Friday, 19 December 2008

Köln (Cologne)

Our first night in Köln, we were invited to dinner Andrea and Baden's (with their boys Daniel and Ryan). They live to the South of Köln , and only about 20 minutes drive from the hostel. Andrea and Baden have been here for a few years on an ex-pat assignment, and are heading home in early January. Nicole and Andrea have been pen pals (internet and blog pals, more like it) since they moved to Germany...they both quilt!

We enjoyed a delicious dinner, and plenty of good chat. (Nicole and Andrea disappeared into the craft stash for quite awhile....) The boys let us know they were getting tired, so finally we packed them up and went back to our digs at the Youth hostel. A great start to our visit to Köln!

We had a bit of a sleep in the next morning, but needed to be up and out by 8:30 (so we didn't miss breakfast!). Using the local public transport, we headed into the most conspicuous landmark in central Köln - the Dom (cathedral).

The Cathedral is very impressive, and really dominates the skyline of the city. Inside was also really interesting, and it is reputed to hold the remains of the 'Three Wise Men' from the Christmas story. The stain glass windows were spectacular.

The Cathedral began to be built in 1248, but stopped in 1560 because money ran out. For 300 years it remained unfinished, and was used as horse stabels and a prison by Napoleon's troops. It was finished in 1880 with funds from a Prussian ruler, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in 1880. It escaped World War 2 bombing raids.

The Dom is Germany's largest cathedral.

Alexander was keen to climb the tower (509 steps) but Cameron wasn't so sure. Right near the top there is a section of stairway that leaves the normal, spiral staircase and proceeds on open steel mesh stairs, inside a 'cage'. The wind was really blowing through the windows, and at about stair 400, Cameron decided that he didn't want to go any higher, so he and Nicole turned back.

Alexander wanted to go on, so he and Phil set off. However, about another 50 or so steps on, Alexander decided that he had also had enough. It really felt 'high' on those mesh stairs, so I can really understand. So close yet so far... but the boys climbed as far as they wanted to (Nicole really appreciated the leg workout!).

After this we stopped for a coffee, then headed to the boys favourite place in Köln (Nicole and Phil's too...) - the Schokoladen Museum.

It must be said that this visit to the museum was purely educational! Alexander has an assignment to do on chocolate for the holidays. So, if it wasn't for this assignment, we surely would not have gone in......yeah sure!!!

We caught a tractor (dressed as a train, with carriages) ride from the Dom to the
museum. It was interesting seeing the story of chocolate, seeing some functioning machines packing the goodies, and of course having many visits to the tasting fountain!
We saw how the chocolate was made into those little delicious blocks.
Here is the average amount of chocolate Aussies eat per that really all??
Here is the German consumption!
Nicole then proceeded to work her way through the gift shop, with treats for everyone!
mmm....Lindt balls! Lecker, Lecker, Lecker!!

The museum section was very interesting with all sorts of boxes and dispensers that you could get your chocolate from. These 2 photos below are 2 different chocolate machines you could put a coin into and a chocolate would come out.

I am hoping this gnome actaully delivered chocolate balls.....the boys thought he looked like he was sitting on the loo!

This Hansel and Gretel one was adorable!

We found a market and bought some traditionally baked bread for lunch (after all that chocolate, a bit of bread was enough!) and this was Lecker! (delicious!) We then strolled back up through the Altstadt (visiting two christmas markets) to the Dom. We then just walked for a while, found a major shopping strip, and a nice cafe to sit and warm up in.

We love the Christmas markets...there are always great aromas of food cooking, and Xmas decorations to purchase!

Nicole's favourite Christmas Shop! The do online orders too!

This stand amused the boys....Bumerangs
An ancient Roman Wall right in the middle of town!

We decided to head back to the hostel and find something for dinner there. The boys played in the gardens for a while (Chasing the bunnies), then we had some delicious pizzas in a cafe at the hostel. Easy, cheap and very tasty! After an ice cream from the vending machine, it was time for an early night

No comments: