I grew up in Tyrol and have lived in Nippes, in the north of Cologne, since 2015. Even though I do miss Austria every now and again, it’s fantastic to be living here! What I appreciate the most is the warmth of the locals: it doesn’t take long to meet new people and you’re made to feel welcome wherever you go. My neighbourhood – or Veedel as we say here – is Nippes. I love living in the heart of the city and making the most of all its cultural and culinary experiences. Törtchen Törtchen does a great breakfast with superb coffee and impressive cakes. Café Eichhörnchen on Baudriplatz is also a wonderful place to relax and soak up the blend of Belgian and Nippes-style flair! Or if you want to read a book or magazine in peace and quiet while you enjoy your coffee, I can recommend taking a seat on one of the sofas at the Klein Berlin café. I also love the fact that there are so many good bookstores in Nippes, such as Buchhandlung Blücherstrasse and Buchladen Neusser Strasse. I can spend hours browsing the shelves there and always leave with plenty of new ideas and books.
If I’m in the mood for some hearty fare, I’ll go to Haus Schnackertz for their fantastic Nippeser Senfrostbraten (rump steak with a mustard crust) and delicious cheese spaetzle. But I also love Asian and Arabian food: Neusser Strasse is also home to a great Japanese restaurant called Shibuya Sushi, which serves up some amazing dishes. Near the Florastrasse tram stop is the Marhaba Imbiss, where you can get tasty shawarma and amazingly good sandwiches with halloumi or grilled vegetables. I often grab one to go and eat it on my way to the Flora botanical garden. Cologne has no shortage of lovely green spaces, parks and gardens but the Flora is my absolute favourite – there’s nowhere like it! I’m always amazed by all the many different colour nuances and floral scents that fill the air. Coming from Tyrol, I do miss the mountains, of course, but this place always reminds me of home somehow. My favourite spot is the corner with the alpine plants!
Nippes is also a great place for grocery shopping. I’m a regular at zero-waste store Tante Olga on Wilhelmplatz, where the bustling market also sets up its stalls every week from Monday to Saturday.
The Heimathirsch bar on Mauenheimer Strasse plays host to some really cool jazz nights and readings. For a fun night out with friends, I can heartily recommend Flora 6. And Blue Shell on Luxemburger Strasse offers a great mix of exciting music, poetry slams and friendly people. Due to our unsociable working hours at the opera, our team tends to spend a lot of time among ourselves, so I tend to listen to completely different music like rock or metal and meet different people whenever I do manage to hit the town.
Apart from that, I enjoy taking full advantage of all the culture that Cologne has to offer: my favourite museum is Museum Ludwig – I can spend hours there admiring its Expressionist collection. Or the small Käthe Kollwitz Museum at Neumarkt. Kolumba has a constant stream of interesting exhibitions and the fascinating architecture integrating an archaeological excavation site into a modern concrete build has also been used as a performance space by the Cologne Opera. Unconventional places like this really open up new and exciting opportunities for high culture. With its great atmosphere and urban gardening project, I also enjoy going to the Schauspiel theatre in Mülheim.
Matthias Hoffmann comes from Tyrol and has been a bass baritone in the permanent ensemble of the Cologne Opera for five years.