Cologne: My General Impressions

Right outside Cologne's busiest station.
On the train to Cologne!
A  display about German
World Cup uniforms.
Cologne is now by far one of my favorite cities. The people, the landscape, the sites...everything was awesome, particularly the people and atmosphere. Americans often stereotype Germans as being extremely stern and proper, the sort of people who aren't able to cut loose and have a good time or carry on a lighthearted conversation with a stranger. However, like most stereotypes, I don't believe that is the reality. The Germans I encountered were friendly, accommodating, and clearly loved to have a good time. I would describe the environment in Cologne as tremendously warm.

In my opinion, Germans have a "work hard, play hard" mentality. Everyone appeared to fall into their roles effortlessly by day, yet when evening time came, especially during the weekend, everyone seemed to be out having a good time. 

Cologne also impressed me with its interesting architecture and street art. Nearly every street my friend Sica and I came across had a building which was either decorated or painted with cool graffiti.

Windows decorated with lego pieces.
I don't know who the man painted on this building is,
but it was impressive.
This building was really close to our apartment.
I love how the coral red of this building stands out.
The lime green building here was also one of
my favorites.
As we planned our trip, Sica and I debated about our accommodations. We thought about staying in a hotel, but the price, value, and experience factors turned us away from the idea. A hotel would have been an expensive choice, and we figured the amenities might not be worth the price. Also, although we figured we would certainly be seen as tourists by most everyone, we wanted to experience Cologne like locals.

Therefore, we decided to book an apartment through AirBnb. It was totally worth it as not only did we get a place to stay in a cool part of town, but we had a lot of room and did not have to pay out of our nose (~70 Euros a night, split between the two of us). The key to the apartment was given to a neighbor of the owner. He was quite friendly, and when we got the key from him, he gave us a few tips and advice on what to see in the city, which was helpful. 

The main room of the one bedroom apartment where we stayed.
It was neat and clean with lots of light.
The kitchen was small, but had everything we needed.
There was a cute little table in the kitchen where we mainly
had our breakfast.
The bathroom.
There were adorable little personal touches throughout the apartment.
The apartment also had a spacious balcony.
We mainly people watched and had our dinners out there.
Me contemplatively people-watching. 
Sica enjoying some of her favorite yogurt.
There were pretty flowers on the balcony too.
The owner of the apartment kindly asked us to water them, haha.
This little guy was hanging out there as well.
Cologne also had nice options for shopping, especially at the well-known Schildergasse. Honestly, Sica and I didn't do much shopping. The only thing I bought from the street was nail polish (but it's one of the nicest quality ones I have, and it was only about $2!) Going to Schildergasse is also great because it's a good springboard to many other famous sites in the city, namely the Cologne Cathedral (aka the Dom) and Cologne Rodenkirchen Bridge.

The main entrance to Schildergasse.

A shot of the Dom and suspension bridge.
As you can see, the bridge is littered with locks of love.
(A little cheesy? Maybe, ha.)
If you know me well, you know that any discussion about travel is not complete without discussing the local fare. Everything I ate in Cologne was great. As Germany has a large Turkish population, Sica and I had Turkish food on two occasions. Additionally, in comparison with Paris, prices were definitely considerably more reasonable. The day we went to Cologne, I got a snack and sandwich for lunch close to Gard du Nord because I figured the prices would be comparable; I wish I had waited until we got to Cologne! There were several food options in the main station there and a set meal was just over a couple Euros.

Sica and I got lahmacuns or Turkish pizza at Oruc Kebop.
It's one of the most famous kebop places in Cologne.
The lahmacuns were not served as pizzas in the
traditional sense since they were wrapped up.
Don't let the picture fool you though - they're colossal!
This was mine with veggies and chicken inside.
We decided to order our pizzas with a side of fries.
This was nothing short of a gut busting meal!
In order to cut the costs of our trip, Sica and I got items
from a nearby grocery store for breakfast.
I fell in love with the taste (and name) of this "ja!" brand yogurt!
Merzenich is a bakery chain.
I had a pretel from there all three days
we were in Germany. 
While in Germany, I also indulged in chocolate.

This one was interesting, milk chocolate
with corn nuts inside. 
Sweet + salty = amazing!
At Bei Oma Klienmann,
taking my first sip of beer.

Cölner Hofbräu Früh
My favorite meal in Germany was definitely schnitzel. I know it's typical to eat schnitzel in Germany, but it was definitely worth it. We went to a place close to our apartment called Bei Oma Klienmann. I made an online reservation late in the afternoon the day before we wanted to go there, but when we showed up the next day, we were told they didn't get our reservation (!) Nonetheless, they were extremely accommodating toward us and we got a table in less than ten minutes. The meal was ultra special for me because I drank beer for the first time and got to watch the Germany v. Ghana world cup match. 

After realizing how refreshing good beer can be on a hot day, I was determined to try it again before I left Germany. We didn't have room in our schedule to spend time at a sit down bar, so I opted for buying a bottle of beer.  I chose Cölner Hofbräu Früh, a beer that's native to Cologne. It wasn't bad at all.

So what's the verdict? Was Cologne worth it? Would I visit again? To those last two questions, I answer and emphatic yes! I loved the city and everything I experienced there. It's clear Cologne has a lot to offer, and if I were able to spend at least a week there, I'm sure I would have made thrice the amount of good memories. My time in Cologne was so positive, it not only makes me want to revisit the city, but drives my curiosity about the rest of Germany. 

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