After spending two separate weeks in Cologne (in January and June), I’ve come to love this walkable city. I’ll take a short pause from “Finding Reiner” to give readers a taste of the town.
Cologne has dozens of traditional and chain hotels near the cathedral, but my husband and I were happy staying at Adagio Aparthotel, which had a kitchen (with dishwasher), a small gym, and a laundry room. The staff was multilingual and unfailingly friendly. The location, Blaubach 3, is industrial, but we could walk to REWE grocery or Kaufhof department store in four minutes and to the Cologne Dom in ten.
If you’d rather stay in an apartment that is more like home and less like a hotel, try the modest KÖln-Sud apartments where I stayed in January. The only snag there is that if you need something at an odd hour, you may not be able to reach your rental host. And this complex has no gym or laundry. But still, I enjoyed the neighborhood feel.
Most first-time visitors to Cologne start with the Cathedral, the Dom. We went twice during special services and heard the choir sing both traditional and modern pieces. We also climbed the 509 stone steps to the tower to take in the city view. If heights or crowded spiral staircases make you nervous, skip the view and visit the treasury below.
Strolling along the Rhine River is a treat. I prefer the area south of the well-known Chocolate Museum for its modern architecture and galleries. But, we also ventured north to the zoo (don’t go at night).
We thought about hopping on a sightseeing boat but instead wandered back into town and found St. Kunibert’s, one of Cologne’s twelve famous Romanesque churches. We caught a student practicing the organ, and we had troubling pulling ourselves away.
This website, in German, will give you a visual tour of the church:
After walking all day, my husband was hungry for a traditional German meal. We came upon the 250-year-old Brauhaus Em KÖlsche Boor and dropped down at a sidewalk table. Hans feasted on Schweinshaxe (Pig’s knee) and roasted potatoes, and I on a simple tomato soup. The waiter was slow-moving, but he cracked jokes with the boisterous German customers and kept the KÖlsch beer coming.
Three other restaurants we chose were Riphahn, a trendy French restaurant, near St. Aposteln church, which made me a perfect vegetarian meal: http://www.riphahn.com/.
And, we tripped over Rosendorn Brasserie for tasty tapas in the old town. We also loved Manufactum, where we ordered wine and cheese before wandering through the upscale store.
Rosendorn outdoor tapas restaurant:
I was actually checking out the sign for MartinsBad sauna when we discovered the popular tapas place. The next day we tried Martinsbad and found it good for a swim and sauna but less visually and physically therapeutic than hot baths we know in the USA or Japan. The mineral pool was not as hot as I would have liked it.
Cologne is full of fabulous historical and art museums. My favorites are the Roman-Germanic Museum, which protects the original site of a Roman town villa; the Kolumba, which juxtaposes sacred and modern art; and the NS-Documentation Center (El-De Haus). The latter claims to be the largest regional memorial site in Germany for the victims of the Nazis. Because of my research on WWII and the Nazi control of Germany, I’ve spent hours there. Find more about these museums on the links below:
This blog post is only a starter course for Cologne. I haven’t even mentioned the hip Belgian Quarter on the west side of the city where we found boutiques and cafes that we didn’t have time to enjoy. On my next trip, I’ll start there for fun before I dig back into Reiner’s history.
I’ll be back on Sunday July 20th with my next episode of "Finding Reiner." After that, I’ll report from Poland where Reiner disappeared almost seventy years ago.