So on our first morning in Germany, we were delighted to wake up and find everything covered in snow.

Christian, our Couchsurfing host, and his friend Kevin trekked like gentlemen in the fresh powder to fetch us some Brötchen. We draped the yummy rolls with nutty slices of black forest ham and squirted mustard on them from what seemed like a toothpaste tube.

German bread

Cologne

My friend Marina, who hails from the balmy Mediterranean of Crete, was especially excited about the snow. And as a born-and-raised Michigander, I felt it was my duty to teach her how to make her first snowball, or as they say in German, schneeball.

Cologne, Germany

I loved strolling Christian’s neighborhood of Nippes (Admittedly, the name made me giggle. It’s pronounced exactly like “nipples” without the “l.”) It was residential without being staid, and the buildings were very colorful.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Marina had her next lesson in snowy climate fun when we stumbled upon a real-live, street-wide snowball fight. I asked Christian how to say “snowball fight” in German while dodging schneeballs left and right. (It’s Schneeballschlacht, fyi. Doesn’t that sound a little scary?)

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We spent the next three hours at the NS-Dokumentationszentrum, Cologne’s World War II History museum that is located in a former Nazi interrogation prison.

The experience was moving, informative and emotionally draining. By the end of it I was begging everyone to leave because I desperately needed an alcoholic beverage of any kind.

NS-Dokumentationszentrum

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We sought nourishment (and warmth) at a cute bakery. I thought it looked like the perfect place to rest my weary, frostbitten feet, but I was rushed along to a nearby Christmas market with a Brötchen in hand.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We then headed to Cologne’s Angel Market, which turned out to be my favorite Christmas market in Cologne. I loved the twinkling star-lights above all of the buildings.

Cologne, Germany

We finished off the day with some Glühwein, which is essentially hot wine stewed with spices like star anise and cinnamon.

Cologne, Germany

And as I learned in Germany, Glühwein and good company are kind of necessary after a long, cold and snowy day.

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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21, traveled the world for a year and now lives in Denver. She's usually in pursuit of skiing, languages and perfectly ripe cheese. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
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