I realise that travel is the last thing on our minds right now but we all need something positive to look forward to and escapism from the doom and gloom that surround us all. I’m continuing to blog as usual and hope you will continue to enjoy my posts. Stay safe everyone and do please keep in touch and let me know how you are coping. Now is the time that we all need each other more than ever and if we can’t go out and socialise then hopefully we can cheer each other up through our blog posts and comments. Marion xx
After recently enjoying a winter break in Düsseldorf, we decided to turn our attention to neighbouring Cologne, another German city that we had yet to visit. Looking into airline schedules from Manchester we discovered that we could fly out at lunchtime on a Friday returning just before midnight on the Sunday allowing us plenty of time to explore the city.
Our flight with Ryanair took around an hour and twenty minutes and it seemed no time at all that we were leaving the arrivals hall of Cologne-Bonn airport and following signs towards its railway station.
The airport is located in the district of Porz, nine miles (15km) south east of Cologne. We obtained rail tickets from a machine, single adult fare into the city centre is €3 (£2.73). Tickets are valid for 90 minutes after purchase and can be used on a connecting public transport service during that time period. We just had to wait a short time on the platform for a service to Cologne’s central station (Hauptbahnhof) with the journey taking approximately 20 minutes.
This grand station is the fifth busiest in Germany and lies in the heart of the city, adjacent to the magnificent Cathedral and only a short walk from the banks of the Rhine. Cologne station (Köln Hbf) first opened in 1859 but was rebuilt after the Second World War with the current station dating from 1957. There are no barriers at the station so passengers just need to ensure they have a valid ticket.
On leaving the station we called into the Tourist Information office located just across the square from where we picked up some maps, leaflets and obtained our Köln Cards. These useful cards can be purchased for periods of either 24 or 48 hours and entitle holders to free public transport and up to a 50% discount to many of the city’s cultural attractions. The cards are valid from the time of their first use and cost €18 (£16.42) each.
Our accommodation was only a ten minute walk from there, so rather than taking public transport, we opted to walk which was very easy. We had reserved a room at The Pullman Hotel and entered through its bright, airy lobby. With formalities taken care of in almost no time at all, we were taking the lift to our stylish room on the seventh floor which had splendid views looking across to the cathedral.
After quickly settling in and making ourselves refreshing cups of tea we headed back out towards the centre whilst it was still light. Our first stop was at the cathedral where entrance is free. Unfortunately we had timed our visit just before a service was due to begin so we changed our plans and decided to return the following day.
Instead, we went down some steps by the side of the Hohenzollern rail and pedestrian bridge and followed a path along the west bank of the Rhine which was lined with attractive bars and restaurants housed in pretty pastel coloured buildings.
Pleasure boats were moored along the quay and although it would have been rather nice to have taken a river boat trip as we did in Frankfurt, the services in Cologne do not start operating until Easter. The river was quite high and fast flowing and we paused awhile to watch some heavily laden barges make their way beneath the bridge.
Although it was very pleasant strolling along the Rhine promenade, dusk was falling and so we turned inland to wander through some of the narrow cobblestone streets of Cologne’s old town. My attention was drawn to a party taking place on the terrace of one of the restaurants with all the attendees wearing traditional Lederhosen, hats with feathers, braces and long white socks. These Bavarian short or knee length leather breeches are frequently worn at beer festivals such as Oktoberfest when women are often to be seen wearing Dirndl costumes.
Our walk led us back to the riverside and as we were starting to feel quite hungry we popped into one of the restaurants for a tasty meal and a couple of beers. On our recent visit to Düsseldorf we had enjoyed sampling their Altbier and it was no surprise that whilst in Cologne we ordered glasses of Kölsch.
This top fermented beer is pale in colour, light and refreshing and very easily drinkable. It’s served in tall, thin glasses holding 20cl at around €2 (£1.80) a glass. As it was our first evening back in Germany we couldn’t resist ordering schnitzels which were served topped with a creamy, mushroom sauce. It was just what we needed as it seemed such a long time since we had bought sandwiches for lunch in Manchester airport.
After finishing our meal we slowly wandered back to our hotel room which was warm and cosy and the views of the cathedral from our windows even more beautiful illuminated at night.
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