A couple of weeks ago, Tom and I
nearly missed caught an ICE train out of Frankfurt heading for North Rhine-Westphalia, as a bit of a celebratory weekend. It was organised a bit last minute so we had nothing planned when we arrived but it was a great weekend nonetheless :D. For anyone thinking of a trip to the south of North Rhine-Westphalia, then I have a couple of recommendations for you!
We decided to stay in a hotel in Bonn as when we were comparing prices it was cheaper to get the initial train there and stay there. It was a good decision as it's a beautiful place but there's not heaps to see. We arrived Friday night, grabbed some food and headed to the hotel to do some quick research on what to do before bed. I'd met a German guy at Uni who was from Bonn and he informed me that Cologne was the place to be. We knew we wanted to visit there anyway so Saturday morning we got up bright and early (read: 10am) armoured with coffee and cameras and got on a short train to spend the day in Cologne.
Cologne is pretty famous for its hoooooge cathedral (Kölner Dom auf Deutsch). I was fully aware of this but it still amazed me when you walk out of the train station and see the stunning building towering above you. It really is worth going to Cologne just to see this beauty. We then headed down the main shopping street because I'm a girl and we just tend to gravitate towards shops, regardless of where we are. We ended up alongside the Rhein, which reminded me a lot of the Thames, heading towards the CHOCOLATE MUSEUM. Yep.
If you like chocolate, this should be on your list of things to do. We spent an hour to an hour and a half here, but you could spend less or more time depending on how much of the info you like to read. There was quite a lot in German and I'd like to say I read them, but I think I found myself looking at the pictures more often. The best part of the museum though has to be the room in which you see chocolate being made, and then the amazing chocolate fountain at the end where you are given a wafer biscuit dipped in this gorgeous chocolate to try. You can also create your own chocolate bar here too.
After a bit of shopping and me dragging Tom round Primark and him in turn dragging me round Saturn (big tech store), and a meal and glass of wine overlooking the Rhine, the sun was beginning to set. We headed across the Hohenzollernbrücke which has also become a love lock bridge. It was amazing seeing thousands and thousands of locks and just knowing how many gestures of love happened there. Anyway, we finally got to the building and viewing platform I heard was best for viewing Cologne from above. And it really was. It's called the KölnTriangle and was €3 per person to get to the observation deck. You can walk the whole way round and see for miles. We, alongside many others, sat down and watched the sun go down over the city and the Cathedral lights switch on. It truly was a stunning sight.
On Sunday, we swapped big cities for a smaller, quieter city just outside of Bonn called Königswinter. If you literally translated the name into english you would get winter of a king, and I was expecting some sort of Game of Thrones experience. To add to this, our first stop was Drachenfels (dragon cliff) and the romantic Schloss Drachenberg (castle dragon-mountain). The name actually comes from an old tale that a cave in the hill was shelter to a dragon slain by the hero Siegfried. To get up to Drachenfels, you can either walk, take a horse and carriage (which I would have so done if it had been running that day) or the most common way, the Drachenfels railway. The view from the top is breathtaking. We sat on the wall with a beer to take in the view, before walking down through the forest to the castle, which is striking in its own right.
On Monday morning we checked out of the hotel and went to explore Bonn, before catching our train back to Frankfurt late afternoon. Our first stop was Beethoven's birthplace, then we visited the monumenton Münsterplatz. We also saw the old city hall, Sterntor, the university (almost as pretty as Mannheim, almost) and the Bonn Minster. And to keep up with the theme, we also had a wander along the Rhine. Bonn is a really pretty city and well worth a visit, even if it's just for a few hours.
Speaking of France, tomorrow morning I'm getting up bright and early to head to Strasbourg. Also, I should have more time to write some blog posts after next week, I had 2 essays due today, and I have language homework due Monday as well as an exam and a presentation on Wednesday, so it's been a busy few days!