I truly believe that I am privileged. I have a wonderful life where I meet interesting people and have an opportunity to travel extensively. This I would like to share with others and in the bargain hope to learn more about life and the world that we live in.
Cologne has always been one of the most important cities in Germany and today it ranks number 2 after Berlin. Honestly having been to both, I believe Cologne can hold its own when compared to Berlin and makes an ideal base when exploring Western Germany and surroundings.
Cologne is modern yet ancient. Everytime a construction activity is undertaken and they start to dig the ground, they come across remnants from the Roman era.
Must do in Cologne –
• The all imposing Dom. It is the law that no other building can be higher than the Dom. You must also climb up the bell tower from where you get an awesome view of the city.
I first heard about the Eurovision Song contest some months ago when I received an invitation to attend the same. Later, having spoken with some friends and colleagues in Europe, most of them admit that this is an important event that they have grown up with and continue to watch and support.
This year’s contest was held in Dusseldorf in the football arena of the home team. It is a tradition that the contest will be held in the country of the previous year’s winner. Lena, a German singer, was last year’s winner and Dusseldorf was shortlisted after a panel selected it from other German cities as the final venue.
The set was brilliantly designed and am sure it made a super impact on the television audiences who it was specifically meant for. It is supposed to be Europe's favourite TV show with 43 countries voting and over 150 million people watching it.
Honestly, I was amazed at the talent of the contestants and the fervour with which the spectators were cheering their favourites. I didn't particularly like the voting concept as I felt it was skewed in Eastern Europe's favour. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am glad I made the effort to attend it.
My friend Chi Mee recommended that I visit Essen and in particular the Zollverein coal mine which is not only a UNESCO world heritage site but also touted as the “world’s prettiest coal mine”. This got me intrigued and so I had to satisfy my curiosity.
I hopped onto a train and then a tram and reached the mine which was nothing like I had imagined it would be. I expected it to be open and dusty and underground but it was all above ground and covered and neat. It was spread over a huge area and is divided into 3 sections – the main mine, the coking section and Shaft 1/2/8.
It also has a museum with permanent and temporary exhibits ranging from the history of coal mining to the industrialization and development of modern day Germany. Another museum has a panorama movie theatre which had an interesting seating layout (360 degree swivel chairs) and a film which was very absorbing. It is essential to buy a ticket to this museum as it gives you access to the terrace from where you can see and appreciate the entire mining complex from above.
The Red Dot Design Museum is also located on the premises. It houses the largest exhibit of contemporary design in the setting of an old coal mine. Very interesting to see how each object is displayed.