Cologne is a city that stole my heart. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the cathedral is absolutely stunning, the cobbled streets are charming and the architecture just won me over.
We only had one full day in Cologne, and although we’d ticked the chocolate museum off our list on our previous day , there was still plenty we wanted to see in the city. So we made our way from the hotel to the cathedral, which seemed to be the main hub of the city. Instead of wandering along the riverside as we had the day before, we ventured further in to see what the city had to offer. I’m so glad we decided to do that, as we discovered a ton of Christmas market stalls, and potentially my favourite ever Christmas market!
As it was early and the stalls were just opening, we decided to head on to the cathedral and return in the evening when the markets are at their best and prettiest. Next stop – Cologne Cathedral! Although we had a map, the towers of the cathedral rise above the city, and it’s a great way to get your bearings. Once we’d found our way to the square in front of the cathedral, we took a few snaps before heading in to see what the fuss was about this place.
We’d only made it about a third of the way round the church when doors began to close and people started being ushered out. There’s no way the place would close so early in the day when it’s one of, if not the main attraction of the city. Turns out, all the tourists have to leave/ stand at the very back of the church between 11.30am and 12.30pm to allow midday prayers to take place.
We decided to stay for the midday prayers, because how can you turn down the opportunity to sit through a service in the biggest cathedral in Germany? Before long it was over and we were able to continue with the sightseeing in the church. One of the things that you can do at the cathedral is climb one of the towers. We umm’ed and ahh’ed about it, but to be honest, 533 steps is just insane. And there’s no wonder that there is no queue at all to climb the towers. I’ll put it into context for you – it’s roughly 700 steps to the second level of the Eiffel Tower. Crazy!
Cologne Cathedral really got me in the mood to have a look at the other churches dotted around the city. According to our map there were loads, so after a quick slice of strudel at one of the Christmas markets, we wandered back towards our hotel to visit the 4 that were en route. I think one of the things I love about churches is that they are nearly always so unique. The history of the buildings and the architecture just draw me in, so I was in my absolute element as we explored those we could find. We also stumbled upon the town hall, and…a REWE! While this doesn’t quite fit with the theme of our walk, I was elated to find a supermarket that stocked my favourite brand of gravy that you can’t buy in the UK. We stocked up and made our way back to the hotel for a chill before our mega Christmas Market-a-thon that evening.
A quick nap later and we were ready to go – but the heavens had opened and we both hate rain. With only one day in Cologne we couldn’t be fussy, so hoods up, hats on and off we went. There’s a road train that makes the rounds of the big Christmas markets in the city, so we jumped on for €2.50 each to avoid the rain. Onwards we drove, and made our way through some hairy red lights before we getting off at Neumarkt. Now, we hadn’t actually expected to end up here, and kicked ourselves for not paying more attention when the driver told us the destination. I had no idea where in the city we were, but a Christmas market is a Christmas market so we had a look round before deciding that the rain really was ridiculous and that we’d just buy our presents for people, grab some dinner and then head back to the hotel via the other Christmas markets we’d seen earlier in the day.
One good thing (and maybe the only good thing) about the rain was that it meant most people were staying at home, and the markets weren’t overcrowded with people. We could really appreciate how pretty they are with all lights and different goodies on offer, and we didn’t have to fight to get to the front.
My mum is a huge fan of the German cake stollen, so we stopped by a stall to pick some up for both of our parents, and also one for my boyfriend too. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the sign properly and where it said €2.90 it actually meant per 100g. Thankfully the lady clarified before handing me three cakes that each was €15. I was in such shock that I couldn’t think of an excuse to leave, and thankfully after an uncomfortable silence my boyfriend stepped in and we were able to leave. €45 for 3 stollen? €45!! Thankfully that was avoided and we moved on to find a little smoking man for my brother.
The rain started to get much worse, and being the clumsy one that I am I managed to find the biggest puddle to stand in, so my foot was freezing wet. We called it a day and made our way back to the hotel, stopping at our nearest market for some dinner which the lady kindly wrapped in foil so it wouldn’t be a sopping mess by the time we got back. Unfortunately I didn’t get to explore my new favourite market, but that just means I have an excuse to go back next year!
We had a great day exploring Cologne, and you can check out my postcard from Cologne here.