by Leander Milbrecht
Berlin – who?, people would ask as Cologne was the most popluar destination for gay tourists in the 1990s. The hype about Berlin has certainly shifted the focus, but Cologne still does not only hold the famous carnival, but also Germany’s biggest Pride parade. The whole city takes part in both major events – and all celebrate together. But “Kölle” (as the locals call their home town) has even more in store for gays. Hot parties like the MALE Party, the SEXY Party or GREENCOM attract a lot of people.
Cologne’s best feature apart from its tourist attractions is the people who live there. If you are used to how people behave and act in Berlin, you just want to hug everyone and thank them for their friendly smiles there.
SPARTACUS has visited the largest city on the Rhine – and we will show you how to enjoy Cologne best.
We had checked into the LINDNER Hotel City Plaza. Each of its 6 floors was designed to a specific theme by street artist SeiLeise during the latest renovation. Cologne themes are presented here, as are tourist magnets and everything Cologne is known for. The cathedral, the carnival and – how does Cologne actually smell? – the Eau de Cologne 4711! LINDNER Hotel offers an internal city tour through the Rhine metropolis, which tourists can enjoy even when it’s raining!
After getting up, an opulent breakfast buffet with delicious coffee awaits you. Also suitable as a hangover breakfast, if you spent to much time in the gay scene the night before! Stop in front of the cook’s stove and be amazed how he conjures up all the egg creations.
Freshen up a bit in your hotel room and off you go on your discovery tour! Fortunately everything is within walking distance. Cologne is a compact city and the LINDNER Hotel City Plaza is located directly in the city centre.
It is an absolute must for every tourist in Cologne: see the cathedral at least once! Fortunately, it is centrally located in the direct neighbourhood to the main station so there is always time for a visit – even on a short trip. For those who always wanted to climb a steep and never ending spiral staircase in goose march, the ascent is highly recommended! The view over Cologne makes up for the oppressive feeling that one is trapped in a time loop and has to climb stairs until the end of the world. Steps, steps, steps – and then some more steps! Uff.
Hohe Straße is regarded as THE shopping street in Cologne. Every shop you can think of can be found here. Shop properly, buy souvenirs, chase bargains! The eternally hungry might find a few possibilities for a snack – all others treat themselves to a cigarette and the second coffee of the day.
The fragrance house of 4711 is located in Glockengasse 4. Wait a minute, haven’t we been here before? In the LINDNER Hotel you can walk through the historical Cologne to the home of “Echt Kölnisch Wasser”. The Dufthaus in Glockengasse 4 features an exhibition room that tells you interesting facts about the history of Cologne’s most famous perfume. Kölnisch Wasser was launched in 1799; the bottle, which is still in use today and widely known, established itself in the 1820s.
Under professional guidance you will learn the basics of the perfumery trade – and you will be allowed to mix your own personal perfume! The public fragrance seminar takes place on Thursdays from 15.00 to 16.30 in German. In addition, there are also fragrance seminars for groups of 10 to a maximum of 30 people. They are held in German, English and French.
In the Belgian Quarter you will find enchanting little boutiques as well as many delicacies. Here you should definitely eat ice cream! Our hot-cold tip: Salon Schmitz in Aachener Straße!
If it’s raining all the time or if you don’t feel like strolling any further, we recommend a visit to the famous Chocolate Museum. It offers a biiiggg chocolate fountain that even Willy Wonka would be envious about.
Gay and trendy is the area around the underground station Rudolfplatz! The traditional gay café Era in the Kettengasse greets you with small delicacies and good coffee. The gay shop BRUNOS is not far from Era. Here you will find everything your heart desires – and not just your heart!
Whose stomach is growling? Time for dinner in Päffgen! The Päffgen house brewery is the last of its kind – it is the only one of the more than hundred house breweries to have made the leap into the new millennium. Kölsch is brewed in the brewhouse itself and freshly tapped at the front! It tastes even better with a cutlet as thick as a fist.
Waiters are called “Köbes”, which is the Cologne form of the name “Jakob”. The Köbes can be found in breweries in Cologne, Bonn, Düsseldorf or Krefeld. He traditionally wears a blue linen apron. The rough kind of the “Köbesse” is also a tradition – you should accept that and smile about it. And if you don’t want any more Kölsch, you should definitely put your beer mat on the glass!
Are you still with us? Then we’re really off! Pleasantly inspired by one or two glasses Kölsch too many, we now sway to the Bermuda Dreieck which is located between Schaafenstraße and Mauritiuswall. Here you will find an impressive density of trendy gay pubs at almost 200 metres. Especially many pretty boys can be seen in EXIL. In Excorner, you are allowed to smash along with Schlager hits and hold your previously unknown neighbour firmly in your arms. The Bar Schampanja is regarded as the “Mutti” (Mom) of the Bermuda Triangle. The owners are proud that the bar hasn’t been closed one day in 30 years.
If you still need something afterwards, you can move on – even without a big gay party this evening, many guests do not yet go home. The legendary Phoenix gay sauna doesn’t wait far from the Bermuda Triangle for you to drop the towel! On weekends it is open 24 hours a day.
A little further away the quarter around the Heumarkt offers some cruisingbars. For example the bar with the sonorous name “Pullermanns”!
The day is about to end, our hotel bed is calling! Those who are still perky should enjoy the sunrise on the Rhine in the morning. So peaceful! We notice three things – First: We are tired. Second: Even on a normal weekend Cologne is really worth a trip! And third: “Kölle, do bes en Stadt met Hätz un Siel!” (“Cologne, you are a city with a heart and a soul”)