When I booked the tickets for Cologne Germany I planned on staying two nights. The boys get restless when sightseeing so I was concerned we’d be bored in Germany. I did adjust the dates to be there when the Christmas markets are on to ensure we’d have something to do.
I need not have worried. It was amazing.
The night before we left – N yelled quite loudly what I had gotten J for Christmas (a camera – specifically a DSLR, although 5 yr old N didn’t know that part). J was in the next room. I was sure that J had heard – but the door was shut and the apartment is quite well soundproofed (good thing – since we are can be a “spirited” family). So while packing for the trip that night I asked J if he had heard what N had yelled. J swore he did not. If he had we’d have had a nice camera to take pictures of Cologne with. Instead we had my “good” camera – a little point and shoot. (And yes, at least once J looked around and said “I’d really like a good camera now”.
Cathedral at night
Cologne had several markets all of which served mulled wine and bratwurst. We’d get up, visit markets until mid-afternoon, go to the hotel and rest, and then head out about supper time when it was dark for a meal bratwurst, mulled wine and crêpes. It was a rough couple of days. J had literally all the bratwurst he could eat… and if you know J, that is a lot of bratwurst.
And the markets were magical. Each market had a theme: the sea, gnomes, fairy tales, angels, the cathedral market. The cathedral market took place under the huge baroque cathedral. There was a large tree above the market, and stretching out from the tree were lights to form a starry ceiling. It was stunning (and very crowded).
Technically in the Gnome market – but similar to the Fairy Tale Market
In the markets, the hot drinks were served in mugs. You paid a deposit when you bought a drink, and then got the money back when you returned the mug. The mug was associated with each market. We considered keeping a mug from each market, but in the end decided not to. Getting things back to Canada is getting challenging. (And yes, I will regret that decision I’m sure.)
Hot chocolate and hot wine!
There were also creches everywhere. It is an annual thing to have a display of creches throughout the city. One was huge and carved of wood, the one in the cathedral depicted a middle eastern town but included firemen and police officers and the one in the train station depicted Cologne during the devastation of WWII. We didn’t go looking for the others, but I wish we had. We will just have to go back.
As for my impressions of Cologne beyond the markets. It is definitely more car friendly and less pedestrian friendly than Brussels. Not that it was particularly pedestrian unfriendly but it definitely is less densely built than Brussels (on the other hand most places are.) Also after the laissez-faire attitude in Brussels towards infrastructure and health and safety, I enjoyed watching “German Engineering” at home. (I’m an engineer … bridges, pipe works and other infrastructure interests me.)