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An Alien in Spain Visits - Germany (Colne Christmas Markets)

Having left Spain Sunday morning in a comfortable 20 + degrees arrival in a cloudy! raining Cologne still did not dampen the spirits and the next two and a half days have been spent walking the streets in virtually non-stop rain visiting the seven (7) Christmas markets of Cologne.

The main market is set around "The Dom" Cathedral in the old town and close to the Rhine. This is a pretty big market with off shoots around the surrounding streets where you can see some unusual sights and alternative Christmas carols.

Close by were my two favourite markets "Alter Market" & "Heumarket" made up in two squares the later housing a specially made ice rink and although at the times I visited there were no brave skaters there were many trying out the curling that had been set up there.

These two were my favourite as they were made up of wooden huts housing a myriad of articles for sale with wood Carvings inter spaced with food outlets doing sausages, potato fritters, waffles, crepes, and many others I don't know the name of but that didn't stop me from trying and all washed down with a copious amounts of hot Gluwein.

A 15 minute walk through a decorated shopping street brings you to "Neumarket" set on an island in the centre of the tram lanes streets it is a smaller market than the Dom but was well attended and had all the requirements of a good market, food and drink and here we discovered a drink I think was called "Lamamba" which consisted of hot chocolate and laced with a generous helping of rum, hmmmmmm.

A further 15 minute walk East brought us to the nearest Christmas market to the hotel we were staying at (The Hotel Leonet Koln), this market was at Rudolfplatz and had to be my second favourite because of the setting next to a medieval tower and the reindeer positioned atop the wooden buildings.

There are two other Christmas markets in Cologne one at "Stadigarten" which was more like a normal night market with a few decorations put up to make it look Christmas like and another small market in Mauritius Stratsa,

Which is a Gay Christmas market and set apart with its pink Christmas decorations including a pink Christmas tree that looks more like a pink wedding cake, not my cup of tea (excuse the pun) but whatever, after all it is Christmas. Ho Ho Ho.

The atmosphere at the markets is probably at its best in the evening where there are carol singers and bands set up at each market between 7.00 pm and 9.00 pm and yes, really, 9-00 pm, which is when the stalls start to close up and clear away. There is a heavy police presence but I think this is due to the recent events in Paris and they are being vigilant and they mix in so as not to dampen the spirits of revellers.

When not enjoying the Christmas markets ( which I did immensely) there was not a lot to enjoy because of the weather!

Although when the weather is good it is a lot different.

A visit to the Cathedral is free and a must, train and tram fares are cheap €1.90 for up to 4 stops and there is a view from the top of "The Triangle" over the river in Deutz worth seeing if it is not cloudy (3€) followed by a walk back across the "Hohenzollern Bridge" to view all the padlocks set there by star crossed lovers to pledge their undying love for each other.

Apart from assuring all the ladies that you will never get bored in Cologne shopping as it is like a never ending Oxford Street in every direction a must to see is the Town Hall, built in the 14th century it is amazing it even has a 60 ft+ tower with gargoyles and statues of previous mayors and all because they had the money and wanted to flaunt it. You can only visit the ground floor but worth the visit.

Cologne is on the Rhine and there are many boat rides to be taken either a local trip up and down the river or a long distance ride like a train on and off when you like which sounds like something for the future.

There were a multitude of places serving good but food I have to single out Mango Restaurant - Zuelpicher Str. 1, 50674 Cologne, for a mention as one of the best schnitzel we had in Cologne.

Now on a very clean and comfortable train known as ICE heading south to my next stop in Nuremberg which was apparently Hitlers favourite city which is where the rallies were held and of course why the allies set the war crimes trials there after World War 2. I am now looking forward to this next visit for the history as well as the markets and will post some photos to keep you interested.

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