I have been in Germany on business this week. My employee and I arrived here bright and early on Monday, and we went straight into a full week of meetings. During the week, our German colleagues took us out to lunch and dinner in both Duisburg and Dusseldorf. We received some wonderful hospitality! I wanted to fly home Friday night or Saturday but flights were nearly three times as expensive, and to make things worse, there were no direct flights until Sunday. We opted to stay an extra night and leave early Sunday morning.
Having a day to explore left us some options. Our German counterparts suggested Cologne and the great Cologne Cathedral which was a quick 40 minute ride from Duisburg. I was amazed from the get-go, despite the rain and chill (highs of 62?!).
Above is the ornate entrance, and below, the backside of the Cologne Cathedral.
The main structure was built in 1248. By 1320, a large part of the cathedral was raised. The entrance below is breathtaking. It is an exquisite example of Gothic architecture.
The remaining building took approximately 600 more years, and our German friends joke it will never be completed. Standing inside, it was difficult to imagine how such a magnificent structure could have been built back then.
The cathedral was, in fact, surrounded in parts by scaffolding as shown above. We headed for the underground entrance to climb up to the belfry tower. I loved the stone tunnels underneath!
We climbed to the top of the belfry and after 533 winding steps, the views were amazing. Look at the intricate stone carvings below – amazing!
The climb up was a bit tough, windy and chilly but well worth it! At one spot along the way, I took the photo below of the train bridge entering Cologne, built in 1905. You can see the roof and another steeple of the cathedral, too.
Did I miss my family and wish I could have returned a day earlier? Yes. Did I think I would ever be here again? No. I am grateful for the day of exploring a city that is filled with history, diversity and energy.