Given a choice, I would’ve opted to spend a lot more time in this gorgeous city, however, circumstances being very much out of my control, all the travel gods granted me were 5 hours, a phone battery that was on its last legs and a very cramp-y stomach. The only silver lining? I learnt to make the most out of the limited time I had in Cologne and, if you’d like to do the same, read on!
Cologne is a study in contrasts, striking the perfect balance between history and modernity. It was only apt, therefore, that my activities gave me a taste of both ends of the spectrum.
First stop: the Cologne Cathedral. This majestic specimen of Gothic architecture is one of the most visited landmarks in all of Germany and when you see it in all its glory, you will understand why. The blackened walls speak of the time in World War II when it was bombed numerous times, yet remained standing in a city that was otherwise destroyed. The very first brick for the Cathedral was laid in the year 1248 – just picturing everything the building must have gone through over thousands of years leaves you with a sense of awe. Upon entering, there’s a certain peaceful quality in the air (perhaps this exists in all religious buildings), that automatically makes you want to speak in lower, hushed tones. You don’t really need a guided tour to enjoy everything the Cathedral has to offer. Do make sure you’re well hydrated if you’re planning to climb the steps up one of the spires.
Once our self-guided tour of the cathedral came to a close, the spirit of adventure demanded that our next stop be chosen by the city itself. No amount of planning could have given that carefree feeling that accompanied the decision to ‘just wing it’. We followed the path at the foot of the cathedral and ended up making our way through Hohe Straße into Schildergasse (two of Cologne’s best known shopping streets). The most amount of shopping I got done on my Euro Trip was during the next hour and a half that we spent exploring the shops here though, to be honest, it was no shopping spree.
Apart from well-known brands like TK Maxx, H&M, Mango and Primark, there are numerous souvenir and other shops which are full of interesting little tidbits that you’re hard pressed not to buy. Ice cream cone in hand, the cool wind gently playing with our hair, we could have spent endless hours strolling down those streets and discovering everything they had to offer but there were meeting points to reach and buses to catch and so our time in Cologne drew to a close.