Backpacking through Europe Part 6: Cologne

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Place

Boyfriend was very excited about Germany, or what he calls, the ‘Land of Sausages’.  I was rather neutral about it. They are just sausages. For that, I was told, ‘whoever says they are just sausages, never had the proper ones.’

Out of our backpacking trip, we stayed in Germany the longest period. The first stop was Cologne, the cultural capital and fourth largest city of Germany. Upon our arrival at the Cologne main station, or the ‘Köln Hauptbahnhof’, the first thing that appeared in front us was the Cologne Cathedral, the Medieval Gothic Architecture.
cathedral of cologne

cathedral of Cologne

It is the tallest twin spired church in the world, at 157m.Its magnificence can only be felt if you are there physically. Looking up from the bottom, I felt rather small. Even as a non-religious person, I did feel a sense of spirituality running through me, amazed and marvelled by its majestic presence. I reach out my arm, it was as if I was close to heaven*.

Cologne cathedral

I first learned about Gothic architecture when I was still in Secondary school. Back then, I had the notion of becoming an architect, and the Gothic style was my favourite: the pointed arch, geometrically precise rib vaults and the intricate details. For me, Gothic always appeared to have elements of the East.

Walking was my favourite part of the whole trip. Sightseeing is so much better done on foot, that one gets to see many random things.

Food

The most important part of every trip is the food. Like I have always said, you can learn so much about a place, its history and its culture by the food.

In Germany, a doughnut is called a ‘berliner’. However, it should not be confused with the German city Berlin. Urban Legend has it, that the late president John F. Kennedy famously said in a speech during the cold war, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘, which meant ‘I am a doughnut’. Of course, the story is not true, JFK did use the words correctly and it meant ‘I am a Berliner in spirit’. The speech was applauded by the people in Germany and became JKF’s most eloquent speech in history.

beer of Cologne

Time for some local food. Bring on some Cologne beer, Gaffel Kolsch.

For dinner, we headed over to the local pub. It was there, we had our first sausage in Germany. I remembered the weather was very cold at the time (April), curry sausage and some beef goulash were the most appropriate.

Art

There are many museums in Cologne. As we were only there for one day, we decided to visit Museum Ludwig, which boasts to have the largest Picasso collection. The artworks at Ludwig are all modern, quite a contrast to the Mauritshuis of The Hague.

Andy Warhol

Lichtenstein

I am no expert of Modern art, but I do feel that Modern arts are often there to portray an idea or an ideal. They are rather abstract, often lack of technical qualities, unlike the works done by the old masters. Yet, the images the Modern artists put forward are often very powerful. I do wonder, that the direction of art moving away from narration is because the rising popularity and technological advancement of cameras. It makes me wonder more, what is going to happen in the era we are living now, AI (artificial intelligence) and art?

Rabbits spotted

Selfie time. We can call this Modern art too?

Otto Freundlich: The birth of Man

What struck me the most, was the use of vivid colours and shapes in these artworks. What were the artists trying to say? What kind of emotional turmoils were they going through?

Due to the historical backdrop, many of the artists went through war and hardship. Picasso had sort of a comfy life. In contrast, Otto Freundlich was prosecuted because he was Jewish and eventually killed in concentration camp. Freundlich’s art was ridiculed and criticised, and was once called ‘degenerate’.  In a way, it was lucky some of his work got preserved, fortunate for us spectators.

What happens to the hole when cheese is gone?

I am very glad we visited this museum, adding some variety to our long trip. Now heading towards Frankfurt, the financial capital of Germany.

*Churches, cathedrals and abbeys were built with tall spires, so the religious followers would feel they were closer to heaven and God.