Saturday 9th July 2022
Packed my case and left it in the room whilst I foraged for Fruhstuck and found a very nice bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, then it was time to head for the station. After the conversation with the waitress in Aachen I was slightly concerned that the trains would be super-full at weekends due to the 9 euro deal - so accordingly booked on a Thalys train (not eligible for the 9 euro brigade) and paid 5 euros extra to get more space in First Class.
The Plan backfired as there was NO ROOM for luggage in first class - I did get a seat however. They had made much of the service - greeting at the station and "settling you onto the train" etc. but there were no staff and it was quite poor - never saw anyone on board either, other than to ask if there was any more luggage space.
I arrived at Koln and well the Dom is just stunning! It greets you the moment you walk out of the station.
I went to the hotel, tucked away in a little side street about 10 minutes from the station, and dropped my bag so I could go exploring. I went back the the Dom precinct and found a hop on hop off bus leaving so hopped on!
The tour was slightly disappointing - no leaflet with a map so it was hard to get your bearings - and the German commentary blared out through loudspeakers, and the english commentary in my earphones was consequently hard to hear at times.
The driver had to stop to pull the cover over as it started to rain, but luckliy it had stopped by the time I got off. I then went for a wander to check out where the boats for the Rhine cruise leave and had a look round the old town. There's not really much of it left - they do seem to be building quite a lot, and there are a few archaeological digs going on but there is not much of the original architecture in evidence (not even reconstructed.
The Dom does dominate the skyline and is incredibly impressive. Tomorrow I will have a look inside. Found a little Italian restaurant just beside the hotel for dinner - very friendly Italian (all the Italian I had learned eluded me). Not the wisest choice of hotel - but it is only for a couple of nights.