I hail from Calcutta and now I live in Magdeburg. Both cities are worlds apart, connected by the similar sights of trams and the feel of a river. People in both the cities are warm and welcoming. Magdeburg is a tiny little township if compared to Calcutta; a reason why I had always wanted to see the “bigger cities” in Germany but never had the opportunity to. When Svetlana (di) invited me to Köln, I did not resist. Köln is around 10 minutes away from Bonn, the erstwhile capital of Germany; a big city of culture as many call it,  where there are people from all cultures and nationalities. The landmarks include Germany’s largest Gothic Cathedral and the Love Bridge. All the information I just wrote was fed to me by Wikipedia. To know and to feel, are slightly different.

The evening train from Magdeburg made me reach Köln during the sunset. I decided to walk from the Hauptbahnof (station) to the nearest  Köln-Triangle. It is the tower from which you can see the entire city’s landscape, which includes and is quite famous for the Köln Cathedral. I do not know why I felt home in Köln from the very first moment. I’ve travelled to many places; not many did have an impact as strong as this city. I use a fantastic mobile phone, whose GPS does not always work properly. I had to ask people for the ways I could reach the bridge from the station. I was amused by the way almost everyone tried to speak in English whether or not they could. The love bridge felt special. Couples here come, pray and promise to be together forever and put a lock on the bridge. The locks shine during the sunset dazzling a young visitor like me. I walked the length of the bridge to realise that if the locks weren’t crazy enough, there were funny art installations hanging over the river.

Recommended Read: Cologne street wall art

The Köln-Triangle ticket is priced very low. Once you go to the top and open the door, you’ll see people literally picnicking there! If you are like me, you’d feel instantly welcome. Especially when a California based traveller initiates a conversation, followed by a coffee. She is young and is figuring what is good for her academically. She had some time and decided to travel in Europe. A little after I hugged her a goodbye, I was instantly welcomed by a bunch of young men who were happily singing in front of the cathedral. Svetlana was tense and I realised I shouldn’t be out the entire night. So yea, I decided to walk back to her home. I met a white-skinned rickshaw puller who can sing Hindi songs a bit, has an email address where he asked me to send him the photograph and also claims to have got this rickshaw from India.

I walked my way home at around two in the morning. The streets were bustling with people who smiled back. Even as a frail young traveller, I felt integrated, safe and at home.  If these were your first impressions of a city, would you not fall in love with it?

Anirban Saha – pursuing his M.Sc. in Data Science in Germany, this Kolkata lad wants to travel the entire world and tell interesting travel stories to his grandchildren before he dies. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and don’t forget to check out his awesome blog. All the image credits of this post go to Anirban Saha. Contact him directly for any reproduction or use. The images are subject to copyright.

P.S – This blog post is part of the series called the Cologne Diaries, which highlights a new theme, emotion, and beauty of an expat life in Cologne. For more exotic fun, check out my Cairo Chronicles in the Expat Life category.