DM and MM's Germany 2019 Diary

Day 6 - Cologne museums and cathedral

Wednesday, 30 October, 2019

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The final session of the ISO meeting is underway, which is all administrative detail and no technical discussion, so I'm stealing a bit of time to write this.

I slept better again last night, but was awake around 05:30. I got up at 06:00 to stretch out my back and then get ready for breakfast again at 07:00. The buffet had new items, including small warm spinach pastries, Greek stuffed vine leaves, something that looked like a dried apricot with cream cheese or something on it, but which turned out to be some sort of pickled vegetable. It's a very impressive buffet for such a small hotel.

I left at 08:00 to walk to the station and get a train to Horrem again. It was very cold this morning. I had to buy tickets since my 4-trip ticket had been used up yesterday. Then I looked at the departure board and saw a train running 5 minutes late and now departing in one minute, so raced up the escalator to find it waiting on the platform. I managed to get on and rode to Horrem, arriving 08:25.

This was early enough that I decided to take a walk through the town, which I hadn't seen yet as it was on the opposite side of the tracks to Image Engineering. I walked around a large block, down the shopping streets and then back along a residential street. It wasn't that exciting, but was good to stretch my legs.

Horrem houses
Walking around the streets of Horrem

After that I went over to Image Engineering to get ready for the meeting. It looks like we could finish business by around 10:00, giving me the rest of the day to relax and do sightseeing.


M. and I are resting at the hotel after an afternoon of wandering around central Cologne. My meeting indeed ended by 10:00, and I walked over to Horrem station to catch a train back to the city. The timetable said the next train was leaving at 10:08, from platform 19, the same one on the diverging track where I got off on the first day. It's a couple of hundred metres walk from the main station, and I strode quickly over there, arriving just before the train did. This was a regional express, so only stopped at Ehrenfeld before the Hauptbahnhof, and I was back at the hotel not long after 10:30.

M. had messaged suggesting we meet at 11:00 at the visitor information centre in front of the cathedral. I got there a bit early and took some photos of the cathedral with Monkey before waiting. When M. arrived, we walked down the shopping street and then across a block towards the river, intending to visit the Wallraf-Richartz Museum of art, since M. was keen to check out their Monets again. On the way we stopped briefly at a shop or two for M. to look at some things. They have a lot of Christmas stuff out already in the shops.

Sculpture and painting
Gallery, Wallraf-Richartz Museum

At the art museum, I checked my coat and backpack and then we toured the three floors from the top down, which meant seeing the most modern stuff first, and finishing with Middle Ages art. The Monets, five of them, were on the top floor, with other Impressionists as well as slightly earlier styles. The middle floor was Baroque era art, with a lot of Dutch master type of stuff and still lifes and portraits. We noticed three of the still lifes had half peeled lemons in them, so I took photos of all of those. On the middle floor a guard told M. she couldn't carry her jacket, she had to either wear it or check it at the cloakroom (two floors below), so she decided to put it on.

Springtime near Vétheuil
Springtime near Vétheuil, Claude Monet, Wallraf-Richartz Museum

We finished the smallish museum a bit after midday, and then went to look for somewhere to have lunch. Not far away we ran across the cafe Fassbender, where we'd eaten last year, and decided to sit in for a nice and peaceful lunch rather than grab a bread roll at a noisy bakery. They didn't have English menus, so I used my dictionary app on my phone to translate some of the stuff I didn't know. There was a carrot and chick pea soup which M. thought sounded good, but she decided to start with a slice of the Mandelkirsch, an almond and cherry pie/cake.

Mandelkirsch torte
Mandelkirsch, Cafe Fassbender

I had the Riebekuchen, or potato cakes with apple sauce which also came with pumpernickel bread, salad, and I added the optional smoked salmon. M. stole a potato cake after her cake and then decided she was too full to have the soup, so we didn't bother ordering that. I had a Fassbender speziale cake, which was a chocolate sponge with chocolate cream and a topping of glazed cranberries. It was similar to a Black Forest cake, and very nice.

Riebekuchen mit Raucherlachs
Riebekuchen mit Raucherlachs, Cafe Fassbender

After this we decided to go to the Lego shop, via the Hard Rock Cafe to look at the shop and the music memorabilia there. At the Lego shop M. and I built a half dozen custom minifigures using the bins of parts - something we've done three times now in three trips to Cologne.

From there we went to the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln (MAKK) museum of art and design, which we'd tried to visit last year but which was being renovated. This time the modern part of the permanent exhibition was open, however the historical exhibits were still closed for renovation. The entry fee was only €4, so we paid, dropped our stuff in the self serve coatroom lockers, and did a tour of the modern design section. This was two floors of furniture and household design objects from the twentieth century, from about the 1930s onwards, including a lot of Bauhaus and stuff just from the post Art Deco period.

Pod chair
Funky pod chair, MAKK

It was very interesting and there were some amazing pieces in there, especially some of the early radios, with funky modern designs that you don't normally associate with early radios.

Russian radio
Early Russian radio set, MAKK

Also, in the foyer, was a very cool gull-wing door Mercedes from about the 1940s or 50s.

Gull-wing Mercedes
Gull-wing Mercedes, MAKK

Done with the MAKK, we walked over to the Cologne Cathedral, and went inside for a quick circuit of the interior. We've done this on both previous visits, but it would be silly to come to Cologne and not go inside the cathedral. We did it fairly quickly, since we have seen it before. This time the area behind the main altar was open, which it wasn't last year, so we walked around behind there to admire the stained glass and also the intricate mosaics in the floor.

Cologne Cathedral floor
Floor mosaic, Cologne Cathedral

From the cathedral we walked back to our hotel to rest for a little bit before our dinner booking tonight.

written next day

Dinner was for 19:00 at maiBeck, which is a Michelin starred restaurant and one of the top places in Cologne. We'd dined here last year and really enjoyed it, so I'd booked in advance from home so we had somewhere to celebrate our wedding anniversary a couple of days early, since we'd be in transit for the entirety of the actual date.

We set out a little early, walking through the chilly evening air, across to the cathedral side of the station and then down to the Altstadt by the river, where maiBeck sits on the first corner of buildings. We were shown to a table against one of the back walls, further in than last time, and the waiter gave us English menus, although some of the explanatory text above the menu lists was still in German.

Spaghetti-pumpkin / white gherkin / sheep's cheese / pattison
Spaghetti-pumpkin / white gherkin / sheep's cheese / pattison, maiBeck

M. chose the "spaghetti-pumpkin, white gherkin, sheeps cheese, pattison" for her starter, followed by the "stuffed pasta parcels with potato and fontina, swiss chard, sunflower seeds, raisins", while I chose the "mackerel sweet and sour, cauliflower in 3 styles, chive, miso, apple" followed by the "braised and grilled cheek of beef, figs, celery, local pak-choi, walnut".

Mackerel sweet & sour / cauliflower in 3 styles / chive / miso / apple
Mackerel sweet & sour / cauliflower in 3 styles / chive / miso / apple, maiBeck

To go with this, M. chose glasses of French Grenache/Syrah blend wine, while I had a Grüner Veltliner with my starter and then a Sangiovese blend with the main. They gave us bread and salted butter, slices of a medium rye and a dense white baguette. The meal was delicious, with very interesting mixes of flavours and textures. For dessert I had a couple of scoops of ice cream, white chocolate and peach sorbet flavours, as I remembered that I'd had the ice cream last time and it was amazingly good.

After this wonderful meal, we walked back to the hotel, to sleep for our last night in Cologne.

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