Posts tagged ‘Köln’

Germany’s urban G-E-M-S: Köln

What if I’ve landed in Germany, and I wanted to find less-explored aspects in one of her cities? The word “gems” might be overused, but I’ve turned the word into a handy list of “G-E-M-S”, representing a Green space (Grünanlange), a place to Eat (Essen gehen), a Museum, and something a little out of the ordinary or a Special tip (Sondertipp).

They’re not only recommendations, but I’d like the interested reader to consider places where locals go to relax, eat, and enjoy themselves.

I’ve described G-E-M-S for Frankfurt am Main, München (Munich), Hamburg, and Berlin. The present post is about the Carnival city of Cologne on the river Rhein.


Köln (Cologne)

Sunrise over river Rhein in Cologne

World-famous view under morning light: Kölner Dom & Hohenzollernbrücke (HL)

In Cologne, the people know how to party and have a good time; the annual “Karneval” is proof of this fact. But is there more to Cologne than Karneval?

Of course, I’m going to visit the world-famous Dom (Cathedral). I’ll learn something about the Roman Empire’s northern reach and their influence on “Colonia”. I’ll stop by the place where “Eau de Cologne” got its name. I’ll drink the local beer, the sharp yet refreshing Kölsch served in small thin 0.2-Litre glasses. But a city of over one million people has more than Dom, Roman relics, perfume, and beer.


Green space : Aachener Weiher (Gürtel)

Aachener Weiher, Koeln, Cologne, Germany

Late afternoon light at Aachener Weiher (HL)

In addition to peaceful spaces along the river Rhein, the “Grüngürtel” or “green rings” provide ample park spaces throughout the city. With a length of seven kilometres and width of about 200 metres, the Innerer Grüngürtel (Inner Green Ring) is one of the largest urban parks in Cologne. The pond at Aachener Strasse, also known as the Aaachener Weiher, sits near the midpoint of the Inner Green Ring. The pond is easy to reach with city transport or Stadtbahn from the downtown area. On warm sunny days, city residents and university students alike come to play, barbeque and unwind (“grillen und chillen”) with family and friends. There’s even a beer garden at Aachener Weiher. Wait, this is Germany; of course, there’s a beer garden here!

Details: Aachener Weiher.
Transit stop/station: U-Bahn Universitätsstrasse, or U-Bahn Moltkestrasse.


Eat : Mangal

Mangal, Koeln, Cologne, Germany

Lamb skewers grilled over wood and coal; served with couscous, rice, salad (HL)

With over 6 percent of the population, Turks make up the largest non-German group in the city. There are a couple of neighbourhoods where you’ll see strong influences by way of shopping, clothing, and the food. A short walk northwest from the Hauptbahnhof or a quick train puts you in the Hansaring area, where the flow of visitors or tourists subsides. Mangal is what awaits: a large open grill; Döner wraps or pitas for takeaway; or Döner or grilled-meat platters delivered fresh to your table. You’ll hear conversations mostly in Turkish, some of it heavily flavoured in Turkish-German slang. But your attention will be focused solely on the food.

Details: Mangal.
Transit stop/station: S-/U-Bahn Hansaring.


Museum : Museum Ludwig

Museum Ludwig, Koeln, Cologne, Germany

“Frau Nr. 13″, by Thomas Schütte (HL)

Staff at the Museum Ludwig focus on works of contemporary art from the 20th-century forward to the present day. They’re also looking at various kinds of media, particularly technology, used to create art. The Museum has the world’s third largest collection of Picasso’s work, behind only Paris and Barcelona. Their permanent collection includes works of European Expressionism, Classical Modernism, American Pop Art, Abstract works, and a large collection of photography. Sometimes, fortune truly favours the brave, or the ones who’re looking. I’m now in the habit of seeking “photographic moments,” and often, they find me.

Details: Museum Ludwig.
Transit stop/station: S-/U-Bahn Dom-Hauptbahnhof.


Special : Zülpi Strasse

Shamrock, Zuelpicher Strasse, Koeln, Cologne

A fave hangout in Köln (HL)

Bars, clubs, cafes, and restos line Zülpicher Strasse just southwest of the downtown core. When I was introduced to Shamrock Irish Pub, I expressed skepticism. Why would I go to an Irish pub in Cologne? My patient friend said to me (over beer): this is the kind of place where residents and university students come to unwind. Shamrock’s multilingual staff is friendly, serving Kölsch beer as well as Kilkenny stout, and they’re also stocked with your favourite hard stuff to guzzle down. Fact is after a steady night of drinking and solving the world’s problems in the process, there’s an excellent correlation between drinking at Shamrock and eating Döner around the corner at Oruç.

Details: Shamrock (Zülpicher Strasse) and Oruç.
Transit stop/station: U-Bahn Zülpicher Platz, or U-Bahn Dasselstrasse/Bahnhof Süd.


Mapping the G-E-M-S

Naturally, Cologne is not limited to these four highlights, but they provide a good start which makes me feel welcome and at home. Along with the location of the city’s primary train station, the map below shows the following G-E-M-S in Cologne:

  • G: Green Space (Grünanlagen) – Aachener Weiher,
  • E: place to Eat (Essen gehen) – Mangal,
  • M: Museum Ludwig,
  • S: Special (Sondertipp) – Zülpicher Strasse.

Local transport authority: Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe (KVB), also available in English.

By train, travel times to Köln are: just under 3 hours from Amsterdam, 5.5 hours from Berlin, 1 hour from Frankfurt am Main, 4 hours from Hamburg, 4.5 hours from München, and 3 to 5 hours from Paris.


Germany’s Urban G-E-M-S

(population source, Deutsche Städtetag)

I made all of the photos above, and this post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Fotoeins’ Favourite 5 in Germany

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m apoplectic with rage if a person answers “Oktoberfest” as their first and only thought when asked what they think about Germany.

There’s nothing wrong with the raging keggers and oom-pa-pa at Oktoberfest or the beautiful city that is München. But there’s a lot more to Germany than Oktoberfest. Besides, there’s always the months-long Karneval on the Rhein …

As I’m very fond of the country and its people, I can be defensive when it comes to my “alternate” home that is the Deutschland. Yes, the people can be a little ornery, but break past their gruff orderly fastidious exteriors, and they are a lovely warm and generous people.

Sounds a lot like you and me, doesn’t it?

To encourage a different (and hopefully favourable) set of views about other parts of the country, here are five favourites while I’m in the big D:


I’m in Berlin to catch sunset’s silhouettes on Strasse des 17. Juni.

In Berlin, a ride on the upper-deck of either the 100 or 200 city-bus from Zoologischer Bahnhof will take passengers through many of the sightseeing and talking points of the German capital. As far as the Tiergarten park is concerned, many visitors will visit the Zoo, Brandenburg Gate, and the Siegessäule (Victory Column). Some time to see the Gate and Column illuminated at night are also worthwhile, but I like my silhouettes, too. Click here for more.

Siegesaeule, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany, by fotoeins


I’m in Hamburg to check what’s on store in the Speicherstadt.

Sitting adjacent to the river Elbe, Hamburg is a port-city with historical links to the Hanseatic shipping league. The Speicherstadt (Warehouse District) consists of 19th- and 20th-century brick warehouses, like proud markers of an island oasis on the river. If you’re interested in spices, the Spice Museum is where you can learn about how spices arrived and were traded within Europe. Today, harbour activities take place across the river on the southern banks of the Elbe in the Hafenstadt.

Speicherstadt, Hamburg, Germany, by fotoeins


I’m in Köln for my favourite Turkish food.

Grilled lamb combo plate at Mangal, Köln, Koeln, Cologne, Germany

An important thing I’ve learned from friends in Köln is the quality and variety of Turkish food. I’ve always tried to visit neighbourhoods where resident German-Turks go for their favourites. Whether it’s in Mülheim, Hansaring, Zülpicher Platz, or Ehrenfeld, it might be hard to pin down the best places to eat; my “Kölner Kiez” has got my kind of food. Placing in front of me a plate with Döner meat or grilled Lambspiess accompanied by rice and salad is always a good way to start; a serving of Künefe is always a great way to finish. Click here for more drooling.

Künefe, Kuenefe, Mangal, Köln, Koeln, Cologne, Germany, by fotoeins


I’m on the North Sea coast to gaze out into the open sea.

It’s easy to forget Germany has access to open seas which are a part of the nation’s history and Hanseatic traditions. About an hour north by train from Bremen, you arrive at the coastal town of Cuxhaven, which is a good place to start exploring the Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer). The area includes coastal mud flats, vital for conservation efforts of local wildlife. The site’s importance has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nationalpark Wattenmeer, Wadden Sea National Park, Cuxhaven, Germany, by fotoeins


I’m up top at Zugspitze for big mountains and big skies.

Although the tallest parts of the Alps are located in neighbouring countries, an altitude of 3000 metres (9700 feet) on the German side isn’t so bad. The ascent to Zugspitze is worth the trip on its own, whether it’s with the cogwheel railway from Partenkirchen or with the gondola up from Eibsee. At the summit, you can pass between Bavaria, Germany and Tirol, Austria with ease. If you squint your eyes on a clear day, you can see all the way to mountains at the Austria-Italy border. Click here for the ascent.

Zugspitze, Alps Germany, Austria, by fotoeins


I made all of the photos above in the D-land. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Finding simple is more in Köln

Often, art occurs whenever and wherever you find it.

Whenever I’m in Cologne, Germany, I stop at the Museum Ludwig for their selection of contemporary art, including their Pablo Picasso collection which is the third largest in the world.

I’ve seen some fine examples and works, and perhaps, they provide the necessary inspiration and ingredient to move forward or onto a different course.

Symmetry, form, line, contrast

Museum Ludwig, Koeln, Cologne, Germany

“Security”

After a look at their collection of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein in the basement, I headed back up to the ground floor. Looking up, I realized there was lots of geometry in the floors above. Fortunately, the security guard was “cooperative”, and the composition kept its symmetry with the added bonus of a convergence point.

I think the fellow was curious about what I was photographing …

Heinrich-Boell-Platz, Koeln, Cologne, Germany

“Dark and bright, black and white”

I hung out in the upper corner of the museum, looking out the window and onto Heinrich-Böll-Platz, and I waited for the right opportunity. After some ten to fifteen minutes, I saw at the square two people, each walking along a different path but heading in the same direction. Each person wore contrasting colours: the woman in bright colours and a dark umbrella, the older gentleman in dark colours and a bright patch on his backpack.

Some have asked: how do you make these kinds of photographs? Here’s my basic list:

  1. Awareness : keep your eyes open to surroundings and possible situations.
  2. Composition : get things “right” in camera as much as possible.
  3. Minimal post : I don’t do a lot of post-processing, but I’ll make the necessary corrections for rotation, distortion, crop, and “dodge & burn” to adjust highlights and shadows, respectively.
  4. Experience, endurance : photograph as much as you can to recognize the kinds of shots which arise in a variety of surroundings and settings. Sometimes I have to wait until the right situation comes along.

It’s a simple “ACME” list, because each item is not difficult to undertake and does not require a specific or expensive camera. Go out and make photos with whatever camera you have.


Location

Museum Ludwig and Heinrich-Böll-Platz are located between the Cathedral and the Central train station to the west and the Hohenzollern Bridge and koelnmesse Trade Fair Exhibition Centre to the east. Below Heinrich-Böll-Platz is the home of the Kölner Philharmonie; the square is closed to all foot traffic when a concert is held. Next to the square is the sculpture piece “Ma’alot” (Stufen or steps, 1980-1986) by Tel Aviv’s Dani Karavan.

More about Köln …

•   Love locks & stories in Cologne (Fotoeins Fotopress)
•   Summer solstice in Cologne (Fotoeins Fotopress)
•   Cologne’s landmarks | Wahrzeichen der Köln (Fotoeins WIDE)

I made the two photos above with a Canon EOS450D (XSi) camera and 50mm-lens on 25 July 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Food tally, 4th- and final-quarter 2012

Frohe Weihnachten & Happy Holidays (2012)

As 2012 comes to a close, so too approaches the end of my year of around-the-world travel. I want to take this opportunity and send my best wishes to friends and family around the world, to those whom I visited and stayed, and to those whom I met for the first time …

Merry Christmas and happy holidays: all the best to you and loved ones in 2013!

Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

Weihnachtsmarkt, Kölner Altstadt, Heumarkt, Köln, Cologne, Germany

I made the photo above in Heumarkt in Köln on 30 November 2012; this post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

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