Alongside the Rhine River in Cologne, Germany, a pair of towering spires seem to stretch halfway to heaven.

Kolner Dom - Cologne Cathedral - at sunset with a blimp
Kolner Dom – Cologne Cathedral – at sunset with a blimp

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Kölner Dom — the Cologne Cathedral

Beneath them stands Kölner Dom: Northern Europe’s largest Gothic Church. With a height of 515 feet, the Cologne Cathedral has the second-tallest spires and largest facade of any church in the world.

Hohenzollern Bridge and Kolner Dom - Cologne Cathedral - Germany
Hohenzollern Bridge and Kolner Dom – Cologne Cathedral – Germany

On an average day, more then 20,000 people climb to the top or wander in the shadows of its massive flying buttresses.

Before arriving in Germany, I had spent the previous four months living in Thailand surrounded by Buddhist temples.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being around Wats, but it was a great feeling to be pointing my camera up at a church and some Western architecture.

No matter where I was in the Cologne, a view of Kölner Dom was never far away. Even on the other side of the Rhine River, where I presented my work at Photokina 2012, I had a clear view of the spires.

RANDOM FACT: I was surprised to learn that the Kölner Dom, and not Castle Neuschwanstein, is Germany’s most visited landmark.

Kolner Dom - Cologne Cathedral - during Sunday night mass - Germany
Kolner Dom – Cologne Cathedral – during Sunday night mass – Germany

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Sunday Mass at Kölner Dom

Inside of the Cologne Cathedral is a stunning gallery of arches, stained glass, statues, paintings, and pews. Or so my friend Christina tells me, since the one time I made it inside happened to be Sunday Mass and most of the Kölner Dom was roped off to visitors.

Sunday Mass proved to be a moving and beautiful experience, as I closed my eyes and listened to the ancient melodies echo around the cavernous church.

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Trains and Bridges over the Rhine River in Cologne

In front of Kolner Dom, the Hohenzollern Bridge spans the Rhine river and connects to the main Cologne train station (Koln Hauptbahnhof).

Rhine Sunset in Cologne, Germany
Rhine Sunset in Cologne, Germany

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There is no vehicular traffic other than trains and pedestrians can walk on either side to appreciate a completely different view of the city. It really was the perfect combination for me: bridges AND trains.

As Julie Andrews once said, “these are a few of my favorite things!”

Kolner Dom - Cologne Cathedral - with ICE and Regio Trains pulling out of the main station
Kolner Dom – Cologne Cathedral – with ICE and Regio Trains pulling out of the main station

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Donnie’s Sunset on the Rhine

Since leaving New York City for India back in March, my late Great Aunt Donnie has been along for the ride. She spent 91 years as a traveler and before she passed away last February, I told her I’d take her ashes with me on my next adventure.

So far, Donnie had taken a trip down the Ganges and Pai Rivers, rested under a tree in a Thai national park, and snuck into the Taj Mahal. When I arrived in Cologne, Germany, I went to the banks of the Rhine River to send her on another ride.

I released most of her ashes directly into the Rhine, but placed a little pile on a rock and let the waves take her away. The whole time, this was her view. Love you, Donnie!

Donnie's view Hohenzollern Bridge and Kolner Dom Sunset - Cologne Cathedral - Germany
Donnie’s view Hohenzollern Bridge and Kolner Dom Sunset – Cologne Cathedral – Germany

 

Auf Wiederhören!

Me in front of Kolner Dam - Cologne, Germany
Me in front of Kolner Dam – Cologne, Germany

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