Last weekend I travelled to Maastricht and Cologne on a last-minute getaway. The weather was lovely, and spirits were high. I accomplished a couple of things on the trip. One will shock you, the other will not.
One: I climbed two very tall church towers, the tallest of them (the 509 steps high- Cologne cathedral tower) in high-heeled boots. For an explanation, see photo below.
Two: I bought my first designer dress! The dress is not from a major designer like Gucci, or Diane Von Furstenburg. Rather, it’s from a very small label in Germany called Berg and Kather. This purchase was made in Maastricht, at a truly amazing shop, of which I cannot recall the name. Anyhow, this dress is minimalistic, with a touch of glamour in the pleated skirt. The light grey color makes it suitable for all seasons, which I love. It was a fantastic purchase, if I do say so myself!
Now, onto more important things, like culture, churches, and chocolate. I found Maastricht to be absolutely lovely. It was charming and romantic; historic, and religious. The Saint Servatius burg gives a wonderful view of the city, and is reminiscent of that “old Europe” I am so enamored with. The people of Maastricht do not look or speak like Noord-Hollanders. They have more glamour, talk slower, and seem to be less [shall I say nicely], brutally honest. But what really sells this city is the old stuff. I found the city park to be extremely romantic, the 13th century town gate transported me back to the middle ages, and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwebasiliek (church) was mysterious and extremely gothic in its style, which was very appealing. It goes without saying that the Vrijthof is one of the most beautiful squares, and the houses in Maastricht are ancient, yet regal.
It was quite sad to leave Maastricht so quickly, but hence, our train tickets beckoned us to Cologne that evening. It’s fair to say, that I didn’t properly research Cologne before I went, and the spots we most wanted to visit (art galleries) were closed on the Sunday and Monday morning of our stay. Furthermore, the city in regards to its architecture and general beauty, was also a let down. My travel companion and I adore cities with a long and stunning history. The tragic part about Cologne, is that it’s one of the most ancient cities in Germany, but because of post war reconstruction, looks as though it’s only been around since the late 50’s . Aside from a handful of beautiful churches, and prewar German guild buildings, Cologne has been a victim of poor architectural choices and city planning.
With all negatives aside, my preferred attraction of Cologne was the chocolate museum. One cannot say enough good things about this place: it had history, a huge chocolate factory you could walk through, nutritional information (?), information about where cocoa beans come from and who farms them, and of course, a larger-than-life chocolate fountain. Looking into the huge vat of churning chocolate in the factory was like being transported into “Charlie and the Chocolate factory”.. if only Johnny Depp were there! The third floor, which displayed ornate chocolate boxes and advertisements from the past 200 years, was a stunner- talk about vintage design inspiration! All this was only topped by the chocolate cake in the cafe. Delish!
Other outings in Cologne included the incredibly huge Cologne cathedral, which was both eerie and majestic, and the Wallraf Richartz museum. The Wallraf Richartz has incorporated 700 years of art in their modern- looking museum. They have a truly extensive collection of medieval paintings, but it was the Baroque and Impressionist collections that were most inspiring. Viewing the Degas ballerinas again was simply amazing! That about sums up our short trip; a strange variety of religious architecture and icons, fantastic chocolate, dreamy art, and aching feet! xx Helen Anne