Although we’ve visited here a few times before, it has always been when the Christmas Markets have been on. We decided to stop here as (we love it anyway) it is a great stopover and we thought it would be interesting to see it without the markets.
From Schneverdingen it took us 5 hours (255 miles) with the only delay being the junction into Koln was closed so we had to make a detour. The stellplatz is situated right by the River Rhine, but the odd thing is the water point for collecting and disposing of waste is outside in the main car park. This is a tad inconvenient when you only have a 40ltr waste tank!
The price at this time of year was 12 euros per night and 50 cents per kwh for electric – very reasonable especially as you are so close to a popular city centre.
We were here for a couple of nights so the first day we walked into the city along the massive footpath alongside of the river. Although it was overcast it was still a pleasant walk in (about 40 minutes at a leisurely pace) and there were large barges passing by and lots of bird life to look at.
As you reach Koln city there is a famous bridge called Hohenzollern, where people have attached padlocks here as a symbol of their love for others. Looking at some of the dates it dates back to at least the late 1990s.
We also visited the cathedral this time but we were disappointed. One of the downfalls of being such a busy city is that everyone wants to visit it, but it was so full of visitors it lost any feeling of spirituality or peace. It is a very dark building.
There is no charge to enter the cathedral which is great, but we did make a donation towards the upkeep of the place. Thankfully they are not in your face like some do, so you felt more inclined to donate when you’re not bullied!
There seemed to be some disagreement about men removing hats, but it only appeared to apply to certain people…we removed our hats (as a sign of respect naturally, and we’d seen one of the staff instructing people to remove their hats ahead of us) but once in there loads of people still had hats on?
After our visit we were a bit peckish and luckily there was a Winter Market still open (rebranding from a Christmas market – smart move!) so we indulged in a mulled wine, followed by a handmade cheese and mushroom hot bread meal.
The next day we visited the botanical gardens, that are a few hundred metres from the stellplatz. Clearly at this time of year, a lot of the plants are dormant but it was still a lovely place to walk around and enjoy the peace and quiet.
We can imagine it is beautiful during the other seasons and would well recommend a visit, especially as it is free all year round! After our very pleasant meander around the gardens we walked into the centre again, but this time along the back roads which is always interesting.
By the time we arrived though we were hungry so we headed to the main train station and ate a huge bowl of chicken noodles, courtesy of Asia Gourmet. Another fix of the Winter Market then we headed home ready to move on the next day.