The wrong side of Cologne
Cologne is not German. Cologne is Kölsch. The beer is Kölsch. The mentality is Kölsch. The language is Kölsch. It is a mix of German, Dutch and French. If you live in Kerkrade, Netherlands, you seem to be able to understand Kölsch. I am looking for the wrong side of Cologne, Schal-Sick.
Cologne has had a good and bad side since the Middle Ages. The right side of the Rhine is good, the left side is wrong. This is named Schäl-Sick. In 2014, Schäl-Sick became chic through the construction of stairs. A place where during sunset tourists and locals eat, drink and enjoy the view together.
The Love is locked
The wrong side of Cologne can be reached via the Hohenzollernbrücke. More than 50,000 locks of lovers are hanging from this bridge. It is a jumble of colors and names. I fantasize how the many loving couples here promise each other eternal love. Would they all still be together? "Take care when using the word love" (William Shakespeare 1598). In Paris there is also such a bridge, but it is closed due to danger of collapse. Not a good thing I guess.
Paddling in the Rhine
At the end of the bridge are the Cologne staircase, built in 2014, bathed in the Rhine. The playful green of the further located Rheinpark challenges the dark gray of the stately Domkerk on the right side of the Rhine. The other side is busy. Millions of tourists visit the famous cathedral every year.
Blue sky, rising sun. Birds chirp in the early morning. I am on the wrong side of the Rhine. It feels good.
Denial and loud laughter
An old man with a safety jacket is walking along the water. It looks like he is a guardian of something, but I can not detect what he is guarding exactly. I ask him what Schäl-Sick means. "Daruber muß man nicht sprechen" is his answer. I can not talk about it. The man walks away shaking his head. Did I ask a wrong question? Now I am really curious. A man with his dog walks a little further. I also ask him what Schäl-Sick means. The man has no idea. He is young and has never heard of the term. However, he knows how to tell me that I am coming a lot further in a beautiful park where many flowers such as Dutch tulips are in bloom. I walk further along the Rhine and discover the Rheinpark. The man did not say too much. It is full of all kinds of colored flowers including a huge amount of tulips. It smells like a blend of fresh flower perfumes and does not look like the well-smelling Cologne Eau de Cologne. Tight hiking trails lead me through the park. It is spacious and equipped with many play equipment for children. A park to recover from the crowds on the other side and enjoy the fresh green. A picnic basket is a must.
Good, bad and still pleasant
A group of people has a bootcamp in the middle of the park. Sweat everywere. I wonder if they know what Schäl-Sick is. When I address someone and ask my question, they laugh hard. Yes, Schäl-Sick still exists. It is the wrong side of the Rhine. The side where we are now. A guy named Tim knows everything about Schäl-Sick. Tim is called in. Around sixty years old, long dreadlocks, bad sandals and bright clothes. Tim looks like an old hippie with a lot of knowledge and explains: "It comes from the Middle Ages when horses ran along the Rhine to draw ships. The sun was on the other side of the Rhine and blinded the horses. The horses were squinted. They were on the wrong side of the Rhine and they called it Schäl-Sick ". To my question whether Schäl-Sick still exists, he answers: "it still exists. Those who live on this side of the Rhine have ended up on the wrong side of Cologne ". People like to tease each other. For me this side of the Rhine really is the most beautiful and especially the quiet side. Here no thousands of tourists like the Dom, but the daily Cologne life.
That evening I sit on the Cologne stairs on the Rhine during the sunset. It is cosy. Tourists and residents mingle to enjoy the view over the other side of the Rhine. The Cologne life is pleasant both on the good side and on the wrong side of the Rhine. If you want crowds, you can walk to the other side, and those who seek peace will stay in Schäl-Sick.