Cologne or Köln in German is a city of one million people and has long been known as one of Germany’s great cities to visit and is renowned for its nightlife. Located on the stunning Rhine River, the city shimmers in the Spring sun. Cologne was almost completely destroyed during the Allied invasion of World War II. Almost solely left standing at the end of the war was its most famous site and landmark, the gothic cathedral known as the Kölner Dom or better yet simply known as the Dom. The Dom wasn’t left standing by sheer chance, it was used as a beacon for directions in the days before reliable radar for allied pilots in destroying the rest of the city.
Today the Dom is Cologne’s most recognizable and ubiquitous symbol and the first thing you see when you walk out of the main train station as they are nearly touching. Surrounding the cathedral is a plethora of souvenir vendors selling everything under the sun, homeless hippies and their homeless dogs begging for money and there is certainly no shortage of performers doing whatever they can to get your euros. However, it’s actually all very pleasant and the way I see it, that’s just the way Europe is.
Inside the cathedral is a typically European gorgeous interior with towering high arched ceilings, incredible stained glass windows and religious scenes and artifacts that boggle the mind. You are able to climb over 500 steps to get a bird’s eye view of the city below at over 135 meters but we didn’t have the time and after a heavy German lunch, we certainly didn’t have the inclination either.
Almost directly outside the Dom is a pedestrian walking street called the Hohe Strasse with every type of store and shop imaginable. It’s the kind of place that a girl would love and a guy would loathe. However, it’s a foregone conclusion that you will walk down it and take in the swarms of tourists on this ungodly crowded street, it looked like Via Venetto in Rome on a beautiful Spring day in terms of crowds but nonetheless, it is there and the amazing desserts and bakeries make it worthwhile.
I deliberately timed the visit to Cologne to only a few hours as this was my first visit to the city. I had been told by people that it was only worth an afternoon and possibly a night but the Dom alone makes the visit worthwhile and to get a feel of the other Germany away from Munich or Berlin, a multicultural Germany with music in the air. The saying in Cologne is “Et es, wie et es” which means of course, it is what it is. I kind of like that and I kind of like Cologne as well.
I am on the train to Amsterdam right now for a few days in one of my all time favorite cities. I can’t wait.