From Netherlands, our tour bus drove us to Germany. Cologne was our destination this time.

Cologne, a 2000 year old city , located on the banks of the river Rhine in Western Germany; is known for its medieval architectural buildings….particularly its churches. The Cologne Cathedral and the Twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne located here are some of the most visited pilgrimage destinations in Europe. And ofcourse, the city is known for Eau de Cologne which was produced here since 1709.

A little bit into the past….

It was a city in the Holy Roman Empire and one of the major European cities in Medieval and Renaissance period. It was occupied by the French and the British at various periods in history prior to World War II. After getting heavily bombed in World War II, it was rebuilt.. restoring major historic landmarks like city gates and churches. This explains the Romanesque churches seen here.

Some of the important places we visited in Cologne were…

Cologne Cathedral

This is the most famous landmark in Cologne. It is a twin spired Gothic church and houses the Shrine of the Three Kings. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.

The black colour is due to the reaction of the sandstone with rain which makes it distinctly black.

Imposing twin spires of Cologne Cathedral

The intricately decorated outsides of the cathedral

The imposing roof

The beautiful glass murals in the cathedral

The Twelve Romanesque churches:

These are the cultural highlights of the city. Built between the 12th and 13th centuries, they are outstanding examples of medieval church architecture and art. Most of them were badly damaged in WW II and were restored later.

The Roman architecture in all these structures is outstanding. Some of the more famous ones are St Maria im Kapitol, Great St Martin and St Gereon. Some pictures….

St Maria im Kapitol

Great St Martin

The Cologne city hall

Founded in the 12th century, this is the oldest city hall still in use in Germany. It houses the city council and offices of the Mayor.

City Hall Cologne


Several bridges cross the Rhine in Cologne and the most dominant of these is the Hohenzollern bridge with its iron arches.

Hohenzollern bridge

Cologne Cable car:

Another unique river crossing is provided by the Cologne cable car which runs across the river Rhine!!

The Cologne cable car

Eau de Cologne:

Meaning “Water of Cologne”this perfume has an interesting history about which most of us are unaware as we dab it on and get about our work!!

Produced in the 18th century, it became increasingly popular and was exported all over Europe by the Farina family. After the entry of someone from the Mulhens family into the business, there were court battles over the name and finally he called the perfume by his house number 4711. Eau de Cologne is still produced in Cologne today by both the Farina family (eighth generation) and by Maurer and Wirtz who bought the 4711 brand!

After a short fleeting ride along many landmarks of Cologne, we headed to the hotel for the night but looking forward to a cruise on the Rhine next day…

The Rhine

The Rhine is one of the major rivers in Europe. Originating in the Swiss Alps, it defines the Swiss borders with Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany, and also the French German borders before flowing through Rhineland in Germany and finally through Netherlands into the North Sea. It has been a navigable waterway for men and materials right from Roman times.

It flows through Rhineland in Germany where we undertook this Cruise…

Some pictures from the Cruise for you to enjoy…..

Rhine Cruise:

The ferry

On the deck of the ferry

Interior of the ferry

The Boarding station

Just off the boarding station, the beautiful houses on the hillside

Some beautiful country side in Germany

The Vineyards on the slopes

At many places, caravans parked along the Rhine by picnickers

One of the many castles seen on the way

A house partly in the river…supposedly of some wealthy german

A watchtower

The mighty Rhine as it turns sharply

And a train passes a town

After enjoying an hour of this cruise which took us through some beautiful German countryside, we alighted and headed for lunch.

Post lunch we had some interesting things lined up including a visit to The Black Forest region . See you next week among some ancient cuckoo clocks..

Till then, keep your comments flowing like the Rhine….and do subscribe


The capital of Belgium, Brussels is a fascinating place with stunning architecture, history and modernity ,mixed with some fun activities too. Belgian chocolate and Waffles add their bit of sweetness to this city.

A short overview

Brussels has grown over the years from a small rural settlement to an important city in Europe. Since the end of the second World war, it has become a major center for international politics and is home to numerous international organizations, diplomats and civil servants. It being the de facto capital of the European Union, hosts a number of EU organizations. The recent war has put it very much in the news as the headquarters of NATO is located here.

Officially, it is bilingual with Dutch and French being the official languages. English is also widely spoken.

Let me take you to some of the locations that we visited in Brussels .

The Atomium

The Atomium is emblematic of Brussels much like the Eiffel tower is to Paris. Built in 1958 for the World Fair, it symbolizes an iron atom magnified 165 billion times!

It is 100 mt tall. Made of stainless steel , its 9 spheres are connected by tubes. The tubes connecting the spheres enclose stairs and escalators, that allow access to the 6 accessible spheres. The spheres contain exhibition halls and other public places. The central vertical tube has an elevator. The top sphere has a restaurant and offers panoramic views of Brussels.

Some pictures…

The Atomium

One of the spheres

The stairway in the Atomium

At the Atomium

The Grand Place

The Grand Place is the square in the center of the city which is so typical of most European cities. It is a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO since 1998. It measures 68 mt in length and 110 mt in breadth.

Very often it is called the World’s most beautiful square. It is located in the central part of Brussels. The square started here in the 13th century. Initially 3 markets were functioning here. In the 14th century, it was decided to have buildings around. By the end of the 14th century, the dimensions were defined and it was paved with tiles. Most of it was destroyed in 1695 in the Nine year war by the French troops. The buildings surrounding the place were rebuilt subsequently. The 96 mt high tower of the city hall survived the war.

At the center of the Grand Place is the city hall surrounded by the guild halls along the sides of the square. The Gothic and Baroque architecture of these buildings is very striking. The city hall with its impressive tower and the present Brussels city museum are the more striking of the buildings.

Like in most European cities, the square is the main meeting place and a venue for many performances. Every second year, the Grand Place gets a beautiful flower carpet in August that makes it even more beautiful! Christmas and New Year celebrations here attract a lot of locals and tourists.

Some pictures…

The Grand Place

Preparations for the evening fun!

The impressive city hall tower

The Brussels city Museum

A stage being set up for a performance

A file photo of the famous flower carpet at Grand Place

Mannekin Pis( “pissing little boy ” in dutch)

Another land mark close to the Grand Place is the Mannekin Pis; a fountain where there is a bronze figure of a naked little boy urinating into the fountain bowl.

It is supposed to depict folk humour in Belgium!

The Mannekin Pis


I don’t have to tell any of you how delicious Belgian chocolates are! The streets are lined with Chocolate shops of various sizes and one can taste the chocolates and purchase as per one’s wish. The smell from these gourmet shops wafts in the air!

One of the many chocolate shops that line the streets

Waffles….the other delicacy that Belgium is famous for. There are lots of Waffle shops along the streets and we did try out some delicious waffles.

Mouth watering Waffles

After a rather short and crisp visit to Brussels, our tour was on its way to Netherlands.

Before I go, let me leave you with this sweet image of the colourful Waffle girl and her wares!!

The sweet waffle girl!!

See you next week in the Netherlands where we spent a couple of days. Till then, keep your comments flowing in and do subscribe below..

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