Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cologne, Part 1

This will be my first of at least six posts about the last four weeks. Pat and I went on globe-trotting adventure to Germany, Holland, Scotland and South Korea. Pat won a working grant to go to the city of Leverkusen, which is in between Cologne and Dusseldorf. He was working 8 - 4 on weekdays for two weeks, while I played tourist, since it was our first time in mainland Europe.

I spent most of my time in the city of Cologne, known there as Köln or Kölle or Colonia. There was so much to see, not the least of which was the gigantic Dom Cathedral. The whole city is a mixture of Roman, medieval and turn-of-the-century architecture. Just a sampling of the buildings I saw:

There was plenty to do in Cologne. I visited as many museums as I could, including:

The Wallraf-Richartz Museum , which had a Cabanel exhibit as well as works from Cezanne, Monet and plenty (as in a whole floor or) of Gothic religion works.

The Kolumba Kunstmuseum
, which was all about displaying quirky modern art together with ancient religious pieces in the same setting, which gives you a different way to perceive all the art. It didn't always work, but it was a very neat way of doing things. It was built on the ruins of the St. Columba church, which are still there on "permanent exhibition. That was very cool.

Museum Ludwig, which housed loads of modern art like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. There was also an exhibit of Australian Aboriginal art which made me smile since many of the pieces were by artists I've seen here in Brisbane!

There was also the Museum Of Applied Arts, which was filled with art as it appeared throughout the years on furniture, pottery, tapestries, dishware and decorations. Unfortunately very little of the descriptions were in English, so I had to make do just looking at all the pretty things!

Pat and I went to the amazing and delicious Chocolate Museum and the fascinating Roman-German Museum, check out the pics on his blog for those!

There were a whole bunch more on my list that I didn't get to see, because everything in the city shuts down for KARNEVAL!! Karneval takes place for the 6 days before Lent. Everyone dresses in costumes, drinks in public and there are 5-hour long parades where people throw candy from floats and exchange flowers for kisses. It was so much fun!!

A big part of Karneval is walking around with a large group of people who are all dressed the same.

Me, with a giant pig. Maybe a pink donkey. Either way, he was warmer than me.

The beautiful fan dancers!

Here I am enjoying a snack out of the Grosse St. Martin church. I must confess to eating a lot of "pommes frites" when I was in Cologne. Fries were everywhere, cheap and delicious, with a variety of sauces (my favourites being curry ketchup and peanut satay). But I also found the loveliest little (and probably only) vegan restaurant in Cologne, a place called Well-Being, which I went to four times. It was decently priced, centrally located and the fellow who worked there spoke passable English. Not to mention how delicious and full of vegetables the food was (real vegetables, not deep-fried potatoes).

Just North of the city centre you'll find the Cologne Zoo, the Botanical Gardens and the Sculpture Park, which is like an open air art museum!

Bunnies can also be found enjoying the sculptures.

Cologne is most famous for the Dom Cathedral. The church is so huge, the first time I saw it I strained my neck staring up at it. In this way it's hard to get lost in Cologne, because you can always find your way back to the main train station by spotting the spires of the Dom. Pat and I climbed all the way to the top and got a fantastic view.

That's all for now. In my next installment - perfume, animals and love-locks. Auf wiedersehn for now!

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