Cologne has been my tough love. How can I explain? I came to Cologne three years ago.
Whenever I go to a new city, I get an instant feeling; it is very strong, and it sits in my core. It tells me “this city is you…” or not. I know how it feels when a city is me. We breath together. All its faces, nice and ugly, are also mine. All its moods, high or low, are also mine. When my guests see my city they see me.
Cologne wasn’t me. I gave us a try, three years long. It didn’t work. It’s a pity because it is a nice city. It is full of friendly, open minded and welcoming people. Besides, it is almost at the border of both Holland and Belgium and this has an effect. There is so much interaction in between these cities due to the vicinity that people almost live together. It is like a shared flat, where each roommate brings in his unique character and cultural background. And this makes life the more interesting, at times challenging, and the more beautiful in this city.
In Cologne you will find many Belgian boutiques, cafes and restaurants. In the grocery stores you will find much more Dutch food than in other cities. If you go out for tango dancing, your partners will be from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Maastricht even from Lille and Paris. Multicultural heaven.
In Cologne there is also a large Turkish community, which also has an effect. At least on me. All this time on all my public transport travels within the city I had to listen to many Turkish stories, about the breaking marriages, about the betraying couples, about the businesses going bankrupt. Very loudly told, very emotionally lived, all in Turkish. I know the all. I didn’t have a choice; it happens that I understand Turkish.
It is a pity that it didn’t work with Cologne and me. It is almost like, when you meet someone and admire and respect his or her personality but instantly you also know that there is no affection; and things will not pick up. This is our relationship with Cologne. In less than a week I am leaving; going to the south. Me and the south. Now, that is a passionate love affair.
So here am I again, saying goodbye to a city. I do not even know the number of times I have been in this picture; silently saying goodbye to the streets, to the shops and cafes, to the familiar faces behind the counter.
Next week the bakery across the street will sell my morning croissant to someone else. I also wonder if and when the man in that little shop where I have been buying water will realize I have stopped coming by. I will miss Museum Ludwig. I loved to go there after the work to see the paintings yet another time. It freed my mind and filled my soul.
Cologne wasn’t me, but I admire its personality. I am saying goodbye, while not believing in goodbyes. I know I will come back; I still have tandas to dance, flammkuchen to eat, friends to see; and many more Turkish stories to listen to on the trams.