Cologne, Germany

Beer and Bicycles


9/8/20234 min read

Just one spot in Germany that I stayed in - Hotel Bürgerhof in Köln, Altstadt-Nord ( - but on yet another clear blue day - I got to see plenty of the German countryside and little towns as the train passed, on my 8.5 hour journey in from Prague.

As I exited in the train station and into the 28 degree afternoon - BOOM! - the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) .. absolutely the single most impressive building I have seen to date. What a way to start here!

I got lucky again with the location of my hotel - at just 500 mtrs from the train station on flat terrain, I was there after a 5 minute walk - and I'm pleased to report the dodgy wheel on my suitcase has lived to see another day. Phew! I managed up 4 flights of stairs with it to my room (I can't believe how few places have lifts?!) - and the only thing that was really missing from my room, was air-conditioning, or even a fan.

I checked in and dropped my bags quickly, as I was excited to get out exploring, after most of the day on the train. I pretty quickly discovered something about Germany (well - Cologne at least) - that I haven't experienced to this degree so far on my travels. Bikes. The pedaling kind. If you have never been here, but you're planning to visit, and you'll be walking.. watch your six!! I'd put "chance-of-grievous-bodily-harm-by-ruthless-cyclist" at about 72% 😬 - and while we're talking percentages, visitors to Cologne are currently consuming 94.1% of all the worlds' Aperol supplies. Ok maybe I made that one up - but I reckon I'm close! Maybe it's due to the fact "Oktoberfest" is just around the corner, and although the done thing in Germany is to drink beer - if you're not into beer, then an Aperol looks like a close 2nd.

So after one short walk around the block from my hotel, I had spotted so many of the things I associate with Germany; menu boards featuring schnitzel, beer houses - including one named 'Peters Brauhaus' - (so that one gets a special mention, in honour of my Dad), windows with louvre shutters and flower boxes, German clocks, waffle houses, and the Rhine River. After spotting the latter, the decision was easily made to find some authentic German takeaway, and park myself on the grass next to the river for an early dinner/very late lunch. A mouthwateringly-delicious roast pork burger made the cut, and as I sat eating it, while gazing out to the magnificent Rhine river, I was taken back to my 3rd-form German language class, when I used to wonder if I would ever actually come here. Good things do take time after all.

With more daylight left, I decided to join the masses walking back and forth over the Hohenzollern Bridge. I've since Googled it and discovered it's the most used bridge in Germany - with over 1200 trains a DAY crossing it! (I've honestly learned 10x more about the world in the last few weeks, than I ever did in all my years at school!) It was one of those bridges in the world where people have attached a lock to the railings - often as a symbol of their love for someone special. There must be millions of them there!

Next up was a stroll through the main part of town closest to where I'm staying. I got in trouble with the lady from the clock shop for taking a pic of the clocks even though there was a sign asking not to (exhibit-A, below 😬), I discovered the local taxi fleet are all Merc's (see also below), and I was witness to one of the local men-in-blue accidentally knocking over a parked bicycle, which of course kicked off some domino action, and the whole row went down 😬😬- that was awesome! .. he noticed me noticing him though, so I thought better of getting that moment on camera. Darn it.

The buildings here have taken a slightly 'goth' turn in the architecture stakes, with the aforementioned cathedral being a prime example. All still beautiful, and so cool to see another part of Europe while I'm on this trip.

In line with the rest of my jam-packed Europe schedule of '2 nights per place' - Day #2 was a busy one. I kicked off with an early morning power walk along the river front and across two more bridges, then found a nice cafe around the corner from my hotel for a healthy breakfast. Mid-morning was a trip to the 'Schokoladenmuseum' (no prizes for guessing that translates to CHOCOLATE Museum!) - then I got to the Ludwig Museum, which was also close walking distance from my hotel, and housed the most amazing displays - including works by Dali, Warhol and Picasso. DEFINITELY no camera action allowed in there! I crammed in a quick lunch stop with a filled baguette from a 'bäkerei' while having a proper look around the Old Town shopping district in the 30-deg heat, then before I knew it, the day was done and my body felt like I had exceeded my daily step count target again.

Unfortunately the best train option out was an early one on Day #3, so I only had time for a quick coffee and no extra sightseeing before leaving. I'm so happy I made it here though - and would definitely recommend popping this one onto your itinerary if you're heading to Europe at any stage.

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Cologne City ...