On the outside, it looks nice. "Biermuseum" hangs on the side of the pub, inviting you in with the promise of lots of great beers to sample.
As soon as you spend 5 minutes there, however, you start to realise your mistake. Not only does it look bad on the inside, the bartender is as apathetic and rude as they come. The beers they offer are mediocre at best (even the Belgian ones) and to top things off: despite it being prohibited, people can apparently smoke there all they want. You don't have the right to complain about it though: the owner tells you to leave if you don't like it.
Definitely a place you don't want to go to, there are a lot better options in Köln (Cologne).
Unique Suggestions: Just don't enter. Really. There's a lot better pubs to go to in Köln. Just walk around the Dom to find some good alternatives.
Fun Alternatives: The Früh am Dom is only one of the alternatives that spring to mind. It's still not perfect, but anything is better than the wrongfully named "Biermuseum".
In a square outside of the Cathedral, there are some guys in elaborate costumes who are meant to symbolize the three Magi (Wise Men) who visited Jesus upon His birth with gifts. For a donation, you can have your picture with one of them. I think the guy in gold is pretty cool.
Unique Suggestions: If you decide to have your photo with one of the three Magi, it is important to smile!
Fun Alternatives: For free, you can always have your photo taken with the statues of the famous puppet characters, Tünnes and Schäl, in the Alter Markt.
A mini yellow coloured train disappearing near the Cathedral looked like a tourist trap to me. Its too small a train to be comfortable to sit and it is supposed to take tourists across some important tourist attractions in the city. I certainly don't think its worth the hype.
Let us be honest: VT is about candid opinions, and - touristwise - I think Cologne is a bit overrated. I like to visit Cologne: The Cathedral is a must-see-once-in-a-lifetime-sight, there are many other remarkable sights and activities, interesting and unusual museums, fine restaurants/bars, but all in all, I like Munich, Berlin and Hamburg much better. Why is that ?
I guess the reason for my initial disappointment is that if you expect a truly historic city (one of the oldest cities in Germany, dating back to Roman times, a political, religious and mercantile center in the Middle Ages), one is a bit disappointed of how few isolated historic remnants remain. And what has been reconstructed is often not reconstructed as it once was but only as to indicated how the style and proportions once looked like (for example Martinswinkel). This is due partly to the destructions of WW2, partly because of reckless city planning.
This should not distract you from a visit, but keep in mind that there might be less left of historic Cologne than you would expect from reading tourist brochures.
After a lot of disappointing experiences I would advise you not to go to any of the big name brewery pubs for eating out -- too often have I gotten dishes where you could exactly tell that they are coming straight out of the microwave oven.
Also avoid the restaurants on the Rhinefront promenade.
Unique Suggestions: Of course going to a Brewery pub is part of the Cologne experience -- just have a quick Döner or Bratwurst elsewhere -- why pay 10 EUR and more inside the brewery for something that costs 2,50 EUR from the bratwurst stand in the street? Once your stomach is silenced, you can order some finger food or pretzels to go along with the Kölsch.
The Rhine quays below the Dome are wonderful with their bars where you can sit and watch river barges and people. Just please don't eat here unless you're recommended a particular place as the quays are lined with restaurants trying to pack the tourists in and serving a mish-mash of cuisines making the food nothing particular in any cooking style. Service is also often poor and you can wait forever for a dry schnitzel which you then pay a fortune for.
Unique Suggestions: Pick a place with ONE food style.
Fun Alternatives: Just a few blocks away from the river you get much better nosh.
You´ll find many street ticket sellers around the campside and close to the main entrance.
DON´T BUY THEM THE TICKETS!! Actually, better if you don´t talk to them.
Buy the tickets ONLY in official places, otherwise you could be buying false tickets and you´ll lose between 90-100€.
"Echt Koelnisch Wasser 4711" Everyone knows it. And many tourists buy it. Honestly I hate its smell. But get your own impression. You can buy it everywhere in downtown. The original 4711-Shop is near Neumarkt and Apellhofplatz by the opera house.
One for the ladies really..........................or the gay couple!
...and think that Cologne is just at one side of the Rhine river. When you stay at the Dome side, you will miss many things about Cologne.
Go to the other side of Rhne river (there is a footpath at the trainbridge) and discover a huge cosy beergarden in front of a large hotel, monumental buildings, nice statues and Rhineparc!
Cologne has one of the biggest christmas market in Germany. Dec.25 2003, xmas market comes to our mind and since it's only 3 hrs. drive away from my place, we drove to this city with excitement to experience a German way of xmas market.
We arrived around 3:30pm, all mini stores are closed, we thought we've been too early..so we waited until 5pm and walk aound the area until we ended up in a snow skating place, there we asked on what hour is the xmas market has to opened. The man answered yesterday was the last day, it means dec.24 and on xmas day is closed.
Unique Suggestions: There was a big snow skating place where many young people are having fun. Instead to be dissapointed, We enjoyed our stay here...there was a food shop for sausages, fries, hamburger and hot drinks...I got my Gluwhein!
Fun Alternatives: You can see from this photos that xmas shops are closed. Still it's nice to walk around and discover the City.
Probably the Dom....I'd hate to come here in the high season. We all know what it looks like from outside, here is a picture of the interior.
My 2 cents?
Looks great at night
Bloody freezing inside
Free entry, but you are expected to tip the priests walking about with a donation box for the cathedral's upkeep.
Roman-germanic Musuem annexed to the side, across from the tourist office
If I had time, I would have gone up the spire to get a really cool panoramic view of the Rhine, Southern Duesseldorf and Bonn
The interior is strangely disappointing and anonymous
Noisy tourists who forget that they're in a place of religious worship and talk loudly while people are trying to pray.
Unique Suggestions: Maybe it's best to visit in the morning, when it's quiet. You can climb the tower and look out over Cologne and the Rhine in the crisp morning light.
Somewhere in Cologne is a toy shop, or a toy department in a large store (I forget) that owes me for a set of betteries!
When I visited Colognes as a child some 27 years ago, my friends and I went into that shop and bought some model tanks - 1 each - that we were gonna "fight" against each other, and race over obstacle courses etc. The sales assistant assured us they were battery powered and sold us all a set of batteries each to go with our tanks.
When we got back to our Hotel we found that they were PUSH ALONG tanks, not battery powered at all. Well, we didn't have so much fun with those tanks, we were really ripped off. Plus we had about 10 sets of batteries that we didn't need!
Unique Suggestions: Return the batteries!
Fun Alternatives: Don't buy batteries for push-along tanks!
It´s a common sights in European Cities but I think it´s mainly a tourist trap....
There is also a little train circulating between some spots in town.... it might be a good alternative to the local transportation if your feet are tired, but I think you really don´t need something like that........
Now, I haven't been riped off here yet, but it's a pretty logical thing that in places where there are many tourists chances of being ripped are a lot higher.
Consequently the 'Altstadt' would be such a place, because there are usually a lot more tourists then natives or 'imis' (the term for non-native cologne people), so be careful there and explore other parts of this great city.
Have fun anyways!
Of course you must visit the 'Altstadt' - old city. But be aware: Restaurants and shops there are mainly made for tourists. They may be even nice but you won't meet many local people there and the prices are higher than elsewhere. Places where locals go to are e.g. Eigelsteinviertel (Underground Hansaring) with many international restaurants and shops, Suedstadt (Tram Chlodwigplatz) with pubs, Quartier Lataeng (Underground Friesenplatz or Rudolfplatz) with many pubs and restaurants ...
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