We arrived in Cologne on the morning Megabus coach from Brussels, where we’d just spent the previous evening. With less than 12 Hours remaining before our 10 hour night bus back to London, I didn’t wish to waste any time at all. The coached dropped us off outside Cologne’s impressive Laxness Arena, which is a short and direct ten minute walk from all the action. In no time I’d been rewarded with that famous postcard view of Cologne. The bridge, the huge cathedral and of course the Rhine all fit together perfectly. Wouldn’t you agree?
Hohenzollern Bridge is a pretty big deal, historically and literally. Towards the end of second world war the German military decided to destroy it, trying to prevent allied forces from advancing. A few years later it was rebuilt, and back to its former glory it certainly is. If you’re one of them romantic types, then this bridge is for you. Because the inner railing along this huge 409 metre long bridge is full of love locks, the sheer quantity is astonishing and it puts rival bridges to shame, sorry Paris, but hey, it’s not all about size.
Cologne’s Gothic cathedral tower seems to gather little respect in my opinion. The amount of graffiti is appalling, I can’t even imagine how many people have contributed to it. It almost seems like the appropriate authorities are doing nothing about it, they could at least attempt to remove it, if possible. I guess being a world heritage site, and Germany’s most visited landmark isn’t enough to call for concern. I should add that, only the inside of the south tower and its viewing platform seem to suffer this abuse, the rest of the cathedral is as you would expect, remarkable. Perhaps it has become a tradition to add to the graffiti? but I doubt it. Outside, the sight of this cathedral is outstanding, even if it does hurt your neck looking up to take it all in.
The admission fee to climb the tower is just €3. Like with most medieval structures, the tower has a tight and narrow spiraling staircase, which you will have to share with downwards traffic. I have a skinny build, but even so the non-existent gap for each lane of people traffic proved a challenge. Expect a lot of squeezing past and breathing-in if you visit at a busy time, like I had. After climbing all 533 steps, we had been rewarded with a magnificent view of Cologne.
Just before lunch, we visited a sewer. OK, so not a real functioning sewer with human waste. That would be gross! No, this happened was a much less gross, authentic preserved Roman sewer. Well, I’m not sure what I had expected, but it was something I’ve never done before, and that’s as good a reason as any. Of course, I didn’t pay the €3.50 for just this privilege, this museum also includes the ruins of an ancient Roman governor’s palace. A huge reminder to just how far back Cologne’s history goes. Perhaps that was the main attraction here…
Since 1957, the Cologne cable car has been a tourist favourite. I just couldn’t leave without riding it. It was the last thing on my list to tick off. We both brought one-way tickets, which cost us €4.50 each. Not too expensive, considering this is a unique and historical attraction. I was quite excited, just like all the children we shared the queue with were. It’s certainly an attraction aimed towards families, as two men in our twenties we felt a little conspicuous. As the carriages began to pull up, I really hoped the rather feminine one covered in a floral design wasn’t for us. Naturally, it was.
Our private carriage soon began to ascend up and over the bridge, away from the station. The view was great, I could see rather far down the Rhine, as well as the Cathedral that dominates the skyline. I spent the next few minutes trying to avoid eye contact with people in carriages traveling the opposite direction, because I’d become tired with the waving back and forth. Damn you, cable car etiquette. In what seemed like no time we arrived at the opposite end, to find ourselves in a lovely park creatively named Rheinpark.
After a few minutes strolling around this well-kept park it began to rain. We quickly found a spot to hide ourselves, underneath a performance stage. Our day had concluded itself with the smell of summer rain, lovely.