Monday, September 2, 2013

Cologne, Germany

[Update: See my published article on Cologne HERE.] 

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“Un-fucking-real.” Was the first thing I said upon seeing the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral.)

[History Lesson: the Cologne Cathedral is Roman Catholic and the largest Gothic Church in Northern Europe. It took over 600 years to complete and stands at 515 feet tall. It’s Cologne’s biggest attraction, drawing 20,000 people daily.]

After I scooped my jaw off the tourist cluttered tiled ground, we walked closer. This was one spectacular sight. The church was in such stark contrast to the rest of the city it looked artificial. Every time I turned away and looked back at it, I was once again in awe. I now know why every guidebook, travel blog and friend recommended checking this thing out.

Clearly staggering in height, we decided to climb the 503 stairs to the top of the south tower where we were able to get some amazing views of the city.

That's where we climbed to.
Inside the church.
I learned something new about DanDan this weekend. Small, spiral 36 story 700-year-old staircases scare the bejeezus out of him.

At one point, halfway up the tower, I stopped to look out the small window. I pointed and started to say, “Hey Dan, look at –“ When he sternly but politely with slight desperation cut me off. “Babe… babe… babe… KEEP MOVING.”

He later told me the whole situation made him claustrophobic and all too aware how high we were and how old this cathedral was. At any moment it could start swaying and topple to the ground. He confirmed how absolutely absurd this thought process was but when fear overcomes your rational thinking this is what happens kids. You convince yourself that all of a sudden this ancient church tower is no longer structurally sound and it chose this day, this moment to collapse. With you and your logical girlfriend inside.
From the top of the church.
Once safely on the ground we headed to get lunch and beers. Here in Cologne you drink Kölsch. It’s a local specialty brewed in the city. It’s light with a yellowish hue. It has a distinct taste, but not hoppy and is less bitter than your standard German pale lagers- thank goodness! Wherever you go, when you order a Kölsch it comes to you in a .2 liter glass. They will keep bringing you .2 liters glasses of beer until you put your coaster on top of your glass to indicate you’re done drinking. Dan and I were on vacation, so usually it wasn’t until the 9th or 10th beer collectively that the coaster made any sort of movement.

How they mark what a lush you are.
That first day was spent mostly drinking .2 liter beers and eating schnitzel and bratwursts and gawking at the Gothic Church.

Side view of Cathedral. 
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Site seeing day! After we pried ourselves out of bed after a day of binge drinking tiny beers, we headed to Museum Ludwig. 

**Note: I know in previous posts I’ve said how much of a museum girl I am not. I do, however, have much appreciation for modern art, alas a museum with the biggest Pop Art Collection outside the US. While I am a huge fan of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, there was a piece there I found really interesting.

It’s a large piece by Georg Herold. He used caviar and placed them on his canvas. He then numbered each one. The numbers then in turn became part of the artwork. 

Georg Herold's Caviar Art 
Close up Caviar Art

Next up was the Chocolate Museum. Ugh. It was overpriced and mind numbingly boring. To each their own I suppose, but going to the Chocolate museum reminded me why I dislike museums. We drank delicious coffees at the café right inside the museum and bought a few chocolate souvenirs at the chocolate market. Both of which I would definitely recommend- just skip the actual learning museum part.

The best part of the chocolate museum was right as we were walking in.  We were walking across the heavily cobblestoned bridge leading to the entrance, when I saw a father dragging his son, both on rollerblades, through the crowds. Their feet kept getting caught in the ridges of the street and remained stationary while their bodies attempted to move forward creating a tangled flail-y intersection of elbow padded arms and white second hand logoed tee-shirts.

I smiled and looked at Dan, whose face indicated he had not seen the silliness that I just witnessed.

“Did you just see—“ I started to say.

“Yea.” He cut me off laughing; “Rollerblades were a bad choice” he finished in his best Will Ferrell impersonation.

From there we walked the pedestrian streets to find fall coat and vintage/antique shopping along with  much-needed salads for lunch.

While the Cologne Cathedral was one of the most impressive pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen, the rest of the city was a bit ordinary. With Cologne being the 4th biggest city in Germany its not a surprise its a functioning metropolis and doesn’t conform to my desire for consistently baroque, medieval, and renaissance styled buildings and quaintly operated towns. Remember the stereotype all up in my head when I first got here? I just need to remember not every city in Germany that I visit is going to be like Kirchheimboladen and villages off the Rhine.

Cologne was a blast and I would definitely go back again. There was enough to fill up another day or two. We didn’t even check out the brewery garden or live music at Papa Joe’s. We said goodbye to Cologne yesterday but not for long. 

Attempted vertical panorama of the Cathedral 

Rainy day view of Cathedral from across the bridge

Hiding out from the rain under a bridge.

Hohenzollern Bridge Love Locks. We put one on! (The initials are a silly inside joke...)

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