A two hour train ride from Amsterdam and we were in Cologne, Germany! Which was exciting not only because hello, new country, but since Gerrit’s from there it’s all I’d heard about for the past 5 months. So although we didn’t do much research we had a pretty good idea of what we were getting ourselves into.
Coming out of the train station we were immediately struck by how massive the Cologne cathedral is. The largest gothic church in Northern Europe, the most amazing thing to me is that in WWII when 90% of the city was destroyed somehow the church survived. And though we never made it inside, just standing in front was a spiritual experience.
Anyway we found our little Airbnb, got some food and took a nice walk from the cathedral through some local neighborhoods and parks. For dinner we went to a traditional Kölsch Brauhaus, Braueri Päffgen, where we quickly learned that unless you put your coaster over your beer, every time you finished your glass a new one would immediately be brought to you.
Kölsch is the traditional local beer and it is amazing. Poured fresh from the keg in to small glasses so every sip is as fresh as possible, it’s light, has good flavor and is immensely drinkable. And although I like beer, beer has never liked me. Unlike everything else I just can’t drink a lot of it, but we were in Germany for goodness sake so I had to imbibe.
The next night we actually went on the Koelsch Guys Brew House Tour because Gerrit said we had to do something with locals to really get a feel for the culture, and he was not wrong. Cologne has so much history and crazy local traditions it’s just something you have to learn about and see to truly understand.
And by the end of it we certainly did. While the tour started out normal, visiting a few key bars, talking about the city and trying all sorts of Kölsch, by the end of the night we were out an all you can drink place in the student district. We met some of our tour guide’s friends, made some friends of our own, and then went to this square he had told us about earlier popular for late night drinking.
So naturally, picking up our rental car early the next morning was not our finest moment. But once the Starbucks kicked in we were good to go and set off to see the German countryside.