Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Notes on Cologne

Hauptbahnhof - Cologne
Cologne Central Station – Köln Hauptbahnhof

When visiting a city or town for the first time, I typically ask someone who lives or has been there for recommendations. For Cologne, I asked my friend A.’s dad who lived there as a boy and goes back often, and he said, the Cathedral, the Rhine, the Carnival, and drink Kölsch.

It’s a pretty short list for exploring a whole city, but fitting when you are on a day trip, sadly we were too early for the carnival.
The gothic cathedral towers the city and the Rhine River runs through it.
Cologne’s architecture is a reflection of its war torn past with restored medieval buildings mixed in with stark structures, and remarkable historic and ultra modern buildings.

Directions for exploring Cologne

Cologne is a compact and walkable city; I enjoyed my day exploring the Old Town and shopping on Hohe Straße, the chocolate museum and crossing the Rhine on bridges with amazing views of the city.

We took breaks in between and drank Kölsch with lunch, of course; did a quick run through the Ludwig Museum, perused a German bookstore and had some quiet time in the cathedral.
The day ended with more strolls in along the Rhine in the Rheinauhafen district (of the Crane Towers), and of course more Kölsch.

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Shopping on Hohe Straße in Old Town Cologne

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1)The Chocolate museum, 2)Pretzels, 3)Fifty Shades of Grey in German 4)Candy from Pandora

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Cologne architecture and a narrow cobblestone street

Inside the Cologne Cathedral

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1)Chocolate Museum 2)Trankgasse 3)Kölner Dom 4)Outside the Dom


Airplane Food and Layovers


I sort of love layovers; I love that in-between moment in some strange city when life feels transient and the real world feels… well, worlds away.

Long layovers are preferable… I remember when I was a kid; once, my mom, my brother J and I were flying home when our plane made an unscheduled stop due to engine problems. We stayed overnight in an unfamiliar city, checked into a hotel, ordered room service and watched tv in bed. The next morning, we had ice cream with breakfast and my mom took us on a taxi ride into the city before our flight.

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I stayed overnight in London a few months back when I was flying home from Paris, it felt surreal being in London on a layover – to be so alluringly close to the city, family and friends… it felt like I was never quite there.

It was dark and tiring by the time our shuttle deposited us to our hotel, luckily I’d packed my ‘airplane food’ like I promised that I would, which I didn’t get to eat it on the plane because the flight was so short.

The food I’d gathered in my lunchbox was from some of favourite places in Paris – plums and grapes from the Bastille market, croissants from Café Pouchkine, macarons from Gérard Mulot, nuts from the Pistacherie in Le Marais and leftover chocolate from Naturalia


That night, at the airport hotel that wasn’t quite by the airport, I wore their plush bathrobe, ate my packed lunch in bed for dinner and watched an episode of the new season of Downton Abbey.

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And the next morning, with barely any time to spare, we made a little shopping trip, before our long flight home.


Geneva for a Day


There’s this story in my family about how my dad for whatever reason turned down a posting to Geneva.
The next post he accepted was to Freetown, to which my mom said, “It’s not Geneva, but it will do”

For my mom and to some extent us, Geneva in hindsight, became ‘the place that got away’, a place where our happier lives could have played out – an alternate world where we would have lived happily-ever-after, a family.

The year we moved here, Vancouver tied with Geneva for the most livable city in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey, and I was certain it meant something; that perhaps this was my ‘Geneva’ after all.

These were the things I thought about on the train ride to my first visit to Geneva; thankfully, those thoughts were fleeting and I was able to take in Geneva for the uniquely multinational city it is.

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Geneva reminded me a little of Vancouver; picturesque, clean, surrounded by water and snow-capped mountains, cosmopolitan and laid back.
Geneva is home to the UN, the Red Cross and numerous international organizations, and a major global financial hub.

So what do you do in Geneva for a day?
It’s a compact city; still a day isn’t nearly enough, but sufficient to explore and get a sense of this charming elegant city.

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Our day started off with breakfast in the cobble-stoned Old Town Geneva, then a stroll along the lake, Jardin Anglais, the flowery lakeside garden and a break at the flower clock at the Promenade du Lac.

After another break to admire the Jet d’eau, we continued along the banks of Lake Léman (Lake Geneva) for as far as our travel-weary feet could take us.

We hopped on a bus for the grand tour of the international part of the city, and tried to capture as many shots as we could as we whizzed past the various UN agencies and other international health, peace, religious, human-rights etc. organizations.

We had lunch at Parc Bastions by the Reformation Wall, and a brief stopover at MAMCO (Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain) or as I like to call it Geneva MoMA.

Our day ended with drinks at the chic Glow bar at the Hotel President Wilson with some new friends, and a mad dash to catch our train at Gare de Cornavin.

More Pictures…

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IMG_5245 280/365 Broken Chair on the Place des Nations #mostly365




Other European Day Trips

Charting Courses

Going places… figuring out how to get there… is half the fun. Welcome to my plans to get away…

49° North

Strait of Georgia

Thu 20 May - 4

Bowen Island


Resting Weekend

I didn’t do much this weekend, the Lower Mainland got its much needed rain and no one complained this time.
I felt it was a good opportunity to unwind, get pampered and catch up on sleep.
I spent the afternoon chasing after these little rascals.
I just remembered that I never followed up with actual pictures from my little trip to Seattle back in May…

High Up


Looking Down Space Needle

Seattle Walking


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