Another long drive today as we decided it was time to move on from Germany. Just like with Spain we thought we had enough time to see most of Germany and it turns out we have missed most of the central part of the country. We wanted to make one more stop on our way out of the country in Cologne.
Cologne is one of the largest tourist destinations in Germany and has the most visited place in Germany in its Gothic Cathedral. Since it was on the way towards The Netherlands we decided to spend the night here. Again we were both up pretty early and got an early start so our drive to Cologne was nice and easy if a bit long.
We got a nice spot in the aire facing the Rhine River so we have spent part of the day watching the river barges going past. After settling down we headed towards the city center to join the crowds at the cathedral. Our route was along the Rhine, and for the last mile the path was a sprawling flea market. Between the flea market, the holiday and the five river cruise boats docked along the river the river walk was jammed with people.
We finally reached the cathedral, and had a quick walk around the exterior before going in. Much to our surprise the entrance was free. This cathedral is still Catholic unlike many of the churches we have been visiting lately which started out as Catholic, and were converted to Lutheran after the reformation. The exterior is massive and the spires are the main attraction. Construction was started in 1248 and suspended in 1473, it was finally completed in 1880 after over 400 years of suspension.
The interior is attractive, and the stain glass is pretty though we presume it is all post WWII. The Cologne cathedral would probably make our top 10 list of cathedrals if we were keeping one, but closer to number 10 than number 1.
Cologne is also famous as the originator of Kolsch Beer, so that was the next attraction we headed for. The first place we went was Peters Beerhouse where the first waiter asked if we were there to eat or to drink, we replied drink and he immediately showed us to a standup bar in a corner next to a bar, and the place where waiters return the used beer glasses. This was in a huge place that could easily seat several hundred and it was 90% empty. The tradition in Cologne is to serve beers in small glasses so that the beer remains cold, the server is supposed to come by frequently so you can get refills. In this case after the first round the waiter came by and said his shift was over so we needed to pay up. So we were out of there.
Hoping that was an aberration we headed over to another famous Kolsch place which again was largely empty, this time we got to pick out table and sit, but the service was not particularly friendly so we decided to cut our losses and head on back to François thru the slightly less crowded flea market. Ton cooked a great German meal of pork cutlets, spatzle, sauerkraut and kraut salad so the day ended on a positive note as we enjoyed our meal while looking out on the river traffic on the Rhine.