About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

28 October 2008

5 Stars and Michelin Stars ...

One of the nice facts about travelling with important clients, is that you get to stay in nice hotels and eat in nice restaurants. So, the first night was spent in the very exclusive hotel, Steigenberger Grand Hotel Petersburg (hotel link, wikipedia), on top of the hill in Königswinter, just outside Bonn.

The hotel used to be the official government guesthouse (when the West German, and later German capital was in Bonn) - and thus has seen illustrious visitors including Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II. But it's history stretches back further, and was actually built in 1892, and became the seat of the allied government after WW2. West German independence was also signed in this hotel ... making it a very intersting place.

There are some stunning views around the hotel and apparently you can see the Cologne Cathedral on a clear day. The hotel also features a Michelin star restaurant, which is where dinner was for that night.

There is also an old church on the premises - not very lavishly decorated, but interesting none the less. It was only for one night, but it was certainly an interesting experience ...

27 October 2008


Cologne is world famous for its massive gothic cathedral. And I was not really prepared for the size of the cathedral as I stepped out of the main station (the main station is next to the cathedral) ... it is absolutely massive, with an impressive amount of detail.

The fact of the matter is, I could not find a position to take the photo, where I could fit the full profile of the cathedral into one shot - it is too big and too tall!

Even the bells are supersized - and when they ring you can actually feel the vibrations from where I took the photo. The bells are about 60% of the way to the top of the tower.

Visitors can (after paying the entrance fee of 4 Euros), climb to the top of of one of the towers. It is a narrow set of winding stairs (barely fitting two people) and a long, long trip. In fact there is a warning - it will take at least 30 minutes to climb up and down (if you are fit) and there are no stairs - at ticket counter.

It was painful, but even though the weather was poor (it started raining shortly after I got to the top); the view was spectacular.

Sadly, I did not have much time in Cologne. So apart from the cathedral - I decided to visit the chocolate museum. The musuem documents both the history of chocolate (as a fashionable drink, to a kid's consumer product) as well as the process of making milk chocolate as we all know it. The entry fee is rather hefty, but you get quite a few samples of Lindt chocolate ... so it is all good! Afterwards, I also had a snack in the cafe - a cake which roughly translates to "3 Kings Cake" - with three sponge cakes layered with chocolate cream. All the calories burned by climbing the cathedral was promptly replaced :)

26 October 2008


It is definitely one of the most picturesque cities I have visited - complemented with the spectacular colours of Autumn. The "old town" is quite well preserved, and unusually bustling with activity - and is one of the major tourist attractions of Germany. Unfortunately, I only had a few hours to spend in Heidelburg (I made it a day trip from Frankfurt) and missed spending time really exploring some of the more interesting parts of the city.

The city is dominated by the ruins of the old royal castle, which is being partly restored. The castle grounds are massive, and provides a stunning view of the city and surrounding areas. However, I think the reconstruction starts to lose some of the charm of the whole ruins - and destroys an essential part of the appeal.

An interesting component of the castle itself, is the massive wine barrels. They were actually used, but not for long. I just wonder how the got all that wine in the barrel in the first place.

Heidelburg is university town, and many of the old buildings in the Altstadt (Old Town) features ties to the original university establishment. The university was first established in the 1300's thus making Heidelburg one of the oldest universities in Europe. It continues to be a university town, and a place of research including the world famous Max Planck Physics Institutes.

Behind the castle, up on the hill is Koenigsthul - which provides a magnificent view of the entire area. Unfortunately, the weather was not perfect, and the full impact was not visible.