Well… I’m now back from Cologne, and its been a bit odd coming back from Germany and going to my Greek lesson the day after! I was a bit slow with my responses to simple Greek questions.
The weather for Cologne on Wednesday was very good… at 24 decrees celcius… a temperature I’d be happy with in Greece (although Greece is normally warmer).
One of the reasons for choosing the ‘Hotel Brandenburger Hof‘ was that it did good breakfasts, according to its reviews. There was a good choice of food including a range of cerials, bread and rolls. There was also the option of having a “gekochtes Ei” (boiled egg) and to drink you could help yourself to juice or water, or the receptionist also offered you “Tee” (tea) or “heiße Schokolade” (hot chocolate).
Being in the centre of Cologne, the hotel is only a few minutes walk from many tourist attractions. The river front is only accross the road and from there about a 5-10 minute (depending on walking speed) to the sport museum and, next to that, the chocolate museum.
We went first to the “Deutsches Sport und Olympia Museum Köln“. The museum is about the history of sport and the olympics, and in there you will find a range of different equipment: old hockey sticks (there is one with the Indian hockey team 1975 autographs), a large TV screen where you can watch “Goals of the Year”, all selected from Bundesligua football matches and find out about the ancient Olympics. One thing I found particularly interesting is the article on the 1966 World Cup final (between England and Germany) from a German point of view…
I should maybe point out that I have probably made it sound boring but that is because I don’t like sport. If you are a sport fan then this is for you! I did learn a few more German words from the museum though!
The chocolate museum (“Schokoladenmuseum Köln“) is next to the sport museum. You can find out about the history of chocolate, and the advertising of chocolate in the past. You can walk into the museum’s own rainforest to see the type of environment the cocoa comes from, and you can see the production area: where chocolate is still being made today. You can read about the machines and look through the glass into the room where machines wrap the chocolate and staff measure the chocolate into bags.
After walking round the museum, you can visit the chocolate shop and buy a range of Lindt chocolate: some items (such as the chocolate rabbits) you will recognise whilst others (such as the Cologne Cathedral chocolates) you might not.
Once you’ve managed to get out of the shop, you might have enough money for the cafe… you can sit inside or outside with a good view of the river (Rhine) and try some of their food. We tried the chocolate cake and a cold chocolate drink, served with cream and ice-cream. It is possible to have a proper meal so if you don’t want chocolate you’re not forced to.
For the evening meal, we had something more German on Wednesday night. We went to “La Marian: Deutsche und Italien Küche” (basically German/Italian cooking). There are a range of dishes including pizza or spaghetti for those wanting Italian food, while those wanting German food can choose between dishes such as “Zigeunerschnitzel mit Pommes” (12,90) or “Bratwurst mit Bratpommes” (7,90).
The “La Marian” resteraunt is not far from the front (so can be expensive if you choose the wrong dishes), although you don’t have a view of the river. This is an advantage because once you get away from the view, the resteraunts have to offer something different to get the visitors in. All the resteraunts hidden from the river by other buildings have their “Today’s special” boards out.
An advantage of being away from the view is that it is quieter than directly at the front, and you can sit outside and watch everyone else walking or cycling past (something I always enjoy… maybe because sitting outside/on the street and watching everybody passing by is very Greek).
Tours of Cologne Cathedral are offered in both English and German… English ones at 10:30 and 14:30, with German ones every 90 minutes throughout the day. You are shown key parts of the building, including the significance of symbols on floors, windows and ceilings. You are also told about the history of the building: how it was started in the 1500s/1600s, but after a long time left half complete was finally finnished in the 1860s.
You can then pay about 1,00 extra for the chance to walk up the tower for a view accross the river and the city. This is scary though because although you can hold on to a rail as you walk upwards on the spiral stairs, if (actually… I should say when) you meet someone coming the otherway you have to move over to the right and walk on the narrow part of the staircase, where there is no handrail… only the stair above you to old on to.
There are a number of shops in Cologne – the main high street is not far from the Dom (Cathedral). During the day it is busy… and make you remember to walk on the right of the padestrianised zones not the left as you would do in the UK.
From “Köln Bonn Airport”, “Köln Hauptbahnhof” is only 15 minutes by train. Make sure you use the S-Bahn as this is cheaper. Train number S13 is the one you want, but make sure it is going to “Horrem” not “Troisdorf”, otherwise you are going the wrong way.
There is loads more to talk about… but I can’t fit it all in so I’ve only included the most important bits of information. I’ll try and put some photos in soon!