Travel: Cologne Germany (Part 2)

The River Rhine – The longest river within Germany and most travelled waterways in the world.

In part one of my Cologne travel blog, I talked about my private walking tour and the history surrounding some of the most significant places in the city. In this second part, I will cover my visit to the Cologne Chocolate Museum and Wallraf-Richartz Museum. 

Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum

Entrance to Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum (Jan 2020)

After my tour ended, I took a walk along the riverbank towards the Cologne Chocolate Museum, known as the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum.  This chocolate museum was opened in 1993 and is ranked as one of the top 10 museums in Germany. Hans Imhoff opened his first chocolate facotry shortly after World War II.  Imhoff later went on to take over the Hilderbran chocolate company, which is one of the oldest chocolate manufacturers in Germany. He later went on to take over Stollwerck chocolate company as well. 

Image of chocolate packaging

The museum, like other monuments to chocolate, has a host of attractions that both educates and entertains the casual visitor.

You can learn about how cocoa is grown and processed into chocolate and witness the various stages of turning chocolate into delicious treats.

Chocolate Fountain

The Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum has a 3-meter-high chocolate fountain where you can sample chocolate-dipped wafers.

Visitors can also take a look at the evolution of chocolate manufactory from what it was before the war to what it has become today.

Tress from the Tropics inside the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum greenhouse

There is also a small tropical greenhouse where visitors can enter and look at various tropical plants, but more specifically, the cocoa tree.

Greenhouse inside Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum

The last part of the museum is sure to be everyone’s favorite; it’s the chocolate shop that sells several products along with my favorite the Lindt & Sprüngli Lindor chocolate truffles. By the way, my favorite product is the Lindor coconut flavor truffles.

Living in Cologne

While walking back from the chocolate factory, I reminisced on a few facts about the city explained to me by my tour guide. I don’t know if it’s just me or if other people tend to visit places then start seeing themselves in these places. During my trip to Buenos Aires, I see myself living there and wondered what it would be like. I found that the same thing happened in Cologne, so I had to find out about the cost of living. I discovered that Cologne has a high cost of living, but real estate was relatively lower compared to Frankfurt. I also discovered that the average income for a single-family home is about 2,500 Euros per month.

Another fact that was interesting to learn was about the housing issue. Of course, just like New York City or Silicon Valley, in order to live in the most updated household, you must pay a pretty penny.  My tour guide told me that based on the history of Cologne, especially after World War II, many of the homes and buildings that still stood after the bombing were preserved for historical value. The ones that were built by the women and children after the war by law had to be maintained in the orginal state if possible. This means that there are a large number of older dwellings that cannot be upgraded because of the historical status placed on them. According to my tour guide and after doing my own research, I discovered that Cologne, Berlin, and Munich all struggle with providing enough housing for the number of people who live in these cities. I could say when compared to London, Dubai, New York, or San Francisco. The cost of living is not as expensive, but the homes and apartments aren’t as lavish. Couple this with the rising cost of rent with an average monthly income for a single-family being only about 2,500 Euros this situation leaves very little to desire. 

My Lodging  

I stayed at the TRYP by Wyndham near Koeln City Centre; let me start by saying that this hotel was not the best in the area, but at short notice and not knowing much about Cologne, it wasn’t bad. With all honesty, I can say the room I stayed in seemed very aged from its muted red carpet color to the hardware in the bathroom. To me the hotel looked like reached its prime in the 1990s. For me, it was just a place to rest my head. A plus about the hotel was the buffet; their breakfast spread varied, so even vegans could find something to sustain them. The TRYP Hotel provided the core things I needed, which was a place to sleep, free wifi access, prime location, and a decent breakfast. Would I recommend this hotel? Yes, I absolutely would if you are looking for the same amentities and nothing more.

Wallraf-Richartz Museum

The Wallraf-Richartz Museum is one of three major museums in Cologne and has various collections such as Renaissance, Impressionist, Gothic, and Baroque collection. One interesting fact about this museum is that it was informally established in 1824 with a small collection of medieval art from Franz Ferdinand Wallraf. Then in 1861, the museum was officially opened to the public.

In almost every city I have visit, I’ve often made a conscious effort to visit art galleries and museums. While I was in Cologne, I visited the Wallraf-Richartz Museum and was lucky enough to see the Rembrandt exhibition. Some might ask why use the word “lucky”. 

As a former art nerd I remember learning about Rembrandt and his many contributions to the art world. What’s even more interesting about my years of art classes is the fact that for most of my childhood I couldn’t see myself going into any other career field that didn’t have something to do with creativity whether that was being a painter, photographer, graphic artist, or fashion designer; I wanted to be an artist in some shape or form, but that didn’t happen in the end. In fostering such a passion and longing for art in my teenage years, I idolized people like Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Klimt, Dali, Frida, Warhol, Matisse, Seurat, Manet, Goya, and Kandinsky just to name a few. Some would even find it unbelievable that I was actually very good at drawing and painting. Those days have long gone, so now I resign myself to being an art voyeur never presuing my own work, but always carefully observing the classics. While in Cologne, I felt extremely lucky to be able to feast on the work of countless artists who were often the center of conversation in many of my art classes. To see some of Rembrandt’s work in person was priceless to me!

Cologne is noted as being the fourth most populous city in Germany, but when walking the streets, I didn’t feel like I was in a big city. There was a casual, yet intimate feeling void of pretentiousness with a focused dedication to the past while advancing into the future.

One thing I can say about staying in an area close to the cathedral is the fact that a good bit of the highlights of the city was accessible by walking, riding a bike, or using E-scooters, which were everywhere. I would dare say that this part of the city is on a human scale.  There were no obstacles standing in the way of my mobility, as I found many aspects of the city to be both welcoming and amusing.  Overall getting around was efficient and effortless even when the help of Google Maps was required.