Se existe um gene da alegria e do espírito festeiro, então os habitantes de Colônia devem ter herdado logo um monte deles. Pois Colônia, mais do que uma paixão, é uma espécie de emoção e maneira positiva de ver a vida. E isso inclui o carnaval, a cerveja "Kölsch" e, é claro, a catedral de Colônia.
"Kölle alaaf": quando se houve esse chamado, a cidade entra em transe, uma época que chamam também de "Fastelovend", ou carnaval. Dizer que as pessoas ficam totalmente desvairadas ou fora de si é pouco para descrever o que acontece na cidade da famosa catedral na semana que antecede a quarta-feira de cinzas. O carnaval em Colônia começa oficialmente no dia 11/11 às 11:11 horas e termina, como nos outros lugares, na quarta-feira de cinzas. Mas é só isso que o carnaval de Colônia tem em comum com os outros e, principalmente na última semana, quando o carnaval de rua toma conta da cidade, fica claro que a festa aqui é de outra categoria. Essa alegria especial da cidade é resultado também – e isso durante o ano inteiro – dos bares característicos e aconchegantes nas redondezas das praças Alter Markt e Heumarkt, e das grandes cervejarias espalhadas por todo o centro histórico. Nelas, além das especialidades da região, litros e mais litros da cerveja típica da cidade, a "Kölsch", são servidos sem parar, e o clima costuma ser tão descontraído que parece que o carnaval em Colônia nunca termina. Cada tipo de Kölsch tem um sabor individual – e também, é claro, a sua própria cervejaria. Já os garçons, que aqui são chamados de "Köbes", parecem não se deixar contagiar pela alegria geral, mas isso faz parte: segundo a tradição, um verdadeiro Köbes deve ser sempre um pouco rude. A única coisa que restringe um pouco a alegria dos habitantes de Colônia é o fato de que, descendo o Reno, a uns 30 quilômetros fica Düsseldorf, a cidade vizinha um pouco mais fina, cuja existência é considerada resultado de uma série de situações infelizes, na melhor das hipóteses.
Nos fins de semana, principalmente, os moradores, turistas, jovens e estudantes encontram-se nos inúmeros clubes, discotecas, bares, restaurantes e lounges de bairros como Friesenviertel, Belgisches Viertel, Südstadt, no bairro estudantil Kwartier Latäng, um dos preferidos, e cada vez mais em Ehrenfeld, originalmente uma área industrial. Uma surpresa frequentemente agradável são os preços, em geral bem razoáveis para uma cidade desse porte. Mas uma prova de que o povo de Colônia prefere ver a vida pelo lado positivo, mesmo fora do carnaval, dos bares e das cervejarias, é o seu dinâmico circuito artístico e cultural – o teatro Musical Dome Köln é famoso por suas produções espetaculares e a maior casa de espetáculos de Colônia, com 1.700 lugares – ou o Christopher Street Day, o maior acontecimento de gays e lésbicas na Alemanha. Outro espetáculo é sempre também um jogo do time da cidade, o 1. FC Köln, mesmo que a sua colocação na tabela do campeonato nem sempre corresponda às expectativas dos torcedores.
Já os museus da cidade atendem a todas as expectativas, especialmente o maravilhoso Museum Ludwig, com seus Picassos, Warhols e Lichtensteins. O mesmo se aplica ao Römisch-Germanisches Museum, o museu romano-germânico, com testemunhos de 2.000 anos de história, ao Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, com arte da Idade Média até o século XIX, ou ao Museu do Chocolate - pelo menos, para os gulosos. Quem quiser apenas descansar um pouco, depois de tantas impressões típicas de Colônia, encontra um dos parques mais bonitos da cidade, o Rheinpark, no lado direito do Reno - para os colonianos, o lado "errado" do Reno. Ele pode ser acessado pelo bondinho que atravessa o rio. E quem ainda tiver um pouco de tempo pode aproveitar para ver a vista talvez mais bonita do centro histórico de Colônia e da Catedral, do alto da plataforma de visita do KölnTriangle, a 100 metros de altura. Com bom tempo, talvez se possa ver até Düsseldorf – mas não conte isso para seus amigos de Colônia.
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