There’s a first time for everything: flying in a helicopter, going on your first job interview or taking your mom with you on a press trip. I can now say: been there, done that. When Thalys invited me for a trip to Cologne and said I could bring a partner, I asked mommy if she wanted to come. It’s fun to share my blog adventures and to have her experience first-hand what these kinds of trips are all about. In addition, it was a great excuse for some mother-daughter quality time. And Köln, Cologne or Keulen is the perfect city for just that. With its myriad of shops, plenty of coffee spots and cool squares filled with hip people, Köln is as far away of the image I had of a typical German city. The Lederhosen are being traded in for skinny jeans, pints of lager for coffee-art macchiato’s and the schlager music for indie improv bands performing on street corners.
Le Bloc is the festival to be seen at.”
With its familiar sounding street names (think Brüsseler Straße and Antwerpener Straße), the Belgische Viertel or Flemish quarter feels like home. Home to the hip and happening. During our visit, the anual fashion and design festival Le Bloc took place, and turned the streets of the Belgische Viertel into one big fashionable party. People were singing, little kids were dancing and everybody was having a good time. The shops in this part of town kept their doors open until midnight, and there were plenty of spots to spend your money at. For a list of hip stores, check the Le Bloc website here.
The rest of our trip included a visit to the Ludwig Museum where we received an elaborate explanation on the works of Saul Steinberg (read more about the current exposition The Americans here), a tasty lunch at the museum café and –of course– some shopping. None of us were really in the mood for die-hard shopping as it was one hot and sunny day, but I did wanted to make one stop: Gina Tricot, a store of which I’ve heard before through several blogs, but never actually got to visit. Turns out Gina stocks a lot of young and fresh styles for low prices (similar to the H&M Divided department), but I kept myself in check and only bought a t-shirt.
The mommy and I shared a nifty little suit in the Hopper Hotel. This former monastery turned design hotel features one hell of a scary monk at the entrance – which I of course had to pose next to. The room was simple but clean and cozy, and the beds were comfy. With a substantial amount of miles in our feet and a fully stocked mini bar, mommy and me decided not to explore the Kölner nightlife, but instead we stayed in for a good night sleep. I like to think that the best thing about sleeping in hotels is the breakfast in the morning. And apparently, I got that from my momma. That’s why we decided to skip the early morning tour around the city and indulge in a decadent breakfast instead. After a last coffee on the square with views of the Dom, it was time to hop on the train back to Belgiumville.
Ah, le Thalys! Probably known best for its journeys to Paris, but this high-speed train also brings you to Cologne in no time. I love traveling with Thalys because their cars are so fun to travel with. Comfy and roomy chairs, yummy meals, not-so-miniature wine bottles, free WiFi (when traveling first class) and an electrical outlet next to every chair. This is the epitome of traveling in style.