The last stop on our spring break trip was Cologne.  The two main items on our agenda here were the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) and the Chocolate Museum.  Unfortunately, this was the most disappointing part of our trip.  It started out with a lot of trouble finding the hotel.  The Ambassador Barbarossaplatz is in a good location as far as being central to the city and close to a U-Bahn stop, but it wasn’t very easy to find.  Figuring out where to park was even more of a chore; the hotel does have parking (for a fee) but you have to check in to the hotel before you can get the code to the tiny parking garage.  The room was not nearly as nice as the rooms we had in Trier or Amsterdam.  Decent for a European hotel room, but it definitely suffered in comparison.

The Dom is worth seeing; it’s the second tallest church in the world (after the Ulm Münster), but is the largest church in Germany (Ulm’s comes in second for overall size) and with the twin spires, has the largest façade of any church in the world.  It’s a World Heritage Site due to being “an exceptional work of human creative genius” constructed over a period of six centuries (started in 1248 but not completed until 1880).

The Dom Square appears to be a very popular place for skating and skateboarding.  Even behind the church we saw a guy practicing a skateboard jump.  He had a friend videotaping him.  Sadly, he never quite made the jump without falling.  Maybe he finally got it after we left–Rebecca was quite entertained watching him for several minutes.

We had dinner (Rebecca had Wienerschnitzel) and then walked across the Hohenzollern bridge over the Rhine.  I got a few decent photographs of the bridge and the cathedral, and we saw an interesting sight–what appeared to be a few people practicing rock climbing on the rock walls around the area by the river.  The guy we watched never quite made it to the top while we were watching.  Sort of like the skateboard guy.


Our mistake was planning to catch the U-Bahn back to the hotel from across the river.  The U-Bahn station shown on the map we had didn’t seem to really exist.  We found an S-Bahn station, but it didn’t seem like it would take us where we needed to go.  We walked back across the bridge to the Hauptbahnhof, but we couldn’t figure out how to get tickets to where we needed to go, as our stop didn’t seem to be listed.  The guy at the information desk didn’t speak English and didn’t appear interested in helping.  So we set out to walk back to the hotel, trying to avoid the dark unpleasant looking places.  That managed to get us way out of the way.  Roy ended up asking a guy at a snack stand (who fortunately did speak English) for directions.  We finally made it back to the hotel.  Lesson learned–go ahead and get the transport tickets at the hotel before you leave.

The next morning we did get U-Bahn tickets from the front desk, then headed to the Chocolate Museum.  Another lesson–Good Friday is considered a holiday in Germany–the museum opened an hour later than normal.  We weren’t the only ones waiting, though.  We watched the boats on the Rhine and enjoyed the sunny weather while we waited.

The chocolate museum was interesting, but I think a bit overrated from some of the reviews I read.  It does have more information than you probably want to know about chocolate–cacao plants, harvesting, production, transport, manufacturing, etc.  Most of the information is in German and English, so you can follow the information through the museum.  The most interesting part was the factory area; I think it actually produces some of the chocolate they sell.  You can get a free sample of a wafer dipped in chocolate from a chocolate fountain.

We skipped the cafe inside–the desserts looked good but overpriced–in favor of an Imbiss next to an interesting-looking tower outside.  It was a quick lunch on a terrace overlooking the Rhine, with a view of the chocolate factory.  The weather was gorgeous–the kind of day I wished we’d had at Keukenhof!  At least it was good weather for our drive home, ending our spring break trip for 2009.

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One Response to “Cologne”

  1. P. J. Clements
    May 10th, 2009 at 02:05

    I really enjoyed taking the spring break trip with you via your posts. Because I was really with you in Prague and Salzburg, I can easily imagine myself on this trip, too, especially at the coffee shops and during the weinerschnitzel stops. Love, Mom.

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