As a DAAD scholarship holder, I was invited to attend a two-day orientation in Köln, (more familiar to English-speakers as Cologne) Germany’s fourth-largest city. The city sprawls across either side of the Rhine, stitched together by several bridges. One of these is the Hohenzollern Bridge, which is heavily trafficked by trains and pedestrians. Curiously, the fencing that runs along the walkway is covered by padlocks of every shape, size,and color. Sweethearts come and leave them there, tossing the key into the river below to symbolize their eternal love.
If my little girl asks, Who was my greatest love?,
I don’t want to have to dig out the old photoalbum
I’d want to be able to show her you
and say, ‘It is your mother.’
The skyline is most easily recognizable by the famed Kölner Dom, a massive cathedral that is also Germany’s most visited landmark. Every surface of the church is covered in intricate masonry, metalwork, paintings, and stained glass. Construction commenced in the mid 1200s, and was not fully finished until the early 1800s. Köln was heavily bombed by allied forces during the Second World War, but somehow the Dom stayed tall even after the rest of the city lay in complete ruins.
Köln is also home to Shildergasse, the busiest shopping street in all of Europe. It bustles and hums with stores, street vendors, musicians, and thousands of shoppers. In 50 AD Köln was established as a Roman colony, so if you stroll through the streets for long enough, you’re bound to stumble upon the ruins of the towers and walls they left behind.
It was a great two days; Köln is a sparkling city with so much to offer. I met so many wonderful people, who I hope to see again in my travels. Funny enough though, I found myself missing Munich, which suddenly felt so familiar to me. It’s nice to be back. (: