Image by Gerd Rohs Design, Pixaby
I’m making this post in English (maybe) or maybe I’ll switch to Estonian in the middle, I just see how it goes. But it is devoted to Cologne and if the City could read, it would rather be in English than in Estonian, I guess, considering I still cannot write their mother tongue (shame!).
You are an interesting city, Cologne, Köln, Keulen. At first, one cannot really figure out what it’s all about you. You are like this person at the party, who is not really beautiful, whom you don’t notice at first glace, but who has some hidden charm. And qualities, which need to be discovered. It takes time to figure them out, but if you have, you’ll be fascinated.
When I came here, it was kind of a love-hate relationship. I came for a certain person thinking its love (it wasn’t, as it appeared later), but I did not love Germany. I do admit now, it was rather stupid of me to have all these prejudices. And be too arrogant and self-centered to learn German. I do admit now, I am embarrassed when I tell people that I’d been living in Germany for so long and then we come to my language skills and it’s like – oh well, a miserable A2. As regards my stupid prejudices (where did I get them at all?), at least people in Köln did not fall in those categories at all (some exceptions are always there). I was never supposed to stay long, but now, I’ve been hanging around here for almost 15 years and at least 10 since I have been an official inhabitant.
Oh, Köln, Köln, I’m even a bit sorry to leave you. The funny thing is, I only learned to appreciate you when the reason of my living here had disappeared. When I had to manage on my own. Only then did I find some good friends, went to places and started to live my own independent life, doing my own thing. I went to numerous places and met some people. At a mature age one is more selective when it comes to making new acquaintances.
I learned to appreciate the little side streets, some nice old houses – you do not have many, WW2 took care for that – but the solitary survivors are ever the nicer. But architecture is not really what you are admired for. Excluding the cathedral, of course. The people, the real colonians who are proud to be ones and who are so open and kind-hearted. The multinational scene. The freedom. The cafes where you can have breakfast until 4 pm. The latter is so characteristic to Köln that you do not come across it even at other German cities. Colonians like to have fun and they know how to enjoy a long leisurely breakfast which slowly drags into brunch and so on and so forth.
The Carneval – still a love/hate relationship. If you participate – it’s love, if you are serious and go to work, need to buy groceries or just have to get out of the house for some more or less reasonable reason, its hate, pure and clear.
I did participate one year, I mean, really, from morning till night all six days and then, afterRosenmontagzug, I took off my mermaid wig, dressed as a normal person and took a train to Brussels – seemed like another universe. I do not think I’ll be coming back for carneval, but it is a feature of Cologne, one has to mention. Kölle alaaf!
But I’ll be coming back, to visit my half-German son (now official having double citizenship) and friends and to hang around in Ehrenfeld, go to cafes and be a part of this very special Colonian atmosphere, which, I’m still certain, one would not come across at any other German city.