Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ein Bier, Bitte! (Cologne, Germany)


There may be many reasons to visit Cologne, Germany. Its status as the fourth largest city in Germany is a good one. It location on the beautiful River Rhine is another. However, we believe white asparagus season is the best reason to visit. We don’t get to indulge in this tasty treat here because it is popular only in northern Europe - it is harvested in Germany between April and June 24th of each year. The farmer hills up sand and compost over the root stocks to blanch the shoots as they grow. We were lucky enough to visit this city on the Rhine during this season and enjoyed our new found vegetable with a little bit of sun.


As usual, here are our recommendations for unique and interesting places to stay:

You can’t really get better than having a Michelin starred restaurant on the top floor of the tallest old building in Europe, but
Hotel Im Wasserturm manages to have both. This tall circular building has unusual room floor plans with a touch of Paris and a sprinkle of deco. But don’t let the age fool you - this hotel has everything top-of the line: a great lounge, spa, delicious breakfasts, and everything else you would expect from a luxury hotel. The hotel is also just outside the city center so you can relish your unique luxury in a calm environment.

The most famous and grand hotel is the Hotel Excelsior Ernst. Built in 1963, it has had guests from every state head to any important VIP to visit Cologne. The rooms are magnificent and ornate, complete with rich fabrics like heavy silk and velvet. The hotel is still luxurious today, complete with all modern luxuries like flat screen satellite TV’s, spa, and every major city newspaper delivered to your door in the morning. The best part? The amazing French restaurant Hanse Stube that will leave you amazed. In case the hotel gets you in mood for old-world style, you can relax after dinner at the old-fashioned piano bar, complete with mahogany panels.


In addition to the two hotel restaurants mentioned above, we found a couple more places worth the trip:

La Societe is a small unassuming restaurant with a hefty price tag but the most creative cuisine we have ever experienced. The chef’s surprise menu is definitely worth it - highlights include a passion fruit gelee with a vodka martini foam (woah!) and a very generous cheese plate with samples from almost every region in France.

3 Fritz is a small café in the center of town that makes a mean currywurst with prosecco. Just in case you wanted your bratwurst with a side of sophistication.

don’t miss

You can’t visit any town in Germany and not have a beer, and Cologne is no different. The local beer Koelsch, is a light and fruity ale served in small skinny glasses and has a respect from locals similar to a fine wine. Get your fill of this tasty beer in the historic pub Frueh or in the more young and hip Scheinbar. Be sure to notice the Kobes, the waiters dressed in blue that serve up this local drink.

If listening to the latest tunes is more up your alley, be sure to stop by Paeff, the sister bar to Paffgen. Wear your earplugs, its loud in there.

For all the chocolate lovers out there, be sure to make a stop at the famous Chocolate Museum. You can easily forget about the Dom when you taste some of this delicious chocolate from a continuous sprouting fountain of chocolate goodness. We felt like Charlie in Wonkaland.

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