For me, an ideal day in Cologne begins with a lie-in. And because the weather here is usually quite good in summer, I like to take a stroll by the Rhine river. I start at the Bastei, a modernist building from the 1920s and former café, which was designed by Wilhelm Riphahn. From there I head northwards towards the AXA high-rise, the city’s tallest building. In its shadows you will find the Schwimmbad, a cosy beer garden located where an outdoor swimming pool used to be. It attracts a mixed crowd, everyone from families to walkers and cyclists. I like to have a coffee, or a Kölsch, and they also serve up the biggest portion of fries that I’ve ever seen. It really is huge!
After this, I head over the Mülheim Bridge to the right-hand side of the Rhine to pay a visit to Italian supermarket Nadia in the Schanzenviertel district, where I buy Italian sausage, cheese and a bottle of wine before going to the Carlswerk. This is not only where I work, but also a great spot for my next break: the Carlsgarten. Originally created by Schauspiel Köln as a community garden for people to grow vegetables together, it has since become the hangout of choice for the entire neighbourhood. It attracts all kinds of people – from us theatre folk to those who work at the Bastei Lübbe publishing house or the IT companies in the neighbouring buildings. And a few kids from Keupstrasse like to come here too.
When evening falls and I’m working at Schauspiel Köln, I like to watch a theatre show. But I also recommend the guest dance performances. But however I choose to begin the evening, the best way to end it is sitting on the Mülheimer Mäuerchen, a wall next to the little St. Clemens church, right next to the Mülheim Bridge. A few years ago, Schauspiel Köln even staged a show under the bridge and it has become a real meeting place for the neighbourhood’s young, alternative scene. At dusk, it’s a great spot to wander along the banks of the river with a beer in your hand. Or you can follow my lead and take a seat, unpack the wine, cheese and sausage and watch the sun setting and the moon rising behind the Mülheim Bridge, the AXA high-rise and Cologne Cathedral.
However, when my in-laws come to visit or if I’m in a mother-in-law kind of mood myself, I will take a different route through the district of Lindenthal. I will walk from the Museum for East-Asian Art along the Clarenbach canal towards the Christi Auferstehung church. Designed in Brutalist style, its architect Gottfried Böhm hid the Jesus crucifix in a corner of the huge interior and you really have to look for it. From there I like to walk over the Lindenthal canal in the direction of the Stadtwald forest, where I stroll around the Kahnweiher, a little artificial lake, before heading to another lake, the Adenauerweiher, where there’s a good place for coffee and cake. All very civilised indeed – my inner mother-in-law would certainly approve!