Despite the recent troubles Cologne is currently facing, don’t let it put you off you visiting the alluring city based either side of the River Rhine. Although I only spent a very limited amount of time here, it really left an impression on me as being a meaningful city to stopover if doing a tour of Germany or Western Europe.
Being British the most important thing regarding my holiday is getting a sufficient amount of Vitamin D, as sun in Britain nowadays is something of an urban myth. Thinking of sun-seeking getaways, Germany wouldn’t usually strike you as the ideal place to go to but during the summer months I am aware of how hot in can be, and true were the words as my time in Cologne was spent in gorgeous sunshine accompanied by a light summer breeze.
The popularity of the city was evident as the traffic trying to find a parking spot was like trying to find a parking space next to Oxford Street on Christmas Eve. When we eventually found a vacancy, we were only a couple of hundred yards away from our most anticipated landmark, the iconic Köln Cathedral. I had never seen a building like it before in my life, the Gothic architecture was unique and solitary, and whilst gazing in awe I was so thankful that this incredible building hadn’t been damaged during World War 2. With no entry fee it is a perfect beginning to the introduction of Colognes magnificence.
After walking down towards the river bank he atmosphere felt like that of Bristol, UK with street performers, live musicians and an unforgettable buzz that enticed you into looking in every direction as to not miss something that was going on. After getting to the bank we decided that a boat tour on the Rhine was an activity we couldn’t miss! After our tickets were booked we had a couple of hours to kill, as we looked into the short distance we saw Hohenzollern Bridge.
As we climbed the steps to get to the main part of the bridge we were greeted by a rainbow of padlocks, millions of them. The popularity of ‘love locks’ are evident all over Europe but I had never seen as many as the ones on Hohenzollern Bridge. It was heart-warming and enchanting to see evidence of hundreds of thousands of couples from all over the world declaring their love for each other by writing their names or messages on their individual lock, I’d love to know how many of the romantics stayed together for the rest of their lives or are still together now. After a pleasurable walk across the bridge and an inevitable U-turn we approached the docking of our tour boat.
An abundance of Rhine tour boats are available across the river bank, the tour lasted for around 45 minutes and demonstrated key landmarks, worldwide known architecture and important historic locations. Not only was it an enjoyable ride but as with everywhere in Germany, delicious bottles of local and nationwide beer were on sale for you to sip on whilst taking in the stunning landspace.
Next was a walk to the Historic Old Town of Cologne. One thing that I noticed Cologne had plenty of was these small open spaced squares dotted around. With restaurants, bars, chocolatiers and patisseries, this is the optimal area to gorge yourself with Colognes finest foods and drink. I would recommend allocating a high budget for food in these Old Town areas if you’re looking for something to eat. In some places in the world you can get away with spending less than you would at home on eating out but with the type of cuisine that Germany offers it is sensible to eat out at more high end restaurants if you want a Bratwurst to remember. With the open squares of the Old Town come the array of shops and boutiques perfect for buying German fashion items or souvenirs.
Other landmarks and activities that look good that I did not get a chance to visit was the Koln Triangle, the botanical gardens and Shrine of the Three Kings. Never mind, there is no doubt in my mind that I will come back to this city at some point in my life and enjoy the attractions then.