During this Easter, we had a spontaneous excursion to Cologne & Dusseldorf. With ICE the whole train ride takes no more than 2 hours from almost the bottom to the top of Deutschland. We took ICE 1102 (2 hours) on our way there, and IC2213 & RB38881 (4 hours) on the way back. It cost us 96 euro both ways for 2. We actually booked our trip just one day before leaving. I’m sure it’s possible to find better price & faster trains if we booked early.
When we arrived at Cologne central station, it was late in the evening already, but nothing could have stopped us from exploring this beautiful city & more importantly it’s local beer Kölsch.
So we went to an old local brewery called Früh which is over 111 years old. The whole place looks like a dungeon with separate staircases & many isolated rooms ( I tried to film secretly in the brewery). Kölsch is a deep fermented beer but tastes actually quite refreshing & pleasant.
We also ordered a Mett-Happen. A thin layer of raw, but very well seasoned pork mince spread on top of a half crispy Brotchen, a typical German bread bun. It sounds scary, but it’s actually surprisingly tasty. Apparently, it’s also a German celebrity’s favourite dish, so Yogi ordered it without any hesitations. I had a small bite of it. The mince goes extremely well with the onion rings & spring onions on top.
So we finished our 1st night in Cologne with 2 rounds of Kölsch & a delicious Mett.
On the second day, we got up early to avoid the crowd. It happened to be the Easter service in the Dom. Cologne cathedral looks majestic & divine. The construction was completed in the 19 century, based on its original plan in medieval. My advice is to go there early. The Dom was quickly filled up with tourists within a couple of hours after opening.
We had our breakfast in a bakery nearby (Merzenich). I just love how the bread & pastries were presented in the shop. We had a gigantic nougat pretzel covered with almonds & 2 cups of cappuccino. It’s called pretzel because of its shape, but by no means likes the traditional, good & old german bread. It tastes more like a sweet & crispy dessert.
We took the regional train from Cologne to Dusseldorf. It usually takes about 20-30 mins & costs 11.40 euro per person. (We took RE 10619 from Cologne to Dusseldorf; RE 10523 from Dusseldorf to Cologne). Don’t worry about missing the train though, they drive almost every 10 mins. You can check the train schedule on the ticket machines in the station. It’s extremely busy & hectic at the centre station. The ticket machine is also very hard to orient even for a native German. It literary took us 10 mins just to figure out how to add an extra ticket in the system. If you find it’s difficult to find the correct ticket, there is an information desk at the station for your disposal. (we lost our credit card in one of the machines on our last day there.)
After arriving at Dusseldorf Hbf, we also purchased a subway/u-bahn day ticket, which costs 10 euro for 2 people together. Although all the site seeing spots are around the centre station. It’s simply quicker & easier to take the subway.
We had our lunch at a Japanese restaurant called Umaimon which means good luck. Unlike many Japanese restaurants in Japan town, this one is on the outskirts near OKE-Japan house. It’s relatively quiet, but more locals going there. We ordered a cherry blossom flavoured beer. We could almost taste the blossoms, the flavour is actually very subtle. The gyoza was surprisingly fresh & juicy. I had Mala Tori Soba which is slightly spicy in a thick chicken soup. Yogi had Shoyu Ramon with teriyaki chicken.
You probably have noticed that the logo of this restaurant is actually an egg. (Maybe eggs bring good luck in Japan, I’m guessing). Definitely try the top few recommended chicken soup ramen (Only a limited amount of them are sold a day). The rich & white soup makes their ramen so special.
Unfortunately, the Japan house was closed during Easter, so after a bit of window shopping in a few Japanese & Korean supermarkets in Japan town, we went to a German restaurant called Schweine Janes in the Altstadt (old town). They are famous for their haxe, but for a light dinner, I had a small portion of goulash soup, Yogi had grilled plate. I especially loved the grilled pork liver.
This Alt beer could only be found in Dusseldorf. Alt means old, you could probably tell from its unusual dark colour.
There are lots of dining & drinking options around Altstadt. Maybe because it was Easter, all the bars & restaurants are filled with loud & drunk people. It wasn’t so much fun to look at.
On our last day in Dusseldorf. We went back to the MedienHafen to catch some nice shots of the contemporary architectures by Frank Gehry, then went to a highly recommended restaurant in Japan town called NA NI WA which means something in Japanese. We had a bottle of dry SAKE. Yogi had TOKUSEI TORIMISO. I wanted to have MORINIKUSOBA, but it was sold out, so I took the recommendation from the waiter & ordered TOKUSEI MISO. It’s a noodle soup with soybean paste. The noodle soup wasn’t bad at all but like many restaurants in Germany. It’s way too salty for my taste. So we got a taro milk tea from the shop nearby.
So Cologne or Dusseldorf? Which city is more beautiful? Almost everyone was asking after we came home. It’s such a difficult question. I guess the positive rival relationship between the 2 makes them both unique. It’s hard to say no to a Japan town in the city, but the Dom & bridge are also extremely beautiful & eye catching.