a short stopover in Cologne

For Christmas two years ago I received a voucher for a “blind booking” flight. A.k.a. you don’t know where you’re going until you’ve completed the payment (after selecting when and whether you want a party/cultural/nature holiday). As it was run by Germanwings I had to use the voucher before I (maybe) left Germany for good. My flight was from Colonge-Bonn which was great since Cologne was one of that last German cities on my Deutschland to-do list. As for where I ended up you’ll have to wait and see! The only downside to the whole blind booking option was that my flight left so early in the morning that there was no way to get there in time from Giessen. Hence “Cologne in a day” as I arrived a day early after a bus trip through beautiful snow dusted hills.







This being the earliest I have woken up in over two weeks, I stumbled off the bus and through the train station in Cologne with bleary eyes. I brightened right up despite the immense grey skies when I saw the Dom, skipping into the cavernous interior just before mass began and wandering off into the streets as the sun decided to appear. The old town is quite nice as is the stretch along the river where you’ll find a chocolate museum overlooking the Rhein (more informative and waaay larger than the one in Bruges, it had a tropical garden inside, but there’s almost no free chocolate) beside some modern-y looking buildings overhanging the promenade. I headed up to the old city walls (whats left of them), the various city entrances and streets peppered with churches. The area around Sevrinsstr. is quite retro and multi-cultural, Pantaleonsbergstr. houses some calm gardens in the church grounds, Pfeilstr. is the upmarket shopping area, while everything between there and Hohestr. consists of the more usual stores. Which was all quite nice, but I had walked pretty far so I lucked out in passing Olivia Culinaria Italia at Mittelstrasse.





The window display caught my eye first with trays overflowing with salads, tartlets, cheeses, stuffed tomatoes, omelets and every Italian dish imaginable. Everything extra you put on your plate costs and my heart stopped a little when I found out that I had racked up a bill of €16 with one roulade, two spoons of salads and two stuffed tomatoes. It was a case of my eyes being bigger than my stomach, but while my mind was reeling at the price my stomach was thanking me for it. It was great. I mean really really really goreat Beetroot salad erring on the vinegary side just the way I like it, sweet chilli raw pumpkin salad, mozzarella ham olive rucola and pesto roulade and creamy herby stuffed sweet sun-dried tomatoes. If you’re in Cologne, and you have time, the money and a serious case of the munchies this place is so worth a visit. I opted out of what surely would have been a great espresso (again at €4…?) and decided that lugging an 8 kilo bag for a month on the camino was enough and brought my rucksack to the hostel. Some down-time later I left at dusk to see the city in a softer light and ended up buying a pair of shoes along the way. I should note here that I am the most impossible person to buy shoes with since I never really find the right ones so I was kind of delighted with myself, dumped my old battered black ones into the bin (they were destroyed and beyond saving) and took the new shoes for an immediate a test drive.





Fast-forward a few hours of walking on air later I stopped to grab a quick dinner at a Japanese place to munch my way happily through a heap of salted edame beans – until a too-vigorous extraction of one from its shell catapulted it into throat where I realized that it was exactly the right size to close off my wind-pipe. Choking averted I continued eating at a snails pace. The other small dish I ate wasn’t worth mentioning. Back at the hostel I fell into the bottom bunk and drifted off into sleep with the sound of serious partying (cringy music included) wafting in through the window and gentle snoring racketing around the room.