Kölsch in Köln

The pretty lights of the outdoor area. I was hoping to be writing an insightful, witty and brilliant piece on the wonders of going out drinking in a foreign city today. I intended to sparkle brilliantly on ponderings such as the cultural differences that I noticed on the evening. Much humour would have been had.

As it is, the very act of researching the cultural differences has left my brain a soddled mush of a thing, so you are instead going to get, well, the below. I will try. Be gentle.

Firstly, I had heard it said that continental Europe starts their drinking somewhat later in the day than the UK. I can now confirm this to be true. By the time we left the house to hit Cologne, it was nearing midnight. In the UK, if you head out at midnight, you are likely to be wandering darkened empty streets from closed pub to closed pub. 24 hour drinking is, in theory, legally allowed, but most pubs still adhere to an eleven or twelve finishing time, at which point you need to find an overpriced club to drink in. For this reason most people in the UK are out much earlier, with the mindset that as much as possible must be drunk before the doors are closed.

Germany does not have such complex drinking restrictions, so the night was still young when we left the house, despite it being nearly the next day already. We had prepared ourselves by consuming a number of Kölsch’s at home, for the journey as it were. Kölsch, for those not in the know, is the beer local to Cologne. Other beers are probably available. These are not mentioned in polite company.

We wandered, remnants of our home beer in hand (another wonder of Germany, drinking on the street is entirely legal) to our venue for the night, a local and somewhat alternative venue by the name of the Underground, which, contrary to the name, wasn’t.

Currywurst being created. Image slightly fuzzy due to camera being held by inebriated manUpon arrival, I was quickly whisked to the on site sausage stall, and provided with a large pile of currywurst and chips. Another uniquely German idea, currywurst is your average giant German sausage, smothered in spicy curry sauce. Presumably the intention was to  give me strength for the night ahead. Strength was needed. As well as a huge outdoor seating area, where multiple parties were carefully engaged in beverage review activities, there were two dance rooms, plus a whole room dedicated to table football. Which is a game to be taken very seriously in Germany.

Strengthened by sausage and more refreshing Kölsch, we hit the dance floor. The music was skating dangerously close to grungey metal, with the result that the dance floor was less about dancing and more about trying to survive in the mass of bodies. To the uninitiated, it may have looked just like a large fight set to pounding German metal. Perhaps, in fact, it was. Memories are a tiny bit hazy.

Some carefully trying to avoid being trampled later, we retired outside. It was a fairly warm evening and the surroundings were genial. Coloured lights lit up the courtyard area, much jollity was being had. Conversation flowed, all of it, I expect, brilliantly sparkling and witty. It was a rather wonderful time.

However, as with all wonderful times, they must end, and the time arrived whence we opted to quietly stagger home. I am incredibly lucky to go out with a girl who shares a love of anchovy coated pizza (amongst other things), so we stopped off en route for a romantic pizza in a nearby kebab house. The chap who created the pizza was a genuine artist, forming the pizza base from actual dough in front of our very eyes before lovingly coating it in lashings of cheese, tomato sauce and those little salty fishy wonders. I quietly hiccupped my thanks at him and trundled home, whereupon the pizza was devoured before the bed was hit.

Hangover recovery food

Later on in the day the morning dawned beautifully. I slept through this, and woke up as the afternoon was just coming around. It was a blisteringly hot day, just what you need when your skin feels like all the moisture in it has been surgically removed.

Luckily the “day after drinking” regime is no different in Germany to the UK, so we staggered to the nearest cafe and ate as much fried food as we possibly could, accompanied by strong black coffee, at which point I started to feel a lot more human.

We left Cologne in the afternoon sun, with the top down in the convertible, the temperature in the mid twenties, and some suspiciously bad German hip hop on the CD player. The green leaves of the trees flitted overhead and I wondered to myself, as I often do, how I had managed to get so lucky as to be able to experience moments like this in my life. Even if the day seemed a mite fuzzy around the edges…




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