Cologne's two main traditions are its individual dialect and its brewhouses and strangely enough the same word applies to both - Kölsch.
I don't speak standard German (well apart from "Ein Bier Bitte") and so can't appreciate the subtleties of the local lingo but I was sort of impressed by the tradition of Kölsch drinking.
The word "Kölsch", as applied to beer, is what is termed a "protected designation of origin" which means that only beers brewed in the Cologne area are allowed to be so-called. The beer itself is a top-fermented lager, brewed out at a slightly higher temperature than most other beers and conforms to the German "beer purity law" by being made from only water, barley, hops (and yeast). The result is a clean-drinking hoppy beer which should be served at cellar temperature rather than being chilled.
The serving is yet another tradition. All of the proper beerhouses only serve Kölsch in 20cl glasses (known as a "stange" - pole) and the glasses are replenished automatically as soon as close to empty. The beermat is used to keep count of the number of beers served and when you've had your fill you simply place the mat on top of the glass to signify that you want your bill.
Before World War II almost every other pub in Cologne was its own brewery but the number has reduced to 14, although many places do still serve in the traditional manner even if they don't do their own brewing.
Pictured here is the product of the Sion Brewery on Unter Taschenmacher where all the traditions survive - note the marked beermat.
Website below is the Wikipedia Commons collection of pics of the extant breweries.
Well, I wasn't surprise because it could be expected to see the Bier Museum in the town of bier. It is situated in the old core of the town and, of course, surrounded by the number of other breweries. I suppose it is a must see for all bier lovers but am not the one.
I bet my old mate, Klausbeermanviking (member Cahaseiro) would never leave this place.
There is one local custom which might make Cologne less than safe for you: When you are in a restaurant and drink a beer, it is served in small glasses.Once your glass is empty, the waiter will automatically bring you another glass unless you cover the empty one with the beer mat/coaster. This tells the waiter that you don't want any more beer. If you don't do that, you may be served so much beer that you end up drunk - and this is what makes any situation in any city in the world unsafe.
Walking down the main street we met two parties of girls that were out for a maiden party. The German girls has very interesting tradition when it is about the maiden party – the bride’s friends buy some candies, snacks, chewing gums, condoms, lollipops, little jewelries and the aim of the future bride is to sell them at the street. I was trying to take a photo of them while one of the girls saw me and started shouting in German running towards me. First I was shocked, thinking that she has something against but then I realized she wants to sell me something. After bargain a little bit I had a condom for 1 EUR. Everybody was happy at the end.
The Cologne Philharmonie concert hall is among the best in the world, it has almost perfect acoustics. The building is from 1980, it has circular hall with 2.200 seats and all with the good view. It hosts performers in classical music forms, chamber music, jazz, but also modern music such as pop and rock. Its acoustic enabling perfect concerts of gospel and choir singers.
The Philharmonie is in the Bischofsgartenstrasse, very close to the Dom and on the bank of the river Rhine.
I am definatelly very old fashioned when it comes to the architecture. As far as I am concerned, the house should be built from natural materials, such as wood, stone or brick while glass should serve for the windows only. Modern arhitects made window shops out of our places for work or those for entertaining and what is the next to be so transparents, our homes maybe?
What purpose could be of fancy designed cloths if showing everything and very transparently?
Cologne is city of arts and it could be noticed wherever one is strolling around. The citizens love their own town, its is clean and well preserved. They are friendly and polite to the visitors, welcoming each and everyone with no exception. If visitor pays back equally could enjoy in staying and wishing to revisit soon. No matter fact it was cold and snowing (sorry guys am Medierranean) I had really good times in Cologne.
There is one, cannot say complain but comment, not all sculptures deserve to be exposed. But it's my opinion and I could be wrong of course.
I am not very fond of modern or contemporary architecture, my type of guy is Andrea Palladio, Bruneleschi and Sansovino. I prefer classical forms in the architecture and classical materials of course, wood, stone, marble and not too much of glass. The observer should detect easilly where the doorway is and where the windows are. I am joking a bit, of course, but can't remember modern building which made me to be fascinated by its look. Fact is, not many modern building could be seen in my traveloques.
This picture I took just because of our fellow member Diocletianus, who is architect by profession, and who is in love with the ugliest building that excist in his and my hometown of Zagreb. I wonder how did he miss this building at Cologne, during his visit here.
It was gloomy and snowing during my visit, in three days I had sunny moments less then one hour all together. However, it wasn't cold at least not to me. This Jamaican street musician sufferod of cold but he was making jokes about it. I spent few moments with him listening nicely performed number of Joan Armatrading. His next stop will be more south, so he said, Italy or Spain.
if you find yourself too tired to go to a restaurant in Koln and happen to be downtown, stop into the basement of Galerie Kauhof in downtown Koln. We used this place to find fresh items including breads, muffins and juices for breakfast. Priced approximately the same as a supermarket, everything was nicely presented and fresh!
After traveling to Amsterdam and Netherlands where credit cards are frowned on, Cologne was totally open to us charging things. Nearly every where in town be it for lunch, dinner or a museum all accepted Visa or Master Card. So put away your debit card, don't take a lot of cash and feel pretty certain that your credit card will be accepted!
When the sun's out the riverside park on the west bank in front of the old city is the place to hang out. Here you can just sit and watch the world go by, enjoy the music from the buskers as they work the restaurant terraces, take a book to read, have a snooze in the sun or even enjoy your takeaway sausage with a beer.
Unlike the UK it's almost de rigeur here to have a few beers in public and even the serious drinkers are civilized with it.
The local custom for lovers here is to attach a padlock (or a pair of interlocking ones) with their names on them to the mesh fence on the main railway bridge (Hohenzollernbrucke) then throw the key into the river.
Best to make sure threre isn't a passing boat first though!
Here's a few pics:
In the pubs and beerhouses of Cologne, the Köbes (waiters) generally make pencil marks on your beermat to indicate how many glasses of Kölsch you have had. Also, the Köbes will generally keep bringing you a new glass of Kölsch to replace your empty glass until you place your beermat on top of your glass to indicate that you are finished.
This tip may apply to more of Germany than just Cologne. During my trip, some eateries just assumed that I wanted mustard and included it on my plate. So, don't be surprised if a big gob of mustard is included on your plate even if you didn't ask for it.
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