48 hours in Cologne, Germany’s deadliest city

It is around our fifth Kölsch that we start to get the Cologne constitution. We are sitting in Päffgen, one of the traditional breweries that produces the yellow white beer that is unique to the German city. It comes in small upright glasses (apparently it loses its fizz quickly) and every time one is emptied, another is delivered by a swinging server who a tree, or circular tray, which appears to defy gravity. The replenishment process continues until you put a mat of beer on top of your glass to indicate you’ve had enough.

I imagine the limit of four is only the beginning for many of the drinkers packing the room, but we soak up the alcohol with traditional dishes of pork schnitzel, meatloaf and – for the vegetarian – three fried eggs with fried potatoes, all guaranteed delicious, if not the healthiest food.

Cologne, the fourth largest city in Germany, is less than four and a half hours from London by Eurostar and connecting Ice train, which surprises many. Berlin is another four hours away, but it’s a million miles from Cologne in terms of attitude and a very laid-back reputation. This attitude is reflected in his unofficial constitution, the Kolsche Grundgesetz , with aphorisms such as Et es wie et es (It is what it is) and, appropriately this time, Ól ene met (Go ahead, have a drink).

We are located in the Qvest hotel, in a neo-gothic building in the Belgian quarter that was once the city’s archive. Tucked into a quiet square – opposite the beautiful fourth-century church of St. Gereon – its sweeping stone staircase and Gothic-shaped arches and windows are the perfect backdrop for its art and uber-cool furniture, from Eames chairs to Pietro Derossi’s bright green Pratone on the. chaise longue. It also won on the solo traveler front, with fun single rooms in the attic.

From here, most attractions are within a 30 minute walk. There’s something to be said for smaller cities if you only have 48 hours to see everything.

Cologne’s unofficial constitution, the Kolsche Grundgesetz, includes aphorisms such as It is what it is and Come on, have a drink!

We could even visit his main scene and be back in London that night. It is not often that you emerge from a central station and immediately lay eyes on one of the most important cathedrals in Europe. Arriving at Rome Termini, you would have to walk for an hour to reach St. Peter’s Basilica, and in Paris, Notre-Dame is a 40-minute walk from Gare du Nord.

The Unesco-listed Cologne Cathedral, the world’s tallest twin-spired church, towers over the station, a forever reminder of resilience in a city that was under constant allied bombing during the second world war, including the first raid 1,000 RAF bombers. , in 1942. Although heavily damaged, the cathedral – which took over 600 years to build and was completed in 1880 – remained in the center of the rubble city, and seems to refuse to buckle under the attack.

A short distance from the cathedral is the Ludwig Museum, home to Europe’s largest collection of pop art and an impressive Picasso collection (and a pretty good cafe/restaurant). A short walk away is Kolumba, the art museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne created by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor over recently excavated Roman ruins and the medieval ruins of St. Kolumba’s Church. The building is battered on the outside but inside it’s amazing. Parting heavy full-length leather curtains (Zumthor’s signature), we make wooden walkways over the ruins, which surround Gottfried Bohm’s Madonna in the chapel of rubble, built in 1949 to replace the bombed church.

The art collection has plenty of what you’d expect – religious icons, a seal chamber and seal boxes – but also some stunning contemporary pieces, including one of Andy Warhol’s Crosses series and The Lair, a bronze work worn by Louise Bourgeois.

There’s a professional second-hand shopper among us so head to Cologne’s vintage shops, which are mixed with mainstream retailers along the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, Ehrenstrasse. As a result, Think Twoe has bought a deal, but this time it’s no joy from Vintage Revivals.

Most of the second day is taken up with a trip to the Arp Museum in Rolandseck, 50 minutes away by train, in search of Dada masterpieces, which Cologne itself does not have, despite the city being part of the movement in the early 20th century. The abstract collages and paintings of Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp are uplifting on a dreary day, although not as captivating as architect Richard Meier’s building.

Despite thinking we could do it all, we’re going home with unfinished business – we went through the cool multicultural Ehrenfeld area at lightning speed and didn’t manage to find time Kaffee and Kuchen. Still, as the constitution puts it: It doesn’t matter, you like it! (It goes as it goes!).

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