Cologne (Koeln), Germany

I had a brief stop-over at Cologne (Koeln) - Germany, when I went to Amsterdam and used my time there to look around some parts of the city which were near to the train station (Bahnhof). The famous cathedral of Colgone, known in German as 'Koelner Dom' or 'Hohe Domkirche St.Peter Und Maria' is adjacent to the Bahnhof and so, that was the first place that I saw in Cologne. This cathedral is a Wold Heritage Site and one of the best-known architechtural monuments in Germany. It is also one of the world's largest churches and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. Also, scouring the internet and doing some research, I found that this cathedral was the tallest structure in the world during 1880 to 1884 until the completion of Washington Monument followed by Eiffel Tower. Here are some pics of the cathedral, that I shot:

This cathedral is a great landmark for Cologne and can be seen from every part of the city. Here's a pic that I took from some distance:

Cologne lies on river Rhine and boasts of one of the oldest European universities. It is home to a good number of museums and hundreds of galleries. In these days, you can say that it has a good mix of art, history and modernistic stuff with cosmopolitan atmosphere. Its also famous for the carnival, which happens in February, every year. As per the gossip, I also know that its a gay city.

With the time that I had, I just walked around and sometimes used the Metro/tram and explored some parts of the city. Here are some pics of the 'Rhine' river from the 'Rodenkirchen Bridge' :

And here are some more pics of Cologne, that I shot from across the university grounds:

Amsterdam, Netherlands (Holland)

Finally, there's some news. I took monday off and so, I do have 3 days including the weekend. I booked tickets for the ICE(Inter City Express) train to Amsterdam (Netherlands) from Nuremberg (Germany) by the 'Deutsche Bahn' (German Rail Network). I could have taken the flight to cut short the time taken to get there, but on the flip side, its sometimes better to travel by train as you could have a good view of the landscape through the wide glass windows of the train and also get to know some things about the people (although superficial). Also, the journey wasnt for long time as ICE trains (esp. for long distances) travel at high speeds of around 280 or 300 kms per hour. Infact, it just took 6 hrs for me to get to Amsterdam from Nuremberg. ICE trains are some of the fastest trains in the world besides the French TGV and some Japanese trains.

I was a bit relieved and not much concerned about what I could do there because I had a friend who was working in Eindhoven (which is a hour away from Amsterdam) and he booked accomodation for both of us in a central location (Leidseplein) in Amsterdam. I got off from work, a bit early that day, packed up my things and started at around 13:00 hrs and got into the train, on the dot. It took the train 6 hrs to reach Amsterdam passing through Wurzburg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Duisburg and Utrecht.

Finally, I reached Amsterdam at around 19:15 hrs and joined my friend, who was waiting for me at the Amsterdam Centraal Station. We took a taxi to the hotel in Leidseplein and paid 25 Yoyos (Euros) for that although it wasnt that far off from the station. We checked into the hotel, sat and talked a bit about things. Later, we went out to have a feel of that place around us. Leidseplein, at night looks totally like a party place with so many pubs, restaurants, many young people hanging around, et al things. It has that good vibes. We walked around a bit and had our dinner at some Italian restaurant. After some walking around after dinner, we got back to the hotel and slept, as we were tired after a day at work and then travel. Here are some pics that I shot when we went out on that eve:

The next morning when we got outta hotel, this Leidseplein place looked much calmer and serene when compared to the night before. I havent seen as many bikes (bicycle) in any other place as in Amsterdam. Many people use bikes as the downtown and many other important places are clogged with motor vehicles. Most of the bikes look pretty old in style and I've seen some buildings dedicated just for parking the bikes.

Amsterdam has so many canals that its called the 'Venice Of The North (Europe)'. Infact, canals are common in most of the European cities.These canals somehow liven up that place. Here's a pic:

Later in the day, we looked around Madame Tussad's museum, a couple of other *** museums, the main shopping area, et al things. By the way, Amsterdam is named so because it stands on the the basin of Amster river. Here's a view of Amsterdam's downtown from top of Madame Tussad's museum:

Here are some more pics of Amsterdam downtown:

And here are some pics of guys performing at downtown Amsterdam:

And here are some pics from Madame Tussad's museum:

After that, we took a canal tour of Amsterdam, which is one of the best ways to explore different parts of Amsterdam. This way, you can relax and see some of the landmarks of Amsterdam. Here are some pics from that canal tour:

Amsterdam is one of the main/hot destinations for partying (especially for New Years eve) mainly because of its liberal policies, music scene and sundry other things. By liberal, I mean to say that the second oldest profession in the world is legal, selling drugs is legal, etc things. which are prohibited elsewhere in most of European countries or many other parts of the world. Also, Amsterdam hosts a lot of concerts and other events related to music. Its famous for house, techno and other music concerts or rave parties. Lots of tourists from other countries in Europe and other continents specially travel there to get stoned and enjoy the house, techno and any other kind of stuff they like. Anyways, its upto each person what they like to do as Amsterdam had good enough things to offer from museums, night life and sundry other things.

Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city with different cultures and people from all over the world. Also, Dutch language is the basis for 'Afrikaans' language (based on the fact that South Africa was a Dutch colony before).