Germany's 4th largest city makes for ideal short city break

As great a place as Brussels is, one of the best things about the city is the ease with which you can "escape" (for the day anyway) to other cities in neighbouring European countries.

One such place is Cologne, just over the border and home to more than 1 million citizens,making it Germany’s 4th biggest city. And, for those who miss dear old Belgium, there is even a very popular area of Koln that is called the Belgium Quarter with several streets named after Brussels cities.

There’s lots to commend the city,notably of course  the  quite stupendous cathedral.

You can climb the 509 steps to the top of Kölner Dom, or Cologne Cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage site and second tallest building in Cologne – to take in sweeping views across the city.

Another option is to pop down to Cologne’s chocolate museum in the Rheinau docks, facing the old town, for the chance to meet a real life Willy Wonka and enjoy a spot of edible education.

Perhaps the best way to see the city is a boat trip on the famous Rhine. It’s such an integral element of the city, snaking through the centre, delivering goods to sell and locals from A to B. The Rhine has been at the heart of Cologne for centuries, so you’ve got to sail along it to see the city from a different angle.

The pleasant panorama cruise  with Köln-Düsseldorfer ( starts and ends in the heart of the Old Town. During the one hour cruise you will experience the city on the Rhine from a completely new angle.

Some 2,000 years of the city’s history are on the programme and the KD landing-stage could not be more centrally located, being only a five minute walk from the cathedral, Germany's most visited cultural monument.

Once aboard the ship you are plunged into the fascinating history of Koln, learning all kinds of facts about the city, its peculiarities and inhabitants. 

It makes for an enjoyable, unique and convenient way to see Cologne. You can float through this cool city, enjoy a drink and a spot of sunbathing on deck.There are up to six departures per day, starting at 10.30am and the last at 6pm.  Full explanation of the sights is given and a ticket is just €11 (adult) and €6 for a child. Departure is between the Hohenzollern bridge and Deutzer bridge which is also where the K-D travel agency is situated.

While in  the city, why not sample something completely different – Burmese cuisine?

Mandalay,located right at the heart of the Belgium Quarter on Brusseler St. is a small eatery on the outskirts of the city serving authentic Burmese food.

 It has been run by the same Burmese family for

Nearly 40 years and is said to be the only Burmese restaurant in Germany and one of only five in  the whole of Europe!

Not much, if anything, is known about Burmese, certainly compared with the cuisine of its neighbours, Thailand and China.

But, with Burma now on the tourist trail, more and more people are asking about the food and, more importantly, where you can sample it.

As there is definitely no Burmese restaurant in Belgium, this is almost certainly the nearest place you will get to try it!

The menu consists of several traditional Burmese dishes  but also other items from other Asian countries, such as Malaysia and, of course, China.

The owner, who first arrived in Germany in 1996 and has been in  charge here for no less than 37 years, will happily guide you through the card, pointing out what each one consists of.Look out for the tofu dish named after Koun Baung, Burma’s last dynasty.

He reckons there are only about 30 Burmese-born citizens in Koln, so it is little wonder  that this place has a reputation for being the go-to place for food from this little-known Asian nation.

There is a great choice of fish, meat and  veggie dishes and if you happen to visit Koln try to make a beeline for it.

So, if you are looking for inspiration for a short city break this autumn (or anytime) give Koln serious consideration - you will not be disappointed.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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