Cologne – Part 2

OVERVIEW
Day two involved a long walk across the Hohern Zollern bridge with it’s famous love locks. Unlike the pedestrian bridges in Melbourne, from which the locks were cut due to structural integrity concerns, the Hohern Zollern is a massive triple rail bridge made of huge steel girders which apparently has no issue bearing the possibly hundreds of thousands of locks… I considered trying to estimate how many there were but decided sensibly against it.

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ATTRACTIONS
There is some impressive architecture along the Rhein, so it was nice to stroll along looking at it from across the river (there’s a pretty good view of the cathedral, too). After pacing out the old gantry tracks where the docks used to be, we crossed over at the old marina to visit the Lindt chocolate museum. This is partly a sales opportunity but does have some interesting information (the cacao futures market for example) as well as an incredible chocolate fountain, a miniaturised working production line which reminded me of my health and safety days (it’s well guarded for tourist safety!) and some of the creepiest moulded chocolate I’ve ever seen. There is also an opportunity on the second floor, above the fountain, to customise your own block of chocolate but it takes 35 minutes so if you want to do that I advise going upstairs and ordering it BEFORE you look around the mini production line (ground floor) and the hollow moulds (second floor) as otherwise you’ll be twiddling your thumbs while waiting.

Needless to say the chocolate fresh from the fountain is divine. The store is also significantly cheaper than Lindt in Australia so if you’re a chocolate lover, keep some space free in your suitcase to load up! I think my favourite display was the vintage chocolate boxes and dispensing machines towards the end of the museum. The ‘chocolate cult’ on the very top level seems to be for children to play in… brainwashing them early!!!

The Christmas markets just out front of the chocolate museum were sort of half heartedly pirate themed, and I didn’t think there was all that much to see here compared to the Old Town and Cathedral markets. From these markets we hopped on the little Christmas train to the Angel’s Market, last of the 4 main markets, which was in the central city near a number of shopping malls. This was a pretty large one as well, but by now I was pretty familiar with the content of the markets as it’s largely repeated. While it’s cute to see how each one is themed differently, unless you’re a Christmas nut like me you’re not going to miss much by only visiting one market as most of the stalls are the same.

The sausages are always far larger than the bread, by the way.

In the evening we went back to the old town market to have another Gluhwein, but being a Saturday night this time (and slightly later in the evening) it was absolutely packed and to me, completely unpleasant. You were basically wedged into a mass of people like a vertical sardine, pressed in on all sides and barely able to move forwards, backwards, or sideways. Not my idea of a good time. I’m extremely glad we visited most of the Christmas markets out of peak time (they all seem to open around lunch time so there’s plenty of time to see each one) although of course they’re delightful all lit up at night – but go on a weeknight unless you like to get up close and friendly with thousands of strangers.

FOOD
For dinner we went to the Lowenbrau Tavern (a beer hall) and unfortunately, it was so unbearably hot inside that I can’t even remember what I had to eat. Talk about the world’s worst food blogger. After we were seated, we were tempted to get back up and leave, and I kind of wish we had. I tried to cool myself down by pressing the inside of my wrists against my water glass, but to no avail. All I can say is – be prepared for the temperature inside the restaurants to turn you into a roast main course if you go to Germany in winter.

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