Saturday, 20 December 2014

Trip to Germany! [Part 2]

Part 1 here.

... so after arrival in rainy Cologne, we spotted the zero-G A300 used by the European Space Agency for low gravity astronaut training. We were offloaded onto a bus for a very short hop to the terminal, which we swiftly passed through, heading straight to the railway station. We managed to buy tickets to Koln hbf (the Cologne central station) but decided to wait for a later train which went direct there with no stops to avoid any confusion... unfortunately when we did board the train, a high speed ICE, the tickets weren't valid and we had to pay ~ 4€ extra. No too bad and the conductor was very friendly and understanding about it!

Cologne station is immediately next to the imposing Cathedral, or Kolner Dom:
The view outside the railway station!
After quickly checking in at the hotel and dumping some stuff it was off to the market! Firstly, the Cathedral market. This is a busy mass of stalls, Christmas trees, people and lights and we feasted on such treats as bratwursts, kolsch (the local beer) and caramelised nuts. Having only a vague idea of what to do and how to to get around the city, we decided to get a hop-on-hop-off tourist train around the 4 major markets...
And off we went on the rickety train around Cologne's cobbled streets, with Christmas songs playing in our ears! First stop, the old market. This turned out to be our favourite market, which is split across two squares, one of which is covered by a public ice rink:

Here we had baileys hot chocolates and watched the skaters from a bridge over the ice (we only saw one person fall over, leading us to suspect that only those good at skating dared take to the rink!!). Next we caught the little green train to the harbour market, and popped into the nearby chocolate museum:
 The final stop was the new/angels market, further in town in the main shopping area:
Now being night, we headed back to the Cathedral market and marvelled at the spectacle, this one really looks spectacular at night!
We paused for another kolsch before moving back to the old market, which also looked very christmassy at night!

We then crossed over the Rhine to get a view of Cologne from the other side...

And that was the end of the first day - tommorrow, Part 3 of this festive German adventure: some more of Cologne, and Düsseldorf!

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