It was another normal day, until Jojo and I decided to go on an adventure away from Holland. We jumped in the car and in a matter of hours we were in the beautiful city of Cologne, Germany.
We had booked into a hotel walking distance from the city centre – Hotel Ariane. It was conveniently located in the city centre and across from some of the “best” attractions.
Since this was a spontaneous trip and we knew very little of the city we had to investigate what was there to see and what was there to do.
One of the first points of interest that we wanted to see was the EL-DE Haus, officially the NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne, is the former headquarters of the Gestapo and now a museum documenting the Third Reich.
It was a chilling experience walking through these corridors full of history of human suffrage.
Not only did it show the historical aspects with documentation listing the development of the centre and its various usages, but also the cells and corridors themselves were full of stories written by the people held in these walls.
You can’t help but feel sad about what has happened in the world….and actually … what is still happening in the world.
After our visit to the museum we took a stroll down the lively streets of Cologne. It was a pleasant surprise to see many street performers out entertaining the public. One band consisting of two young guys just blew our minds. Really fantastic.
They did many covers of popular songs but with a cheeky twist! Definitely brought the public to a standstill.
After our refreshing walk we sat down for a snack that turned into a full blown dinner. The restaurant was a traditional German pub serving many classics and had a huge selection of local beers. It was just off one of the main shopping streets but still provided enough foot traffic for a good people watching session. I don’t think we realised how hungry we actually were until we had our first German beer.
You know you are getting old when after dinner you need a nap. So that is what we did. We skipped quickly to the hotel for a quick half hour power nap and then regrouped, redressed and went out on the town again. Considering that the weather was pretty cold and it was still fairly early in the evening we decided to go to the cinema. It was one of those small places that shows only a selected repertoire of films, called “Off Broadway”. We chose the only film they had in English “Sicario” with Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin and honestly – we were pleasantly surprised how good the film actually was! Well I was pleasantly surprised…Jojo decided to continue his nap – which is not very unusual. It still surprises me how he could sleep through all of the shooting and the bomb detonation.
After the film and Jojo’s nap we hit the street nearby for some drinks. it was very packed with many people enjoying their drinks outside.
What a surprise – the beer made us hungry again! And we couldn’t leave Cologne without trying the legendary Currywurst.
To say that it was something mind blowing would be an over exaggeration – just a sausage with some curry powder on it and some ketchup. Was kinda disappointed actually. Ended up purchasing the kebab from next door also!
The following morning we started the day in a very different way. Jojo organized for us to go to the Cologne Philharmonic. The show was at 11.00 am and the performance was by N. Jürgensen Jacobsen, Ford-Sinfonieorchester, S. Müller-Gabriel: Brahms, Gade, Spohr.
The concert hall itself was stunning and the acoustics phenomenal. I don’t know how but Jojo managed to organize the best tickets in the hall, centre front, and we had the most amazing view.
The music flowed beautifully and the solo performers were clearly very passionate. It was nice to start the day in such a cultural way.
We left the concert completely inspired and took a stroll through the city. The walk took us through the main shopping streets, where we popped in to a few shops to buy a few bits and bobs for Xmas. Also, which was a must!, we of course stopped at a couple of the gazillion food stalls positioned in the main streets.
Our last stop before leaving was the Cologne Cathedral. Its construction commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880.
Although it was heavily bombed during the WWII, it remained standing surrounded by a flattened city.
In 1996 the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list of culturally important sites.
The cathedral itself is impressive both in size and architecture. Inside, it sort of reminded me of the St Peters Basilica of Riga – more likely like her big brother.
This brought our spontaneous visit to the end. It was nice to get away from Rotterdam for just one night. Will need to do it more often and discover the other beautiful cities of Europe.