Welcome to the first installment of our ‘Adventures’ posts! Each month you will get to read and experience one of the Team’s travel adventures. To start off the journey, Sophie Wood takes you for a leisurely stroll around Cologne. Enjoy!
After a delayed flight, a broken suitcase and a transfer that didn’t turn up, I finally took a taxi from Cologne Bonn airport and checked in to the art’otel in Cologne. The hotel was absolutely beautiful; showcasing original art in every room, with mine featuring “The way to the paddy field” and overlooking Rhine river. Once we were assigned the room 241, and I made the classic dad joke of 2-4-1 cocktails to my boyfriend, we were off to a good start…finally!
We chucked our bags in the room, tried out the coffee machine (priorities you know) and established how to turn on all 7 lights- it was like being on a catwalk. Then we thought we would try get to a Christmas market we could see from our window which was located next to the Chocolate museum. After walking up about 100 spiral stairs and walking half way across a bridge we realised there was no stairs down on the other side, so we quickly took a U-turn and decided to keep walking South from the hotel and hunt for some food.
After walking for an hour and somehow ending up on the other side of the bridge we established the Christmas market was now closed because it was 11pm and we decided to go back to the hotel reception and ask where we could get some dinner. The man at the desk hands us a map (thank the lord) and circles the destination for food. So we walked North for about 15 minutes and found the big Christmas market that was also closed and a range of kebab shops, off licenses etc. At that moment we came across Latino Loco and with us being crazy for Mexican it was destiny. Open till 1am, Mexican food and drinks- yes please.
I ordered a small nacho starter to share and a vegetarian burrito… Both came up the size of my torso and were absolutely delicious. The nachos were only €4.90 and my burrito was €9.90 with a €2 diet coke. A huge meal that I couldn’t even finish came to only €14.35, the equivalent of £12.17 (bargain!). We then called that a day because it was about midnight and we were shattered- such adventurers I know!
Our first full day was a lot more action packed- Chocolate factory (€9), Hard Rock café (€35.80), Neumarkt, Koln triangle (€3), accompanied by a trip to Aldi for wine, Kamps café, and purchasing a chocolate apple and some cheese from the Christmas market. The chocolate factory shows you all the history about the sugary addiction we all worship around Christmas, you can see cocoa beans and then watch the chocolate process from melted chocolate to the perfectly moulded and wrapped Lindt chocolates. Plus you get to taste a wafer dipped in a chocolate fountain which we visited about 4 times in the space of an hour. It was really interesting, and without a doubt tasty.
Then Hard rock was my request, it is a tradition of mine to eat a meal in a Hard rock café in each country and collect the same style t-shirt then take photos of the rock memorabilia. So far I have London, Paris, New York and Cologne so I still have a really long way to go but it’s definitely a start. It was our most expensive meal there but we did get two large burgers and two beers, but it still was only €17.90/ £15 each.
Next stop was Neumarkt which is their shopping centre. We decided Aldi was a good decision to get some drinks and snacks for the room and trust me we made no mistake. Rose wine was ONE EURO, one euro I tell you. Sure it isn’t Blossom Hill but it’s better than Lambrini. Don’t be a snob, you are a student and don’t forget that. You buy those bargains and you take them home for everybody at Christmas.
Later we went back to the room and dropped off our shopping and got ready for the evening. We walked about 25 minutes North again and crossed the bridge to Koln Triangle. It is basically the Shard of Cologne and it is definitely one of its hidden gems. It costs €3 to go up to the twenty eighth floor and it overlooks the cathedral, love lock bridge and actually tells you all the buildings you can see.
Once we spent 40 minutes up there and began to feel extremely cold we decided to go back down and just walk around. We didn’t realise at the time that the Hohenzollern Bridge (the one in the photo) is actually the love lock bridge. We forgot a padlock but I’m sure there will be a next time to be that cringy couple that declares their eternal love on a security device.
Next stop was dinner; we tried a little Vietnamese place called Cyclo. We learnt our lesson to not order starters and went straight in for our main. I got spicy tofu veg in lemongrass with rice, and my boyfriend got a chicken green Thai curry. Both our meals were €10.90, and we got some cocktails because it was happy hour between 6pm-9.30pm (costing around €4.50 each). After the meal we called it a day because we were so tired from walking.
Day two we went straight to the market outside Museum Ludwig. With me being veggie I was on a determined hunt to find a meat-free breakfast. I ended up buying a vegan Mexican chilli hot dog from a stall called “Veggy Christmas” for about €5- which was just such an explosion of tastes I scoffed it down within seconds. I now regret only buying one, it was just so good.
Then we went to the Cathedral (€4 each) and walked up what felt like two thousands stairs, with a bonus staircase at the end asthough you hadn’t already walked up a 515 foot tall iconic building. It had amazing views and I’m pleased we went but it was very tiring for such a short stay up there. Shortly after a little gander down the streets we got a tram for €1.90 to Neumarkt. The ticket allows you to travel 4 stops within 20 minutes which is really handy if you want to go further afar. We did a little bit of shopping and then I found SMOKE FACTORY which is a shop filled with shisha flavours, bowls, pipes, e-cigarettes etc. It has only been open for one year and holds Cologne’s own make of Shisha, which for me isn’t a big deal but for my boyfriend was revolutionary.
The rest of the day was quite chilled with us walking around the market at Neumarkt, I bought some brandy and we took a slow walk down the back streets back to the hotel to have a nap before the evening. For our dinner we decided we wanted to go South of our hotel and we fancied Italian. We set off for a 4.5/5 star Ristorante Toscanini only to find out it was fully booked until 7pm the next day, so we went to Ristorante Pizzeria on Severinstrabe road. We ordered a starter because we were unaware they gave complimentary bread with dips. So we had 3 bread rolls, mozzarella, tomatoes, lettuce finished off with a humungous plate of pasta.
I ordered four cheese macaroni and my boyfriend ordered spaghetti carbonara. They were both absolutely huge and mine was just amazing. I know I have said the food is delicious every time but in all seriousness the three dinners we had out there have been the tastiest home-made food I have endeavoured in a long time. I would highly recommend Latino Loco, Cyclo and Ristorante Pizzeria to anyone looking to eat a lot and get very good value for money.
On our last night we decided to go for cocktails at the Mexican we went to on the first night. We ordered 2 strong cocktails, and two normal then had a Sambuca and coffee bean shot at my boyfriend’s request. The bill came to €36 which was actually the most we had spent our whole holiday- but well worth it.
Our last morning we bought two pizzas from the Christmas market next to the hotel for €16 in total and then checked out and got a taxi to the airport for €32. Overall our holiday surrounded food and sleeping but it was one of the most amazing holidays I have ever had. We barely spoke German but felt like we were locals and had no trouble getting by. We split the bill for pretty much everything, and without our souvenirs and presents the holiday came to €316.20/£268.80 (£134.40 each). That is obviously without the flights and hotel, but for three days food and experiences I think we did pretty well.
If we went again I think we would definitely go on the Cable car, see the Flora & Botanical Garden, go to Brewery and visit the high-street we found on the last night (Severinstrabe). Unquestionably we would both visit again. The city was filled with friendly people, amazing food, beautiful sights and just an all-round cheap holiday.
Thank you Cologne or should I say Köln, until next time.