Hello, Germany! It’s been a whole 7 months since I’ve last seen you. How have you been?
Yup, leaving hectic lab work behind for a few days, I was on my way to Deutschland again. As I boarded the InterCity Express (ICE) train from Brussels to Cologne a few days ago, my heart was filled with the same excitement and anticipation that I felt when I travelled alone for the first time. I think that was Paris last year during Christmas, and much has changed, definitely, between the two trips.
With that said, the visit to Cologne was nothing short of eventful. In between getting lost for an hour before finding my hostel, meeting a friend studying in Essen, almost losing my bank card due to my own stupidity, pushing and shoving through more Christmas markets than I’ve ever been to, and overdosing on food that resulted in pimple surge, I had fun. In fact, I haven’t had this much fun in a long while!
The recount on Cologne will be split into two posts. This one will be a more general overview of the fabulous city while a special Christmas edition will follow shortly.
So why Cologne? Two very simple reasons: distance and price. From Brussels, it took less than two hours to get to Cologne with ICE, well within my acceptable range for a weekend train trip. And it wasn’t expensive; if booked ahead of time, you could get round-trip tickets for well under 50 Euros. Score.
Let’s start with a few brief facts about Cologne (Köln in German). The fourth largest city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich, Cologne is traversed by the Rhine river. Within the city, seven bridges cross the river, and five of them are easily visible from the city center. As much as Hamburg is known for the hamburger, Cologne is known for well…Eau de Cologne, which originated, of course, in Cologne. What did you expect?
Time for some photo spam (full album here)!
Perhaps the most well-known landmark in Cologne is the Dom, or the cathedral. That might be because…oh, I don’t know, because it’s RIGHT outside the central train station? You simply don’t “miss” the Dom; the first thing you see upon taking the main exit of the station is literally this massive structure. And massive is by no means an understatement. According to Wikipedia, the Cologne Dom “[was] tallest building in the world from 1880 to 1884; [is the] largest Gothic church in Germany; [is the] tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world”. Certainly rather impressive.