If I’m off work, I like to start the day with coffee and a croissant at Kitchenette on Gladbacher Strasse. I worked there for eight years and whenever I go back it feels as cosy and familiar as putting on a favourite old woolly jumper. The coffee and salads there are delicious – and the boss also happens to have great taste in music. Kitchenette attracts a nice mix of friendly people, the kind of place where you can find musicians having lunch before their evening performances at Stadtgarten.
I often bring my own Tupperware container and order a small salad or quiche to go, before cycling towards the banks of the Rhine and then heading upstream towards Rodenkirchen. Just before it, I turn right into the Forstbotanischer Garten, a woodland botanical garden. I grew up nearby and used to cut through here on my way to school. The best time to come is in spring when everything is in full bloom. In my teenage years I would often sit in the field under an old weeping willow and write poetry. Because where better to wallow in Weltschmerz than under a weeping willow? These days I prefer to feed the tame squirrels and admire the greenery around me. I never really used to be into plants, but that all changed after spending so much time in parks during lockdown. In the Forstbotanischer Garten there is a huge variety of trees and plants that are not only lovely to look at but are also home to many different types of insects. And because there’s hardly anyone here during the week, it’s a great place to read a book in peace and quiet.
Returning to the city centre, I cycle along the right bank of the Rhine and take the ferry from Weiss to Zündorf. The beer garden on the Groov, a former island, is the ideal spot for a short break. Then I cycle north along the riverbank and across the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge back over to the left-hand side.
Via Mediapark and the Herkulesberg hill, I pedal back to Ehrenfeld to visit my friend Diane in her lingerie store Le Pop. Diane is one of my oldest and best friends – I’ve known her for almost 20 years now. When she came to Germany, I was one of the first people she got to know. And Diane is one of the few people I can speak French to: French is my second mother tongue, although I don’t get to speak it very often. But it’s like a secret weapon in Diane’s business – in my experience, it’s a lot easier to sell sex toys and lingerie if you have a French accent, especially when it’s the real thing!
If I want to do a spot of shopping, I will head over to Polyestershock on Geisselstrasse, where owner Anna provides a great service: she can alter the vintage clothing to fit you perfectly – at no extra charge. I’m always asking her to shorten trousers for me! Shopping tires me out and makes me work up an appetite. At Saudade, a Portuguese restaurant on Wahlenstrasse, the dishes are all homemade and the owners import delicious organic wines.
My perfect day in Cologne would end at the mini golf course behind the mosque. The owner – a sincere guy with a certain gruff charm about him – is a real character. From what he tells me, he’s had a bit of a chequered past, but the mini golf course is his life now. And it also happens to be one of the best places in Ehrenfeld to watch the sun go down.
Rebekka Endler works as a freelance journalist for audio and print media in Cologne. She is the author of “Das Patriarchat der Dinge” (The Patriarchy of Things).