City of Köln – Finally some free time!
After our trip to SMA, we were all so exhausted (total Kaputt!) that we slept in the bus, all the way to the DJH Jugendherberge Köln-Deutz Hostel. Arriving there, we freshened up and went out for a fine dinner. Köln is a super big, beautiful but expensive city: the night life there is amazing – especially for youngsters. We were a group of 20 persons walking through the city trying to find a dinner place without a reservation. Tough mission. After trying in vain to find seats at a Mexican restaurant (they pretended that our group was too big!) and a Spanish one (way too expensive for our tight budget), we finally succeeded in giving ourselves a treat through some nice Italian food prepared by the Chef right in front of us at Vapiano! Later in the evening, we decided to rather have some drinks at the youth hostel’s reception (that also sold beers) after the long day we had.
On Saturday 29th July, we had a free day to stroll around the city. As such, we could spend the day shopping and visiting the area near the Rhein. We took the urban train S-Bahn to the city centre (we were each given 3 daily tickets by the ISU team on Friday). The imposing edifice of the 140m high Cathedral never failed to daze us each time we went out of the main station: by day or by night we couldn’t help to wow in front of it. We could buy the famous 4711 Eau de Cologne products and eat ice creams near the dock (ice cream break was a staple in all excursions we had in Germany). A few of us visited the Chocolate Museum but since it was so full of people most of us opted for a nice walk along the river.
In the evening, we could taste typical Kölsch food and beer at the Peters Brauhaus. In the evening, we decided to go for some drinks by the Rhein and later Ana, Mona and some of us joined a karaoke night: the Jameson Irish Pub. They all sang along the lyrics of the songs played, specially the German classic Ich War Noch Niemals in New York (not that they knew it beforehand, but after the karaoke it became the one German song they learned!). Unfortunately, the registration for the karaoke was over by the time Aidan and Gaetan arrived, so they missed the chance to delight us with their favourite song, Sweet Caroline.
On the next day, Sunday 30th July, Cecilia, Greg, Alnardo, Alex and I (Sheyna) woke up early to attend the Mass at the Kölner Dom – Cologne Cathedral. Although we missed the one held in the small chapel of the cathedral, we got to attend a bigger, way more interesting Mass held in the cathedral itself. That was grand! We left the church feeling contented and blessed. We had lunch at a nearby Türkish restaurant after which we met the others at the Hostel and set out for the guided tour of the city centre. Our guide, a nice lady, depicted the history behind the cathedral which actually took 600 years to be built: the only cathedral in the world that has a house number (given by Napoleon for tax purposes… but the Kölsch were actually smarter and it didn’t work out as planned by the French).
We got to know that there was not only a gargoyle made after the mascot of the local football team but also a statue of Kennedy hidden among the hundreds of statues on the structure of the cathedral… The guide then took us for a short walk around the church to the room of Dionysus which had a floor made of Roman mosaic designs. She also told us about the several markets in Köln, the well-known Carnivals (“Kamelle!”) as well as Saint Peter of Milan, the saint patron on Kölsch breweries. Fun fact: the saint patron of the the rest of German brewers is Saint Lawrence and it seems that Kölsch people wanted their own saint patron. We ended the tour by rubbing the nose (this act is presumed to bring luck!) of Tünnes, a statue of a Kölsch puppet character.
On our last evening in Köln, we went again to Jameson Irish Pub: this time for dinner and more fun song singing! Later we went back to the hostel for some drinks in the lobby – a perfect way to end this marvellous weekend.