As the Emerald Sky glided to its moorings on the banks of the River Rhine, I thought I had won the ‘Golden Ticket’ to the chocolate museum – well this ‘ticket’ was to the Lindt Chocolate Factory a short walk away from the ship, and a chocolate lovers dream! The cost of the tour is 8 Euros, and you enter a world of chocolate knowledge, plus a small factory area that make the chocolates and of course the wonderful samples! Then the chocolate shop and the cafe – drinking hot chocolate through a straw and watching the boats go by on the River Rhine – heaven.
This city is fascinating and steeped in history dating back to the Romans. Roman ruins can be found near the Cathedral, a superb mosaic and columns, all well preserved giving an insight into how grand Cologne must have been in Roman times. The Hohenzollern Bridge, known as the Locking Bridge, with all the lovers’ locks attached to it links the old town with the new town. Ruins are still being excavated from the Jewish Quarter that was destroyed in the war.
Cologne 4711 was created in the city, and has been in existence for over 200 years. It is still going strong, and you can find it at 4711 House, an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of perfume and smells for you to try. Our visit coincided with the Christmas Markets and many squares were full of other ‘smells’ such as Gluhwein and Sausages, as well as Cinnamon, all wonderful smells on a cold winter’s day. Cologne has 2 million visitors over the the Christmas season with seven Christmas markets for you to choose from. The city has a ‘buzz’ about it with people from all over the world having a pre Christmas experience and loving it. Drink a glass of Gluhwien and pay extra for the cup, all the cups are different and a lovely souvenir of your visit. A small train – called the Christmas Markets’ Express – (but runs all year round), takes you to these markets and as they are spread out around the city this is a good way to see them. You can pick up the train by the chocolate museum and opposite the Cathedral, and the cost is 5 Euros for a hop on hop off service to take you to the variety of squares and places of interest around the old town.
Our search for the ‘Three Kings’ ended in Cologne! The Shrine of the Three Magi is to be found in the twin towered Gothic Cathedral with its filigree elegance. The shrine is a golden casket, and is said to hold the relics of the Three Wise Men. The majestic Gothic interior is stunning and its stained glass windows are magnificent. The Cathedral’s twin towers – once used by the British Airmen as a landmark for the bombers in WW11 – stand untouched by the war. Almost 95% of Cologne was devastated and the city has risen out of the ashes to be both beautiful and interesting. The Cologne Cathedral is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Cathedral by night is a beautiful sight.
Whatever your pace is, just wandering around this lovely city is a treat, to all your senses. Feast your eyes on this beautiful city, eat and drink some wonderful delights and smell an aroma to remember. Cologne, at whatever time of the year you visit; whether a weekend break or a wonderful leisurely cruise down the Rhine, is a place you will want to return to, even if it is only to taste more chocolate!
Glynis Sullivan travelled with Emerald Waterways. Read more information
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 1: What’s On Board
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 3: Salzburg
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 4: Vienna
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 5: Budapest
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 6: The perfect Christmas River Cruise