And Yes! It's departure day for our first Germany trip! This weekend we are going to Cologne and Frankfurt! Having plan out the drive for days and searching for hotels. This is our itinerary!
It's like a 4D3N drive trip, starting from Friday Afternoon and ending on Monday evening.
Initially we have plans to go all the way to Cologne and stay for the night, but we were consider lucky and unlucky on this because prior to our drive, we realised that we need a environmental sticker to get into Germany cities like Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin, etc..
And we are not in time to order online. It takes 7-14 days for delivery and it's like 5 days away. So there are actually a few options to purchase this decal. We emailed like 5 places, marked down on our google map on contingencies.
Fortunately, those companies that we emailed, got back to us! Thumbs up to the Germans! So we ended up planning a stay at Aachen, purchase the decal at Dekra at Aachen before going into Cologne City.
Driving this route, we will pass by Belgium before going into Aachen which is the state beside Belgium.
From Sens to Aachen is 500km, 4hrs 40mins. There is big detours if we follow the expressway but I think we follow the expressway thoughout as we are short of time. We are supposed to leave Sens at 3pm, but ended up leaving at 4pm.
Though we had a buffer of 2 hours including meal hours, but I aimed to reached the Aachen hotel at 9pm.
We included at Rest Stop at Macdonalds before going into Belgium.
Driving into Belgium is like from Tampines to Bedok only. There is no custom, no need chop passport and there is only a signage saying "Belgium". And Voila! You are in Belgium!
Interestingly, Belgium roads are litted up! There is street lamps compared to France Highway, and no toll encountered.
And finally after 500km we reach Aachen and our hotel. We didn't manage to capture the Germany Signboard but we know we are in Germany when there is no street lamps on the highway. Even on traffic junctions!
This hotel is booked from Booking.com. And the nearest hotel along the road and should be the first few hotel when you enter Aachen.
Hotel Zur Heide
€ 109 / Night
Located at Raafstraße 76-80, 52076 Aachen, Germany
This is the first encounter with Germans and we love it! They are very friendly and nice! No doubt there is no aircon in the hotel, but the rooms are pretty cooling. Plus €109 a Night for 3 works out to be €36 per person including breakfast.
Fast Wi Fi too!
Breakfast at Zur Heide is damn good! There is alot of varieties and even scrambled eggs! The view at Zur Heide is also nice and calming too! Good for a getaway. And the best thing, they speak English!
As we prepared to check out, there is one most important thing we need to do before entering Cologne City.
There is no Toll in Germany! And on the Autobahn, there is no speed limit on certain stretch of the road. Many cars are zooming past at at least 180km/h !
Driving in Low Emission Zone like Cologne will require Euro 4 decal for your vehicle. After researching and email replies, we head to Dekra at Aachen to get our decal. It cost €5 whereas at Volkswagen Center (nearby too) at Aachen it cost €6.75.
Don't worry about the staffs, as they do speak English too! Wow! We were definitely impressed and happy!
One worry off the list as without this decal, you will be fined for €80. Very important note if you are driving into German City.
Driving on the Autobahn is pretty cool! On some stretch of roads, there is no speed limit! Imagine when I am on 190kmh, I still cannot catch up with cars in front of me. I wonder how fast they are driving!
Before our drive into Cologne city, there is a Birkenstock Outlet that we planned to take a look. Whether is a cheap or worthy to buy.
Indeed, the prices here are at least 20% discounted from normal retail prices. But what they hold is actually older models or some defective good if you are not particular.
After Birkenstock, we are off to Köln Arcaden. We are at this mall because when Googling, I saw there is escalator. In Singapore, if there is big escalator means, this is a BIG Shopping Mall! It has been months since we seen a decent shopping mall like Jurong Point. In France, we didn't come across shopping malls.
Located at Kalker Hauptstraße 55, 51103 Köln
Köln Arcaden has retail mix, ranging from C&A, H&M, Intersport Vosswinkel, Media Markt, Müller Drogerie, Netto, Rewe etc. Check here for their list of retails.
And parking is really worth! 1 Hour for €1 and a day parking cost €2.50. Of course, I chose the day parking rate! I will definitely be here for more than 2.5 Hours.
Initially, we have plans for Sushi Nem Buffet and it is at €12 per person. However, we are still not so hungry yet. So we decided to try out their local fast food. CurryWurst!
It taste like sausage with McDonalds Curry Sauce. Quite innovative to have this added on.
Next we head on to Schildergasse, Cologne Shopping Street, which is at the side of the Cologne Dom. Hear say it is the most busy shopping street in Europe. See to believe!
If you say Orchard road or Bugis Street is crowded. Wait till you are here to experience!
After checking in, we walked to the Cologne Cathedral before heading for our dinner place.
Cologne Cathedral is a building of superlatives that is the centre and hallmark of this city on the Rhine. Its two massive towers have dominated the city’s skyline since their completion in 1880. At 157.38 metres, the northern tower is 7cm taller than the southern one.
Today the cathedral is Cologne’s second-tallest structure, surpassed only by the telecommunications tower. The cathedral covers almost 8,000 square metres of floor space and can hold more than 20,000 people. Due to the building’s impressive Gothic architecture, the shrine of the Three Wise Men, the outstanding stained-glass windows and the many other important works of art, UNESCO declared Cologne Cathedral a World Heritage Site in 1996.
While heading to our dinner place, we will pass by the Hohenzollern Bridge. It is also another lock bridge in Germany. Having miss the one in Paris as the locks were being removed.
The Hohenzollern Bridge (German: Hohenzollernbrücke) is a bridge crossing the river Rhine in the German city of Cologne (German Köln). It crosses the Rhine at kilometre 688.5. Originally, the bridge was both a railway and street bridge, however, after its destruction in 1945 and its subsequent reconstruction, it was only accessible to rail and pedestrian traffic.
It is the most heavily used railway bridge in Germany with more than 1200 trains daily, connecting the Köln Hauptbahnhof and Köln Messe/Deutz stations.
The total length of the Hohenzollern Bridge is 409.19 meters (1,342.5 ft).
Since 2008 people have placed love padlocks on the fence between the footpath and the railway lines.
It is quite a walk from the Hohenzollern Bridge to Lommerzheim. But all is worth it. Because they are full, we are ushered to share table with a couple. As standard procedure, they will serve beer (Kolsch) and it taste pretty good actually!
They will have markings on the coaster to jot down the number of glass you had. It is unlimited flow till you decided not to have it. €1.60 per glass and it is cheaper than coke!
Lucky for us, a couple seating beside translated the menu for us and we ordered their German Sauasage and their Pork Chop Specialty!
Waiting time was long, 40mins at least but it was worth it. The portion was big and we nearly couldn't finish. And we get to experience the German eating culture. Sibei noisy lor!
All in total we spend €26.40 for 3 Glass of Kolsch, 1x Coke, German sausage with Fries and Pork Chop with Potato Salad.
You can check out Tripadvisor for location and more reviews.
Value for Money
Long Waiting Time (40mins at least)
There is also Wikipedia on Lommerzheim!
Located: Siegesstr. 18, 50679 Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia
Because it's pretty late at night, we decided to try take their S-Bahn back near our Hotel instead of walking across the bridge.
Woooh! The ticket for just 1 stop (Up to 4 stops) cost €2.80 ! Which is €8.40 for 3 person! But there is no gantry unlike in Singapore or Tokyo. So it more of integrity and heng sway to be check by a conductor?
After our exciting day at Cologne, we head to check in our Hotel.
Hotel Star Dom is the worst hotel we have stayed so far. Probably it is summer time, and most hotels in Europe does not have aircon.
Hotel Star Dom
€1 / 20mins
€ 120 / Night
We were assigned a room, 1st level, facing the street. Hoseh liao! No aircon, Window cannot open fully. Noisy outside. We are sleeping in sweat!
Only my site can put 0 Star. Damn Jialat hotel. The room is hotter than the lobby. Although they provide 1x fan. But still, quite bad. Please book an Aircon hotel during summer.
Read the reviews also. Take their advice ok?
Before our drive to Frankfurt, we added a stopover at Bacharach, which is along the Rhine River. It is one of the Unesco Hertiage Sites as well. The prominent landmark is the Burg Stahleck.
The route to Bacharach has alot of winding routes and you have to go as slow as 20km/h. It is like the hairpin turn in Initial D series.
Stahleck Castle is a 12th-century fortified castle in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley at Bacharach in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It stands on a crag approximately 160 metres (520 ft) above sea level Its name means "impregnable castle on a crag", from the Middle High German words stahel (steel) and ecke (here: crag). It has a water-filled partial moat, a rarity in Germany. Built on the orders of the Archbishop of Cologne, it was destroyed in the late 17th century but rebuilt in the 20th and is now a hostel. [Wiki]
From the tourism office below, we were advised that it takes probably 15mins to climb up to Burg Stahleck or you can also visit Postenturm which is also tower over seeing the valley as well.
As we are travelling with Mother-in-law, we decided to try driving up to the nearest point. It's like a 5mins drive, but you get to a point above the Burg Stahleck.
We would like to stay in a castle the next time!
After Bacharach, it's a drive to Frankfurt City! We didn't have lunch because we have a late breakfast. So, we decided to see if we can grab any food at Frankfurt.
Frankfurt being a city, the challenge is to find parking space. We try to find, but in the end, park at our hotel for €19 / Night.
As there is a new shopping mall near our hotel, we decided to tour the mall while my Mrs shop for her Adidas shoe.
Having deprive of food court for months, we will very excited to see one in Germany! The food court is similar to any food court in Singapore.
We order Chye Png for €6.50 per person. It is like a buffet, eat all you can within the plate for €6.50. Pretty good deal for Europe countries.
As we make our way to the Main Tower, we pass by Bahnhofsviertel!
Perhaps it is on a Sunday evening, and not so happening. But we see some people on the floors just outside some hostel or convenience stall. It seems like they are on drugs on something. So, instead of walking along that street, we detour abit.
It probably took us like 30mins walk to get to Main Tower from Skyline Plaza. But the walk was enriching and interesting!
The Main Tower closes at 9pm and we reach at 8pm. Damn! We missed the Sun Set as the summer days are ending soon, the sun will set earlier (say 7.30pm). Nonetheless, we still get to see the evening view of Frankfurt city. This is actually the reason why I came Frankfurt for. Just to explore the city and how different it is from Singapore.
U-Bhan is the underground Train term in Frankfurt. Same thing, it cost €2.80 per trip (Up to 4 stops) and there is no gantry also! But because we want to explore it and shorten our trip back to hotel as well.
The nearest U Station to Main Tower is Willy-Brandt-Platz. And nearest station to Skyline Plaza is Festhalle/Messe.
Perhaps it was the Sunday evening, the train is empty. It is also clean as well, compared to Metro in Paris.
Hampton Hotel is the best hotel we stayed for this trip.
Hampton By Hilton Hotel
€19 / Night
€ 98.80 / Night
With aircon in the hotel, there is nothing for us to complain at all. It is a professional, at least 4 Star Hotel! Shower room was equipped with Shampoo, Hair conditioner, lotion as well!
The breakfast was amazing too! You have DIY Waffle Maker! Alot of varieties and bacon too!
This hotel good sio! Got Air Con, Clean, Breakfast is good! Only parking expensive, but mai hiam lah!
Römerberg is 20mins away from our Hotel, we decided to stop by this heritage place before heading for Heidelberg Castle.
The Römerberg is the historic heart of Frankfurt, Germany, and since the High Middle Ages the centre of the Altstadt (old town). The area's buildings include the city hall, the Römer. Paulsplatz, another historic square, is to the north. The Old St Nicholas Church and Historical Museum are to the south. Beyond that is Mainkai on the River Main. On the west side of the square is the reconstructed Römer medieval building. To the east is the Dom-Römer Project and beyond that is Frankfurt Cathedral. Römerberg is a major location for the outdoor Frankfurt Christmas Market.[Wiki]
Quite a historical site just inside Frankfurt City. We seat down and enjoy a cup of Cappuccino while worrying our parking ticket will expire.
And true enough, there is a summon uncle (Speaks English!) just 3 cars away from when we parked! Heng sio! I got into the car before he speak to us.
While this is our last day, en route back to France, we stopover at Heidelberg since it is quite on the way.
Frankfurt to Heidelberg is like 1 hour away. You can explore a day trip out of Frankfurt for Heidelberg.
Heidelberg Castle (German: Heidelberger Schloss) is a ruin in Germany and landmark of Heidelberg. The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps.
We begin climbing up from the foot of the castle as the GPS took us to the backyard. The view is simply amazing! You can see the Carl Theodor Old Bridge from the castle.
We didn't have chance to get into the castle as we were rushing for time back home. But we made some time to have our late lunch at the Old Town below.
This is probably the most sway castle in the world.
Bomb by French then, Struck by lightning twice!
I'm glad we made our way to find food in this old town. It is so beautiful. Tourist were having their break at the chairs. Munching away and enjoy the scenic view.
According to Tripadvisor, Palmbrau Gasse is the #2 rated restaurant in Heidelberg. No doubt about it! We ordered a Pork Knuckle, it was so delicious. We gobbled down everything. It is the first Pork Knuckle we ate for our trip!
Recommended! Must Eat if you are here.
And back to France again where we have to pay toll and speed limit at 130kmh. 🙁
Germany is definitely an interesting place to visit if you are in Europe. We will be planning Munich and Berlin next. Guides to Cologne and Frankfurt will be up soon! Stay tune!
Don is a Kiasu Singaporean that blogs his journey while exploring Europe. A Singapore Travel Blog that provides travel guides and tips on how to travel free and easy in Europe.
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