I have a big work trip coming up that I needed to prepare for, so my trip to Cologne, Germany came at an inconvenient time…but I’d already bought the train tickets so I decided to go anyway and try and enjoy myself.
I found it’s easy to enjoy yourself in Cologne, a very nice city located right on the Rhein, in fact the hotel I stayed at was right next to the river in the Old Town area. As I approached the hotel to check in, I noticed right away there was a New Orleans-style jazz club right next to where I was staying. I ended up going back to this club every night, they had some great live music. Also, since I left New Orleans in 2001 I haven’t really found a decent jazz club. I remember there was one in San Diego, in the South Park area, for around 6 months but then they got new owners and changed the theme. Aside from that time, and a couple trips back to New Orleans for work, I’ve been mostly deprived of jazz, so this club was one of the highlights of Cologne for me.
Cologne overall had a very ‘new’ look to it, unlike many other cities in Europe that pride themselves on historical sites hundreds of years old. It turns out Cologne was bombed very badly during World War II, so much of it needed rebuilt. One of the places to go was the Dom cathedral. I took a quick look in, snapped some pictures, but there was a service going on so I went straight to the belfry to hike the 533 steps to the top. My fear of heights frustrates me at times, once again I felt the anxiety build up in my chest as I climbed higher and higher. Of course there was no way to fall, so it was an irrational anxiety. Not like the belfry I climbed in Zadar, Croatia, which had no protective barrier at the top so people who wanted to take the unfortunate plunge could easily do so. The views from the top of the belfry were great, I got some good pictures of the city, particularly the area around the Rhein.
My second full day in Cologne I took a walk to the zoo and aquarium, which was quite a hike from the Old Town. Overall, it was just average. Not shockingly abusive like the zoo in Antwerp, just a bit boring. The aquarium was equally average…still glad I went, just not anything special.
My last day there was bittersweet. I toured the chocolate museum, which was great, but I also misread my train ticket and missed the train back to Mons. Non-refundable, non-exchangeable, so I had to drop $50 on a new ticket. I hope to be back in Cologne, probably for Carnival in February, I heard it’s a lot of fun that time of year.