Day 6 – Calling On Cologne
My day started with Kölsch and Kraut. Kölsch is a beer typical of the Cologne region, sparkly yellow and lightly hoppy. The kraut took the form of sauerkraut, delicious and tempting all of us to have more than we felt we should 30 minutes before lunch.
I stood with my fellow passengers on the sundeck watching A-ROSA Silva bring us closer and closer to Cologne. The anticipation of seeing a new place was palpable. Cameras were snapping as one cityscape after another revealed itself to us. Finally, the Cologne Cathedral came into view. More cameras snapping. The captain steered A-ROSA Silva toward the bank, securing a dock that would put us within walking distance of the cathedral and the city center.
As I had visited the city center and the cathedral numerous times, I asked Reception to ready a bike (free of charge, as I have mentioned many times when discussing A-ROSA). Bike secured, off I went pedaling along the Rhine and, 45 minutes later, back to the city center and the crowds at the cathedral and the Old Town. I had a great day exploring Cologne by bicycle.
I realize I write a great deal about the active experiences on A-ROSA (see Assessing A-ROSA Stella: 9 Differentiating Factors That Would Make Me Cruise Again). Perhaps it is because my nature, as is the nature of many others, is in motion. I enjoy exploring and seeing, and most of all, moving. A long brisk walk or a vigorous bike ride is invigorating enough at home, but when abroad these activities take on an added dimension of pleasure. Every footstep, every revolution of the pedals, has the potential to present the unexpected — something other than what we’re accustomed to back home.
Today on my ride, I cycled down beautiful avenues of trees lining each side of paved paths for the exclusive use of pedestrians and bicycles. I envy Europeans for living in places that provide spaces for those of who prefer to use their legs to propel rather than fossil fuels.
What’s more is that you really get to know a place when using your legs. On my previous visits to Cologne, I became intimately familiar with the area around the cathedral. If you asked me for directions to the Starbucks near the cathedral, for example, I would reply, “Which one?”
There is a whole other city outside the cathedral area that I discovered while pedaling, however. That’s where people live and work, where kids play and where the grit of life takes place. I love experiencing all of it.
Though it seemed insignificant at the time, I made an unusual gesture when passing a man and his wife on their bikes. He was wearing a jacket with a big American flag embroidered on the back. “Me, Ewe-Ess-Ahh,” I said as I passed him, phonetically pronouncing the acronym for my country and pointing to myself. He threw me a thumbs up, and we both smiled. For a moment, two people from two nations bonded through a simple act. Sometimes, even the small things exhilarate.
Travel, in part, is about collecting experiences. Some of my fellow passengers raved about their complimentary tour — or specifically, their tour guide — today in Cologne. I was a bit envious of them for having had such rich experiences. They have something to take home to their friends and family, stories of their trips abroad.
There is something we both share, however, and that is indelible images that will be with us until our final breaths on this planet — this lovely, lovely planet, with all of its good people — all waiting for folks like you and me to put ourselves in motion and explore.
The view from my stateroom today on A-ROSA Silva in Cologne, Germany
Missed our reports so far?
A-ROSA, Christmas Markets Cruise
|Day 1||Frankfurt||Frankfurt is known for its “Manhattan skyline” with the Messeturm (convention tower) which is the highest building in Europe. The old imperial city is one of the most important trading and economic centres in Germany. Many important banks and the most important stock market are situated in Frankfurt. Frankfurt was the birthplace of J.W. v. Goethe and its many universities, theatre and museums provide a diversified cultural life.||6 p.m.|
|Day 2||Speyer||Speyer is a historic old imperial city, which is situated on the left bank of the Rhine. From 1294 to 1797 it was a free imperial city, and the Imperial Diet met frequently in Speyer during that period. It suffered severe destruction in 1689 during the war over the Palatinate succession. The symbol of Speyer is the huge cathedral, one of the most important cathedrals built in the High Romanesque period.||9 a.m.||11 p.m.|
|Day 3||Kehl/Strasbourg||From the Roman era up until the present day, Strasbourg has played a significant role and had an eventful history. The impressive buildings still bear testament to this today. Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace and a European metropolis with many research-, educational- and cultural institutions; it is also the seat of the European Council of Ministers.||1 p.m.||overnight|
|Day 4||Kehl/Strasbourg||—||7 p.m.|
|Day 5||Mainz||Mainz is a historic old town, a former Electoral residence, seat of an Archbishop and also the city of Gutenberg. The city is a focal point of the western end of the Rhine-Main economic region. Around 1450 Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing with movable type, set up his press in Mainz. Points of interest are the St Martin and St Stephen cathedrals, the castle of Mainz and the Gutenberg Museum.||9 a.m.||11 p.m.|
|Day 6||Cologne||Cologne, the old Cathedral city, is also one of the most important traffic hubs and commercial centres in Germany, with world famous trade fairs and a busy shipping traffic. Cologne developed out of a Roman colony and looks back on a history of more than 2000 years. In the Middle Ages it was one of the leading towns in Germany. The Second World War destroyed most of the inner city; these parts were rebuilt in a modern style. The landmark and emblem of the city is the Cathedral, a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture and one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. Other tourist attractions are the town hall, the Malakoff Tower, the St Martin Church and the old abbey.||12 p.m.||overnight|
|Day 7||Koblenz||Koblenz is not just where history meets modernity, but also where the Rhine meets the Mosel: at the “Deutsches Eck” (“German Corner”) the two rivers join each other in front of the equestrian statue of Emperor William I.||2 p.m.||overnight|
|Day 8||Cruising The Rhine||Cruising by the Lorelei & along the Mid Rhine after departure||—||6 a.m.|
|Day 8||Rüdesheim||Rüdesheim, an ancient little town, stretches along the Rhine under the hills of the Niederwald. The best vineyards are traditionally said to have been planted with Traminer vines by Charlemagne. The excellent local wines and the charming and varied scenery have enabled Rüdesheim to develop since the end of the 19th century into one of the busiest tourist and holiday centres on the Middle Rhine, with a host of friendly restaurants and wine taverns, particularly along the famous Drosselgasse. Rüdesheim has two castles – the Oberburg and the Vorderburg – both were built in the 12th century.||2 p.m.||9 p.m.|
|Day 9||Frankfurt||7 a.m.|