I’ve been coming to Germnay for years now and for some reason, I’ve never made a pit stop in the home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals that sits central next to a large river. Cologne is just south of Recklinghausen and is a hot spot for travelers in the area. With restaurants, pubs, bars, a brilliant shopping strip and many hotels, I’m surprised this place hasn’t made the top 10 “must visit” places in Germany! Maybe it has and I just never payed attention, either way, I finally made it and the short 24 hour visit only left me craving more!
A train ride from Recklinghausen to Cologne with one transfer cost about 30€ total and takes just a few hours. The nap is free of a charge.
Ill start by introducing the accommodations we chose. To be honest, it was a last minute decision to even come through here, so we didn’t do too much research on our options. With a view over looking the river, a private bathroom (which is like gold to a backpacker!) and a location that finds you center to entertainment and walking distance from the train station, we scored at Hotel Löwenbräu. Although the restaurant down stairs is convenient, it was a little awkward trekking through the candle lit ambiance as two backpackers coming in and out.
With limited daylight we headed straight to Cologne Cathedral to experience what used to be the tallest building from 1880 to 1884 and now is the largest Gothic church in Germany and tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world. This massive structure had the foundation laid back in 1248 and was continually worked on until the celebration of its completion in 1880. Photos rarely capture the grand size of beautiful buildings and this beast was even hard to get a handstand photo incorporating the entire structure! We tried from two different angles.
Before entering, here’s a few sights you may come across.
As you approach the entrance, the architecture already begins to reveal itself and once going through the doors, the magnitude and detail take over your senses.
There are several areas designed for prayer. Lighting a candle is a way of extending one’s prayer and showing solidarity with the person of whom you’ve prayed for. I’m unfamiliar with the details of the Catholic rituals, but it was interesting to learn about!
I would love to be present when these pipes chime with glorious sounds on a Sunday morning. Again, the large size just isn’t exposed in these shots.
After circling the main floor, we headed for the opportunity to climb the tower that raises above the cathedral. An innocent staircase starts the first of over 500 steps!
You can see how years of traffic have worn the steps that guide you up the tower. Makes me wonder who and what these walls have seen!
Once you think you’ve reached the tip top, the next set of stairs just smiles at you with the “thought you were done?” grin and invites you for another couple hundred steps.
The view was exactly as expected allowing you to see a majority of the city that hugs a portion of the river.
Do you remember the locks I spoke about in Germany and France? They’re secured by a couple in love and then the key is thrown into “Never going to unlock our love” land. This was my favorite chosen spot by some darling couple, makes for a great photo!
The rain started to get a little heavier as we made our way back down the steps. Some parts are open air, leaving you to experience the elements and others are covered.
We chose the long route home never minding the rain and watched the people as they indulged in the souvenirs and local shops.
A quick bite was necessary at this point. “Does that say Frozen Yogurt!?” I asked with excitment. Hayden then responds with “No…where? I only see hotdogs”. Funny how we focus on what we want.
A “last night in Germany” toast was called for when we reunited with Dany, a French Canadian that we met along the way.
The very next morning, Hayden and I head for the train station with happy feet and the sun shining as the next stop is the international airport!
Crete Greece is the last stop on our joint trip and the first country we’re seeing that I’ve never been too! Why Greece? You guessed it, another international friend that I met years ago who has now stretched out the invite to visit him in Crete during his summer stay. Farewell to Germany and many thanks to the huge hearts and welcoming hugs that still invite me back. Cheers till next time!