Monday, June 13, 2016

Cologne (Germany) Travel Diaries: Another One of Those Evenings

So you probably would wonder what people travelling for work would do after office hours? Nothing much special really if you are to ask me.

Cologne Main Train Station, Hauptbahnhof.

A lot of people would think that travelling for work is some sort of job PERK. Well, not really. In most cases, you do not really get to see much of the place you are visiting, because you are, what else, working, stuck in the office having meetings or glued to your laptop. If travelling with some company and for certain business reasons, some evenings would be spent having dinners with colleagues and customers. Now that is fun, especially if you are in a really nice place. This reminds me of my winter Caribbean trips many years ago with a company that spent lavishly on yearly kick-off events.

However my travels in Cologne, Germany are not like this at all. My travels here are usually spent on my own, and alone. Nothing really exciting. There was one evening that I missed home (the Dutchman) so bad, I wanted to just hop on the last train back to Utrecht, Netherlands. These days however, I rarely stay overnight. I usually just take day trips with the ICE train. I take the early morning train to Cologne and the train after office hours back to Utrecht. It is much better this way.

When I am travelling for work as well, I have less appetite to enjoy a full course dinner. In this particular work trip last year I was craving for a vegetable dish, and nothing else. So I went searching for a Chinese restaurant that does not look like a fast food joint. I didn’t want to walk far away from my hotel as well, so I stuck to searching for a Chinese restaurant near the Hauptbahnhof.

Just on the corner of the Cologne Cathedral and train station, I spotted a Chinese restaurant – the Peking Restaurant. I went upstairs and was welcomed by a rather empty in red ambiance dining hall. I saw 2 Chinese single ladies having dinner, on separate tables and I take it that they were tourists. There was a group of middle aged Dutch guys working in the logistics sector (I overheard, haha) and a couple dining at the other side of the restaurant.

I ordered the stir fried vegetable noodle dish and I was a bit disappointed with the lack of imagination in its presentation, as well as the shortage of vegetables. There were more tauge than I have expected though, which luckily I like. I like its crunchiness. The only redeeming factor of this dish is that it tasted good, but I have to say that it was rather oily.

Fact: The restaurant scene in Germany is more affordable than in the Netherlands, so you can easily eat a meal under 15 Euros in a normal restaurant in Germany. Be prepared however to bring cash because many restaurants do not accept credit cards in Germany.

After dinner I went back to my hotel for an early night, spending the last hour or two surfing the net and doing a bit of work. Boring I know. It may surprise you but many actually do the same thing as what I do after having dinner. That is, they go back early to the hotel room and work. Or maybe surf a bit and watch TV.

Sadly, a drink at the local beer pub does not attract me anymore. I always felt too old for these kinds of happenings. Perhaps, if it was my first time in Cologne and my first night, I would probably hit the pub scene, just out of curiosity. But not when you have visited the city so many times, because trust me, the pub scene would start to look like the snackbar take-away shop just around the corner of where you live.

So yeah, business travels. That’s the reality.

A single room. No lavish 5-star hotels when you are travelling for work.

Lobby of the hotel and the Cologne Cathedral.

I found this Peking Restaurant on the corner of the cathedral. The restaurant could have been mistaken as a hooker's window in Amsterdam's red light district, haha.

Stir-fried vegetable noodles with sadly very few vegetables in it. I rate this low in presentation but high in taste.

At the entrance door of the restaurant. Some sort of Chinese money shrine, or rather, donation box.

Hauptbahnhof and the Dom Cathedral.

My breakfast the next morning. This small hotel had one of the best gourmet-style buffet breakfasts I have ever seen.

Travel Period: September 2015
Destination: Cologne (North Rhine Westphalia), Germany

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