For our first full day in Cologne, we met up with Kellen and Noël to go through the Museum Ludwig, grabbed some lunch, did a short walking tour through the city, and got to chat with a friend of Noël's.
Our first night in Cologne had us waking up a few times, but for the most part, we got a pretty good amount of sleep. We went down for breakfast, which was a selection of meats and cheeses, rolls, drinks, and yogurt. Things were quite tasty, and we didn't have any trouble filling ourselves up.
It wasn't hard to spot Kellen and Noël in front of Museum Ludwig. It had been almost a year since we were last together, so it was good to see them again. We chatted a bit, then worked our way into the museum. A couple large school groups were checking in, so we waited until they moved towards coat check to go get our tickets. Since we were doing two museums in two days, we got museum cards which ended up saving us a whole lot of money.
The lockers to check bags (so we could bypass coat check) were generous in size, and were interesting. Once you put your things in, you used a rented card to lock the door. Pretty high tech.
The woman at the information desk suggested that we start on the top floor, so up we went, bypassing at least one of the large groups.
The Museum Ludwig’s architecture is very clean, and the artwork doesn’t feel crowded like you would see in some older European museums.
While we were wandering around the top floor, we kept hearing what sounded like construction noises. We joked about it being performance art, and then as we started walking down towards the next floor, we saw a big area where someone was assembling whole-room scaffolding. Performance art, indeed.
The next floor down was modern art, including a lot of Warhol, Lichtenstein, and other familiar names. One of the Warhols was a double image of Elvis which was in the Seattle Art Museum for a while., Noël mentioned that it's a popular piece for museums to have. Another room had a piece which was a tub filled with Beethoven heads. Yeah, really.
After we were done, we retrieved our items from the locker. Pressing the rented card against the door unlocked it, then Melody returned the card. A very nice system.
After we exited the museum, we stopped by the Roman-Germanic museum to peek through the window at the mosaic floor with used to be the dining room floor of a rich Roman merchant. The floor is in its original position, with the museum built around it.
Nearby we saw some buskers playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons. There was a violin, two accordions, and a balalaika, not a combination I've seen before.
It was time for lunch, so we went to a beer garden for lunch. We had ragout over spätzle. We asked the waiter if it was enough for the two of us to split, and he said (with a smile) that personally, he would eat the whole thing. We decided to split anyway since we saw a gelato shop close by. When we did get gelato, we were wondering whether we should eat there or head out, but we saw a sign saying that the cups and cones were only for take-away, so that made it an easy decision.
We were going to do a town walk, and Kellen and Noël were going to meet up with a friend; we would meet up with them after our walk. As we were wandering towards the cathedral, we heard Bach being played, and yes, it was the same group, just in a different location.
Cologne walking tour
Our tour started at the plaza between the train station and the cathedral. It's certainly an impressive building; we would be touring it later in our visit, but I still took the time to grab a few photos. We continued around the cathedral to Roncalli Square, where there was a Roman arch that had been discovered nearby and relocated there. There was also a life-size replica of a top of one of the cathedral spires. It's very large on its own but looks very small so high up.
After going back past the Roman-Germanic Museum and Museum Ludwig, we walked up to the Hohenzollern Bridge, which we crossed on our way into town on the train from Frankfurt. At the time we saw a bunch of locks on the bridge, and now on foot, we saw them up close.
We then walked down towards the riverfront. As we were walking along, we heard a bike bell, then the bike couldn't avoid a young girl walking near us; they both ended up in a pile on the ground. Everyone was fine, but the girl was obviously upset. The parents whisked her away, trying to comfort her. We wondered what bike mishap we would see the next day.
Going in from the river, we took a look at the tower of the City Hall building from the back. We couldn't see the front, however, since it was all barricaded off for excavation. Roman ruins and remains of Cologne's old Jewish quarter had been found there in the past, so we were wondering what else they had seen. We could catch glimpses of the site through the walls, but not much else.
Towards the end of the walking tour, we took a quick look at the Kolumba Diocesan Museum, where you can take a look at what used to be the interior of the Gothic church before it was bombed out.
Across the street, the Opera House was under renovation, but we could still see what stood above the fences of the barrier.
We realized it was the top of the hour when we started hearing music playing. That came from the next block over, where there were bells hung on the outside of the building which surrounded a clock and a track where animated figures parade during the music.
We walked towards the building with the clock because we wanted to check out the Eau de Cologne store (yes, that's the real name). It definitely smelled like a cologne shop when we entered. There was a small exhibit upstairs that showed bottles and other items.
We found Kellen, Noël, and her friend who had gone to a café near where we ended up and had a nice chat. It's always interesting to hear what perceptions non-Americans have about the United States, and how surprised they are that things which match those perceptions, and others which are very different. Mostly how so widely varied the different areas of the country are.
It was time for us to head back, so we said our goodbyes, but we would be seeing all three of them the next day, anyway. We went back to the room to decompress a bit, then found a restaurant for dinner. We had a crepe, salad, and soup, and everything was really good. The restaurant had huge, modern murals inside which seemed to fit with the whole vibe.
Nearby was a bakery, so we stopped in to pick up a couple macaroons and headed back to the room to eat them and settle in for the night.