Our time in Berlin had all too quickly come to an end, and it was time to move on to our next city – Cologne. The day started early as we had tickets for a 8:47am train. As my phone was still stuck on UK time, the alarm was set for 5:30am (6:30am Berlin time) to make sure we were up, packed and at the station in time to at least find our train.
I did a quick Google search and found that the journey from our hotel to Berlin Hauptbahnhof should take about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, I forgot to take into consideration that it was a Sunday, and trains on a Sunday morning aren’t as frequent as they usually are. When we first arrived at Anhalter station, the next train was 5 minutes away. However, on the other platform, the next train was 17 minutes away. If we had to wait that sort of time, we’d have to jump in a cab for the short distance. We had our unlimited travel cards though, so we were going to try and make the most of them and get the train.
We were so lucky that we never had to wait too long for trains that morning, as we got to Hauptbahnhof – one of the main stations in Berlin – with just 20 minutes to spare. While this may sound like plenty of time, we had no idea which platform to go to, or even where the platforms may be. As we looked up, we could see trains crossing on three different levels. Deciding the best option was to head for the information centre, we started following the signs until we saw a board displaying all the trains and their platforms. I was so relieved, because although we’d only paid €35 euros each for the train, they were about €120 each if bought on the day and we couldn’t afford to miss the train and have to get the next one!
Next dilemma was which section of the train we needed to get on. The train was actually made up of 2 trains, which I was under the impression would split off somewhere along the way and end in different places. Plus the fact we had a ticket for a specific section, and the tickets are always checked on Berlin trains. We eventually found the platform, found the correct section of the train and took a seat. Relief.
The journey to Cologne took about four and a half hours, and was so relaxing. I prefer train travel to flying any day! We stepped off the train in Cologne feeling fresh, grabbed a map from the information centre and made our way to the hotel walking alongside the river. Something I neglected to tell my boyfriend was that although I knew where we were on the map, and I knew where our hotel was, I had no idea which road led to the river from the station, because there were roadworks. So I just followed a group of people in front of us who were heading in the kind of direction I thought the river was, and luckily we passed through all the road works and popped up by the river. A short 20-minute walk along the cobbled pathways and we were at the hotel.
Bags dropped off, we had about an hour before we could check in to our room so we strolled over to explore the Christmas market on the other side of the road. Quick bite to eat and before we knew it we were back at the hotel and all checked in. We didn’t have long in Cologne, so didn’t want to waste anymore time and made our way back out to visit the chocolate museum. Oh yes, a whole museum dedicated to chocolate. I thought it’d be more like Cadbury world and that we’d get more free samples, but we didn’t and instead actually learnt quite a bit about the process of making chocolate. I definitely think I’d have had a greater understanding if I could have experienced the final product, but that’s just my opinion.
As we came out, there was a choir singing Christmas carols in the market that surrounded the museum. We stopped to listen for a while, before the heavens opened and we decided it’d be a wise move to grab some dinner and take it back to the hotel to eat.
Tomorrow we had a full day to explore the city, so wanted to get an early(ish) night!