A few days ago, we went for a day trip to nearby Cologne.
I had already been a few times to Cologne, privately as for business, visiting world-known heritage as well as the renowned Carnaval. To be honest, I had never really liked the city that I had visited on brief accounts.
Maybe it was due to the rushed through business meetings between trains or planes, or maybe it was due to the cultural marathon rushing through tourist-crammed areas. Maybe just both.
In any case, I decided to give the city another chance.
And as you might guess - or else I wouldn't be bothering to write this, right? - I am so glad I did!
Determined to make it work this time, I stayed oblivious to the crowds in the Cologne Dome / Hauptbahnof area and made my way towards the Ehren-street.
It was a beautiful spring morning and Baby Lifestylette and I were in a great mood, looking forward to our first coffee of the day and so happy to get to spend a day together again! It has indeed been rare or actually never occurred since she has started Childcare.
So we made our way through the Breitestrasse which then transformed into the Ehrenstrasse and quite thankfully, the further away from the Cologne Dome (and its tourist-filled streets) we were, the nicer the streets, boutiques and flair.
Pretty soon, beautiful streets with 1900 so called "Altbau" buildings were leading us to a neighbourhood we yet had to discover: the Belgian Quarter. LFSTYLT husband had told me that this was the place he used to "hang out" in "back in the days" and I was eager to discover.
I do think though that this quarter has been going through some gentrification since then as I walked by beautifully kept buildings, shops I was dying to enter, cute cafes and flower shops, etc.
Also, judging by the number of prams as well as the very lively playground behind the Neo-romanesque Saint Michael's church, I think that this quarter, even still full of the alternative flair I particularly appreciate, has definitely moved on since LFSTYLT husband's wild night out days ;)
In any case, we had arrived via the Maastrichter Strasse at the heart of the neighbourhood.
As we decided to first get a coffee, we found, just by luck, a cute little café on one of the sides of Saint Michael's street.
As we entered the shabby chic styled Miss Päpki, our coffee turned out to be more of a second breakfast, as we couldn't resist ordering a bread basket, intrigued what the selection of "sweet spreads" would be.
It turns out that we were brought six little variations of sweet spreads which were all known but one: a coconut spread. To my astonishment (and amusement), Baby Lifestylette went absolutely mad for this one and just couldn't get enough!
After having spent some fun time together tasting our way through the sweet spreads, we went for a walk around the neighbourhood, starting with the Neue Maastrichter Strasse, and very slowly going through every piece of street art there was to see as Baby Lifestylette seemed to be very much into that ;)
At some point, exhaustion could be felt in those little legs and so we moved on from street art to shops for myself - there are so many shops in the Belgian Quarter with unique elements; for home and interiors, clothing and accessories - all trendy and exactly my taste.
I could have shopped everything had it not been for Baby Lifestylette needing lunch at some point.
We started looking more into the cafés of the area until our attention was drawn to a hidden interior court, thanks to the huge DIY pallet blackboard.
It turns out that this was a market / food court the closer we went in.
We first had a look around - you are immediately greeted by a beautiful florist and when entering, a Barista on the first floor gave us a welcoming smile. We continued opening our appetite looking at the bakery, cheese and meat specialties before heading down - I am getting hungry again just writing these words and thinking of all the delicatessen we saw!
The lower area is mainly made of the Garten Eden restaurant with a large seating area and an open market kitchen.
We decided to settle down here for lunch and ordered before settling down at one of the huge tables.
We shared a (huge!) delicious piece of quiche - I am so happy that portions of food are so generous in Germany as Baby Lifestylette then can always share with me anything I have.
She has developed into quite the little social eater and it makes things easier for me if I can just share whatever I am eating with her.
We loved the trendy "alternative x industrial"-style atmosphere of the market which reflected pretty well the atmosphere of the entire neighbourhood.
Strengthened by our lunch, we decided to have a walk on the other side of the quarter which we hadn't seen yet. The sun had by now been shining for so long that the weather was more like summer than spring.
We went through the streets, named after Belgian cities for the most part and somehow arrived into a very lively street: Aachener Strasse.
It seemed like everyone was still (or only now) having their lunch break. The atmosphere was grand - everybody was outside, terraces were packed with people (all super cool looking: I like!) - had I not been pregnant I would have stopped for a glass of wine at a sunny terrace.
But by now, Baby Lifestylette was having her afternoon nap so I just decided on people watching as well as taking note of the cafés I would go back to! Actually there was an ice-cream parlour which looked excellent and judging by the long queue, it was probably renowned. I decided to come back after Baby Lifestylette's nap.
I continued my walk through the Brüsseler Street and the little side streets crossing it and saw other cute shops with gift ideas, childrens' toys, other cafés and then an extraordinary florist.
I vowed that if I ever lived in Cologne, I would come here every week for my flowers.
The neighbourhood was peaceful and some children voices playing attracted me to a playground where I hoped we could play as soon as Baby Lifestylette was awake.
But that somehow wasn't about to happen any time soon. Strange how she sleeps for so long when we travel but at home just the minimum when we wouldn't mind a nap as well ;)
So I went further in some streets that I hadn't yet seen and even caught a glimpse of the dome far away (keeping its touristy crowd away from here).
Eventually LFSTYLT husband joined us after his business meetings and Baby Lifestylette woke up so that we could finally go and have an ice-cream at Schmitz Eis. I had Chocolate and Cassis and it was absolutely delicious - would definitely recommend!
And somehow, just like that, the day had passed and I was enchanted by my new view on Cologne!
I had finally changed my mind and actually decided I quite liked Cologne - when avoiding the touristy part!
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