I am known as person that gives names to devices and is often caught talking to computers, toasters or coffee machines. People usually find this weird.
But not people that ever left their luggage at Cologne train station.
Of course, there are no counters and no people. If you follow the sign saying 'Gepäck / Luggage' you'll find only cold and efficient luggage machine. You insert a coin (3 Eur for 24 hours) and the door will open for your bag. Then the door will close, you'll hear your bag going somewhere deep under and you'll get a small ticket with a magnetic stripe that says:
'You have just left your bag to the mercy of the stupid machine. Now, if you want your bag back please turn back. What you'll see right outside the train station is the huge Cologne Cathedral. Now choose the Saint you trust and pray 3 HolyMary's for the well being of your dear bag'.
I took the instructions seriously, prayed to Santa Ursula and even lit a candle inside the Cathedral.
In the evening The Machine was satisfied and retuned me the same bag I left earlier, saying: Vielen Dank, you are a good Christian!
There were some bad Christians next to me that were now talking to the Machine ;)
Cologne's German name is Köln and its namesake beer is Kölsch. There were once 20 breweries in the city but the number has dwindled with big brewery takeovers. In 1985, they got together and created an appellation that stated that the Kölsch had to be brewed within the city limits (though some long time producers were grandfathered in) and that the beer had to be served in the traditional .2 liter glass known locally as Stange. It is a long cylindrical glass that affords great head retention. These glasses are placed in a circular tray called a Kranz which is carried by Köbes, the local name by waiters. These are always men. The Köbes are quite efficient and you'll not be long without a beer despite their small size and I find you drink even more quickly than when the glasses are bigger. The best varieties are served via gravity dispense which means there is no additional carbon dioxide infused to impart an artificial bitter flavor or carbonation. The small wooden kegs are quite traditional and add to the timeless air to the best pubs. These are sometimes hoisted from the cellar via a pulley system like at Früh am Dom and it's quite a production to watch as the eager patrons wait for the next barrel to be tapped with a small wooden hammer. Many breweries are doing away with wooden barrels. It is hard to find one in Munich for example other than at Augustiner but the Cologne breweries should be commended for thus far trying to buck this trend. They make the kegs smaller to ensure freshness to the highly perishable beer form. Kölsch is an ale which means it is top fermented. It is related though not so much in taste to rival Düsseldorf's Altbier. It is golden in color with a fruity dry palate and quite easy to quaff. By all means try one and make sure it's from the wood!
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.
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.
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.
In Germany, you won't see signs for rest rooms. Instead, look for signs for WC which stands for Water Closet. Be sure to note that Herren refers to men and Damen refers to women.
Also, it is a good idea to carry some pocket change with you at all times because public toilets in Germany are generally not free. For instance, it costs 0.70 Euro to use the Herren WC at the Cologne Hauptbahnhof.
On the positive side, the WC's in Germany are generally clean and well-maintained.
This tip is for visitors to Germany who are beginners in the German language like me. While in Germany, you will often hear the word "bitte". The link included with this tip instructs on the common usages of the term "bitte" in German.
Before visiting Cologne, it would be helpful if you could master the following phrase: "Ich möchte ein Kölsch, bitte." In this phrase, "bitte" means "please".
Rockpalast is the best known concert hall in Cologne but also, famous in whole of Germany and abroad. It is situated right next to the Hauptbanhof and a foot of the Dom. You can't miss it, easy to find and recognizable for its tent-shape rooftop seen from the far distance.
The most popular rock stars and bands, from all over the world, held their concerts here. If lucky, you may watch some of them in live concert during your stay in Cologne.
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.
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.
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.
I was very happy when I went to Cologne because I had a great guide - Sabsi. She is not even local here, but as soon as she heard I'm coming to Cologne she started planning and even learning things because she knew I wouldn't be happy with the usual "This is an interesting house from I don't know when and built by I don't know who - but there is a nice bar on the ground floor".
Sabsi waited for me at the airport, reserved our seats in restaurants, gave me maps and drove me around for two days. Which wasn't easy at all since I had some things on my list of Must see places that she never heard of. But at least I hope it was an interesting visit to Cologne for her too.
Thank you Sabs!
I cannot really explain much about BAP, you need to be local to understand, but anyhow, this is a local rock group, they have been playing for more then 20 years now and they are obviously pure German band, or, to be correct, Koelsch band.
Few of their CDs are classics and "Verdamp lang her" is something that will always stay in my memory.
Sabsi organized a VT meeting on the first evening I was in Cologne. We met Gil earlier that afternoon for the coffee and later went to the Früh brewery where we were joined by Stef (Tinytuck), Sandra (hundertmorgen), Holger (HORSCHECK), Edgar (50939) and Winfried (RhineRoll).
We had a dinner, numerous Kölschs (I stopped counting after the fifteenth round) and lots of laughs.
Sandra came with her friend who was kind enough to take this picture of all of us.
The local people proved that Cologne is The place for going out and having relaxed time. Thank you guys!
(Oh, Sabsi has an excellent Travelogue on her Cologne page about my visit and the VT meeting so please check the link below).
The first time I visited Cologne, I didn't get Kölsch at all. This Cologne beer speciality was to weak and served in too small glasses for my more Bavarian liking :))) These days, my extended Cologne family have taught me how it is done and I have got used to the way it should be drunk and enjoy it even if it is not my great favourite. You cannot sip a Kölsch like other beer. Instead, down it rather fast and there is soon a new glass on your table! As they are small, you simply order a new one when you need it and there is even a special Kölsch tray for waiters to carry them in.
So, how do you behave? For a start, the waiters in the Kölsch brewery pubs are quite snotty but that's part of their image so don't worry. Instead, try to argue back at them, it's all permitted as long as it is done in a sort of sarcastic but joking way rather than downright bad mannered. As you cannot drink Kölsch forever because your stomach will start to feel like you have a swimming pool in it before your brain tells you that you're drunk, there is a way to stop more glasses being put in front of you. Simply put the beer mat on top of your glass (see second picture).
When you've stayed in Cologne for a while, you get your own Kölsch favourites and can distinguish between some. Sion is one of mine but Päffgen and Früh are also very nice although totally different! Gaffel seems to be the most touristy one and there are loads in between. The old rule says that a Kölsch has to be brewed within Cologne City to be named a Kölsch.
see all Cologne member meetings