The christmas markets under the cathedral

From Hamburg it was off south-west to Cologne. I didn’t really know anything about Cologne, apart from that it has a hektik cathedral, but it was also in the direction I needed to be heading and its serviced by direct high speed ICE trains. Got off the train and made the short 5min walk to the hostel, probably the best located of all the Cologne hostels. It was a pretty sweet hostel, only opened in July of this year so everything was really new. The kitchen was purpose made for hostels, kinda like a schools kitchen with multiple tables with stove tops, multiple sinks etc. The rooms had wooden made bunks as well, so theres no loud creaking. And they had ensuite bathrooms. Supermarket just up the road to buy things to make dinner. All in all pretty good choice. Something which ive gotten pretty good at.

The weather on the first day was pretty bad, raining on and off. I headed straight to the cathedral as thats all I really knew to do. It is pretty damn huge. The inside however isn’t that impressive, its rather plain and boring, but the sheer size makes up for it. I bought a ticket for the top and started on my way up. 510 stairs later, which has to be the most of any cathedral ive been to, I was at the top. It was bitterly cold at the top, with a roaring wind freezing my face off. Because its a very popular place to visit there is metal grid fencing all around the tower, and my camera didn’t fit through the rather small holes. I did my best and still got some good photos. Rest of the time was spent just wandering around the streets. The whole main centre of the city is walking streets only with a really good selection of shops, mainly clothing. There is of course quite a few camera shops, all advertising the German made Leica brand. I went in to one of the shops which was quite large and had a large selection of products, including a LOT of film stuff. Not just your normal 35mm stuff either. They had an abundance of cameras, parts, film, etc for medium and large format. As I was looking around a rack of various little gadgets caught my eye. For a couple of years now ive been looking for a hot-shoe with 3.5mm cable for use with Elinchrome Skyport wireless receivers. Id been using dodgy ones I soldered up myself and they weren’t the best. AND THIS SHOP SOLD THEM!@# Sure they were 20euros each for what is basically a piece of plastic and a 10cm wire, but I had to have them. Another thing that was annoying me was a month or so ago I lost one of the rubber things on my Sennheiser earplugs, so i was reduced to using the standard ipod ones which are shithouse. I found a MediaMarkt store, which is like JB-Hifi but a zillion times better, and they sold replacement earphone rubber thingos. YEAHHHHHHHHH.

Apart from the weather I probably came to Cologne at the perfect time. Their christmas markets had just been open for about a week or so. They are known as one of the best in all of Europe, with the only ones besting them being other German ones such as Hamburg and Berlin. Cologne has the distinct advantage of location though. The main Hamburg one sits infront of the old school town hall, the main Berlin one sits under the giant antenna, but Cologne’s main market sits right under the huge cathedral. When you are in the ‘dom market’ it towers over you, wonderfully lit up at night time. I spent a lot of time in the different markets, walking from one to the next through the streets. Buy a bratwurst and gluwein and by the time you make it to the next one you are ready to load up again. The markets are generally themed as well. One of them might sell primarily food, another will sell goods, one has a few rides, etc. Some of the food was so awesome. I had no idea what I was buying half the time, but it tasted wicked. Bratwurst, and to a smaller extent currywurst, is everywhere. They cut a tiny 10cm roll and shove a massive 20cm sausage in it. The roll is merely just a vessel for the sausage, its not supposed to be like a sausage sandwich like in Australia. Its genius. Fries with mayo was also quite popular, and tasted wonderful. And the best of the lot was something I still don’t know entirely what it was. The main ingredient was potato, and some other stuff. Made in to a mush and thrown in a vat of fat and flattened. So its like fried crispy potato cake things. Oil just dropped off them. Omm nom nom nom. And then to top it off you get mushed apple sauce to go with it. One afternoon I had bratwurst, fries and potato things. I thought my arteries were going to be explode FROM THE FANTASTICNESS. At one of the markets I found a boiled candy shop and couldn’t help myself. Turns out the woman selling them was from Poland and was very impressed that I could pronounce Wroclaw properly. Another thing I couldn’t help myself buy was some little puzzle thingos at a toy shop. You know those puzzles where there is for example two twisted nails together and you have to figure out how to split them apart. And it takes ages to figure out and you feel like offing yourself only to figure it out and its really easy. Yeah I bought two of them. I cant figure out one of them and am going crazy. So yea the markets were great, killed a lot of hours. At night time they were absolutely packed. Would be great hanging out with friends eating and drinking the night away. After the disappointment of missing the Hamburg markets by one day this made up for it.

Thats pretty much what Cologne was for me. The cathedral and the christmas markets. Like Hamburg, but even more so, there isn’t a whole lot to do as a solo tourist. If you had money to burn though it has phenomenal shopping. Would I come back? When the christmas markets are on, definitely.