Cologne and Brussels were beautiful; a perfect time to visit Cologne with all its Christmas markets, traditional German food and mulled wine. This is the city that contains my favourite architectural site: The Cologne Cathedral. I find it stunning, where every inch of the city is infused with a fascinating overload of Gothic detail. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Philharmonie is situated only a minute’s walk away from here. The concert hall itself was unique too, submerged underground and with seats somewhat dauntingly surrounding close to the stage.
Brussels was another atmospheric place. The Palace of Culture was extremely friendly–or at least, I thought so. I heard stories of competitors in the Queen Elizabeth Competition, who, toward the latter stages of the competition, having been shut away for a week, were told to learn a piece of contemporary repertoire that was to be performed by heart. What a nightmare!