Friday started off as the first sunny day I've seen in over two weeks. So of course all the international students were getting travel fever. SUN SUN SUN!! We decided we wanted to take a jaunt to the beautiful city of Köln: firstly because our student transportation tickets make the one-hour train trip FREE, and secondly because I think everybody was a little tired of partying and wanted to get out of Aachen. Since the trip is only an hour, and we can catch the Köln train just about every hour, we decided to sleep in a little and go at 10:44.
So I wake up, think, "yay, it's the weekend! I'm going to Köln," look out the window, and of COURSE it's cloudy, misty, and back to the all-around miserable Aachen weather once again. Maybe we just imagined that it was sunny on Friday. At the very least, it wasn't too cold.
Right as you step off the train in the Köln Hauptbahnhof, you walk outside and the first thing that you see is the beautiful cathedral, the Kölner Dom. Taking 632 years to actually complete, it is the most prominent form of Gothic architecture in Deutschland, and has one of the very highest Gothic vaults in the world.
There was scaffolding all over the church, as it's basically in a never-ending battle with the elements. They are attempting to clean the entire outside surface, and even though it makes for annoying photos, it will be definitely worth it in the end. In this photo of the back of the church, you can see what's been cleaned and what hasn't.
There were some friendly angels ready to greet tourists outside the church, and they even gave us a bunch of candy. You can't say no to God's candy. You just can't, I bet it's a deadly sin. This was our little group for most of the day, until we met up with the other foreign students in a pub later. From L to R: Juliette (France), Nuria (Spain), Mikael (Sweden), Kamila (Poland), and me!
We paid €1,50 to climb 533 steps to the top of one of the two main spires and see the bell tower along the way. The whole way was a tiny spiral staircase, and there were about 18203860 people trying to navigate these little steps going up and down all at the same time. So on the way up, you have about 3 inches of step to set your foot on (the inside of the spiral) and on the way down, you just pray that you don't barf on the person in front of you because you're getting so dizzy for going in circle after circle...
Totally worth it though. Didn't I mention that? :) About 2/3 of the way to the top, we stopped in the bell tower, and got to see the giant bells. At one point, somebody paid to ring one of the smaller ones, and the whole tower vibrated. It was wicked....or should I say "holy"...
We kept asking Germans who were on the way down how many steps we had left to go. "Wie viele Stufen??" And one of them just looks at us seriously, and says, "ZU VIEL." (too many) I love Kamila's face in this photo as we started thinking about the steps.
But the climb definitely paid off once we got to the top.
You could walk around the perimeter of the tower and also see to the very top of the spire (below).
After the Dom, we decided to walk to the Schokoladenmuseum, in order to replace all the calories we burned with some chocolate. But on the way, we found some of our other friends, and they said it wasn't worth the price. But we decided to walk anyway. On the way, a man tried to hand me a political flier, and a woman asked me directions...apparently I look like an approachable German. We also passed a friendly protest, something having to do with women (right). The way to the museum was along the Rhine, so we got a fantastic view the whole way. Bridges, barges, colored buildings, and fishy pubs. All silhouetted against beautiful old architecture.
We decided to spend our €5,50 on an actual dessert instead of a tour of the chocolate museum, so we left and walked to the railroad bridge (Hohenzollern Bridge) over the Rhine. The pedestrian walkway was a metal fence on the left side, where there is this tradition of a couple putting a lock on the fence in honor of their love. Apparently, the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) threatened to have the locks removed from the Hohenzollern Bridge. Deutsche Bahn is the bridge's operator, but in the end relented in the face of public opposition. This was probably one of my very favorite sights in Köln.
The other side of bridge had a nice little stone balcony over the river for picture taking.
(this is the most taken picture in all of Köln) But it's so pretty, I couldn't help it!!!
[Ignore bad hair in the next picture]
After satisfying our cameras with the pretty view, we returned to a small cafe for Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake). I had a white cream-mousse/lingonberry layered cake. We came to the conclusion that all German cakes look like you're going to die from the deliciousness, but when it actually comes down to it, they don't taste nearly as good as they look (with the exception of Scharzwald Kuchen). Meeting up with the rest of the internationals at a bar on the student street, we had a couple of Kölsch's (the beer made in Köln) and hit the road back to Aachen rounding out the day at nearly 12 hours. Köln was a beautiful city, and I can't wait to go back again soon. It's so close and so easy to go, I'm sure I'll spend more days there.. and hopefully when it's sunny!!
Here are some random pictures I took during the trip. Enjoy!