Cologne

Cologne was one of my favorite cities in Germany. Cologne has a reputation in Germany as being the place where people live it up to the fullest, laugh the loudest and longest, and generally have a greater joy for life. It’s somewhat the San Francisco of Germany because it also has the country’s largest and most active gay community, plus a free and legal sex trade.

Cologne also has its own beer and style of drinking beer (called “kolsch”) that is unique and very different from the Bavaria style that most Americans are used to. Most Americans think of Germany beer coming in the big, lidded steins. In Cologne, however, they drink their kolsch in Because the local dialect is also called Kolsch, there’s a joke that Kolsch is the only language you can drink.

To the right is a pic of me with Mucca (manager of the SQL Server team for Quest in Germany), Christiana, and Mucca’s girlfriend (who’s a nearly perfect double of Winona Rider) at breakfast in Cologne.

The thing that Cologne is most famous for is its incredible gothic cathedral called the Dom. It was reputed to be the site of the relics of the Three Wise Men, which made it a huge site for pilgrimage. Plus, it’s the site of St Ursula’s demise at the hands of Attila the Hun in 383 AD. So there were lots of reasons for medieval Christians to seek a pilgrimage there. Today, it’s simply the most stunning cathedral (and the tallest) ever. In fact, it was the tallest building of any kind until the modern age. Mercifully, it was spared the bombings of WWII.

You may not be able to tell, but the pinnacle of each tower has what appears to be a small, ornamented cross. That cross is, in fact, about 12-16′ tall (pictured at left)! I couldn’t even get the pinnacle into a single frame of my camera within 50′ of the things. As you can see from the picture at left, they’re huge!

The area all around the cathedral was swarming with people. There was really interesting street art and performances happening all over the place. One thing that was really neat was the chalk-mural painters working for tips. It was really pretty stuff.

After visiting the cathedral, we spent the afternoon and evening in the restaurant district, eating and drinking. I discovered some interesting things. For example, Cologne is THE place to have a bachelor or bachelorette party in Germany.
But they do their parties a little differently. First, every one in the party gets a commemorative polo shirt to wear. Sometimes they’re silly and sometimes they’re just a polo shirt or t-shirt with the person’s name and a date, and possibly some kind of slogon on the back (if it’s a t-shirt). Second, the bride or groom usually has to wear something extra silly. For example, one group of bachelorettes were wearing black & yellow striped polo shirts and the bride had to wear honeybee gloves and antenna to complete her costume. Finally, bachelorettes will sell all kinds of crap (shots of booze, flowers, candies, etc) at inflated prices from little baskets all day long to finance their partying all night long.
It’s overpriced, but everybody knows its for a good cause, so they buy from them. Kind’a like we do here in the USA for kids selling stuff for their school programs, except in Germany, it’s mostly for getting sloshed. LOL!
Some enterprising Cologner developed these bike-bars that are all the rage there. A bunch of partyers chip in to rent the bar, then peddle all around town, drinking, blowing horns, and generally having a mobile party until they’re too drunk to peddle any more. Amazing!
Such a fun trip to Germany. It certainly exceeded my expectations on every level.
Cheers,
-kev
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