Let’s start this blog by saying Cologne is beautiful any day of the week, but on a Sunny Summer’s Friday there’s probably no better place in Germany. Cologne had been high on our destination hit-list for a few months prior this trip, only having visited once over 10 years ago, on a school trip to the Christmas markets, we were both eager to see this fine city on a warm summer’s day.
We arrived in the late morning and after looping around a few confusing one way streets we located the camp spot we were aiming for. Just a couple of kilometers out of town and right on the bank of the Rhine, with a cycle path that ran all the way along the river right to the cathedral in the city centre.
Once camp was set up we made the cathedral our first destination. The Dom is a 17th century masterpiece, when standing beneath it’s impressive bell tower, it’s easy to loose countless minutes with your mouth agape, staring up in wonder. The inside is even more spectacular. The Germans more than anyone it seems, really had Gothic Architecture mastered.
Even though there wasn’t a great deal of German learnt on that school trip back in the mid-2000’s, thankfully I did still recall the epic views from the top of the cathedral. However it appeared I’d forgotten the lengths it took to get up there. The trek up takes around 20 minutes and involves more than 518 steps!
Once at the top which is a staggering 157m above street level, the views definitely don’t disapoint, we spent a little time at the top before beginning the mamoth journey back down to the city floor. Upon leaving the cathedral our only minor disappointment was not being awarded some sort of certificate for surviving our climb to the top.
Once we’d collected ourselves over a coffee and some free wifi in a nearby McDonalds (we later discovered the entire city centre provides free wifi) we decided it was time for a beer. In part to toast our successful summit of the Dom, but also to try the local Kolsch Lager.
Local bars serve this beer in small 20cl glasses making it the perfect quick pit stop beverage, even if you have three!
After being sufficiently lubricated we got back on the bikes and took in the famous Hohenzollern bridge, also known as Cologne’s love lock bridge. From there it was a quick cycle ride back to camp to prepare for our night out on the town.
Rather coincidently there happened to be a beer festival taking place in Cologne that very evening, this is a coincidence because as you may have already been able to tell, we’re mad about beer.
We popped into the festival at the start of the evening, the atmosphere was incredible, with locals and tourists having a jolly good knees up whilst sampling some of Europes best beers. After an hour we left the festival in search of some more local lagers.
After passing a few touristy bars that we decided weren’t quite within our budget, we decided to do what the majority of locals were doing, grab a Kolsch from the Tabac and head to the riverside park. From our perch within the park we took in the roller skaters, stag-dos and drunken football games all free of charge.
After a sunset photo shoot of the bridge once again we headed back to the beer festival in search of local grub. There was only really one option, Bratwurst, which incidentally is perfect with a cold beer.
We finished our evening with the cycle back to the campsite, the rivers tow path seemed to have been over run by midges and insects of all sorts. So in hindsight we needn’t have filled ourselves on Bratwurst after all!