Remembering Cologne

I haven’t been to Cologne since I first visited at age 16. And because my only parting memories were that (a) the cathedral was awe-inspiring and (b) there was a McDonald’s across the street, I didn’t know what to expect.

First, the good news: The cathedral and its McDonald’s are just as I remembered.

The not-so-good news? With 10 million residents, Cologne (or Köln, in German) is a monster compared to Bruges. So after three days in pedestrian paradise, Esteban and I suffered a bit of culture shock.

Our hotel room was a lovely oasis of calm — nicer than we expected, in fact.

Cologne hotel 1020186 BLOG

All I wanted was to sink into that big bed and smile up at the crowd of naked ladies. But somehow, Esteban managed to tear me away for a stroll through the Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom — the Cologne cathedral’s Christmas market.

Cologne cathedral and market 1020218 BLOG

Cologne cathedral market 1020227 BLOG

Cologne market 1020306 BLOG

Cologne market 1020256 BLOG

Cologne market 1020246 BLOG

We were overwhelmed by the crowds, but felt better after a bit of bratwurst and mulled wine.

Cologne market 1020239 BLOG

The next morning, we headed for two other markets — the one at Neumarkt, and another called the “old market.” We soon discovered that each of Cologne’s seven Christmas markets has a theme (in this case, angels and gnomes, respectively).

Cologne market 1020360 BLOG

Cologne market 1020371 BLOG

Cologne market 1020429 BLOG

Cologne market 1020490 BLOG

Cologne market 1020445 BLOG

But after a couple more rounds of bratwurst and mulled wine …

Cologne market 1020453 BLOG

… we were ready for some real food.

And here’s where the culture shock really set in: We couldn’t find a single grocer within walking distance of our hotel. We saw only convenience store after convenience store, stocked mostly with Pringles and booze. When we finally decided to grab dinner at a Chinese buffet, I was so starved for veggies that I ate all of their tomatoes and steamed broccoli. Es tut mir leid …

We’d later learn that the grocers are often tucked into the department stores’ basements in Germany. Oh, well. Noted for next time.

Enough of the Christmas markets. On to the cathedral! Back with that tomorrow …


  1. Brings back good memories – Steve and I spent a wonderful New Year Eve in Cologne before Peter was born. Food was an issue though – the only non meat food I could find was a cheese omelet and they looked at me funny. We were in Bruges that same trip and they are certainly different. Looks like you are having a great time and they are wonderful photos!.

    • Thanks for your sweet note, Roberta! Selfishly, I’m relieved to hear that you had food woes in Cologne, because I’d been harboring secret fears that maybe I’m too picky an eater. But if we go back, I promise to focus on finding good food — and the reporting back to you, in case you return too. Cheers from across the river! (Cold enough for ya yet? 🙂

  2. Christmas market in Cologne is pretty famous. Even a lot of Belgians go their for a day trip, by train or coach, to experience the special atmosphere. So it can be very busy!

    • Indeed! The tour-bus parking was near our hotel, and tourists were coming by the busloads from all over Europe. I expect that if I lived in Europe I’d make it a part of my holiday tradition, too.

  3. I remember the cathedral from a school trip. Germany is somewhat renowned for favouring meat over veg. I had a vegetarian friend who had lived there for a while and had a very hard time – apparently even tins of cabbage had bits of sausage in them! That was a while ago now so I would have hoped they’d improved, but maybe not.

    • You went to Cologne for a school trip? Wow! My class went to the Wonder Bread factory. *Sigh.*

      I’m sure there are plenty of veg options in Germany these days, but it seems it takes time for find them — time we didn’t have, unfortunately, because we stayed in each city for only two or three days. I’ve learned my lesson, though, and next time I’ll do a bit more research into the practical matters before we leave.

      Lovely to hear from you, btw. Hope 2014 is off to a great start for you, knotrune!

Leave a reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s