Bicycle Tour in Cologne

Katja Schmitt Cologne Bike Tour

Let me share a set of photos from my day trip to Cologne by bicycle – Who knows how many sunny and warm Sundays are left in 2017?

Katja Schmitt Cologne Bike Tour
I stumbled upon the ‘Save the World Hotel’ at Deutzer Werft (right side of the Rhine, opposite the old town), a house made of garbage. This controversial art project was shown near the Vatican and in Madrid before it came to Cologne. The art council rejected it, but the borough council welcomed the installation by artist HA Schult. It’s meant to call attention to our planet’s littering, but here it is mainly dedicated to support a project for homeless people.

Katja Schmitt Cologne Bike Tour 02

One of the famous ‘Kranhäuser’ (crane houses) – I’m working on a painting at the moment which features these buildings.

Katja Schmitt Cologne Bike Tour

In a city like Cologne you always see interesting walls, old buildings, lost places.
This is endlessly fascinating to me, and I love the fact that I’ve been able to find many more of these places since I started to go by bike.
I think I add at least an hour to my day trips on a regular basis, because I constantly need to stop, dismount, and take photos 😉
One of these days I’ll keep count. Just for fun.

Katja Schmitt Cologne Bike Tour

If you’re on a bike ride in Cologne along the left side of the Rhine, sooner or later you’ll reach the Alte Liebe (‘old love’). It is not haute cuisine, but I hope you’re not riding a bike around Cologne in search of a gourmet restaurant. I mean you can, and there are those places, but for the authentic experience you need to eat ‘Currywurst und Fritten’. Or pizza if you have to 😉
Another place, nearer to the old harbour, where the crane houses are, is the ‘Wurstbraterei’. It’s a famous snack stand, because it’s part of the setting of the Cologne ‘Tatort’ – the most famous, long-lasting German TV crime series, which takes place in several German cities.
The Wurstbraterei is where I stopped yesterday to eat ‘Fritten’ (Br. chips / Am. fries), after about 25 km. Then I added another 37 km to go the long way around the city, because most of it was blocked due to a triathlon.

Katja Schmitt Cologne Bike Tour

I found another interesting wall on my bicycle tour around Cologne. This one was not lost or abandoned, but showcased some ‘special’ art 😉

Katja Schmitt Cologne Bike Tour

Another impression of those ‘crane houses’. You know what they remind me of in this light and from this perspective? The AT AT Walkers from Star Wars…. Don’t laugh. Squint a bit, and you’ll see it, too!

Katja Schmitt Cologne Bike Tour

As cool as those ‘crane houses’ are architecturally, and as interesting as I find the whole old harbour area visually (otherwise I wouldn’t show you all these photos), there’s one thing that I think is a bit problematic: Do you notice something? There are almost no people. And Cologne was *packed* on Sunday.
Yes, two of the three houses are office buildings, but one is a residential house, and there should have been street cafés, children playing, street artists / musicians and other signs of life.
What I saw was one man having a business conversation on his cell phone, a couple sticking their noses up in the air as high as possible (I almost felt like a vagrant), and I *thought* I was able to recognise a couple of restaurants, but if so they were well hidden.
That is not integrative. That is *not* Cologne. That is actually Düsseldorf, not Cologne.
Cologne is an eclectic mix of people. Cafés where actors, mompreneurs, gay activists, impresarios have debates about the Richter window in the Cathedral, the collapsed city archive, the flea market near university.
Cologne is standing in line with millionaires, students, the dean of the cathedral, the cleaner, a semi-famous author, a market crier etc. at the corner bakery on a Saturday morning.
I could go on. But this area, which seems to be reserved for the very rich, is also very devoid of life. Of the chaos that is so characteristic for Cologne…

This photo from my Cologne bike trip combines the old and the new – because that is what’s so special about the city in my opinion. I love that!!

And here are a few quick Cologne watercolour sketches from my journal:

Katja Schmitt Cologne Sketchbook

Katja Schmitt Cologne Sketchbook

Katja Schmitt Cologne Sketchbook

And finally, here is my painting of the Kranhäuser (‘Crane Houses’):

Look for available paintings from Cologne or send me an email if you have questions & requests.