Cologne... I'm not sure what to make of this city. I think the fair thing to say is that I spent too little time in a place that is probably very similar to Toronto – at first sight there's not that much to see and do but, once you start actually living there, things get impossibly interesting in this, the birthplace of Eau de Cologne (because that name is not a coincidence, cologne is called like that because that scent and bottle were originally from, well, Cologne!).
So this post is way more about "hey, look at the pics" than most of my other travel posts, I'm afraid. So, hey, look at the area where my hotel was and where my meetings took place. A bit of a mix of urban, modern and slightly traditional, with water nearby and – a nice bonus – delicious sun!
Walking towards and around the Rhine was nice too, especially some old streets, the views of the cathedral, a few trees with fall foliage...
Of course, if there is one place you're gonna visit (that's not a museum), that would be the cathedral (the Kölner Dom), a fantastic Gothic example of architecture that is actually just about the most visited landmark in the whole country! I liked the dark, slightly gloomy (I only visited at night), very Catholic feeling...
And since we're talking night views, on my comings and goings I also got some interesting ones of churches, alleys and the Rhine... A very quiet city during the week, I must say.
Now, food-wise, I'm afraid I just didn't have the time to sample much of the local cuisine. I loved the pretzels, fluffy and light enough, with delicious and huge grains of rough salt... Other stuff they had for breakfast at my hotel was... curious, I guess? The porridge was nice. And I appreciated having pickles. But still... Hmmm... At least, on my final day at the airport, I could enjoy one final huge pretzel and a nice draft beer, right?
Sure, we were invited for dinner to a very old and nice restaurant, Brungs, where we had some beef broth, and more beef in a thick dark sauce with potatoes and veggies, and apple strudel with cream... All good, but I don't know, I have the suspicion that food from this part of the world might not quite rank in my top 10... But that's me. And I'm probably biased, because then one late night I had a döner with ayran, and that actually made me very happy! LOL
Whenever possible, I try to get at least a taste of the nightlife. In this case, I had to make do with a Tuesday's nightlife. But at least I met someone who took me to this tiny place called Beim Sir, with a nice wood and tile bar, and where we had the traditional local brew – Kölsch! Always served in tiny 200ml glasses, refilled constantly until you put your coaster on top of your glass.
And after that, and since it was in the area, I was taken to another place which I was told had a very Berlinesque atmosphere – Pullermanns. I hear it's been there a while, and it certainly has a quite liberal attitude! Suffice it to say you could sit and have a beer or wander around in ordinary street clothes, in a latex singlet, or au naturel, and nobody would bat an eyelid. Wow, that's what happens when you let a local guide you around, right?
My last view of the city – the train station and the cathedral behind.
An awfully short visit. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to experience this part of the world with more calm some other time.