When Megabus started offering £20 trips to Europe I hopped aboard an overnight shuttle to Cologne to explore what was billed as a beautiful student city. Unfortunately I went during a week of torrential downpour and had a bit of a naff time, but I’ll try again one day as there were some incredible sights in this old-styled city. Let’s crack on…
- German toilets don’t accommodate a comfortable poo. They have a shelf for your stool to fall onto for examination, but this unfortunately leaves it sat in open air for the world to inhale. Without a body of water for your excrement to dive into, it sticks to the porcelain without budging upon your first flush (which puts in a feeble attempt to push your waste off the shelf). When you find a regular toilet you should remember its location and return for all future movements as these German toilets are terrible.
- Find a kitchen. Staying somewhere without a kitchen left me with the option to spend a small fortune eating out all the time, or live in the snack isle of Aldi. My body lacked nutrition throughout my stay.
- Drink Kölsch. There are a few brands and factories in the city as it’s the local beer and it’s served in slightly weird sizes (200ml or 400ml). You’ll learn the history and rivalries between the different types pretty quickly, but in my mind it doesn’t matter which one you drink; all Kölsch is absolutely delicious.
- Climb the cathedral. Without Googling, I can recall the number of steps off the top of my head (a billion), but it’s totally worth it when you finally reach the top of this breath-taking building and admire the city below.
- Location is key. Stay as near the centre as your budget allows. I opted for cheap accommodation on the outskirts and regretted it every day after hours of walking through thick rain and strong winds. The walks into the city don’t pass anything worth seeing and the public transport is pretty basic.
- See the art. Near the cathedral is an art gallery that is absolutely massive and depending on the exhibition, is really fascinating. At least check out what’s on show when you visit, because it’s a really enjoyable experience and probably the best art gallery I’ve ever visited.
- Jazz hands. Beside the river are some rather trendy jazz bars with entertainment throughout the evening and reasonably-priced Kölsch to enhance the experience.
- Hit the hockey stadium. It’s not exactly central but the massive hockey stadium is a highlight of Cologne. Due to budget restrictions I never saw a hickey match in there but at night it turns into a ginormous music venue with hard German electronic music bellowing around the arena and adrenaline-fuelled locals jumping around for hours.
- Avoid the chocolate factory. It’s not whimsical and fun like Willy Wonka would have you believe. It tries, but it’s just an overpriced glance at some machinery. Don’t waste your money.
There’s no doubt Köln is a fascinating city, bit unfortunately I made some poor decisions with accommodation and activities and had a poor time. Tell me your reccomendations in the comments below to enjoy this city more on my next visit!