It has a considerable height. When we left we went to the crowded street of Hohe Strasse, which, although it was morning, had a lot of people. We go to the stores, gossip, and we make the odd purchase.
It is almost lunchtime and we decided to try another brewery. This time the choice is between the Rathaus area and Gross St. Martin. We started by asking for a couple of Kolsch. As we did not understand the letter, we just looked to see what the dishes looked like while we enjoyed our beers. And in the end, we did not see it clearly.
We did not finish to like and the sympathy of the waitress did not help us to stay, and we prefer to repeat in the Fruh. At least there we knew the letter. Our surprise was when we saw that the letter was not the same! There were new dishes. Even so, we knew how to choose well and we ate very well.
After eating and before the weather surprised us again with rain, we crossed the bridge again this time to climb the Panorama Koelntriangle. It is the viewpoint from which we can see the entire skyline of Cologne. It is a glass building of 29 floors and about 104 meters high. The sky was again covered with clouds and we decided to go to the area where we have the hotel and take coffee before catching the train that will take us to Munich.