Europe city hopping: Cologne & Bonn

At the end of January, we made a weekend trip to Cologne and Bonn. It was a quick trip because I had to be in Cologne for a trade show on the following Monday, and so we decided to spend the weekend there since ZH has not been there before, and my previous trips to Cologne and Bonn were work trips (meaning, I only saw the hotel room and customers’ offices).

Thankfully, Bremen and Cologne were connected via a direct route and we were able to arrive at our destination comfortably without any hiccups. I had booked our accommodation via Airbnb as most hotels were fully booked due to the trade show. The apartment was located near the Basilica of St. Ursula which was a short 2 min walk from the Cologne HBF.

While in Cologne, we were mainly walking around a rough agenda that we had planned. Cologne is well known for its many art museums but since we already know from our Amsterdam experience that we don’t know how to appreciate art, we decided to skip out on all the art museums.

As it was already past noon when we checked into our accommodation, we decided to head to the Mustard Museum for lunch as I had read that you can taste several different varieties of mustard at the museum and also enjoy a sausage with your choice of mustard sauce. I told my family that we were in Cologne and going to visit a mustard museum and my sister was surprised that there’s even a museum for mustard sauce. We were too, and that’s why we decided to visit it! It was about 30 minutes’ walk from our apartment to the museum but thankfully it was along the river and we were blessed with good weather that day (by good, I mean blue skies and not too cold, maybe around 8 degrees), so it was a lovely stroll.

Though we liked some other flavors that were for sale, we bought a jar of (boring) honey mustard at the museum to enjoy at home because the mustards were sold in large ceramic pots and I can only foresee ourselves enjoying honey mustard without getting bored before the jar is finished. It’s a pity that they don’t sell sample sizes or variety gift packs because the large sizes meant that you must really love mustard in order to finish one jar.

After the mini lunch, we crossed over to the Chocolate Museum but we only went to the Chocolate Shop because we have been to many Chocolate Museums in other countries and so we didn’t want to pay 9 Euros each for things that we have seen before. There were some interesting chocolate products in the shop and I got this Madagascan chocolate bar with sea salt and cocoa nibs but sadly it wasn’t really tasty.

On the way back to the apartment, we made several stops along the way to view some churches and Roman architecture. We also made a pit stop at the Cologne Cathedral but didn’t stay for too long as it was crowded inside with tourists, and outside with a demonstration going on.

The left picture below is the Hahnentorburg or the west gate in Cologne. It was part of the medieval city wall that once circled round Cologne. The picture on the right shows the old town hall, it is the oldest building in Cologne and has different architectural influences all in one building. Interesting.

On Sunday, we traveled to Bonn where we met up with a friend I had met while learning German in Singapore. Like me, she moved to Germany because her husband had found work in Germany. These men… they had better appreciate all the sacrifices their missuses have done for them! I do not know the lady that well, but I guess you bond naturally with your fellow countrymen when you’re longing for home. The TehSee couple (as they are commonly known among their friends) brought us around Bonn, showing us some tourist attractions such as the birthplace of Beethoven and even brought us for a short hike up the Drachenfels hills – it was a tough walk up but the view overlooking the Bonn city was gorgeous.

We then had steamboat dinner at their place as it was the first day of the Chinese New Year, and nothing signifies better than steamboat! They had put in so much effort in preparation of the food… TehSee had gone to 2 different Asian supermarkets to gather all the ingredients. We had flower crabs (! I was very surprised), salmon fish, mussels, fish balls, meat balls, tofu, kang kong vegetables, mushrooms. They even prepared a dual hotpot so we could have the choice of spicy tom yum soup or chicken broth. Talk about putting in effort! Kudos. Why don’t we have more options for Asian food like they do… 😦

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