It’s that time of year again – New Year! For us, that means an adventure to a new place. We have done a couple of European road trips now – Paris, Amsterdam and Gothenburg – so we were looking forward to adding Brussels and Cologne to the list!
We set off early on Sunday morning to head to the Eurotunnel at Folkstone and begin our journey over to Calais, initially, and then to Brussels for an afternoon stop on our route to our final destination – Cologne.
We stopped at Brussels for a few hours – to get a late lunch and wander the streets. Sadly we did not have time for a full city tour, so we have promised ourselves to return in the near future!
We were very hungry so we did not spend too much time researching, but luckily we stumbled across Baogo Burger – an Asian style burger menu which was delicious, speedy food so just what we needed!
We wandered around after lunch to see some of the architecture and soak up the post-Christmassy atmosphere in Brussels. We then walked back to the car, and headed on towards our AirBnB in Germany.
Our accommodation was the perfect location for our stay – only 15 mins between Cologne and Phantasialand theme park (two things on our itinerary!). Our host was really friendly, the place was so comfortable and cosy, and the festive touches were great too.
The next day, we headed to Phantasialand theme park. I forgot to catch many photos of the theme park, which is a shame as the themeing is fantastic. It’s a small park but packs in so many coasters (too many for us to get around all of them on a busy day!) and each area has brilliant theming. It means we definitely need to revisit. In the evening, there was a short performance with dancers, ice skaters, and fireworks, as well as Chinese lights in the China area!
Next, we had a day out in Cologne to do some sightseeing. I loved how compact and easy it was to find our way around Cologne. It is big on shopping but we didn’t realise that everything would close at about 2pm for New Year’s Eve (probably better for our wallets).
We visited the Cathedral, the Hohenzollern bridge, Koln Triangle, the Fishmarket and Great St Martin Church, the chocolate museum, Rathaus, and even 4711 Eau De Cologne where the famous perfume was first created in 1799!
On New Year’s Day, our original plan was to drive a few hours over to the small country of Luxembourg. We were going to visit the castle in Vianden or Luxembourg capital city itself. But after being fairly tired after a busy couple of days, we opted for a lazy morning and a trip to Cologne zoo – which has been there since 1840 and despite mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, we were impressed with the large, varied enclosures and the host of animals.
Finally, for our last day, we packed up and left our great AirBnB home and did half of our driving all the way back towards the Channel tunnel. About 40 minutes from the French/Belgium border is another theme park called Plopsaland in a town called De Panne.
It is very well themed and despite being a more family-focused park, we really enjoyed the experience and the few rollercoasters they have are very good!