Köln is a great city. It's certainly larger than I expected (around a million residents) and dominated by the famous Dom (cathedral), which is home to some beautiful mosaics. The Roman influence is really strong here and makes me slightly ashamed to be so ignorant of the Roman civilisaton in favour of Greek and Assyrian ones. It was recognised as a Roman city in 50 BC by the name 'Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium' and due to its important location on the Rhine became a major city. One of the highlights is the Germanische-Romanische museum, which has been built over the intact excavated mosaic of a former Roman villa next to the Dom.
One of the many maosiacs in the Dom.
Children's agricultural toys, or very serious Roman make-up removal?
As for the modern city, it's attractive has a real mix of student and regional identity. It seems to have a slightly effete image amongst other Germans; partly as it is the Brighton of Germany with a large and open gay community, but also because the local beer Kölsch is served in diminutive skinny 20 cl glasses, a far cry from hearty Bavarian tankards. The locals have a phrase for the more flamboyuant gay residents of town, 'warm', which became a bit of a running joke whilst we were there - spotting warmth in the most unexpected places, especially sculpture. Nadine was our host, a fantastic girl to go out with, and also a former guest of mine through HC (if you are interested in this Hospitality Club malarkey, check the link on the top right).
Our host Nadine, her boyfriend Stephan, Iain, Toby and me
A rather 'warm' knight in armour