Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

The Dom in all its Gothic glory.
Everyone knows most major cities have iconic buildings you must visit: Taipei 101 in Taipei; the Empire State Building in New York City; the Eiffel Tower in Paris, etc. For Cologne, it's the Cologne Cathedral, also known as the Dom. 

The Dom towers over downtown. I say "towers" rather reluctantly since you can feel yourself under its shadow as if its something menacing - and it does look menacing because of it's Gothic appearance. Yet, at the same time, the Dom is a church, so perhaps "protective" would be a better way to describe it's presence. Either way, you can't miss it even if you tried. I don't know why you would avoid it. Even if you aren't an architecture buff or of religious persuasion, a short one hour stop at the Dom is worth it. A person can't even make an excuse for not visiting it since it's across the way from the main station.


Cologne: My General Impressions

Right outside Cologne's busiest station.
On the train to Cologne!
A  display about German
World Cup uniforms.
Cologne is now by far one of my favorite cities. The people, the landscape, the sites...everything was awesome, particularly the people and atmosphere. Americans often stereotype Germans as being extremely stern and proper, the sort of people who aren't able to cut loose and have a good time or carry on a lighthearted conversation with a stranger. However, like most stereotypes, I don't believe that is the reality. The Germans I encountered were friendly, accommodating, and clearly loved to have a good time. I would describe the environment in Cologne as tremendously warm.

In my opinion, Germans have a "work hard, play hard" mentality. Everyone appeared to fall into their roles effortlessly by day, yet when evening time came, especially during the weekend, everyone seemed to be out having a good time.