SIGHTS in Cologne:
Get your comedy nose on and get ready for some fun! The largest carnival museum in any German speaking country impresses guests both young and old with carnival floats, puppets and many other carnival facets, from the comical antiques to the less comical National Socialism to the delights of present day. In February the Cologne jesters know no bounds, as that's when carnival is celebrated in earnest. Sounds, images and various objects combine to present visitors with the true feeling and atmosphere of the carnival. The clowning around in Cologne is taken very seriously: 1.5 million viewers follow the Rosenmontagszug on television while 10,500 jesters take part in the procession. So why not get some practice in early: Kölle Alaaf!
He'd love nothing better than to wander around in his silk bath rope all day long and sell art - this is what gallery owner Coskun Gueven has once said. He probably doesn't wear his silk bath rope all day long, but he does sell art in his gallery Arty Farty. The focus: street art. The monthly altering exhibitions feature young artists' positions which are deeply anchored in urban subcultures. During the last two years Arty Farty has developed into a metropolitan and non-academic art scene. The visitors of the gallery are especially interested in contemporary trends outside the usual art business. You find graffiti and illustrations, sculptures and photography and artists like Swanski, Morcky, Raymond Lemstra, Will Barras, Joska, Sozy One, Beekei, Herr Schulze and Wayne Horse have already presented their works here.
Magenta is the new lavender. The designers made their decision and that's what they got for this concept store. The colour is resplendent at the entrance, it fills the shelves of the shoe salon, adds a special touch to the men's fashion and is splashed across the walls behind the eveningwear. On the topic of colour, the famous red shoes by Christian Louboutin can of course be found here alongside Miu Miu, Prada, Gucci and all of the other usual suspects in the luxury selection. If your head begins to spin take a break in the classy Fischermanns' restaurant. There's even something for art lovers: the store regularly holds vernissages in its venerable hall.
STAY in Cologne:
In hotels furnished with a retro look it's easy to feel like you have been dropped into a 70s science fiction film. That's not the case at Atrium Rheinhotel. Here you can admire the retro theme without being overawed by it. And black and white philosophers will love it here: colours have been banned from the atrium, while the rooms have a purist finish. Yet you can't have everything as the fresh flowers bring a radiant contrast - alas back tulips are not yet available. What one wouldn't expect to find in this designer hotel are the ceiling lamps, which suspiciously look like they're from IKEA. Nevertheless, business travellers and others, who concentrate on the bigger picture, are guaranteed to feel satisfied here. Double room EUR 108 per night.
Hotel Cristall shows its colours: the lobby is lavishly dominated by colour-of-the-month lavender, while the conference rooms are more reserved in white and the rooms in brown tones. Even the stairway banister was unable to escape the brush, having received a coat of bright red. The colourful mix is accompanied by unique furniture and black marble. Particularly fanciful are the easels in the rooms: if you're not a fan of mirrors, simply turn it around to discover a classic painting on the other side. With this toy alone you could entertain yourself for hours, yet that would indeed be a shame with Cologne on your doorstep! Double room from EUR 100 per night.
Motel Ones are currently springing up like mushrooms. Vienna, Salzburg, Brussels, Edinburgh, Berlin, Hamburg or Frankfort range among the locations. And these are only a few locations of the altogether 42 hotels of the German low budget design hotel brand of Dieter Müller. Cologne has now two of them: one in Cologne West and - since last autumn - one in Cologne Waidmarkt. Cologne and its 2000 year-old history as well as the French Gothic facade of the cathedral are very venerable. The concept of the aspiring hotel chain is quite the opposite - and a pleasant contrast: a central, well-connected location with focus on young, modern design and affordable prices. In addition turquoise-chocolate brown combinations when it comes to the interior and edgy luminaries (spheric lamps for geometry fans at the bar, nugget-like luminaries in the One-Lounge). In Cologne the new Motel One Waidmarkt is located directly in the central city. Not far away from the cathedral.
EAT in Cologne:
What does it for you? Fresh and firm, mature and round, or deep and complex? No, we're not talking about men, but the wine at Le Moissonnier. Yet not only the wine card reads like a who-is-who of the winemakers guild. The food menu tells a similar culinary tale. For example: filet of Breton sole with a brown butter sauce and truffle jus, grilled fennel bulbs with tomato essence, Calamaretti and mange tout with mint. Sound good? To accompany a splendid meal the restaurant even serves up a Jugendstil ambience. Et voilà, c'est formidable!
London, Leeds, Nottingham and Cologne. Apart from three English cities there's now also a subsidiary of the Pan-Asian restaurant concept with a special twist in the city on the Rhine. The menu unites influences from China, South East Asia and modern Japan. That means more specifically: there is sushi, dim sum and tempura but also main courses like red snapper grilled in banana leaf with lemon grass-coconut-sauce or black codfish in chilli-garlic-marinade with mango-caviar. Afterwards the guests can choose between desserts like yogurt cake with a liquid core, passion fruit jelly and blue curaçao air or red bull snow with lemon fruit salad. The dishes are served step-by-step. In this way a communicative and relaxed atmosphere is created. And in the Latin American cocktail bar the barkeeper serves drinks with fine and fresh ingredients.
Crispy on the outside, soft in the middle: take a bite into your baguette and be catapulted to the Champs-Élysées. Passers-by simply cannot resist peeking through the windows of this bakery, which display the haute couture of French baking and leave the mouth watering. Once inside the tasting commences: the butter croissants melt on the tongue, the éclairs suppress any thoughts of calories and the wonderful tartines embody the dreams of any Francophile. To complement the various delights organic espresso, wine and a good serving of joie de vivre are available.
SHOPPING in Cologne:
The Swedes may well be the kings of furniture design, but what you can find in Engelelf's housewares department isn't half bad: take for example the bottle opener in the form of a table-football player, or the red plastic deer antler which double as a coat hook. Engelelf is also imaginative when it comes to fashion: the one-of-a-kind creations of young designers are often very limited in supply and therefore quickly snapped up - meaning occasional customers promptly become regulars. Traditional shoppers looking for consistency will feel out of place here: even the art on the walls changes constantly - one day there are digital prints, the next day there's photography, then paintings a day later. If you don't want to miss something, you'll have to stop by daily!
If you go shopping in Cologne, you simply cannot pass 4711 without venturing in. It's said that even Napoleon swore by the Eau de Cologne. But back in his day it was sold as a cure-all for listlessness and tiredness. There are other products for that nowadays, but the Eau de Cologne still does a fine job against strong smells. The 4711 main office in the centre of Cologne is a paradise for souvenir hunters. Here you'll find Kölnisch Wasser for the whole family, as well as authentic Kölnisch Wasser shower gel, soap and nostalgia packages. Even the shop itself gets in on the act, sporting a 4711 fountain at the entrance. Discover the exhibition dedicated to the history of the product on the gallery and the tapestry that depicts Napoleon as a graffiti artist. Curious? Then head to the fragrant delights!
If you enter Zeitgeist than you can let loose of any ideas that you will leave with an untouched wallet. Many of the design products will spontaneously vault your heart to a higher frequency and let the sweat glands of your palms work hard. The cerebrum shouts: want! For example the iPod docking station in the shape of a bear by Be@rbrick, which women find cute and men cool. Or, who would not want one of the stylish Dom Pérignon Vintage 2000 bottles in Andy Warhol edition stand in his or her shelve? Or travel around with the Pentax Optio NB 1000 and then shine out of the tourist masses with the camera in self-made Lego design? If you live this kind of zeitgeist, you will leave this store as a happy person.