Hello from a soaring 37,999 ft above the Atlantic. I’m currently on a jumbo jet, just shy of Newfoundland. In a few short hours I’ll be reunited with my mum and dad, who are kindly driving down to Boston to pick me up from the airport. I’ve been on a tram, a train, two planes, and I still have a car ride up to Maine to go, but really, I couldn’t be more happy! I’ve missed the USA a lot, and every time I come home I question why I live so far away. But then I go back to Amsterdam and ride my bike along the canals, and wonder why I would ever want to live anywhere else. I’ve left pieces of my heart in so many places around the globe, that I will never have a true home. Or maybe everywhere is home. And that is quite a liberating thought.
On that nomadic note, I wanted to share with you some Germany pictures. Last weekend B and I rocked Cologne. We went to Dortmund last year for the Christmas markets (read here and here) and loved the wintertime adventure. So when November rolled around again, we couldn’t help but book another Christmas Market weekend in Germany. Why do I love Christmas markets? There’s mulled wine, sausages, snowflakes, and magic. Christmas markets are akin to Disneyland for big kids. OK, so maybe the rides are limited. And there’s no Mickey or cotton candy. But you get to eat and drink to your heart’s content, and there’s a feeling of excitement in the air. There are silly decorations and people in funny holiday costumes, and the atmosphere is filled with a cheerful spirit that brings everyone together. And did I mention the mulled wine? YUM.
This year we chose Cologne as it’s known for having some of the most beautiful Christmas markets, especially the ones outside cathedral. In my next post, I’ll give you details on the markets and some advice if you’re planning a trip to Cologne – but I’m going to split this post into two, as there are a ton of pictures, so let’s start with Saturday day time. ^ ^ We started with Starbucks (sigh, so unfortunately American) to keep our hands warm as we wandered into town. We then literally followed our way to the cathedral, winding and guessing the shortest route based on the cathedral’s high, guiding towers.It was stunning, a sight to behold, the highest towers dipping up into the clouds. And there at the base of this magnificent structure was a quaint and crowded Christmas market, where our sausage fest began! After devouring some long sticks of meat (we couldn’t tell if it was pork or beef, but it was AMAZING) we headed into the cathedral. Entrance is free, and donations are accepted for informational brochures which I highly recommend scooping up. It’s not until you see phrases like ‘4th century’ do you really understand the gravity of this holy spot. Construction of the cathedral as we see it now begun in 1164, almost 900 years ago. While the structure itself is breathtaking, even more inspiring is the thought of those who helped construct the cathedral. It’s incredibly humbling. The Cologne Cathedral was built before cranes or modern technology, one heavy piece of stone at a time. Truly a homage to God and man’s devoted power.
B and I admired the stained glass and strolled under the spacious archways, as I babbled off facts and figures about the site.After our stop at the cathedral, we wound back into the city center, and were soon tempted by jelly donuts, ice cream cones on buildings, and the aroma of sweet, deep fried batter.So we splurged on a massive sticky bun, topped with warm custard and cherries. And a chocolate banana.And some potato fritters dipped in garlic sauce!Admiring cathedrals makes you hungry!!Absolutely stuffed, we strolled around, walking off our calorie feast. We spent our afternoon at one of the cutest Christmas markets in Cologne, The Market of Fairytales. Shortly after the Romans founded Cologne in 50AD, they built a wall around the city. As the city grew over the centuries, a series of gates were erected along the wall. The most important gate was built between 1235 and 1240, and today is known as the Hahnentorburg – the beautiful medieval structure that overlooks The Market of Fairytales. Fortunately our hotel was right beside The Market of Fairytales, so when our toes went numb, we were only a short walk away from our accommodation!Which by the way, had some beautiful views of the city :)However, this was my favorite view! B and I don’t have a tub at home, so we really enjoyed sinking into the deep hotel tub and using some of their other spa facilities. We spent the early evening unthawing and relaxing before venturing out into the night for more mulled wine and delicious German treats. Part 2 to come ;)