The equestrian statue of Emperor Wilhelm II
It is usually said, when one is drunk could see doubly, - this worth only for those guys who are married, NEVER WATCH YOUR MOTHER IN LAW IF DRUNK.
Those of you who took a walk across the Hohenzollern Bridge, side to side, might have think that are drunk of Koelsh or Frueh beer. You will see DOUBLY equestrian statue of Emperor Wilhelm II, or what is even worst, you might imagine that the guy on the horse is following you side to side.
I am joking, of course, was a bit confussed after have noticed the same statue at the one and the other side of the river. Or maybe the City Council of Cologne was drunk when they have placed those statues. But can you imagine this, they placed four statues!
Anyway, the bottom line is this, do not drink if crossing Hohenzollern Bridge!
If you want to drive with your car into the center of Koln / Cologne, you need to have an environmental badge (sticker).
This sticker you need to get in advance.
This applies to more and more cities in Germany.
If you do not have the sticker, you risk a penalty of 40 euros.
See the link for more information.
Cologne has a bit of a reputation in Germany for crime, although less than Frankfurt. It probably doesn't help that a lot of crime dramas are filmed here. In truth the city has a small problem with pickpockets and other petty crime, but for me it felt extremely safe for such a big city. But this is Germany, and nowhere here is really dangerous.
Rage Against the Machine
Germans are a dangerous people, you know that! After recently having experienced some tough competition in the country-invading business, we are now resorting to more subtle ways of harrassing mankind: The Deutsche Bahn ticket vending machine!
Let me tell you how this menace works:
The other day, when I was taking the ICE from Cologne Airport to Heidelberg, I had pre-ordered my tickets and reservations through telephone... they give you a reservation number and you can go to the ticket machine, type in that number, pay by credit card and finally get your tickets... WELL. that is the theory. I did as I was told... clicked myself
through various menus without fully understanding what I was doing and finally was asked "print out all documents?" -- BINGO! I happily pushed "yes" and out came 4 paper slips. I hastily put them into my wallet and boarded the train that had already rolled into the station while I was battling with the machine.
When the conductor came round, I handed the slips to him. His face turned grim and he asked me: "Where is your ticket, sir?"-- "Excuse me?" -- "Where is your ticket?!!! Your ticket! Comprende??? These are just timetable printouts plus a credit card receipt. If you don't have a ticket, you need to buy one from me!"
And on went the argument... he threatening to make me pay the penalty fee for
not wanting to pay, me pointing out that at least the credit card receipt was proof I paid -- and that ticket machine was hardly selling anything else than.... tickets!
Finally a colleague of his came and had the idea to go to another ticket machine
at the next station and see if the missing ticket still was "in the system". And
indeed, it did come out! Phew!!!
In Lower Saxony, a man reportedly was billed EUR 2,7500,000 after typing in "Paris, Texas" as his destination. The bill included a fee of EUR 1,500.000 for "reservation of NASA spacecraft" and EUR 500,000 for "GOP party funds donation"... Be Afraid! Be VERY Afraid!!!
Do not eat at Dohmens
We had lunch at the Restaurant Dohmens. I had Zürcher Geschnetzltes (chicken cut into strips) and the chicken was mostly still raw! First we had to wait over 40 minutes and all we got was this lousy dish. I then had to wait for another 30 minutes to get a new plate. They didn't even say sorry! Bad service, but food!
Iam not a beer lover, definetely, but like they say "be Roman in Rome". There are so many breweries in Cologne, especially in the area of the Alt Stadt. Trust me, there is an brewery in every house situated in the old part of th town, an yet it is most advisable to book a place, especially on weekends when all of them are overcrowded with very thursty people.
Another piece of good advice or better say warning, never bottom up your glass in case you wont drink more of beer! The weiters are strolling around with hands full of beers and as soon as they see your glass half empty they'll place another glass of beer right in front of you without asking. So, if you don't want to drink more beer, just hatch cover your glass.
Morover, never argue with Colognese weiters, they are very rude!
Watch out for Pickpockets!!!!!
The streets are always full of people shopping and so of course we went shopping. Jutta and I both love to shop! I had just taken out 300DM from an ATM. When I got to the next store, I realized my handbag was open (I never leave it open).
When I looked inside, my whole wallet was gone! I had been pick pocketed! I never even knew it or felt it! AGGGHHH!!! They are good at what they do, don't be fooled!
I have heard from the police that they can take a man's wallet from his pocket (even with tight pants) and the man will never feel it is happening! Oh My!
TIP: You might also want to keep a copy of phone numbers & account numbers of any cards you have in your wallet so you can cancel them right away if this happens to you! Keep the information in your suitcase or hotel safe, of course! *smile*
- Business Travel
- Historical Travel
You may find it hard to experience the country to its fullest with just English. No offense but I find German to be a very difficult language to understand. I have managed to visit 38 countries from Argentina to Cambodia from Oman to Japan, but traveling in Germany is more difficult than most places. Ordering at Restaurants may become an adventure.
Thalys train thieves
If you are going on the Thalys trains from Paris to Cologne, you will of course pass through Belgium. Watch out if you sit in the last carriage as it is common for thieves to sneak on board at a station, grab some luggage and then hop off again before the train leaves. This happened to a colleague of mine and then he was in Liège so maybe that's where it is most common. When he alerted the train guard, he was in any case told that this happens every week. The thieves know that there are many tired business travellers on Thalys...
- Business Travel
Smoking / Non smoking in Cologne
If you are a non smoker (as I am) then be prepared to accept that in Cologne there are very few bars, restuarants or cafes that have no smoking areas. It is generally accepted that people will smoke when eating food in bar or restaurant, unlike in UK and US where there are no smoking rules in many places.
- Family Travel
Public Toilets in Cologne (or lack of them!!)
There are few public toilets in Cologne, and as with many European cities, it is acceptable to use the toilet of a bar or cafe, but you do have to pay! Even if you are using the bar or cafe, you still have to leave a tip for the attendent at the toilet, normally 30c. If you dont leave a tip, prepared to be shouted at !!!
- Family Travel
Pickpocket Capital of Germany
Cologne is leading Germany's statistics for petty crimes like pickpocketing and handbag robbing. Be careful in large crowds and waiting lines. Keep your valuables close to yourself and don't leave them in your car. A special problem for Cologne are the so-called "Klaukinder" -- "klauen" means to nick sthg. -- "Nick Kids" -- juvenile delinquents younger than 14 years being used by their parents or organized criminals for stealing.
Access via the Hohenzollernbrücke
When visiting downtown Cologne by car, it is a pretty good idea to park it on the other bank of the Rhine, for instance on the many parking spaces of the exhibition grounds. From there, you can walk across the Rhine using the Hohenzollern bridge which will get you right to the Cathedral. Especially people who cannot climb stairs, beware! The Hohenzollern bridge has two separate walkways, separated without any link by the railway tracks. Only the southern one (the one facing the Hyatt Hotel and the Museum Ludwig) can be used without steps. The northern one abruptly ends in a steep staircaise well before the Hauptbahnhof. Spare yourself the annoying experience of having to go back all the way, and thank the poor guy who just found out about this (me).
Liebe Machine - Eine Fahrkarte, Bitte
Buying a train ticket can be fun in Cologne. At some stations (like the one at CGN airports) there are no ticket booths nor any person that can help you getting the right ticket.
What is in front of you is the DB Fahrkarte Machine - a device that speaks several languages and accepts everything from coins to credit cards.
Before your ticket is issued you have to answer the few questions the machine will ask you:
- Please choose the departure station
- Please choose the station you would like to arrive to
- Are you sure?
- What kind of train you'd like to take?
- Are you sure you wouldn't like to take the more expensive train?
- But the more expensive train is nice, white, clean and fast. Are you really sure you don't want to take it?
- Ok, we'll get you the ticket for the ugly red cheap train if you answer the following questions.
- What is your eyes colour?
- Oh, that would look nice with the colour of seats in our ICE trains. Press next.
- What is your shoe size?
- Oh, you'll have troubles fitting in second class compartment. Just a note! Press next.
- Last question. Pressen-Sie OK, Bitte.
- FromThisPointOn IwillSpeakOnlyGerman AlthoughYouSelectedEnglish AsYour LanguageOfCommunication. Pressen-Sie OK, Bitte
- Press Print to print your daily horoscope or Next to get your ticket.
After you press Next the Fahrkarte Machine will print you your possible itinerary in next couple of hours and also add the Lottery ticket.
I'm not sure if it's legal to ride the train only with the lottery ticket but that's the best Sabsi could get from the Fahrkarte Machine although she selected German and had Euro coins ready. I guess the machine didn't like her hair colour ;)
Watch out for cycle lanes on the pavements in Koln. even though they are a different colour to the rest of the pavement, with lines at either edged and the occasional bike painted on them - I still kept forgetting and walked along the cycle lanes.
Oh and there's a lot of cyclists in Koln
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