Excelsior Hotel Ernst, we made our way to the Christmas market in the shadow of the 'Dom' -- Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom.
What an amazing market! We started with these slab o' ham sandwiches that were so good, quickly followed by glühwein; our first of many that evening. After a once-over of the stalls, we made our way to the famous Früh am Dom, just beyond. We weren't standing at the tables outside for more than a moment, wondering what to do, when a man in a blue vest came by with this caddy of 0.2 L glasses of beautifully clear, Früh Kolsch. Fruity, with a nutty finish -- and served by gravity, out of huge barrels -- in a word, delish!
Sunday, December 12
Hohenzollern bridge was a bit moving, if I'm honest: the impressive current under us, so many symbols of commitment locked to the railing beside us, built to a tangible energy in the air.
Brauhaus zur Malzmühle, a brewpub in the style of the Hofbrauhaus (is the way I think of them, it being my first) and beautifully decorated for the season. Warmed by some fantastic goulash and their Kolsch, we made our way to the old town market, Alter Markt/Altstadt. "Hyper German" is the phrase that popped from my mouth, surrounded by those familiar stalls, but also under the gaze of gnomes, a bonneted matron's music box filling my ears, quickly followed by the squeals of delighted children as the tune reached its crescendo.
Pfaffen brewpub. Our beer guide commented on the beautiful stained glass above its doorway; combined with the extraordinary wood carvings along much of its interior, it was a lovely, if cosy, spot to spend a few hours.
you get a room of Mr. Blacks -- has joined in the conversation, proclaiming that more Macedonians live in Toronto than do at 'home'. "Danforth!" saved us from committing either way to this proclamation.
Brauhaus Sünner im Walfisch, with an L-shaped table across from us sharing what we soon found out was a five-litre tower of Sünner Kolsch. On the dubious logic that you can wait some time for refills of those tiny 0.2 L glasses, we quickly found ourselves in the shadow of our very own three-litre tower of Cologne's nectar.
Päffgen Brauhaus, for an early supper. Again, I just love the feel of these places: the smell of the... unfinished pine, I suppose, of the tables, and then the deep, rich wood of the booths and panelling; this brauhaus had some fabulous stained glass as well; and it's rare that you aren't sitting near a group of older men, swapping stories or debating as they've done many times before, over a good many Kolsch. Oh, and to give you an idea of how easy that is, the waiter just keeps coming with those 0.2 L glasses, marking a stroke for each new arrival on your beermat; put your beermat on top of your glass when you're done, and he or she will tally it up. Easy-peasy!
In addition to sampling many of the old standbys, Tea also tried some käsespätzle, which looked amazing and put the biggest smile on her face.
Gaffel am Dom brewhouse with a few Kolsch before grabbing our bags and heading to the station. We had talked about leaving earlier and spending some time in Brussels, but decided to leave that for another trip.
Check out our Picasa album for more pictures from the trip.