Ria drove us to Venlo to catch the train, this was about a half hour trip, but saved us a bit of train changing, so was very good.
The trains were packed, and delayed. We had one train to Düsseldorf, then swapped and caught another train to Cologne, and then needed to swap to another train to get to Cologne Central Station.
We found our Airbnb really easily – it was only a block from the train station. We followed our host Jens’ instructions and got into the building, and the apartment successfully.
It is a fairly basic apartment, but it is located so close to everything.
After dumping our bags, we headed out for a walk along the Reine riverbank.
We went for a look for some lunch, and had a wander through the Christmas market, buying some bratwursts for our lunch.
The market was already very busy and I have never before waited so long for a sausage in bread ?
After eating our bratwursts, we went for a look inside the Cologne Cathedral. Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 but was halted in 1473, unfinished. Work did not restart until the 1840s, and the edifice was completed to its original Medieval plan in 1880.
The completion of Germany’s largest cathedral was celebrated as a national event on 14 August 1880, 632 years after construction had begun.
The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II. Badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city. The twin spires were an easily recognizable navigational landmark for Allied aircraft bombing.
Repairs of the war damage were completed in 1956. Repair and maintenance work is constantly being carried out in one or another section of the building, which is rarely completely free of scaffolding, as wind, rain, and pollution slowly eat away at the stones.
After our visit to the beautiful cathedral, we stopped at McDonald’s at the train station for a bit more lunch before heading back to our accommodation to eat and freshen up.
McChicken in Germany is good, but not as good as The Netherlands.
A bit later we headed back to the markets. First stop was a geldautomat to withdraw some more euros. We managed that OK.
Then we stopped and took some pictures as a big Christmas tree.
The first market stall we queued for was the gluhwein. It was a bit of a slow wait – but very much worth it when we got our cups of mulled wine.
We also scored a table so stopped for a bit sipping our wine, under the towers of the Cathedral.
After that we went for a walk through the market. Be warned. It is very busy, and you will have times that you feel like you are not moving, or moving backwards! Not good if you’re claustrophobic!
We purchased some little wooden Christmas decorations for ourselves and for Jo before leaving the market to head to another one.
The next market didn’t seem quite as busy, but still lots of people were about.
We bought some Apple and Cinnamon Strudel which was quite nice.
We soaked up the atmosphere. Each of the markets had a carousel or Ferris wheel, and one of them also had ice skating. Lots to look at!
We slowly made our way back towards the Cathedral. I was getting a bit impatient for something a bit more filling for dinner by this stage – so we cheated a little and headed to the train station and picked up pretzels there, rather than queueing at the busy market ?
All in all, it was a successful visit to a very, very busy Christmas market!