Charming Cologne

Sometimes you just need to book that flight and go see your best friend. If your best friend happens to live in a charming German city then you’re in luck! I have to be honest and say that Germany has never been on my bucket list, I didn’t have any expectations and didn’t do any research before we left, which is not like her at all. Our plan was to enjoy some quality time with our friends and I think that best sums up how I feel about Cologne; it’s  like visiting a dear friend, familiar yet surprising, charming without making you feel out of place.

GERMANY, finally! For years I’ve waited to travel there; I even studied the language and watched movies about it; of all the countries in the world I would have liked most to have been born there.

The airport in Cologne is small and easy to navigate making travelers’ lives quite easy and the trip from the airplane to the airport exit door is short and straightforward. Unless you’re me and queue at the worst gate standing behind that one person who you previously allowed to go in front of you, who failed their 101 in passport scanning.

Places to see

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

We started our day from the Kölner Dom or Cologne Cathedral. This is perhaps the most iconic place in Cologne. It’s such a colossal building that  you get dizzy just by looking at it. With its impressive details and architecture it’s definitely worth stopping for a quick look around or to take cover inside on a hot day. Of course, it’s almost always completely packed with other people trying to get that perfect picture.

There are several museums in the area such as Fragrance MuseumRoman-Germanic museumMuseum LudwigMuseum of Applied Art (MAKK)  and even a Chocolate Museum but this time around we gave them a miss. We went and explored the biergartens instead, it still counts as cultural right?

We then headed off to the Old Town and walked down cobbled streets, admired traditional houses and passed endless biertgardens and restaurants.

Hohenzollern bridge

HohenzollernBridge

The romantic tradition of writing your and your loved one’s name on a padlock and attaching it on the bridge seems popular here too. Love locks aren’t not really our kind of thing but it does make for a pretty, colourful picture.

Rhine riverbank

Rhine Riverbank

When we got tired from all the hustle and bustle of the city centre, we went over to the other side of the Rhine for some beautiful views and  a place to rest our achy feet. The Rheine riverbank was one of my favourite spots in Cologne. We sat in the sun, boat-watched and chatted our hearts away. Loads of locals were there just enjoying their afternoon too so for a moment it really felt like we were part of their city.

It was a bit boring 💤 and too hot.

Rheinpark Park

Rheinparkpark

After we caught our breath, we continued our stroll down streets guarded by enormous old trees on each side and made it to the Rheinpark Park where we saw the cutest ducklings and rabbits. The city seems seems to have the perfect balance between green spaces and the concrete jungle.

We literally saw 3 rabbits and 9 ducklings. Nothing you can’t see in a pet shop or in any London park. Or puddle.

Another spot that we heard is beautiful  is the Botanical Garden but we didn’t have enough time on this trip to go see it.

One of my favourite things to done when I am in a new city is to walk through different neighbourhoods and imagine how living there would be like. We wandered around the Belgian Quarter and Ehrenfeld.

What to eat

I can’t say anything bad about the food but I wasn’t particularly impressed either. I love trying out different cuisines but finding something that’s traditional and doesn’t have meat in it was difficult.

On our first day we went for a late breakfast at Herr Pimock. The service was lovely and since it was a really warm day it was full with other people enjoying a lazy start to their weekend and had a very relaxed atmosphere. The food was good but having lived in London for a couple of years I’m a bit of a brunch snob so can’t really praise it too much.

For lunch we stopped at a lovely biergarten. I had the  Salat mit Bratkartoffeln und Spiegelei, a hearty main of chips with a fried egg and a bit of salad underneath, just enough to make me justify it to myself as a healthy meal.

Food was pretty good, they like serving proper meals and if you’re a meat lover you’re going to have a great time. I got the classic bratwurst with baked potatoes and gravy.

Cologne Food

On our second day we went to the Street Food Festival. They had food from all around the world with quite a few meat-free options and mouth-watering deserts and there was music and a very relaxed atmosphere.

I had a beef and bacon burger. Nowhere near the Bleecker Black but pretty good nonetheless.

Biergartens

Definitely a must, biertgartens are like never ending pubs. There’s several different rooms and even different floors that seem to go on forever. Every German city has it’s own beer and glass design and Cologne’s petite 300ml (she means 200ml)  glass and the light, refreshing Kölsch was for me the perfect thirst quencher.  We went to the nearby Früh .

germanbeer

Coffee

The coffee we tried in Cologne was good.

On our first day we went to a nearby coffee shop Café Einspänner. It reminded me of the coffee shops in London minus the endless queues. The coffee was very tasty and had a full flavour; they offer a wide range of coffees and non-dairy milk.

The other coffee place worth mentioning was at the Street Food Festival called Kaffeefahrt; it had a fruity flavour which went well with the soy milk although I’m not a big fan of soy.

Outside London, this would be the second best coffee I’ve tried so far (behind Oslo by some margin).

General impressions

Overall the city has youthful, positive vibes and is perfect for a short city break. There are beautiful old buildings scattered throughout the city, plenty of parks, chic boutiques and mix of chilled cafes, hipster venues and flashy night clubs. We spent one and a half days in Cologne but it is a great destination even for a day trip.

We were incredibly lucky to have friends showing us around the whole weekend and we got a taste of what it would be like to live there. If your best friend doesn’t live in Cologne, I would recommend venturing out of the touristic centre and getting lost in any of the well manicured neighbourhoods to get a real feel of the city.

People are friendly however they prefer you struggling speaking Deutsch rather than English – which is only fair enough, you’re in their country.

Weather-wise it didn’t feel like we left London, we got sunburnt and soaked all in the space of 24 hours.

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