So Silvester in Köln (Cologne) was a lot of fun. we booked the whole thing a day before we left. When we went into the travel agency and asked to go somewhere warm, they almost laughed us right out of the store. So we got one of the last little packages to Köln instead. Not warm by any means but still fun and a good getting away.

We stayed at the Jolly Hotel in the Media Park. It is an italian hotel chain and it was interesting. Almost all the staff was Italian and I think they were the interns and trainees. All the super professional hotel staff may have been on vacation somewhere. I don’t really know much about Italian culture but the impression I got from my Italian hosts was that it might be very… laid back. Prego!

On new year’s eve we ate a huge 5 course meal at the hotel. It was very good. M and I were the youngest people there by far. So we didn’t stick around for the glass of sekt or the big surprise, which was…duh…fireworks. We tried to get to the bridge that overlooks Köln that stretches between the Dom (Cathedral) and The Köln Messe (Convention Center). We didn’t get there in time because it was so crowded and it was probably too dangerous. There were fireworks everywhere, flying everywhere, exploding everywhere. Lots of people shooting pistols into the air. lots of out of control roman candles and other projectiles. At the entrance to the bridge there was a huge square filled with people all trying to blow each other up. So we got stuck here and enjoyed the show. It was a lot of fun. Some pictures courtesy of

After that we went to an Irish pub and then another and then another. There are 9 Irish pubs in Köln and we visited them all during our trip. The type of beer brewed in the Köln area is known as “Kölsch”. I’m not sure what makes it different from say, a Pils, but it is very good. We also had lots of good food. Italian, Spanish, Thai. At the tai restaurant we ordered an appetizer and before it came, the waiter brought us little plates with sauces and another dish with some colorful looking fruit sauce. M and I both had no clue what it was. It looked kind of gelatinous with tiny chunks of fruit in it. Hmm. I looked around to see if anybody else had any. Nope. So I put my finger in it and dabbed a little sauce on and licked it. Ahhhh! It was Sterno Fuel! As soon as I tasted it I knew. I wanted to spit it out immediately but I didn’t have to make a discreet little spit into a napkin. I wanted to totally yack and wash my mouth out so I excused myself to the toilet. It tasted so bad. After I got back from the toilet the waiter came to the table and lit the pink sauce and it promptly became a huge towering inferno of appetizer-warming flame. I felt slightly embarrassed to say the least. I’ve had Thai foods a million times and I’ve never had to warm my appetizer. Maybe it was Köln thing. They were actually already warm so I just ignored the flame. Thanks for the warning waiter-guy.

Overall Köln is cool. It has a big multi-kulti population and it has lots to do. It was pretty damn cold when we were there. It is probably better in the summer. It is definitely more expensive than Hamburg. The beer was too small and overpriced. Other than that I highly recommend it to the Griswalds on their next European vacation.