cologne-featured

Cologne

I spent my pre-Christmas weekend in Germany! We went to Cologne for a few days with my in-laws and my sister-in-law and her boyfriend to see all the Christmas markets. I’m not even kidding. I think we missed one, maybe. It was crowded and cold and not quite as wintery as I would have liked, but it was lovely nonetheless! Cologne is a very nice city. It kind of reminded me of Utrecht, so I felt right at home: the old centre is built around a centuries-old cathedral, there’s little squares and markets everywhere, the narrow old streets are criss-crossed with wide new lanes, and there’s bars on every corner. It’s slightly bigger than Utrecht, though. We walked so much we all had no feet, legs and backs left by the end of the weekend!

The Cathedral itself is amazing! It’s huge! I thought it was the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral, but that’s tiny compared to this behemoth of a church. Apparently you can climb the tower, but they were preparing for a service inside so visitors were only allowed in the back. That gives you all the views of the inside you really need, though.

The outside is blackened after ages of standing in polluted city-air, and looks really ominous in the dark, making the interior all the more spectacular.

The stained glass windows in this place are spectacular. So detailed and colourful!

But we didn’t just go to Cologne for the Dom. We came to see some Christmas markets! Germans love their Christmas markets.

They’re made up of wooden stands that are built like tiny houses, lavishly decorated with lights and ornaments, where they sell all kinds of goodies! Candles, statues, Christmas ornaments, jewellery, paper crafts, puppets or toys…

And weird-as-balls art stands.

And let’s not forget the food! Chocolates, candies, cookies, fudge, but also cheeses and sausages.

Even though the crowds were sometimes downright impossible to navigate, overall, everyone seemed very friendly and happy to be there. I spotted a few carollers (not including the drunk British lady who got on the same tram as we did on the way back to the hotel on Sunday), lots of people in Christmas hats, and even dogs wearing snazzy Christmas coats.

There were large stands selling hot mulled wine (Gl├╝hwein) and various types of hot cocoa everywhere, and they were without question the most crowded spots on every market. They sold the hot drinks in adorable little mugs, which you paid a small deposit for at the bar. You could then either get your money back when you finished your drink, or get a new drink in the same mug! Or take it home with you as a souvenir, like I did. Cheers, Cologne! I had a great time.

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