This week we had a special little trip to Cologne, better known for Germans under the name Köln. So what brought us down to Middle Germany, the babaric part south of the river Elbe? My wife had some business to attend there so we decided to make a quick three-day holiday in Cologne. As my mother’s birthday was at the same time we invited my parents to come with us (of course we paid everything ). Somehow luck was on our side and I was able to get a good deal for two rooms and two nights at the Hyatt, let’s just say the breakfast is really good at least for people like me and not so special for people like my Chinese wife…
First some background info about Cologne. It is the fourth biggest city in Germany with a bit over 1 million inhabitants. The city has many famous landmarks with the Cologne Cathedral being probably the most well-known. During the Second World War 95% of the city was destroyed and the population had been reduced by over 90%, no wonder it was even called “world’s greatest heap of rubble”. Even though Cologne had been reduced to basically nothing it was rebuild again with reconstruction work lasting until the 1990s. You can check out pictures of how the city looked like after the war on any search engine and it is really amazing how people were able to rebuild it all again.
Our journey started on Tuesday morning but we wouldn’t arrive in Cologne until late afternoon due to terrible weather and several traffic jams. Under normal conditions the drive would usually take roughly five hours but in our case it took more than seven hours, no joy…really. Especially Nathan was a bit odd during that trip as he did not fall asleep at all and was full of energy until the late evening hours. Our hotel was located in a just perfect location as it is just few minutes away by walking from the city center. All you have to do is cross the Hohenzollern Bridge and you are standing right in front of the Cologne Cathedral. The Hohenzollern Bridge itself is one of the landmarks of Cologne and also famous for the thousands of love padlocks placed on the fence between the footpath and the railway lines.
The second day my wife had to be at another hotel already at six AM for her appointment and as it was still dark I walked her there. On my way back to our hotel I took a route through the still empty city center and could take some nice pictures. Later that day we all went once again to the city center and walked by few famous landmarks, the main shopping street and went into the Cologne Cathedral. The Cathedral is just huge, walking around the insides reminded me on the Halls of Moria from Lord of the Rings due to the giant pillars. Visitors can also climb a spiral staircase to a viewing platform at 98m above the ground. I don’t know if it is possible for visitors to climb also the towers which reach up to 157m above ground. Even though we had a wonderful and very filling breakfast we were getting hungry at some point and went to eat at Oma’s Küche (Grandmother’s Kitchen) which is known for its Schnitzel dishes. Though it is very simple food it is still very delicious and more than just filling as the portions are pretty big. In the evening my wife and I went to the Spring Funfair just few minutes away from the hotel. Perhaps you remember one of my blog posts about the funfair at my hometown and how disappointing is was for me to see how small it had become. Well, the funfair in Cologne was so full that it was sometimes impossible to move around. It seems that at least in bigger cities the funfairs are still well visited.
On our last day we left Cologne right after breakfast as we were afraid to be stucked in multiple traffic jams again but to our surprise nothing major happened and we arrived in the afternoon. All in all it was a very nice trip and I recommend going to Cologne in case you are for some time in Germany. We had planned to visit some more places in Cologne such as the Chocolate Museum and other landmarks around the city but the weather was first of all not the best during those days and we just had too little time.
Have you been to Cologne before?
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64 thoughts on “Few Days in Cologne”
I haven’t been to Cologne but it looks fun. The cathedral looks very impressive especially. Among the German cities, I would really like to visit Dresden some day soon. It’s about 5 hours drive from Lodz so maybe I can do it this year. 🙂
Wow, five hours drive? Where do you live in Germany? I don’t seem to remember.. Happy birthday to your mom! Hope she enjoyed the mini-holiday gift to Cologne.
We live north of Hamburg 🙂
Dresden is a nice city, been there few times for competitions and visited few of the main landmarks there, you should really try to go there!
Love the photos! I’ve been to Cologne just a few months ago. Love the tourist attractions, especially the cathedral. We also went to the zoo and rode the cable car.👍🏼 Looks like you & your family had a lot of fun as well.:)
There is a cable car? I didn’t even know abut that one! Wish we had more time there as there are so many things we missed out this journey
It takes me back! I was there one Easter weekend and loved the cathedral and eating pastries in front of it. Yum and “ooooh” at the same time. I didn’t see the cathedral at night, though. Lovely photo.
For some reasons these places always have too much good food around, especially pastries…I don’t even want to think about how much weight I might have gained during those three days even though on the second day I walked 27km!
Wow. A half marathon!
Not to talk even about the 80 floors I have climbed during that whole day :0
OMG. We’re staying 5 flights up in this old hotel in London right now and there is no elevator. I hear you.
What a great hotel 😀
Five floors up and no elevator, only the British
Cologne sounds like a wonderful city and it’s nice to know you can go away on holiday with small kids too 🙂
Why did you call middle Germany barbaric? 🙂
For us north Germans (Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-vorpommern) everything south of the river Elbe are the badlands with people still communicating with drums 😀
Hahahahah, dat isch eigentlisch lustigsch, wa? Soll man auch vergleichen, zwischen Plattdeutsch und Kölsch? Vielleicht nicht.
I haven’t been to Cologne but it looks lovely. Nathan is so sweet. Thanks for your post and the little bit of history.
The history behind cities is always very interesting g for me 🙂
Oh Cologne, beautiful town next to the Rhine.
Since I grew up only an hour away from cologne (smack in the middle of Köln, Düsseldorf and Aachen), I visited quite often and you really made me miss home ^^
As far as I know you can only walk up to the platform in 98 meters and to be honest, I was panting to hard after walking up the nearly 500 steps, that I wouldn’t have wanted to go any further f(^_^;)
I love the picture of the Dom at night. I think it’s a completely different atmosphere in the still of the night compared to the hustle and bustle during the day.
Well I wouldn’t like to climb up anyways due to my fear of heights, the stairs wouldn’t be the problem though. On Wednesday I was walking 27km through cologne and climbed 80 floors altogether:)
That is impressive!
My best sightseeing walk distance was lately around 17-18 km I think and I were dead tired afterwards ^^”
I was also fairly dead in the end. Usually I never walk more than 15-20km in one day and in Cologne all the stair climbing added up to a rather exhausting day
Fantastic photos, especially the early morning picture of the cathedral.
What’s the idea of the love padlocks?
I looked up images Cologne after the bombing of WWII. Terrible! When we lived in Manila, they told us that it also was one of the most destroyed cities during WWII. It used to have many beautiful big tree. But they were never replaced.
The padlocks couples hang on the fence as to “our relationship will last as long as this padlock is locked here”. My wife and I have one on a mountain top in China as well.
Nearly all major cities were completely destroyed in Germany, just imagining that in the East German city of Dresden between 500.000-1.000.000 people died during the revenge bombings in one night towards the end of the war. In Dresden they managed also to rebuild most of the historical landmarks with the last church completed 15 years ago or so
People who talk about going to war to show how tough they are should study WWII to see how terrible it can be.
Yeah, I’ve been to Köln before, but only for 1.5 hours, because that’s how long the tour bus was willing to stop there. We didn’t see much expect for the cathedral (from the outside only) and the train station.
Too bad you had so little time there. I think I remember your blog post about it and that you were eating at the railways station (we had some KFC there the first night, as there is no KFC anywhere near my hometown 🙂 )
Seems like a lovely place. Such a good son to take your parents on holiday with you. I hope Chhori does that for us in future too. A very happy birthday to your mum.
My parents have provided so much for me during my life and still do a lot so I want to give back something whenever I can 🙂
Looks like a city with quite a bit of rustic charm. The cathedrals look majestic, so huge. Those snacks look like doughtnuts? Haha, I’m presuming you are squatting with Nathan when taking that photo of him 😀
Haven’t been to Cologne before. It has never been on my agenda, but I would love to visit that Chocolate Museum. So maybe someday 🙂
The church is really huge that all the other big churches in the city are barely visible. I actually don’t remember any more what those snacks where except the the one stacked on each other are called in Germany “Berliner” which are pretty similar to donuts but have a jam filling
Ah, Berliner. I think you mentioned that before. Very sweet, but once in a while is okay. But these days I seem to find this kind of doughnut in quite a few places in Melbourne – just that they call it filled doughnut.
Very interesting how pastries vary around the world!
I wento Cologne 12 years ago to visit my friend who was doing an Erasmus semester there. To be honest I don’t think I visited many touristic places hahaha. I only remember seeing the train station (beautiful!), the cathedral (but only from the outside) and the main pedestrian street… oh and that you could ride the tram without paying because no one checked (ooops, sorry about that! we were poor students -_-“)
The cathedral is really impressive, especially when going inside (for free btw unlike the one in Barcelona :p)
We had just too little time to see more but I think we didn’t do so bad thinking how short we were there and that a little Nathan was with us walking on his own the entire time
No I haven’t been to Colgone/ Koln. I think my partner has. He tends to want me to see more the southern Germany part lst and areas that weren’t so heavily bombed. Was the cathedral bombed?
Yes, those landmark cathedrals are just awewome in some major European cities. I recognize the berliners (jelly filled doughnuts): my partner’s mother used to occasionally make them when she was alive.
I heard in Paris those locks were so heavy that it was threatening to pull down an iron fence/gate near the Seine R. (?).
The cathedral was also heavily damaged during the war. In fact only few cities were able to avoid heavy bombing during the war, for example Munich was also marked after five years of bombings with over 70 air raids, it took decades to rebuild most of the old buildings.
In case you want to see a really nice old town you should try in northern Germany quedlingburg which is also a UNESCO site I think
Interesting. Freiburg in southern Germany was not bombed. But Karlsruhle where my partner was born nearby, was bombed enough. Wonder how on earth the German govn’t found money to rebuild??
Back in the 50s the German economy took of that there were not even enough workers for several years. Besides that the people themselves help a lot to rebuild
All I know was that during the war and just shortly thereafter, the civilian locals were easily sick. Lack of infrastructure, services during war etc.for health care, etc. Apparently when my partner was born, his mother could hear bombs..
My father was born in the early years of war in the eastern territories which are now belonging to Poland. The first years after the war were full of diseases, hunger and fear. My father still remembers that he got his first real meal in years from American soldiers. It took till the early 50’s that the situation stabilized
Ah..hard life. My partner was told that when the French soldiers were in his area of southern Germany for a short while, he learned to pick up abit of French. This was probably when he was around 2-3 yrs. old.
So my partner is the true immigrant. He came to Canada by ship in the early 1950’s with his family. Because they were German, they were detained in Halifax, Pier 21 for a few days for checks. Pier 21 is Canada’s national museum/heritage site now for several million Europeans and others who passed through the Halifax port. On the Pacific side, Vancouver doesn’t quite have that type of museum for the immigrants from Asia (millions now). Anyway, getting way off topic. 🙂
My father is also a “immigrant” as they had to flee the old homes and migrate to western Germany. There the population wasn’t really fond of the East Germans and the Bavarian Minister even stated back in 1948/49 to get rid of the scum…
Yes I have been to Cologne but it was many years ago. I enjoyed my visit there very much, and your blog post too!
Cologne as so many other cities with a long history are always great to visit (in case someone is interested in such stuff and old buildings). I hope to go to another very old city in Germany this year called “Quedlingburg” this one was not even bombed during the war and has very very old structures
Oh that should be interesting. Just went to see the Royal Pavilion in Brighton which was really beautiful, and interesting too, will be putting up some photos on my blog soon about that. Enjoy these kind of posts very much. 🙂
I am looking forward to that post already 🙂
Thanks! I’m looking forward to writing it!
I am a bit late here, but waah! I didn’t know the city was called Cologne too! It sounds kind of funny to me. XD
And to answer your question, sadly I’ve never left my country. ;-; But I’d like to. One day…
Oh, the Hohenzollerns! History ties our countries, mine and Germany, I mean. ouo
I haven’t checked the schnitzel post yet, but if it is what I think it is, then it’s super yum! We have that here too and it’s one of my favorite dishes. :3
And by the way, your pictures are amazing!
Thank you, tried my best with the pictures. What country are you from? Not that easy to pinpoint when thinking about the Hohenzollern family which is basically everywhere 🙂
Proud Romanian over here~!
And yeah, that’s true, haha.
Just read about the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen branch, really interesting how time changed the families over time and they even changed recently the “family name”? Haha, crazy things going on. Here in Germany no one really cares about the royal families as they hold no lands nor titles any more since 1918 (okay, they still got some impressive castles and some small lands).
Mhm, I remember learning something about that during my history classes in high school. xD Here, the issue is a bit more complex, I suppose.
I’ve never been to Cologne, but it looks like a beautiful city. So nice of you and your wife to come up with such a nice birthday present for your mom. I love a good hotel breakfast, and I can spend hours at the buffet.
For some reason the breakfast at the hotel is also the highlight for a trip. No matter how great the rooms and the service might be, I decide if it is a food place solely on the breakfast 🙂
I just hope my mom liked it as she can be a rather complicated person when it comes to traveling somewhere (that’s why my father will only come with us when we go to China in two weeks)
Besides the traffic, it sounds like a nice little getaway 🙂 My goodness, Nathan is getting taller, isn’t he?
Yeah I think he got slightly taller 🙂
I have been to Köln a few times but never saw the padlocks. I love those things. So colorful too. Beautiful photos of Nathan in his awesome batman pants 😉.
I read somewhere that it suddenly got more famous withthe padlocks around 2007 or so. Before there were only a few and no it is completly covered 🙂
We have several batman and superman clothes( sleeping clothes etc) for Nathan
I just Babel his first shirt with both Superman & Batman on it. He started happily shrieking at it in the store, so we had to get it 😉
We also try to let Nathan “chose” his shirts by passing by them and he just starts to talk when he likes something 🙂
If you can believe it, was last in Koln in 1986! Was staying in Trier for the summer and had a terrific day trip there. Thanks for bringing some good memories back. 🙂
1986, a year before I was born!
I wonder how much the city changed to back then. Even though nothing really big happens ever in German cities it is still surprising how much small changes can contribute to the appearance of a city
I’m sure there are many changes since then! For me it was a grand adventure – 16 years old, first time I got a passport, off for a summer of studies and fun in Germany. Clearly the travel bug has never let go since. 🙂
Oh yeah, with 16 it was a big world. In that age I went for an exchange year to Finland to be at a sports high school and through that experiences I sticked with my sports for some more years and even joined such school in Germany for my graduation 🙂
Oh wow! How fabulous. 🙂