With a beautiful day in Belgium behind me, my short European tour took me next to Germany and unlike Brussels Cologne certainly couldn’t be considered small. Sure Cologne is merely the fourth largest city in Germany, yet walking among the wide streets, enormous buildings and sea of people it felt like I was seeing the whole of Wales in one go. I simply loved the German architecture, bright, bold and very Tudor in appearance.
I’ve always been fascinated by Germany and inspired by its long journey from a murky past to becoming one of Europe’s most liberal and welcoming countries; last year Angela Markel accepted 1 million Syrian refuges while the rest of Europe barely took them in their thousands. Clearly this same sense of open arms had filtered through to the citizens of Cologne, because everywhere I turned I was meet with smiles and curiosity of my origins when they heard my accent.
Drifting through the streets of Cologne, it would have been impossible not to notice the giant, ashen grey spires propelling themselves into the sky. The spires belong to the hulking presence of the Cologne Cathedral, not only the biggest tourist attraction in Cologne but the entirety of Germany. Gothic, haunting and massive, I couldn’t help but feel intimidated by its aesthetic and the irking feeling that if you stand close enough you could be sucked in by its own gravitational pull.
Have you ever heard the proverb “don’t judge a book by its cover”? those words couldn’t speak louder for the interior of the cathedral; which was modern, inviting and full of stunning stained windows and I even had the pleasure of witnessing the Sunday service which was really enjoyable.
Although not quite London (Because of course we’re the best dressed city in Europe), but I was rather inspired by the street fashion of the young trendy German crowd, in which clearly minimalism and black were a prevailing look. Usually I prefer a pop of colour in my outfits, but the street style of Cologne reminded me that a sleek, all black outfit can be both smart and causal whilst being the perfect bridge between a day of work and a night out of fun.
You would have thought I would have gone to a chocolate museum in Belgium, considering the Belgians make the best chocolates in the world (Sorry Switzerland). But our tour guide enthusiastically took us to the chocolate factory in the heart of Cologne or also known as Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum (please don’t ask me to pronounce it). Just by unwrapping your standard Lindt chocolate wrapper, it doesn’t instantly occur to you how much time, growing and travelling it takes for chocolates to be produced because as you sink your teeth into the smooth exterior all you can think about is just how good it tastes. Having a history lesson and guided tour of the production of chocolate was so enjoyable and eye opening and further vindicated the reason why I stop of at a museum in each new country I visit, because the best part of traveling is the journey of discovery.
Ultimately with only day to do it in, I didn’t get to see as much of Cologne as I would have wanted to see, but the what I did see was certainly enough to ignite my passion and desire to see a lot more of the city and Germany as a whole next time. If you do decide to visit Cologne, I strongly suggest going to any pub because as we all know Germans love their beer and that same passion translates to an incredible brew. Also on your agenda should be a stroll down the river Rhine, which is the second biggest river in Europe and connects Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and Netherlands all together.