Day 3. Cologne – along the Rhine

The hotel’s restaurant appeared quieter than the previous morning but as breakfast is served between 7.00 and midday on Sundays, perhaps other guests were having a well earned lie in. We enjoyed tucking into a wide selection of healthy and perhaps not quite so healthy (but equally delicious) options to keep us going for most of the day.

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Healthy fruit to start the day

Returning to our room, it was then time to pack our bits and pieces together which we then left with the hotel concierge as our flight home wasn’t due to depart until late evening allowing us plenty of time to explore more of the city.

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The Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne

Our morning began with a stroll towards the magnificent cathedral and along the nearby footpath to the riverside embankment. The previous day we had chosen to head upstream so it seemed a good idea to take a walk in the opposite direction. As it was a lovely sunny, spring morning quite a lot of people were also enjoying a morning stroll, cycle ride or jog.

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Needing to divert our path along the Rhine due to some localised flooding

We hadn’t got too far before we were diverted off the riverside path due to flooding. It wasn’t too bad and we were able to take a parallel route on slightly higher ground.

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The Cologne Sculpture Park

We’d noticed that on the previous day the Rhine was fast flowing and river levels were high. Large barges continued to pass slowly along laden with their heavy cargo and we enjoyed a pleasant 30 minute stroll to the Sculpture Park located just across the road from the river. The park offers free admission and is open daily. It was somewhat smaller than we had expected but contained approximately 30 contemporary sculptures.

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The Cologne Sculpture Park

The park was created in 1997 with a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibits. Unfortunately, there was very little information about the sculptures or descriptions of their works which would have been helpful to understand the artists ideas. The park lacks a cafe or visitor centre but we had a wander around leaving at its rear entrance near to the zoo.

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Flora Garden, Cologne

Not wishing to visit the zoo we continued the short distance along to the Flora and Botanical Garden which also offers free admission. It’s Cologne’s oldest park and is divided into two sections. The southern section of the garden known as Flora was created in 1864 with symmetrically laid out gardens in a variety of styles.

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Spring flowers in Flora Garden, Cologne

Spring flowers were showing their heads brightening up the landscape as we followed paths through the gardens and around the lake. In the centre of the park lies the historic Flora building which re-opened six years ago after a three year renovation period. This elegant setting now hosts concerts, conferences, weddings and other celebrations.

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The Flora building, Flora Botanical Garden, Cologne

The Botanical Garden was until 1920 separated by a wall but has now been combined with Flora. It felt very relaxing strolling through its lush vegetation and pausing to admire the gorgeous blooms of early flowering camellias and magnolias.

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Botanical Garden, Cologne

We also came across several tropical greenhouses and a wonderful palm house styled on London’s Crystal Palace. The gardens were beautiful during our March visit and surely must be even more delightful during the summer months and I’d definitely recommend visiting.

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The Palm House, Cologne Botanical Garden

Instead of walking all the way back to the city centre, we made use of the metro from the adjacent Zoo/Flora stop and within ten minutes were alighting at Rudolfplatz which is home to one of the city’s twelve medieval gates. The Hahnen Gate is the most impressive of the monumental gates and was built in the thirteenth century.

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Hahnen Gate, Rudolfplatz, Cologne

Although it was interesting to view this gate, the main reason for taking the metro to Rudolfplatz was so that we could explore Cologne’s Belgian Quarter which lies between Friesenplatz and Rudolfplatz.

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Typical buildings in the Belgian Quarter of Cologne

Visitors to the Belgian Quarter could be mistaken for thinking they had crossed the border and were actually in Belgium as its street names are derived from Belgian provinces and cities.

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St. Michael’s Church. Brusseler Platz, Cologne

Brüsseler Platz lies at the heart of this affluent residential district centred around the neo-Romanesque St. Michael’s church. People were sitting on benches and low stone walls around the square, relaxing in the sunshine. Surrounding the square we found numerous cafes, bars and restaurants offering Belgian favourites such as waffles and moules mariniere. It was tempting to call in for a plate of waffles but as our flight wasn’t until nearly midnight, we had decided to eat later.

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Belgian bars and cafes in Cologne’s Belgian Quarter

Retracing our steps back to the metro, we took a service across the river to its east bank alighting at the Deutzer Bridge from where we strolled through the historic park alongside the riverbank.

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Rhine Boulevard Cologne

In 2015 an attractive, newly created promenade known as the Rhine Boulevard opened offering panoramic views of the city’s skyline from the old town to its majestic cathedral. We passed a large seating area of wide concrete steps which would be perfect for watching the sunset and several bars and restaurants along this popular stretch of the river.

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Rhine Boulevard Cologne

Our afternoon stroll continued across the Hohenzollern Bridge, another good place for some picture perfect views of the city. This bridge also takes the name ‘love lock bridge’ as it is weighed down with thousands of engraved padlocks on its metal railings. I’ve come across many of these on my travels but I can’t recall seeing so many in one place.

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Equestrian statue of King Frederich Wilhelm IV, Rhine Boulevard, Cologne

Back at our hotel we enjoyed a sit down in one of its lounges and a refreshing cool drink before going out for a meal to Päffgen Beer Hall conveniently located just five minutes walk from the hotel. This beer hall is slightly off the tourist trail and is frequented mostly by locals creating an authentic atmosphere in its dark wood panelled rooms and has a rustic feel.

 

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Paffgen Beer Hall, Cologne

 

The brewery only serve one type of Kölsch but as it’s light and hoppy and easily drinkable, I can’t see this being a problem. It’s served in small 20cl glasses at €1.80 a glass. Do try and remember to place your beermat on top of your glass if you don’t want any more, otherwise your glass will be replenished. Interestingly, a beermat acts as your tab with the waiter marking this with pencil ticks to keep track of your bill.

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Waiters loading up their beer trays at the Paffgen Beer Hall, Cologne

Deciding what to order, I plumped for ‘Dickie Bunne’ from the Cologne local speciality menu whilst across the table it was his favourite pork schnitzel once again. My dish was described as broad beans with bacon and baked potatoes and I had anticipated bacon lardons stirred into the broad beans but instead I was served two large pieces of thick, fatty bacon. After taking some time to remove the fat, I actually enjoyed the dish with its combination of flavours, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The portions were generous and the food piping hot. It’s not haute cuisine but good for an informal tasty meal. English menus are available but most importantly please remember to have sufficient cash as card payments are not accepted.

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Our meals at the Paffgen Beer Hall, Cologne

 

It was then back to the hotel for one last time to collect our luggage before taking the train to the airport. As our 48 hour Köln Cards were still valid we did not need to purchase rail tickets for the journey, but should you need to, then these are just €3 each.

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Cologne Central Railway Station

The journey to the airport took approximately 20 minutes and as it was late in the evening the terminal was very quiet. Our return flight to Manchester departed punctually at 23.15 landing in Manchester slightly ahead of schedule at 23.45 local time.

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Waiting at the gate for our return flight back to Manchester

Visiting Cologne for the weekend had been very pleasant and we had found plenty of interesting things to see and do to keep us occupied from exploring the gothic cathedral to learning about its perfume industry.

If you have enjoyed reading this post, you may also be interested in the following:

Düsseldorf City Break

During our stay in Cologne we were guests of Visit Köln and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.

45 thoughts on “Day 3. Cologne – along the Rhine

  1. I’m so glad to read you were able to continue with interesting sight-seeing, after your experience of the day before with things beginning to close. And it seems as if you picked the most scenic and enjoyable places to find. I loved travelling along with you.

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  2. My wife who had to flee with her family from Hungary during the war only remembers early childhood in Germany so it has a special place in her heart and it was so good to see her joy travelling through Germany and Austria during our visit in 1995. We loved our trip on the river and exploring river settlements as we negotiated roads beside the river by car.

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    1. Several years ago, before my blogging days we enjoyed two summer motoring holidays along the Rhine and Moselle finding delightful places to stay and enjoying visiting the welcoming small towns and villages with all their pots if geraniums hung from the window boxes. Thinking about it, I’d like to take those road trips once again sometime when all this is over. Take care, Marion.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words, it’s so pleasing to read that you are enjoying my posts about Cologne from the comfort and safety of your home. We can all dream of the days ahead when we can resume travelling. Until then, take care.

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    1. We were in Cologne early March this year, it was just before restrictions were put in place for the virus and most things were still operating as normal. I thought I had mentioned this on an earlier post in the series and that we had arranged the visit before the outbreak took place. How the world has changed in such a short time! Stay safe and thank you for commenting.

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  3. jasonlikestotravel

    Wonderful end to the trip! Really interesting to see flooding, I’ve been three times in March and even seen snow but don’t think I’ve ever seen it get to the point of flooding.
    Haven’t been to the botanical gardens since 2013 so nice to see some of the changes 🙂
    Glad you enjoyed your time in Köln!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. jasonlikestotravel

        Haha starting to make your mark on Germany! I’d recommend Bremen and Munich, I’d also probably say Augsburg but I don’t know if I’m just fonder of it because of association with a friend that lives there. I do like it though.
        Been to a few other places in Germany but nowhere I’d particularly say you have to visit.
        I think my top 3 to visit now are Dresden, Leipzig and Stuttgart. Funnily enough had I not been in Washington I’d probably have gone to Leipzig in March as Spurs were playing there.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ThingsHelenLoves

    Love the information about the tab-on-a-beer-mat system. My local pub used to do this when we lived in Germany. Inexpensive beer and good company led to some great nights and delicate mornings! Lovely record of your trip, as always. Hope you are keeping well in these tricky times. Helen x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking an interest in these posts Helen, it’s much appreciated. How I wish we could all return to our former lives and enjoy everyday things like going out to the pub and meeting up with friends. Let’s hope it’s not too long until it happens as I’m sure we’ll all appreciate it even more then. We have a lovely big, old house where we’ve lived for 26 years so I’m devoting some time each day to all those jobs that never get done and hopefully to lots of decluttering. By the end of this our garage will hopefully be full of stuff to take down to the charity shops once they open again! Marion x

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        1. It was a lovely weekend break and the memories of it will live for ever as it took place just before the virus restrictions came into place. Thank you for your much appreciated thoughts, they are most welcome. Stay safe!

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    1. Thanks Shane, virtual travel s what we all need a good dose of right now. German food is always tasty and the portions nice and big too! I don’t know the origins of Cologne’s Belgian Quarter but presume that some people settled in that district and made it feel like home! Take care.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my series of Cologne posts. How I wish we could go to a pub now rather than being stuck indoors. The Belgian Quarter is very pleasant and its architecture is even Belgian styled! Take care.

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  5. I’m glad you had a great time exploring Cologne. I love Botanical Gardens, they provide often needed peace and quiet when visiting big cities. Thanks for sharing and fueling my wanderlust. Can’t wait to travel the world again. Stay safe 😊 Aiva

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  6. I have to say the Belgian quarter also has VERY Belgian-looking buildings, in the style found all round where I used to live in Brussels. They look like they’ve been transplanted wholesale.

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    1. That’s very interesting Stella. I’ve visited Belgium numerous times but not for ages so I didn’t realise the buildings were also typically Belgian – obviously a very authentic district! Funnily enough, we were thinking of returning to Brussels so hopefully we’ll get back there once we can travel again. Take care and best wishes, Marion.

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  7. What a wonderful trip, Cologne is a brilliant place to visit. We love Germany. So much history and so many places to visit plus the food and drink is the best. Those bars serving Kolsch are great aren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Jonno, it’s much appreciated. You are quite right about German food and drink, you can’t go wrong and the portions are always nice and big too! Hope things are going better for you and you are getting used to life in Devon.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately yes, but as I travel so much, I’ve got plenty of visits to document that I haven’t had an opportunity to post so far. I should have been heading off to Manchester Airport this morning but instead I’m sitting at my kitchen table! Take care.

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