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Vendor City Guide: Cologne, Germany

Street secrets revealed by the people who know them best

Our guides this week: Lothar, 57, has lived in Cologne for nearly 40 years. Since 2018 he has been selling the local street paper Draussenseiter. His favourite hobby is spending time in nature, and he goes walking all over the Rhineland area of Germany.

Why I like living here

There are lots of places set up to provide help for people living out on the street. And there aren’t too many really cold days. Apart from that, I like it here because, over the last 40 years, the city hasn’t failed to challenge me with something new every day. This city is also my home; there are people here who accept me as I am. That’s something we in Cologne call the “Kölsche Gefühl”– it means something like “the Cologne feeling”.

Cheap eats
If you take public transport to Hertastraße, in the Zollstock area, there’s a Middleberg bakery there. They do an affordable breakfast, as well as coffee and tea. On Gottesweg there’s also a really good Chinese food place, where I treat myself now and again  – it’s good value and tasty.

Lothar Draussenseiter
Lothar-Draussenseiter
Vendor Lothar sells German street paper Draussenseiter in Cologne (Credit: Marie Breer)

The best view of the city

You get the best view of the city from what’s known in Cologne as the “rough side” of the river: the right-hand bank of the Rhine. If you stand directly in front of the homeless support centre that produces Draussenseiter – from there you can look back towards the historic Rheinauhafen waterfront, you can see the two bridges, the distinctive multi-storey buildings designed to look like harbour cranes, and the symbol of our city – Cologne Cathedral. Aside from the nice view, this part of the river bank is also nicely peaceful and shaded in the summer months.

Cologne’s five seasons

From November to February, people in Cologne celebrate carnival. This time of year is known locally as Cologne’s fifth season. I’m not so much of a carnival fan, though. I prefer the city in spring and summer, when the parks are in bloom and looking particularly beautiful. 

My favourite place 

My favourite spot would be the Vorgebirgspark – a nice park in the southern part of the city. It’s a place that tourists don’t stumble upon that often. In 2019 I had a barbecue there twice. It isn’t a problem to set up your barbecue in there because it’s such a big area. Also, the park is in my part of town – the Zollstock Stadtviertel. In the Cologne dialect, if you want to say “area of town”, you would say “Veedel” instead of using the normal German word “Viertel” – it means the same, but you’ll sound more like a local if you say it like that. I can meet my friends in this part of town, and it’s here that I feel welcome.

Top tips for tourists

Get away from the cathedral at the main station – because it’s what every tourist goes to see – I would recommend Cologne’s green spaces. I think Flora, the botanical garden opposite the zoo, is nice. Entry is free. If you want to get away from the noise of the city, you can go to the Südpark or the Vorgebirgspark. These two parks are on the edge of the city centre.

Image: Megan Reddi
Translated from German by Jonathan Drake

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