Schloß Drachenburg

A few km south of Köln, lies Königswinter, and up a hill, reached by funicular railway, is Schlöß Drachenburg, a castle which is not a castle, a folly, containing fireplaces which are not fireplaces (central heating) and a pipe organ that’s not a pipe organ (tape recorder).

I’ll admit it’s pretty, and has glorious views, but it somehow fails to impress. The grounds are lovely, though small, it should have amazed, but…

It did fill up a couple of hours. It wasn’t exactly rubbish and maybe I’ve been doing it a disservice, but it all just screamed fake at me. Oh well.

Down the hill a little is a Nibelung museum and reptile zoo. It was built to commemorate Wagner’s 100th birthday and shows scenes from the operas, as well as a large carved dragon, and a collection of snakes and other dragons.

A giant carved dragon relaxing by a pool.

Köln 1909

There was another interesting attraction we saw while wandering around and had decided to visit at some point, and now, with some hours to spare, we took the opportunity to do so. It was called “TimeRide”, and was a kind of VR trip into the city’s past.

It started with an introduction and a gallery of scenes from the centre. 3D photos from 1909 (ish) of various places, next to another of the same point of view from 2019, just to see the changes. We did have to remind the guide that we didn’t speak much German, and she repeated much of it for us. If you visit the place, make sure to let them know. (They are perfectly willing, but since most of their visitors are from other parts of Germany, sometimes they forget unless you’re in a big band of English speakers.)

After this, we were led into a small cinema, where we saw a short 20 minute movie about the history of Köln , from Roman Colonia until WW2. There was music, but no speech as such, and descriptive text was in German and English. Quite interesting, and shows how the town grew into the city is is now.

Finally, we boarded a Mk 1 Siemens Electric Tram from circa 1909 they had in the museum, where we all donned headsets, chose our language and got a VR tour of the city centre. There was no commentary as such, the language selection just for the comments made by the “driver”. They were funny but not really important.

If you take this ride, look out for the Easter Eggs, like the Zeppelin floating in the sky to the north.

Köln Cathedral

We finally got around to visiting the cathederal. It was quite literally across the road from the hotel in which we were staying, but like all things so close, we kept on putting it off.

It was worth a visit though. Such a gorgeous building (even if it’s still not finished). There was a lovely sense of peace throughout, excepting one man who let his phone ring, even though told to turn it off.

Even better, Louise didn’t spontaneously combust!

Auf Wiedersehen Köln

And then it was time to come home. We took a delayed ICE train to Bruxelles and after a snack, boarded the Eurostar back home. Not really much to say about that, except it was a pleasant enough journey and we got home about 6pm.

In the end, would we go again? Absolutely! Bruxelles was nice, but noisy. I think we were probably too close to the Grand Place, and there was a festival on. Köln though, was a delight, and we only saw such a small part of it. There are many museums, churches, parks and other beautiful things that a week just wasn’t enough for. I think we will be back in a few years.