A few years ago we decided to treat ourselves to a trip to the German Christmas markets. I’m a big Christmas fan and it’s no secret, so this kind of short break was music to my ears. Three or four days in completely festive surroundings, warm mulled mine and gluhwein, all the hot food in the air, and a beautiful city in Cologne. We got it all booked and ready, but when it came to the night before, my other half freaked out about flying (she hates flying) and we ended up not going. Not quite the dream break I’d planned, but there’s nothing you can really do in that situation. Subjecting your spouse to absolute terror for the sake of a bit of shopping hardly seems fair.
This year we’re giving it a go again, but with a twist. We’re still going to Cologne, but this time with our feet planted firmly on the ground. Kind of. It’s trains all the way baby!
There’s a normal train from darkest Cornwall to London, a quick tube-hop from Paddington to St Pancras, and then aboard Eurostar. After travelling under the English Channel we pop up in Brussels and change onto a rather spanky ICE high-speed train for the last leg of the journey. Amazingly it’ll take about the same amount of time (and money) to get from London to Germany on the train as it would flying (once you allow for check-in times). The ICE bit takes us from Belgium to Cologne in about two-and-a-half hours! Considering it takes most train serrvices over an hour just to get out of Cornwall, that’s impressive to me.
I’ve booked a nice looking place right on the river, a stone’s throw from the station and the mightily impressive gothic cathedral (Dom). Normally I wouldn’t say going to see a cathedral would be high on my list of things to do, but this thing is enormous and took over 600(!) years to build. It houses what are apparently the remains of the three Magi (a pretty good Christmas link if ever there was one), so I think I’ll be taking my camera.
I’m really looking forward to wandering around the altstadt, drinking copious amounts of kolsch (the local brew) and indulging in the local food. There’s a silly number of markets over the festive period and they look amazing lit up at night, the atmosphere is supposed to be fantastic. Failing that I don’t think a visit to the chocolate museum will disappoint at least one of us.
I think I’m looking forward to trying out my German as much as I am buying presents and things. It’s been a long time since my A Levels, but I think I should be ok once I get into the swing of things. Here’s a quick taste of what the Dom looks like, with the main market right below it. I can’t wait.