Viking River Cruise: Cologne, Germany

The next port of our trip was Cologne, Germany.  We were still cruising as we approached that morning, and the city was unmistakable with its cathedral stretching high above the rest of the city.  (Of course I was perched on the top deck to watch us arrive!) 
Once again - what a view from our room's balcony!

It was sort of funny...the evening before in our port talk, the cruise director had explained that unfortunately, we would have to dock on the bank opposite the cathedral and old part of the city.  Unfortunately?!?  Once we were there and saw that we would get to walk across a short bridge, lined with love locks to arrive at the cathedral's base, I wondered why anyone would not want to dock on that side!  It also meant we got the absolute best views of the city from across the river.  It was definitely a win as far as I was concerned!
The cruise director had joked that it would take a man 15 minutes to cross the bridge, but it would take women 1+ hours - because of all the love locks.  She wasn't joking (although I think Bryn spent more time looking at the locks than I did, haha!)  On one side of the bridge, (you could walk on either side of the train tracks that ran down the middle) both rails were 3-deep in locks!  It was pretty amazing.  The other side of the bridge still had tons of locks, but there was plenty of room to add your own if you wished.
Unfortunately, (this is a real unfortunately) we had bad luck and were in Cologne on a holiday - the feast of Corpus Christi, a religious holiday.  It made it pretty impossible to get inside the cathedral due to the special services that were happening all day (you can check the available times to visit each day on their website).  Also, it meant that many (but not all) of the shops were closed.  There were loads of children dressed up for the celebration, for which they had a huge service outside of the cathedral.
One of many groups of young people dressed up for the holiday.  They all wore costumes similar to these.
We did our sightseeing thing for the majority of the morning, but made our way back across the bridge to the ship for lunch.  After lunch, Bryn and I decided to head back out to wander some more.  Luckily we packed our rain coats because we definitely got caught in an afternoon summer storm!  We took shelter in a little shopping area where we were able to find our mandatory fridge magnet, and where we also picked up some tiny bottles of the original eau de Cologne, 4711 (which has a very interesting smell...) as well as some special addition scents which are quite nice!  I've decided that from now on, I will always buy a new perfume on a trip.  That way, whenever I wear it I will be reminded of the holiday!
Like so many of the places we stopped Cologne had park areas like this one.  Parents could have their beer while they watched their kids play!
Once the rain had let up enough, we strolled back across the bridge to grab a pick-me-up coffee and clean up before our evening plans.

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