Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Cologne

Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:05am EDT
 
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By Shadia Nasralla

COLOGNE (Reuters) - Famed for its yearly carnival celebrations, there is more to Cologne than silly costumes and soccer's Lukas Podolski.

Have a closer look at Cologne, or Köln, as it's called in German. It is a hub of European high-speed train travel. You can get there directly in less than two hours from Brussels, 3.5 hours from Paris, 4.5 hours from Berlin and on an overnight train from Copenhagen.

FRIDAY

5:30 p.m. - Once you arrive at the central station on the banks of the river Rhine, take some time to take in all of its 19th century charm with its vaulted, curved structures stretched out above the tracks. Try the fish at Gosch bistro in the station - the fresh "Matjes Baguette" comes with special recommendation. (here)

6 p.m. - Stepping out of the station you will find yourself staring up the towering facade of Cologne Cathedral, a world heritage site. It is not only home to a stained-glass window designed by Gerhard Richter, but also harbors the large, intricate gold shrine believed to contain the relics of three holy men. The Cathedral - or Dom as the locals call it - was once used as horse stables by Napoleonic forces much to the dismay of the local Catholic population.

For those fit enough, the view of the Rhineland from the top of one of the two towers of the Cathedral is well worth climbing the 533 steps in the spiral staircase marked by countless etchings and graffiti from the present and centuries past.

7:00 p.m. - To get a taste of traditional Cologne "Gemütlichkeit" and the local beer "Kölsch", head to the Brauhaus Frueh am Dom. Situated in the shadow of the cathedral, this pub hasn't changed much in the last 100 years. Sit on dark wood furniture and enjoy one refreshing Kölsch after another, as the Köbesse - typically mustached Cologne waiters dressed in blue aprons - will swish around immediately replacing any empty glass with a new one unless you place a coaster on yours. (www.frueh.de/)

8:30 p.m. - Walk back to the station on the other side of the cathedral to have dinner at the restaurant Alter Wartesaal. You'll be served German and Italian cuisine surrounded by art-deco style. The Alter Wartesaal used to be the waiting hall for first-class travelers at the time of Emperor Wilhelm II, who himself is known to have sipped tea and champagne there. (www.wartesaal.de/09/)   Continued...

 
The UNESCO World Heritage Cologne Cathedral and the Hohenzollern railway bridge along the river Rhine are seen during Earth Hour March 23, 2013. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay