Holiday in Cologne - April 2007

Our flight from Manchester to Köln was uneventful and a helpful bunch of taxi drivers found us a large taxi that would take the five of us (and luggage) to the Hotel Leonet in Rubens Strasse.

I have to say right away that I'm writing this with a feeling of annoyance because we arrived home to discover that all my English money - over £200 in £20 notes - was missing from my wallet. The only time the wallet wasn't in my possession was when it was in the hotel room. I have informed the police in Köln. Yes, I was stupid not to keep it in the safe but, after years of traveling and staying in hotels all over the world, I guess I've become a little too trusting of my fellow man.

leonet hotel

The advert said "every room with a view" and it's true that every room had a window. Mostly they overlooked the street - Rubens Strasse - or the courtyard, which afforded parking for bicycles and a few cars. Well - it's a city centre - what do you expect? But - apart from the occasional ambulance siren - the place was quite quiet.

rubens strasse

Parking is similar to other European cities. You leave your handbrake off so that cars can nudge inbetween. The result is bumper-to-bumper parking.

hotel room

Our room was small but adequate. However, storage for clothing was extremely limited. The wardrobe had hangers and two shelves - one of which was half-filled with the safe that I didn't use. With hindsight I should have realised why the safe was more important than storage for clothes!

bathroom

There were no drawers and no tea/coffee making facility. We expect this in Greek villages (although we have been pleasantly surprised) but not in a European city.

The bathroom contained a toilet, washbasin and shower. Everything was clean and tidy, albeit old-fashioned. That's not a criticism, just a statement of fact.

toilet

I omitted to take a photo in the breakfast room but it was in the basement beneath the courtyard. It was heavily wood-panelled and "quaint". There was adequate room and the choice of breakfast included nicely cooked bacon, sausage, egg and all the usual cold fares.

The hotel staff were extremely friendly and helpful and most could manage enough English to get by. In fact some of them probably spoke quite good English but, as I spoke German to them, I didn't get the chance to find out.

bridge

The star attraction for tourists is the "Dom". It's right next to the Hauptbahnhof (main railway station) and the bridge which is used by trains and pedestrians to cross the Rhine.

dom

The area is blessed with many shops and cafés. It's not cheap to eat here and many of the shops sell extremely expensive goods.

There are, however, some large stores which sell electrical goods and, unusually, do not accept credit cards. Check carefully before you try to buy - otherwise you'll end up having an argument at the checkout, as I did. I'm not sure how you are supposed to tell which shops accept cards. The locals "just know".

river cruise

You can take an hour-long river cruise in either direction. The ticket allows you to disembark at the turning point and catch a later cruise back, should you wish. In summer (after Easter) longer cruises are available. You can even take the train to Koblenz and return by boat.

ice train cologne

Trains run quite frequently and you have the choice of the express or the slower train, which stops at every town. Note that fares are more expensive at peak periods. The ticket machines help you to plan your journey (in English) but get to the station in plenty of time because it can take a few minutes to figure out how to use them!

Aachener Weiher lake

beer drinking

On a warm day, you can enjoy a drink and a low-cost meal at the restaurant that borders the Aachener Weiher artificial lake in Hiroshima-Nagasaki Park (see map, above). You can walk to this from the city by way of Richard-Wagner Strasse.

farmer's restaurant in Cologne

Another excellent place to eat is "Farmer's", where you can get excellent food at reasonable (low) prices and quick, friendly service.

They also serve beer in large (0.5L) glasses - many places don't. The popular sizes seem to be tiny - just 0.2L or 0.3L - which your average Englishman wouldn't give to his dog.

Train in Cologne

The tram and underground railway system is excellent and a day ticket will get you unlimited journeys around the city for just a few Euros. It's even cheaper if you buy a family ticket.

 

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