One of the greatest attractions of visiting Cologne is its magnificent Gothic cathedral. Its soaring spires can be seen from a great distance, long before you enter the city. Take the train in as we did, and you will be overwhelmed by the sheer size of this imposing cathedral as it towers right above the station!
We marvelled at the beautiful filigree designs, intricate carvings and impressive main doors of the building as we made our way inside. Started in 1248, this cathedral is a World Heritage site and one of Germany's most visited places. Inside, amongst its many treasures, is the reliquary of the Three Kings which is believed to hold the remains of the three wise men who bore gifts for the infant Jesus. These holy relics made Cologne one of the greatest pilgrimage sites in medieval Europe and spread the fame of the cathedral across the continent.
Cologne's magnificent cathedral is only one of the reasons people flock to this vibrant city. With museums to explore, a lively nightlife and lots of restaurants, bars and cafes, there is never a dull moment here! We loved exploring the Altstadt or old town, with it's atmospheric medieval streets, historic buildings and boisterous beer halls. Try and visit on a weekend when It gets especially fun and lively!
A stroll along the bustling waterfront, lined with picturesque old buildings and parks, thrumming with street musicians and artists is a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening. Here you can people watch to your heart's content while sipping on something restorative and see ships glide by on the nearby Rhine river.
We had a delicious bowl of goulash soup here one crisp afternoon during our recent visit. Goulash soup, with it's warming, comforting flavours is perfect for colder weather. In Germany, it can vary from being thick and almost stew-like to a thinner, soupier version. However you choose to make it, make sure to serve some crusty bread on the side!
The smoky notes from the bacon, roasted pepper, toasted caraway and smoked paprika, along with the red wine add depth and richness to this hearty stew-like soup. Serve with a dollop of sour cream for extra richness!
For another variation of this dish, try Hungarian style Goulash
2 tbsp oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large sprig thyme
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 sweet red pepper (roasted or fresh), chopped
1-1/2 lb boneless stewing beef, cubed into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
4 large juicy plum tomatoes, fresh or canned, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp each: smoked paprika, sweet paprika, oregano, toasted ground caraway or cumin seeds, sugar
2 tbsp each: chopped fresh parsley, red wine vinegar
Warm oil in deep saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, thyme, bacon, carrot, celery, potato and sweet pepper. Saute for 10 min until bacon has rendered its fat and vegetables are softened.
Add beef cubes and brown for 5 min. Add flour, stirring to incorporate, about 30 sec.
Add red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add broth, tomatoes, salt and pepper as well as all the spices and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
The vegetables should be practically disintegrating into the soup and the meat should be fork tender at this point. If soup is too thin, uncover, increase heat to medium and boil off some of the extra broth. Remove thyme sprig.
Mix in the vinegar and fresh parsley and serve.