February 4, 2011

Enticing Fragrances of "Cologne"

Welcome to Cologne, where the cathedral overlooks over Germany's oldest city and its innumerable cultural and historical treasures, world-famous museums and active art scene. The world feels at home in Cologne, where people meet for a Kölsch, a chat or simply a laugh. Life in Cologne is uncomplicated and vivacious.
Cathedral is the first thing you notice, I noticed as I came out of the railway station. The cathedral built in 13th century has a towering presence and is visible from most of parts of the city. Cathedral celebrated its 750th anniversary in 1998. The magnificence of Cathedral is imperilled, whether it is day or night. Built over 600 years ago entirely in a high-Gothic style, it is Cologne's most famous landmark and an UNESCO World Heritage site. Its most sacred treasure is the Shrine of the Three Magi, a magnificent gilded sarcophagus thought to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men. More than 500 steps lead up the south tower, which offers a breath taking panoramic view of the city. Keep an eye over cathedral and you will not be lost in cologne, it rescued me a number of times. At night it looks like this:
The Huge shopping complex underneath the railway station took me by sheer admiration. Icing on the cake were the large number of eateries be it MacDonald, Pizza Hut or better you name it. It was getting hard to resist, so we sat down to enjoy our Pizza with some soft drinks. Pizza never had tasted this much better.

Coming out of railway station was the cathedral standing in front of us, a perfect Welcome to Cologne.
Our Hotel was at the walking distance from station, so we started on foot. Late march was quite cold and I was feeling the chill in the air. Thoroughly clean streets and roads were also taking my notice, for a moment I was left comparing with the state of our roads. It was only after entering the hotel room I got some solace. However finding a church in front of my hotel room, evaporated any nasty thoughts which I was getting. 

(This is the view of Church outside Hotel Hilton)

After refreshing ourselves quickly, we were to left for Dusseldorf.
Within the next 15 minutes we were on legendary Highway "AutoBahn", the only highway where you drive as fast as you can. It was a dream come true. Till now only seen on Discovery, I can't believe was in front of me, I was getting nostalgic.

AutoBahn was constructed by Hitler in early 1940's has a 70 cm. thick concrete base. It was his early preparation before going to war, he wanted to connect every city of Germany. Such was the utility of these highways that whole of the German army marched into Poland in 15 minutes.

By the time we reached Dusseldorf (a beautiful industrial hub of Germany), I lost no chance to admire the beautiful landscapes on way, vast agricultural fields (much bigger than we have in India).

In the evening I set out on foot to explore Cologne. I was amazed to find an Indian restaurant in Cologne. Though didn't intended to have Indian Food, I sat to check how Indian foods will taste in Germany?. Food was as usual great. But finding the statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses in the bar didn't made a happy sight, at least to me. After dinner I again continued my exploration. One thing which I liked most is the discipline, drivers stopping for pedestrians - though a few times I ended up in an awkward position- but still was amazed to see the road etiquettes. If not Germany, I would have been ran over a number of times in India.  

Even the cycle stands were amazing and more organized than most of the parking lots. Check out..

Next day we set out for Dusseldorf as we were participating in the fair at Dusseldorf. The hot chocolate milk and vegetable cheese sandwitches from Starbucks were my staple food for next 5 days. Commuting from Cologne in train was another great time, 1 hour travel seemed nothing. Looking out of window and capturing the pics became my favourite pastime.  

(A view from the Metro train, I used to take from Dusseldorf Station to Exhibition grounds)

The fair was interesting in its own sense. The experience of meeting a lot of different persons from different lands/ cultures was amazing. It was as if the whole world has come at a place. Here I realized human touch can overcome all language barriers. I too made some friends during the fair. On one of the evenings we all went for a dinner in Dusseldorf, Chris in his over confidence lost a 10 Euro bet to me.

For the next 5 days we were more involved in the fair and business. Whenever I used to  get a chance, I never forgot to venture out. I used to wait for the evenings to go around Dusseldorf, and Dusseldorf didn't disappoint me even. Artistic designs and waterbodies in the middle of the roads simply took my breath away. 

Koning's Alley is a majestic place. The moment I sat foot there I was overwhelmed with the energetic exuberance of the place. With everyone enjoying, I quickly came out of formal shoes and became a part of the place. Though I had started raining by this time, but that was too insignificant to dampen our spirits. 

All of a sudden I was getting the sense of beer in my veins and I was standing on the beer Street, I will call it my way at Altstadt, on the turns of Rhine.

The Altstadt is jokingly known as Germany's longest bar and this isn't far short of the truth. There are an enormous number of pubs within its boundaries. For a night out, there are few places to rival it in the whole of Europe, if you're after decent beer. The jokey atmosphere in many pubs should help to dispel misconceptions about Germans' lack of humour and general dourness.

The waiters/ waitresses are sometimes entertainment in themselves, with their cheeky comments (I wouldn't try asking for water in Zum Uerige). Dusseldorf's best pubs are amongst the best pubs in Germany.

Energies were flowing freely with everyone sitting in open, singing and... for a moment I forgot all other things, Vow what a time it was OOPS what a place it is!!!!

Markets in Cologne close by 7:30 PM, so if you want to shop do it early. Evenings see a lot of activities in bars and roadside/ open pubs, it seems whole of the cologne is out enjoying.

The last evening I spent with eternally romantic Chris and his family (Chris+Svenga+Alwin). Chris was at his usual, Svenga was much more inquisitive about India and India's culture. We talked for hours, she made me recall many intricacies about Indian culture, Believes and virtues, Indian marriages, India study system, Indian history and ............many more. In return I got to learn a lot about Germany. Like everyone, she also fell in love with India. She was kind enough to drop me back to my hotel at night.


To end my trip: Cologne is addictive, vibrancy of the place will always keep you going for more. A must for everyone visiting Germany.

The only thing I missed out was driving on AutoBahn, may be the next time I will drive too.

Next day I left for India, with a lot of memories and yeah chocolates too....I must finish this up before I start forgetting....  



  1. Great pictures. Germany is a country with a big culture!

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