Merry Christmas Cologne, and what a city to spend christmas in. First initital thoughts is its just stunning. Picture perfect. Very into the christmas spirit. Wow.
Choosing our location to spend actual Christmas day was tough, knowing nothing about European xmas traditions or even how they celebrate. So we decided to spend a touch more money and spluge on the Hilton for our accomodation. After doing some quick online reading, we could see that Cologne offered some of the largest markets and had great reviews for the perfect seasonal holiday.
We settled into our accomodation and got to know the surrounding area quite well and very quickly. We were staying just a 1 min walk from main attraction in Cologne, a 157.31 meter tall (yes Tom is that precise) cathedral, known as The Dom. The Dom is not just the main attraction but its the main everything, everywhere you turn there is something relating to it, whether it be jewellery, t-shirts, the name of pubs or just your general souvenirs, it's everywhere. It's easy to see why though, the building itself is.. well i say stunning.. Tom says, dirty, gothic, obscure, and he cant believe it took them 600 years to build and by the looks of the scaffolding, they are still working on it. No matter what you think of the building, you cant help but look at it. After a good long hike up 509 steps the view from the top is beautiful, you can see every aspect of the city. This building is truely the be all and end all of Cologne.
After a day of checking out The Dom and the surround city, We chose to spend the next day enjoying yet more xmas markets, these ones have over taken the top position as the best markets. You would think we would be sick of seeing markets after markets but in all honesty, each countries markets are so unique and completly different from the next. We strolled around eating lemon crepes (Claire favourite) and rock candy (also Claires favourite) and looking at all the beautiful hand made items, of course we stopped along the way for a beer or two. Ice skating rinks are such a huge deal over here, with some liquid encouragement, we grabbed some skates and joined in the fun. This is one of the largest outdoor skating rinks we have come across so far and lucky for us, there was a bar right in the middle. What a way to get us in the xmas spirit.
Public holidays over here are xmas eve and xmas day, so there wasn't a great deal that we could see or do for those two days, but after so much walking the last couple of weeks, we enjoyed having a rest in our room. We bunked up and watched movies, read books and skyped family on xmas day, we enjoyed a beautiful private xmas dinner at the Hilton and finally our energy bars are once again refilled. It wasn't the Christmas we thought we would be having and we had hoped that it would snow just to fulfil that white Christmas dream but unfortunately we missed out there . The bells throughout the city was a quick reminder we were lucky to be here for Christmas at all.
Our last day in Cologne we decided to go to the chocolate museum and Lindt chocolate factory. Those that know me well, know my love of Lindt chocolate bunnies with the bell and those little red Lindt balls, nothing was more amazing then going to see where and how they were made, and having a few samples along the way. The factory was one of the only places open at this time so it was quite busy. We chose to walk through the factory on our own terms and explore the Lindt history and science behind making the chocolate. We walked through hot and humid rooms that showed the beans growing, with the days being so cold, we lingered in this room a little longer, lapping up the warmth. Our favourite section was the kitchen, watching the chefs make the different chocolate bars, moulds and of course demonstrating how those famous bunnies are made. You can choose to decorate your own chocolate bar here but we skipped that option. The Lindt factory was such a highlight for us, we would recommend it to anyone who is heading to Germany.
While we had wished for a white xmas and missed out, we were lucky enough to have a big down pour of snow on the day we left. It wasn't the best timing walking through the snow to the train station but it was such a beautiful, almost magical site. We were sad to leave Cologne but it was time to keep moving on.
Thankyou for a wonderful christmas Cologne.