• Germany's news in English

The Best of the Rhineland in December

The Local · 5 Dec 2009, 17:40

Published: 05 Dec 2009 17:40 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Bruder Klaus Kappelle

If you're looking for something to do on a weekend outside of the Christmas hustle and bustle, take a trip to sleepy Wachendorf, and visit a little chapel that will quite simply blow you away. From far off it looks like a haystack, and as you get closer it starts to look more and more like what it actually is - a block of very unexciting concrete. But walk through the triangular door and you'll see what all the fuss is about. The extraordinary Bruder Klaus Kapelle is made from more than one hundred tree trunks that were arranged like the ribs of a tee-pee, covered with concrete, dried by fire, and removed, leaving their imprint. The walls rise upwards and inwards towards an open circle of sky and are punctured all around by pinpoints of light - little glass balls pushed into the concrete. The effect is breathtaking. You really are looking "towards the light" and at the same time your eyes are drawn to the dark, pitted walls, which bear the marks of the trees used to create the chapel. Commissioned by local Catholics Josef und Trude Scheidtweiler, the chapel was actually designed by Swiss star architect Peter Zumthor - which has caused a minor earthquake of interest amongst culture buffs around the region and has made a huge impact on the surrounding countryside. The chapel has well and truly arrived on the tourist map. Finely dressed architecture fans turn up in their Porsches and BMW Z6's, to dirty their heels on the muddy 20 minute walk through the fields to the chapel, closely followed by coach loads of camera clicking tourists. Don't let the idea of the crowds put you off - it is well worth a visit. Whether in summer when the sun pours through the open roof and glints off the hundreds of glass balls, or in winter when the cold blue light reflects off the snow captured inside the chapel’s interior - it's always a special place of peace and reflection.


Cheap sleeps in Cologne

Friends coming over for the holidays, but out of space? Low price accommodation has been hard to find in Cologne, unless you're prepared to stay in one of the outlying suburbs, or the dirtiest looking back-packer hostel on Barbarossaplatz above MacDonald’s - not very enticing, especially if you're visiting for a weekend of culture and shopping. Hostel Köln saw the gap in the market and has opened their first hostel between Neumarkt and Rudolfplatz - it's the perfect location. The hostel is clean, and bright, has simple white walls and furnishings, with added colour accents to liven things up, and dark wood beds and tables. The prices are reasonable, €45 for a single, €30 for a double (per person) and €24 (per person) for a dorm room - all prices include breakfast in the pleasant and bright breakfast room. There's also a seminar room for hire, free internet usage and a hotspot in the lobby. With the start of the Christmas Market season the hostel is likely to be swamped with weekend shoppers - let's hope expansion plans are already underway.

Hostel-Köln, Marsilstein 29, 50676 Köln www.hostel-one.de

Big, bold and beautiful in Bonn

The latest hotel to open up in Bonn is a five star luxury design/boutique extravaganza called the Kameha Grand. Usually design or boutique hotels are perfectly styled and small in scale. The Kameha Grand is grand by name and grand by nature with 253 rooms, a spa, two restaurants, four different bars and lounges, plus numerous banqueting suites and meeting rooms. Owner Carsten Rath, is optimistic about the hotel's popularity, despite opening in the middle of a recession. He has incorporated an eco gimmick that will go far to cut down on running costs. The hotel is able to cater for 70% of its heating and cooling needs using geothermal power. The power plant in the basement allows for reduced energy costs and cuts C02 emissions by roughly 400 tonnes. The hotel sits right on the Rhine and offers spectacular views of the Rhine valley and Siebengebirge hills. Its modern glass exterior looks rather like an airport terminal from afar, and the large spaces inside can look a little like an exhibition hall. But the luxurious (and somewhat kitsch) interiors created by the Dutch industrial designer Marcel Wanders, create a surreal and bizarre atmosphere which makes the hotel a delight to look at - it's like walking into the pages of Alice in Wonderland. Wanders calls it a very "sexy cool place" and says that "a hotel should entertain inspire stimulate... and create a space full of surprises and beauty" - and he has certainly achieved this at this new place.

Kameha Grand Bonn, Am Bonner Bogen 1, 53227 Bonn www.kamehagrand.com

Let it snow, let it snow, in Neuss

The chances of a white Christmas are pretty slim in the Rhineland, but there's one place in the region where you're guaranteed snow - and lots of it. The Skihalle Neuss has snow all year round as well as authentic alpine apres ski. With its huge slope, it's perfect for skiers and snowboarders and there are courses for both adults and kids of all levels. You can also hire all the kit you need from boards to boots, jackets, trousers and helmets. If you've never been on a ski slope before, this is a great place to start, it's big, but not too daunting and there are of course ski lifts to take you back up, if you make it to the bottom in one piece. And then there's the apres ski - it's all part of the experience - delicious food and tasty grog, Glühwein or Jäger Tea - there are five restaurants and bars to choose from at the Skihalle and there are also parties, special events and disco's to be enjoyed - depending on your level of intoxication. Check out the New Year's party packets which include dinner, drinks, discos and use of the slope - prices range from €13-50 across the various different restaurants and bars.

Story continues below…

allrounder winter world, An der Skihalle 1, 41472 Neuss T: 2131-1244-0 www.allrounder.de

Franz Ackermann at the Kunstmuseum Bonn

You may have seen some of the wonderful murals created by Franz Ackermann at the new Cowboys Stadium in the US. If you haven't, you don't have to go very far to see some of his wonderful room filling works of art, because he's coming to Bonn in December. Born in 1963 in Neumarkt St Veit, Germany, Franz Ackermann makes exuberant paintings and installations centred on themes of travel, tourism, globalisation and urbanism. His large-scale dynamic installations are built up from individual components comprising paintings, drawings, photographs, wall drawings and sculptural, billboard-like constructions. His work frequently deals with the double side of tourism – the glamour, speed and consumption of international travel but also the detritus, architectural scarring and garbage that it leaves behind, and his installations often take on the appearance of strange advertisements for a global tourism industry run amok. He creates room filling installations which consist of a large array of different materials and sometimes also integrate everyday elements, such as furniture, clothes and magazines. Ackermann is planning to develop a new set of works for the Kunstmuseum Bonn where they will be exhibited for the first time - so you'll be seeing new and unique work at this show which runs from 17 December to 21 February.

Kunstmuseum Bonn, Museumsmeile, Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 2, 53113 Bonn www.kunstmuseum.bonn.de

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd