Last week I went on my very first solo international trip to Germany! I've been to Germany a few times with my coworkers and friends, so it was a familiar enough place to go (plus most people there speak English). However, I was still nervous to go solo considering I hadn't been to the cities of Cologne or Frankfurt before.
THE PLANE RIDE:
Before the flight, I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to sleep on the plane, especially when a family of six sat near me. Thankfully, I brought a sleep mask and earplugs, and was able to sleep through "dinner" at midnight (why do they even serve that?) and breakfast before we landed.
I had a connecting flight from Portugal and my layover there felt like a breeze. I ate a croissant of course (Europe necessity) and relaxed.
From Portugal I got on a small plane to Cologne. I had to check my small Away Suitcase because the plane was so tiny. I slept a bit more on this flight just because my body probably thought it was still the middle of the night! When I got to Cologne, I grabbed a taxi and got to my hotel, The Holiday Inn Express, around 6:00pm CET.
Overall, the trip there was not bad, however in retrospect I think I might have preferred flying into Frankfurt and taking the train to Cologne. Honestly, I was a little nervous about navigating the train on minimal sleep so I figured a connection was easier, but it would have decreased my travel time significantly.
The next day I woke up around 9:30am to explore the city. My first stop was the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom). After a fifteen minute walk through shopping areas, I turned into the plaza and saw the cathedral. It was one of those moments where you say "wow" out loud. I was amazed by the height and majestic presence of the building. It was so tall that I could barely even get a proper photo, so the below does not do it justice, but you can see a glimpse of its gothic beauty.
I went inside and looked at some of the breathtaking stained glass windows and admired the high ceilings.
After the cathedral I headed to Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke). This bridge has the largest collection of love locks that I've EVER SEEN. It was so beautiful. When you're walking towards the bridge, you start out by seeing the following:
Then when you start walking on the bridge, the amount of locks is overwhelming. Just beautiful. Took my breath away to see all the love there. Makes me think about all types of love—the love that lasts a lifetime, summer love, friendship, overbearing love. All beautiful and tragic in some way. Sorry I may be drinking too much wine while writing this...
There was also graffiti everywhere, talking about love.
And I made a wish, and wrote my name on the bridge. However, I only had a pen in my bag so it has probably already washed away.
After walking across the bridge (and almost getting hit by a few bicyclists), l headed over to the KolnTriangle which is a viewpoint where you can see a 360 degree view of the city. You pay 3 euros to take an elevator up to the top. I took another look at the cathedral from above!
In the elevator
After seeing the city from above I walked back over the bridge, admired the Rhine River and headed back to my hotel to get some work done.
The next day I had to work, but at the end of the night, I managed to grab a Kolsch beer, a beer first brewed in Cologne.
If I have the opportunity to go back to Cologne, I would add seeing the "Old Town" to my list. Although the city was nearly completely destroyed in World War II, the historic buildings in the Old Town remain.
I would also like to go to the Fragrance Museum where cologne (the perfume) was originally invented.
Hopefully my next visit is in February, because that's when the Cologne carnival takes place!
After my visit to Cologne, I went to Frankfurt but was "frankly" too tired to explore, so I just worked. Hopefully next time I go back, I'll have a post for you about Frankfurt as well.
I had a great time in Cologne and feel so lucky to have a job that takes me to Germany often. Since my ancestors are German, I feel a connection to the country.
Thanks for reading! xo
Labels: Discover, Explore, Germany, Solo Travel, Travel, Wanderlust