Published: December 12th 2006December 12th 2006
Driving to Cologne for Christmas Markets A New Car…but not so great
We woke up and had the breakfast buffet in our hotel. Turns out that German breakfast will take a little getting used to for both Kel and me. I stuck to toast and OJ but Kel ventured into the cold meats and cheeses. It wasn’t wonderful, but it wasn’t horrible either.
From breakfast we walked to the rental car agency which was about a 3 mile walk. Thankfully the weather here today was only partly cloudy which means our walk was just cold, not cold and wet. After arriving we had to spend some time at the Avis place because our rental was longer term and through another company. My hopes for the VW Passat I had been promised we dashed when they found out we were going to Austria. In order to drive in Austria, we needed a car with snow tires. The only car they had with snow tires was … a brand spanking new Ford Focus station wagon. Awesome!! I guess the car Karma gods have struck and decided that the BMW we had earlier was too cool. Ugghhh!
The good thing about the car, it’s big enough to easily fit our stuff and who’s gonna steal a Focus. So while I look for parking in big cities, at least I have less to worry about.
We went back to the hotel in our new “shaggin’ wagon” and got our bags. While I loaded the car, Kel got our GPS system hooked up. For 50 euros we were able to rent a "Tom Tom" GPS unit from Avis and I have to make a quick plug here for this product. We have GPS in our Acura back home and have always thought it was great but this Tom Tom GPS is great. It does a wonderful job of directing, it doesn’t talk too much, and it is very clear and easy to use.
With Tom Tom’s help, and Kel Kel’s of course, we headed out of town and off to Cologne. The 2 hour drive was a breeze. People do drive fast here, which shouldn’t be a surprise to most people because we always hear about the autobahn back home. For a large part of the drive the speed limit was 130 kph (78 mph) but people
were passing me like I was standing still. Yes, the Germans have started putting speed limits on the autobahn due to tragic deaths in high speed accidents, but it appears that the speed limits aren’t enforced all that strictly.
Tom Tom did a superb job in the actual city of Cologne where looking at a map would have been really challenging. We arrived safely and parked the car in the incredibly small garage at the hotel and decided to head off into town before the sunset (about 4:30 here). Christmas Markets
We decided to spend what little sun time we had at the closest Christmas market to our hotel. Funnily enough the market we went to is at Rudolfplatz, about a ten minute walk from the hotel. The market has a castle wall as a backdrop and screams Christmas all over it, even the trash cans have Santa Clauses on top of them holding toy sacks that you throw the trash into.
We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so decided to have some food while we were here. For 16 euros total we each had 2 glasses of Gluhwein and shared potato pancakes, bratwurst, sautéed
mushrooms and a pork type burger. All were incredibly good, especially the Gluhwein which is hot mulled (spiced) wine.
The rest of the market is a series of stalls that sell various Christmas gifts and knick-knacks. Some of the stuff was really cool, like Christmas ornaments and other stuff wasn’t as interesting. Over everything else the most tempting stuff sold is the candy and sugared snacks. Since we had eaten our fill of other foods we didn’t splurge on anything sweet, but I assure you we will.
After the market we went back and rested some prior to dinner. Dinner was simple German food. Kel had soup and salad and I had a huge plate of Schnitzel (which Kel shared with me). Now we are back in our room getting ready for bed.
Hope everyone is great at home!
There are more photos below