If the name rings a bell, the world famous Eau De Cologne originated here, the first perfume for the aristocrats that were sick of using essential oils in order to cover the smell of a head washed last month underneath a wig. Cologne (Köln in german) is the fourth largest city in Germany, and one will not regret visiting it as it has a lot of character.
Set in both sides of Reine, number one attraction is the lovely pier side walk. If you do it correctly, you will end in the infamous Chocolade Museum, where you can observe the view sipping one of the best hot chocolates you have ever tasted, and/or venture inside for some captivating craftsmanship.
Generally the city is a rewarding experience because… well… Germany. One can only appreciate the accessibility everywhere, the regular and efficient public transportation, and the ridiculously cheap supermarket goods and pub food. While the train itself it is not cheap, the fact that it is ALWAYS on time (hate to be stereotypical but it’s true!) unless otherwise specified is enough to compensate. Adding to that, forget about any idea you might have in mind about the Germans. They are quite warm and friendly, while they might not speak much english, they try their best to help with gestures and they smile a lot, being content with their way of life.
Downtown Cologne where it is all happening, has quite a few museums. Depending on one’s interest, I visited them all, only to enjoy immensely the interesting content in the best designed layout I have ever seen. Whoever remembers my rant about Paris, the partial reason behind it is that Germany set up my expectations extremely high regarding Western European museums.
The highlights of interest are Kolumba (modern art expeditions in a contemporary building that by design is using an ancient Roman fortress wall to stand on) and Praetorium (goes together with Roman-German Museum (Romisch-Germanisches Museum, the widest selection of artifacts and history I have seen including in Rome itself!).
I will not even bother to mention the Love Locket bridge and Dom Cathedral as they are the most central points and free so one will visit for sure. As they should.
Same goes to their zoo, again depending on visitor’s interest but probably the only zoo in the world that its path and map make sense, and I truly loved their aquarium.
Back to the perfume tour, as you can imagine, there are more than one can count. I did my research to find the original factory used by mr Farina himself, the true origin of the perfume, by the name of Fragrance Museum Farina-House. A great experience, very interactive with actors and sample smells, plus a tiny bottle of (as they claim) original perfume.
As a farewell note, I have to repeat that we are in Germany here folks. Do not even dream of entering the train without a ticket and even of crossing roads irregularly. Not kidding, I crossed 2 metres on the right of the zebra crossing downtown and I noticed a traffic cop on my left staring at me. Not paying attention, I continued crossing only to see him dismount from his bike and walking to my direction with an ominous look on his face. Yes, there is a fine for that, no, he did not catch me as I darted into a mall immediately and hid in a dressing room. Who said law enforcement is not fun?
Aaaaaaand that’s that folks! Happy Cologning!!!