48 hours in Cologne, Germany’s most laid-back city

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Cologne cathedral, Europe’s biggest collection of pop art and vintage shops are all less than four and a half hours from London by train

It’s on about our fifth Kölsch that we begin to get the idea of Cologne’s constitution. We are sitting in Päffgen, one of the traditional brewhouses that produce the pale yellow beer unique to the German city. It comes in small straight glasses (it loses its fizz quickly apparently) and each time one is emptied, another one is delivered by a waiter swinging a kranz, or circular tray, which appears to defy gravity. The process of replacement goes on until you place a beer mat on top of your glass to signal that you’ve had enough.

I imagine my limit of four is only the beginning for many of the drinkers packing the room, but we soak up the alcohol with traditional dishes of pork schnitzel, meatloaf and – for the vegetarian – three fried eggs with fried potatoes, all of which are declared delicious, if not the healthiest food.

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