The trip to Cologne had several stages as it was entirely by train.
Day 1 (8/6/13)
Industrial area west of London somewhere between Reading and Paddington
At the Eurostar Terminal at London St Pancras - there is a good champagne bar there although it is not cheap at about £10-£15 per glass with some even more.
A Eurostar high speed train
A cool circular staircase in the Eurostar Lounge
Just leaving St Pancras
The Eurostar goes underground almost as soon as it leaves St Pancras and gradually builds speed in the tunnel - it's difficult to tell how fast it is going until it leaves the tunnel after about 8 minutes at which point it is going at about 140mph (225kmh). It pretty much stays at this speed until it reaches the Medway crossing at which point the speed increases to 186mph (300kmh)
The Medway crossing
It gets quite industrial as you approach Brussels
Not far now till Brussels Midi Station
The Thalys High Speed Train approaches - this is the start of the final leg of the Journey to Cologne
The journey took the best part of a whole day but I think is better than flying for this kind of trip as you see more of the countryside and the seats are a lot more comfortable than a typical flight.
Day 2 (9/6/13)
The next day Bastians was selected as a good place for breakfast, although all the menus were only in German, but they did manage to dig out an English menu eventually - they do a very good coffee and breakfast
A toy shop near Bastians
A building somewhere between Bastians and the Mondial Hotel
A group of thirsty tourists head for the Brauhaus (Brew House) for some local ale
A modern sculpture near the main railway bridge
The main railway bridge (Hohenzollern Bridge) is literally covered in "love locks" - there must be hundreds of thousands of padlocks!
Crossing the Hohenzollern Bridge
An ICE german high speed train - they are typically 2 trains joined together
There is a nice cafe just the other side of the Hohenzollern Bridge just in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel where there serve a refreshing bottle of fizzy water - ideal just before a trip up the Koln Triangle
A Chevriolet car just outside the Hyatt
A huge "orange" sign just inside the Koln Triangle
The entrance to the observation deck at the Koln Triangle
A cool pattern on the door leading to the observation deck depicting the "rounded triangle" shape of the building and what you can see from each side
Looking directly down from the Koln Triangle
Tourists admiring the view from the top of the Koln Triangle
View from the side of the River Rhine
A huge container barge on the Rhine
Pedestrians on the bank of the Rhine
A refreshing glass of Kolsch - this seems to be the "default" beer to drink in Cologne - asking for a drinks menu seemed to cause a lot of confusion as it seems very few people ever drink anything apart from Kolsch so it's best simply to ask for a "bier".
If you finish your glass and you do not want another beer it is important to put your beer mat over the glass or you will automatically be given another full glass - the waiter will mark your beer mat as a "tally" of the number of glasses you have had.
A balloon seller
A fiat 500
A cigarette vending machine in the street (Zigaretten)
This must be a zone reserved for women with a child (and cyclists)
The Mondial Hotel was in an excellent location - the only catch was that it was undergoing renovation so was totally covered in scaffolding and sheeting as it was being sandblasted most days - this is the staircase.
Signpost near the Dom (cathedral)
Another glass of Kolsch, this time at Fruh am Dom - an excellent Brauhaus (pub) - this would have been the second round of drinks as there are 4 marks on the beer mat - the glasses each hold 200ml of beer - not much but the beer goes flat if not drunk within minutes of being poured hence the tiny glasses.
As the Hotel was right next to the kölner philharmonie it made sense to take in a concert - the main work was by Benjamin Britten with 4 narrators, 4 soloists, choir & orchestra - the concert hall is very modern and quite impressive
Day 3 (10/6/13)
The outside of the Ludwig Museum
When there is a concert on at the Kolner Philharmonie there are guards on duty to stop people walking on the concourse above the hall as the footsteps can be heard inside the hall.
Love locks on the Hohenzollern Bridge
German Graffiti on the Rhine Bank
An american style trailer at the RheinPark
The Cologne Beach Club - a real beach with sand!
The cologne cable car - Kölner Seilbahn
Crossing the Rhine on the Kölner Seilbahn
The Kölner Seilbahn as it crosses the motorway
The Kölner Seilbahn with the Dom in the background
The U-bahn from the cable car back to the Dom - buying a ticket is not easy as the machine will not accept a UK credit card and the fare is EU 1.80 - if you do not have the exact change you are out of luck as you cannot overpay by putting in 2 euro coins so I ended up having to buy a bottle of water to get the correct change - what a farce!
The Hotel Mondial was being renovated on the exterior but luckily this did not seem to affect the inside too much although you did see the odd workman walking past on the scaffolding outside!
You can get a round trip on the Rhine lasting 1 hour
The stairs of the Köln Hauptbahnhof (the main station in Cologne)
Checking train times at Köln Hauptbahnhof
Making a note of a train time at Köln Hauptbahnhof
Waiting for a train at Köln Hauptbahnhof
Platform 7 at Köln Hauptbahnhof
Descending an escalator at Rathaus U-bahn station
Rathaus U-Bahn station
The exterior of Rathaus U-Bahn station - looks like this is very new & modern
The exterior of the Hotel Modial - totally clad in scaffolding! It's nice to have a view from a hotel but the excellent location sort of made up for the lack of a view.
The Hotel Mondial has 2 floors of bedrooms but there is a floor totally dedicated to parking between the bedroom floors and the ground floor. Normally you would expect parking in the basement of Hotel but my guess is that being so near the Rhine it was safer to put parking on the floor above the main reception floor rather than below it.
Inside the Mondial Hotel
The outside of the romano-germanic museum
The inside of the Dom (cathedral)
Stained glass inside the Dom
Shoppers in the Hohe Straße - the main shopping street not far from the Dom
A cool furniture shop near the Hohe Straße
A modern lift near the Hohe Straße
A cool clothing costume shop near the Hohe Straße
In line skaters near the Rhine Bank
Cycling near the Rhine Bank
Drum Store in a narrow cobbled street
Day 4 (11/6/13)
Some non-english speaking tourists wanted their picture taken
A one-hour Rhine Cruise - very good value at 9 euros per head - the boat was HUGE but only had a few passengers so plenty of space to move about
On the Rhine Cruise boat
View from the Rhine Cruise boat looking towards the city
The turn around point for the rhine cruise - the boat goes a lot faster back to the city as it is downstream and the river flows very fast about 15mph at a guess
Ultra modern apartment blocks next to the Rhine - these are the most expensive apartments in Cologne and have a cool industrial look
Below deck on the Rhine Cruise
Clock Tower next to the Rhine
Circular stairs next to the Rhine
Cycling along the Rhine Bank
At the riverside cafe next to the Museum of Chocolate
A bottle of Sion Kolsch
A modern statue outside the Ludwig Musuem - they have an annoying "No Photography" rule but it seems tourists ignore this as there was a Japanese tourist with a huge DSLR blatantly snapping away and the guards seemed to ignore him. I only have a tiny pocket camera (a Ricoh GR) but I can bet that even if I took one photo the guards would have told me off straight away.
This was taken from the roof terrace of the Ludwig museum - you can see the Mondial Hotel right next door covered entirely in scaffolding
An ICE high speed train makes its way slowly across the Hohenzollern Bridge - even though trains only went over the bridge about 10mph maximum they made a really loud rumble like a jumbo taking off which could be easily heard from the hotel.
One last trip up the 103 metre high KölnTriangle to take in the evening city views
The KölnTriangle lift goes up 28 floors
Arriving at the 28th floor of the KölnTriangle
The fine city view across the Rhine to the Dom from the top of the KölnTriangle
One the way back from the KölnTriangle a massive "booze cruise" passed under the Hohenzollern Bridge
In the lift at the Mondial Hotel showing a "9"- I was confused as the Hotel only has levels 1 & 2 but this was "level P" which you pass en route to level 1. Level P is the floor dedicated solely to parking and this was shot via a mirror in the lift.
Day 5 (12/6/13)
One last view of Cologne aboard the Thalys high speed train to Brussels
I think this was taken somewhere between Cologne & Brussels. In the seat in front was a group of Japanese Tourists and the first thing they did upon leaving Cologne station was to pull down the window blind - the trouble was that this blind also served the only bit of window I had to look out of and there was no way I wanted to be totally "shut in" with no view! Luckily I noticed the blind going down and put my arm in the way to "block" it from being pulled right down. I'm not sure on the "etiquette" here but to me it is far worse having no view that having a bit of light coming in, and it was not even that bright, just sort of overcast rather than sunny.
Some windmills on the way to Brussels, at least they don't seem to have the problem with nimbyism that we get in the UK when it comes to decent forms of energy production, and they look pretty cool as well.
The Thalys train passed a couple of stations on the way into Brussels
Now on the Eurostar leaving Brussels - power lines & caternary wires
More power lines, now in France - they look more modern that typical UK power lines
There is a sign announcing entry into the Euro Tunnel but if you blink you will miss it.
Now back in the UK passing through Essex past the M25 Thames crossing at Dartford (A282 for the crossing as it does not form part of the M25 technically)
The final leg along the Essex marshes near Rainham
A windmill near Dagenham
The final bit of HS1 line near Dagenham before the Eurostar goes underground through East London
All in all a pretty good trip and a good test for the Ricoh GR as it is better to have a small pocket camera than a huge DSLR, as less weight to carry and generally attracts less attention.