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Late Doors

Cologne

Had a few days in the Fatherland Twix Chrissie and New Year, German budget airline GermanWings from Manchester to Cologne-Bonn and three nights in Cologne itself.

A twenty minute train trip direct from the airport on the frighteningly punctual DB brought us into central Cologne. The first thing that greets you as you leave the station is the Cathedral (Dom). It really is a quite staggering Colossus of brooding Gothic menace straight out of a Scooby Doo episode. The dank and grey winter drizzle that cloaked it just seemed to make it even more imposing and you had to bend your head right back to take it all in. One of if not THE most incredible looking church Iíve ever seen



Our hotel was a very modern and comfortable NH chain down the main road that runs alongside the Rhine River, Three †massive bridges traverse it taking trains and cars in and out of the city and one destined to be the subject of human carnage before so very long (more about that later). By the time we were checked in and scrubbed up it was time to get out for the rest of the late afternoon evening. Just caught the Tourist office before it shut to get a map of the place and set about wandering and calling in hither and thither.

Cologne is a very walking friendly place and a nice mix of Old Town charm and modern elegance.



There was an ice ring in the main square along with the wooden log cabin type stalls you might be familiar with from travelling German Markets we seem to be getting more and more of over here. Quite nice places as it happens with friendly bar staff serving Mulled Wine, beer, huge sausage sandwiches, massive waffles and honey coated Almonds. All ridiculously unhealthy but just the ticket to keep out the below freezing temperatures outside and all consumed with gusto by the locals.

By now night was settling in and the old town area with its cobbled streets, plentiful quaffing places and delicate lighting took on a lovely hue. The main drinking place is the Bauhaus. †Traditionally Places that combine a brewery, restaurant and drinking areas but these days very few of them actually brew on premises. They all seem to be entirely walled with wood panels and lit up with cozy yuletide shades of reds and golds. The waiters are a curious mix of retired German Jockeys who have finally discovered the joys of beer and sausage and blokes who wouldnít look out of place on the HSBC board of directors. All of them dress the same in blue wearing aprons and carry huge leather wallets. They all seem very friendly and incredibly efficient as well moving rapidly around the place emitting casual chat to all and sundry.

The biggest surprise is the beer or rather the Kolsch as it is known in these parts. A Cold pale gold brew served in very small 0.2 ltr glasses often flamboyantly engraved with the Bauhaus name.



Two slurps and it could be gone but the ultra efficient waiters will automatically bring you another, mark the beer mat with how many you have had and continue doing that until you signify you donít want any more usually by putting the beer mat on top of the glass. It seems to work well. The food is exclusively traditional German comprising of huge and delicious knuckles of succulent Pork, massive sausages, veal, potatoes and cabbage based vegetables. They are no places for the feint hearted or indeed vegetarians but tucking in to this absolute testosterone fuelling meat fest you get a good understanding of the German mentality when it comes to taking penalties.

The Bauhauses arenít the only drinking places though. Numerous bars of all genres are peppered about the place, some very suspiciously named,



some ultra chic and some basic but all very comfortable and welcoming. One particular place was rather unique; it was saturated with Soviet memorabilia. This pic is also quite unique as it includes both mine and MrsDs Heroes



There doesnít seem to be a racial mix of people around the place either. There are hardly any Asian outlets (although there is a particular street to the North of the Town center that is almost exclusively Turkish).We did find a †Lebanese place on the first night, we took a bit of a gamble pointing at the untranslated menu selecting a few things at random. We managed ok though and got talking to some Jordanians on the next table. Like I said, very friendly people and places.

By the time weíd finish it was getting late and weíd had a long day so wandered back to the hotel. Not before stopping off at the Mulled Wine stall though for a night cap. Incredibly the same barman was there, recognised us and chatted to us as if we were regulars

The next day we planned a good walk all around the city center using a guide book for reference and tried to get a bit deeper under the cities skin and have a closer look at its architecture. Old churches sat alongside modern structures and curiosities along with intermittent Roman ruins. The shopping sector had all the usual outlets with designer shops galore, coffee shops and a wonderful refreshing absence of track suited doilams mooching around. The streets were also dog shit free so draw your own conclusions from that.

It was a good three hours of satisfying meandering before the cold and rain set in and drove us to the coffee shop. It still hadnít stopped raining by the time we were ready for off so we went to one of the museums. This particular one had an Egyptian exhibition and Van Goughs enigmatic Shuh painting on display which was an unexpected treat for this particular VG lover

Then something well weird came over me. We were in this bar sat in the corner window just gazing out as evening set in. Cologne was virtually reduced to rubble in the Second World War and was in fact the first destination of the infamous One Thousand Bomber raids. Just a few buildings survived including the Cathedral but only just. I went into some sort of detached semi trance and had visions of the planes coming over and the chaos and carnage outside as the bobs fell and building collapsed all around. I felt I could see people running in all directions and fires break out all over the place. It was eerie and slightly distressing. Iíve been in similar situation in London and Sheffield contemplating the same thing but never felt that kind of connection. I quite scared mesen really momentarily before I snapped out of it. Sounds a bit like hocus pocus doesnít it but its fact and hence gets reported here.

One of the things we do on every city break is have a night out in the student area wherever it is. I always think these areas show the city in a true light. Very often they are off the tourist track but are always the best places to go for value and character, Cologne was no exception. The area south West of the city was lively even on a Wednesday Night. European groups of kids are so very different to ours arenít they. You never see them drunk, are always very respectful and well behaved. They sit around in mixed groups casually chatting and laughing sipping beer or coffee. They seem so relaxed in their casual attire and seem a million miles away from the sort you get rampaging around the Calls round midnight in their pole dancing outfits. We had a few beers around the place and two perfect crispy pizzas in this lively bar before the 30 minute walk back to the hotel through what was seemingly the gay area. Well the sign above the shop come bar announcing itself as the Gay Sex Center suggested that anyway. Functional and efficient i think you'll agree

New years eve daytime saw us take a train to the City of Bonn 20 Miles away. The trains were phenomenally punctual. In seven minutes three trains arrived and set off on our platform on time. I donít mean more or less on time either to the nearest couple of minutes. I mean to the precise second. When that second hand left 12 and made its first click to 01 the trains had set off.

Bonn is quite different to Cologne. The ex capital of the FDR and it is an altogether smarter elegant and up market town than its earthier neighbour. By that I mean of course that the lasses were better scrubbed up with tidier backsides and the blokes all looked like a good hiding wouldnít go amiss. Bonn was also the birthplace of one Ludwig Van Beethoven and his statue oversees the main square.



We had a good walk around the place but it was a foul day with constant drizzle and cold breeze. What else could we do but take sanctuary in two totally different hostelries. One a rather staid Bauhuas place and the other the closest thing we saw to a wetherspoons full of locals starting the new years eve early.

So New Years Eve Night or rather Silvester as itís called over there. We got the train back from Bonn along with the commuters returning home after work and thought weíd get tea early since we were advised most of the restaurants would be fully booked for the evening. Nothing fancy just a starter and kebab skewer in one of the Turkish places I mentioned earlier, not my choice but MrsD does enjoy her Turk/Greek/Lebanese type tucker. By the time we got back washed n changed it was 8.30 and a mulled wine in the shack kicked things off. Even by that early hour Fireworks were going off and we were both a bit alarmed by the causal disregard for safety shown by groups of lads as they tossed bangers and jumping jack type crackers around the pavements. That, about a million bottles of cava, champagne and Becks being carried around and the bars absolutely rammed promised a lively night at least.

We got settled in a Bauhaus on the corner of the old square and it too was filled with locals of all age groups all quaffing the Kolsch back rapidly and singing along to Traditional German folk songs. One couple immediately behind us on a leaning shelf at the side of the bar were attracting a lot of attention as they gyrated their loins into each other and furiously pawed each otherís round bits. At around 11.15 people began leaving the bars and headed off to various focal points around the city center. The main one was the road/Train bridge across the river and thatís where we found ourselves at about 11.30 along with about 10,000 other people all pissed to varying degrees and all carrying huge amounts of fireworks.

One thing occurred to us straight away, where on earth are they going to place the fireworks before they set them off, just then a circular gap in the crowd appeared next to us as a †huge display firework was lit which was the size of a biscuit barrel. Sparks covered us as Roman candle balls whistled past our noses. The time was 11.45 and that seemed to be the cue for what I can only describe as complete Mayhem. Bangers exploded around our feet, jumping jacks flashed and jumped amongst the legs of the revelers. The sky was filled with exploding fireworks and the air was filled with booms, singing, shouting and the occasional scream. People were simply holding rockets upright in their hand and letting them off. One just next to us roared past us as we covered our faces. The girls hair was on fire as me n MrsD frantically rubbed it out. She looked at us outraged as if we were molesting her. Then another rocket skimmed to the other side of us as another girl buried here head into her hand. Her cheek under her eye red raw as the rocket scorched past her. By now it was utter madness but there seemed only Me and MrsD remotely alarmed by it.




The bridge was densely packed and there was nowhere to go. People were spilling onto the railway track dancing around exploding bangers. Then the countdown to midnight as the air was alight with fireworks. For three quarters of an hour it was incessant. MrsD spent a big part of it with her head in my Jacket as rockets shot up all around us launched from empty champagne bottles. A couple of them failed to set off and exploded right there on the road still in the bottle. Remember those helicopter fireworks that took off vertically and were banned here years ago? They were all in full flight, scuttling upwards and onwards like demented flaming Frisbees.


By now we really wanted to get off that bridge but there was no way we could walk anywhere without getting singed to a frazzle, the safest thing to do was stay put and see it out. One can only imagine the carnage if panic set in and a stampede evolved or the bride got damaged in any way, it was quite astonishing to witness complete disregard for personal or community safety especially when you consider these are the same people that will wait for five minutes at the side of a deserted road in both directions waiting for the red light to turn green.

Eventually at about 12.30 it had sufficiently subsided enough for us to make our way through the crowds to the road. Incredibly there were still people holding on to fizzing bangers and throwing them in the air so they went off above peopleís heads. Smashed bottles burnt out fireworks and empty packets littered the main road along to the hotel. Huge fireworks were still peppering the sky by the time we looked out over the city from our hotel at 1am and the bridge was still full of cavorting pyrotechnical madness. We both shook our head in disbelief at what we had just witnessed.

It was a very different New Years Day. Hardly anyone about in the morning, debris all over the place, shops and cafes were shut, the town was bleak and desolate as we made our way to the station to deposit our bags in the Eighth wonder of the world Iíve mentioned on another thread. We had about 6 hours to fill so we went inside the Cathedral and realised quickly where everyone was. It was rammed with seemingly every visitor in town inside the building. Although it was a splendid interior there was much to distinguish along the lines of the truly extraordinary exterior so what else was there to do other than retire to the Bauhaus Sion for Pig knuckle cabbage, spuds and Kolsch. A nice Hearty end to a fine little break
Forest

Excellent report LD.
I went to cologne on a school trip 30 years ago (kinnell ), the only thing I can remember is they had sex shops on the main sreet next to McDonalds. As a 13 year old from Leeds in the seventies it was a bit of a surprise.
Mol

Re: Cologne

Great report as usual, but are you suggestng a link?


Late Doors wrote:
We did find a †Lebanese place on the first night, we took a bit of a gamble pointing at the untranslated menu selecting a few things at random.  



Late Doors wrote:
The streets were also dog shit free so draw your own conclusions from that.  
Butts

Sounds great, I love Germany, especially Berlin. We're hoping to go to Munich in May.

I also now know how to spell the word doilum  
Grind

Butts wrote:
Sounds great, I love Germany, especially Berlin. We're hoping to go to Munich in May.

I also now know how to spell the word doilum †


My gran used to have them on Sundays.

Sounds like a good trip. Did it smell nice?  
lebowski

Great report LD, I'd like to see more of Germany, loved Berlin, I'll add this to my possible locations mate.
Dock

Great post LD, looks a great place, and the beer looks farcking ace. As usual you encapsulate the feel of the place very well.

Re: "There doesnít seem to be a racial mix of people around the place either." A while ago in Germany there was a bit of a to do where if you didn't have blonde hair and bue eyes you were, er, off the christams card list like.

Re: Pic of you and your hero. I always liked his songs more than McCartneys, and I think he was genuinely in love with Yoko. Er, am I on the right Lennon?

Lada, Warm Coat, Winter Palace. †
bearing

Wasted here you are LD
Dock

bearing wrote:
Wasted here you are LD


Kin' wasted in Cologne more like.
Mick McCann

Gigged in Cologne and managed to visit here, they made me put a hat on.

Amazing place.

Came up recently when someone (TV/Radio) described York Minister as the biggest.....something...... in northern Europe and I went, 'Woaaaaaaaaaaaah, that place in Cologne is twice as big.

It's a while and I'll have been a bit inebriated, is it way bigger than York Minster?

Hamlin was my favourite place in Germany but again, it could well have been the drugs and the fantastic venue.
bearing

Mick McCann wrote:


Came up recently when someone (TV/Radio) described York Minister as the biggest.....something...... in northern Europe and I went, 'Woaaaaaaaaaaaah, that place in Cologne is twice as big.


Was it SB?
Late Doors

It is way way bigger than York Minster at least that what it seemed to me. Maybe its the space around it that made it appear bigger, maybe thats why folks go Brazillian, who knows, it was massuv but more importantly awesome.

Ive been to Jormanland a few times now with work and trips and wont here a bad word said about the place or people... ace

Re the Lennons Dock. they both said they wanted a revolution, ony one could sing

Mick, i give in , what bands have you played in? should we know them? are you famouse or something ?
bearing

York Minster is the largest consecrated medieval gothic space in Northern Europe.
Mick McCann

No LD you shouldn't have known them.
Mol

Late Doors wrote:


Mick, i give in , what bands have you played in?



Pond Life

Excellent reportage Mr Doors
bearing

I think he was in Kadja Kadgag Kaja help me out someone!
Pond Life

I'm too shy.
Forest

bearing wrote:
York Minster is the largest consecrated medieval gothic space in Northern Europe.


But not the biggest Cathedral in N. Europe, its Cologne.
Pond Life

Forest wrote:
bearing wrote:
York Minster is the largest consecrated medieval gothic space in Northern Europe.


But not the biggest Cathedral in N. Europe, its Cologne.


What is the brick ratio compared to the Chappel Viaduct?
Forest

Pond Life wrote:
Forest wrote:
bearing wrote:
York Minster is the largest consecrated medieval gothic space in Northern Europe.


But not the biggest Cathedral in N. Europe, its Cologne.


What is the brick ratio compared to the Chappel Viaduct?


Its made of concrete.








Im guessing
Pond Life

Forest wrote:


Its made of concrete.








Im guessing[/quote]

How factual. Are you Badger in disguise?
Forest

Who me?

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