Friday, February 14, 2014

Cologne, Germany

Written by Adam
I’ve been to the City of Cologne twice now within the past five years.  Both times I arrived with Karen by taking the high-speed ICE train from Berlin.  After crossing the verdant German countryside for the greater part of a day, suggestions of Cologne suddenly begin to appear upon the landscape.  Close to the edge of town is a huge sports arena. 

Suddenly you come to the Hohenzollern Bridge, which is covered over its entire span in love padlocks. Crossing over the meandering Rhine River below, you then simply ease into the city, rolling in slowly on the rails.  You are then deposited directly into the large main station, Köln Hauptbahnhof.  You search for an exit, and suddenly before you stands the Cologne Cathedral in its full Gothic glory.  It’s like taking a train directly to heaven in some ways.

The city is much smaller in scale than a metropolis like Berlin.  It’s eminently more walkable, especially when starting from the main train station.  The Rhine River runs as a wet ribbon through the city, thus there is an extensive waterfront district on its banks.  There is constant commercial boating activity conducted both up and down the river. 

The distinct riverfront district is lined by buildings of very recent pedigree - architectural expressions that hold the careers of educated and hip people doing things that probably resonate in Germany and far beyond.  There is a sense that they are all quite connected to the greater Germany by the presence of all the company logos, the ones that exert influence far into the business world and makes the daily news that way.  

People seem to be populating the city from all over - students, tourists, retirees, people dressed in suits, and even some skate punks here and there.  People jog smoothly along the river trail, and bicyclists weave in and out of traffic with ease, but not at the level of their brothers and sisters in Amsterdam.  

Numerous huge bridges span the Rhine River, connecting one side of the city with the other.  There is even a yacht club located within the borders of the city.  Cologne gives the impression that as a place it is quite sane and livable.  It seems dialed-down a bit compared to the larger cities that share the German railway network.  It is the kind of place where people probably really like it that way, and that’s why they are here - just doing their thing and enjoying the culture that the city provides.

The Cologne Cathedral - a Gothic wonder. 
Can you imagine suffering from arthritis and having this building be taunting you in your neighborhood?
Shades of Amsterdam in the heart of Cologne, Germany
Bright and cheery color palette on a traditional building.
Nod to the Bauhaus School in these office buildings on the Rhine.
The Rhine River is spanned by this massive suspension bridge.
Big business in Cologne, Germany.
Within the city, a suggestion of nature and tranquility.

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