This time last week mum and I were all packed for our overnight stay in Cologne. Our mission: to visit the Christmas markets. Cologne has four markets within the small city and I am pleased to say that we visited them all – one of them twice.
It was a first for us to fly out with British Airways from the new terminal five building at Heathrow. We treated ourselves to lunch of coffees and pastries at Gordon Ramsey, which was good fun but in all honesty not worth the £14 it cost.
Our flight took us to Dusseldorf and we then caught the train to Cologne. The train was quick and efficient and drops you right into the centre of Cologne. If the tickets are cheaper to fly into Dusseldorf (like it was for us) then I certainly recommend this way of travelling. And it was only €9.80 for a single ticket which was incredibly cheap.
Cologne was cold but thankfully without snow and we were well prepared and wrapped up warmly for this weather.
Our hotel was great. 10 minutes from the cathedral meant that we were far enough out not to be with all the other tourists but close enough to walk back in the evening. The streets were clean and we both felt safe all of the time. We stayed at the Renaissance Koln which is part of the Marriot group and were drawn to it due to the good Expedia offer but I would stay here again most certainly.
Cologne was decked out ready for Christmas but in more of a cosy and individual way than London or New York are. I was in love. And the markets were wonderful, very busy and they all had a good mixture of German speaking and English speaking people which made things a lot easier (my high school German lessons fail me now). I was less keen on the market next to the cathedral and instead I preferred the others, as they were less touristy. The market stalls sold beautiful decorations, fantastic hot food, Gluhwein (mulled wine), and the best biscuits ever. We did lots of shopping including a pretty purple silk tablecloth which I will be using at Christmas, wooden salad servers and of course, plenty of biscuits.
Our time went quickly in Cologne but we were up early to cross the bridge to get a good view of the cathedral. We had come over this bridge on the way into Cologne and I had been mesmerised by the padlocks attached to the metal bridge. According to staff at the hotel, the padlocks started a few years ago when a couple would write their name on the padlock and then lock it and throw the key into the Rhein. There were so many padlocks on the bridge and I loved looking at some of them and their names and dates of love.
I’m not usually one for Cathedrals but the Dom was spectacular. Make sure you visit the Treasury if you visit. The treasures are breathtaking. And no visit would be complete without viewing the remains of the Three Magi (the Three Wise Men!)
Food was a big part of this holiday. Don’t go if you are dieting – it would be a waste!
Cologne will stay in my heart along time. This is the best trip that I have made in Europe in quite a while and sits up at the top with Florence.