Cologne, Germany

Inside the Cologne Cathedral (Kolner Dom in Cologne, Germany)

Cologne, Germany truly took my breath away, and we even visited too early to experience the Christmas markets - which I hear are some of the most magical ones around. (I am dreaming about a Cologne-trip-round-2 sometime this December. *Hint Hint* Hubby!) It was so much fun to explore a new European city with my college friend, Jesse, her boyfriend, Reece, and my wonderful husband. Our hotel was a bit out of the center of the city, but in late October, we were blessed with warm, "walkable" weather. In t-shirts and light cardigans, we started exploring the new city. As the four of us made our way into the center, we stopped for Italian pizza on a cozy terrace. It seemed that every terrace was packed with tourists and locals alike simply taking in the warmth and beauty of Cologne. 

As I mentioned here, you really cannot miss the spectacular Cologne Cathedral (or Kolner Dom). It is an impressive and massive structure that holds a prominent spot in the center of the city. The Cathedral is under construction, but for some reason, the scaffolding didn't take away from the grandeur of the Gothic landmark. One thing I really wanted to do was climb the tower for a panoramic view of the city, but unfortunately we arrived just as the observation tower was closing. Tourist fail! Apparently, you have you arrive before 5pm, get in line, pay three Euros, climb 500+ steps to the top, and get tons of awesome pictures. Sounded awesome to me, and I really hope to get back some day and tackle that winding staircase!

We walked through the Cathedral and then headed down towards the waterfront. I gasped as we turned a corner and the entire city seemed to open up in front of us. The Rhine River was the focal point, and everywhere you looked, people were enjoying a picnic, throwing a frisbee, sharing a bottle of wine, chasing an energetic toddler or wrapping up the evening with a heavy, German beer. We were in the park known as the Rhine Prominade, and I didn't want to leave! As the sun started setting, we crossed the Rhine and ended up at a fabulous, hidden restaurant called Lommezerheim. The beer is tapped out of little barrels and the servers carry trays of 20+ beers around making sure that no guests are liquid-deprived.The servers track your beer consumption by marking the back of a beer coaster, and once you are ready to leave, you show the cashiers your coster and pay accordingly. Pretty cool find. 

We walked back across the Rhine River, and in the darkness, the city had taken on different character. I snapped a few pictures and silently prayed that we would soon return to the magical city of Cologne. 

Just a few of my pictures. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

So many tourists at the Cologne Cathedral, but this is one of my favorite candid pictures of Jesse and Reece. 
The Cologne Cathedral sort of matches the fall colors. 
Look at all the patio seating in the Rhine Promenade!

Cross the bridge for an amazing view back on Cologne! 

Heading to the train station and saying bye to Cologne. 
Farewell Starbucks in the train station with a view of the Cologne Cathedral.