The start of our trip. Kim (my girlfriend) and I left Maarssen, the place where she lives. Ready to make a 3,5 week trip which brought us to places in Germany, France, Switzerland and especially Italy. My car would accompany us the whole trip. We stayed in a small tent every night. We looked for small, cheap campsites near the cities we wanted to visit. In particular, places on the road, so that we could travel on without making unnecessary extra miles. Also we decided not to drive longer than 2 hours a day, most of the time.
First stop would be Cologne. I had only been to this city for a football match when my team AZ Alkmaar was playing Alemannia Aachen (who borrowed the stadium of 1.
FC Koln). I never saw the city centre. It seemed like a beautiful, interesting city, which was located perfectly on the road. I heard some very positive stories about it. Besides that, I really wanted to see the Cologne Cathedral (Dom).
Me in front of the back of the Cathedral.
Some general information and facts: Cologne is Germany’s fourth-largest city behind Berlin, Hamburg and Munchen. It has a population of 995,397 inhabitants. Cologne was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. The Rhine river steams right through Cologne and splits the two parts of the centre from eachother. You can get from one to the other side by using one of the big bridges. Cologne is known for its countless churches and museums.
The drive from Maarssen to Cologne went very fluent and without any problems or traffic.
We parked our car just near the city centre. It surprised me that there weren’t many shopping streets, only a few. Not that it mathered a lot to me. I mean, if you want to go shopping, you can go to cities like Amsterdam aswell. The thing I liked about the city centre was that it is very compact and almost all of the interesting places lay very close to eachother. This means you can easily walk from one place to another.
View of the Chocolate Museum.
The most well-known and famous landmark in Cologne is the Cologne Cathedral, also known as the Kolner Dom in German. A massive Gothic-style church under the administration of the Roman Catholic Church. The Cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996. It is a major tourist attraction, visited by (foreign) tourists, aswell as pilgrims. It’s also known for being one of the only buildings in the Cologne city centre which was nearly undamaged after the World War II bombings. I took some pictures of the Cathedral, which you can see in my photo section.
While we were there, the church was almost completely construction-free, so we were lucky. I heard people saying that when they visited Cologne, the whole Cathedral was covered by scaffoldings. I also went inside the church. Very impressive. Really big and there was a lot of space to sit and walk around.
Nice restaurants and bars alongside the Rhine with the Great St. Martin Church in the back.
Later that day, we would visit the Schokoladenmuseum (Chocolate Museum), officially called Imhoff-Schokoladen-Museum. It was located just next to the Rhine. The biggest window in the main hall gave us a pretty view over the city and the Rhine. The museum showed the process of how chocolate is made from start to end. There were also a lot of different chocolate related products being exposed.
After a lot of walking and taking pictures, we sat down to drink some of the local Kolsch beer.
Kolsch is a local beer specialty in which the amount of hop is more prominent. It tastes less bitter than the classic German pils. The beer should be served at a higher temperature (about 10C) than normal lagers. It’s served in a long, thin glass. I guess Kolsch beer is more suitable for the people who think normal pils and lager is too bitter. From what I had, I liked the Fruh Kolsch the best. I drank this one when sitting at a terrace next to the Rhine, with a great view of the Great St. Martin Church (also seen on some of my pictures).
Me at the Beirut restaurant.
At the end of the day we decided to eat at Lebanese Restaurant Beirut. Check out my review about it for more information. It was a perfect ending of our stay in Cologne. A very nice city which I won’t mind to visit again someday. At about 8pm we drove to Wiesbaden/Mainz for our first night camping, also without problems