Cologne Travel Blog› entry 46 of 61 › view all entries
On Sunday, my long awaited trip to Germany to see Köln and meet Lauro and Luci came around at last. Of course, I overslept. My flat mate, Eva, one of the loveliest people in the world, came and banged on my door to remind me that I said I was leaving at 10.30 and it's 10.00 now and shouldn't I be eating breakfast? Eek, I thought, and dragged my hair back into a ponytail out of my way. I checked I had both mobile phones, my passport, some paper, some lipgloss, a pen, a notebook, my camera, my music, some snacks... and then remembered that I was going to Germany, not Outer Mongolia, and took all the heavy stuff back out again. And I arrived in the station exactly as Ilka called me to let me know that she was there too.
The train was nowhere to be seen on platform 11, but no-one else was bothered so neither were we. There was an announcement for a platform change, so we all went to platform 14. Then we all watched the train pull into platform 11. If I'd had more luggage, I'd have been stressed out, but as it was, we all went back to platform 11 and got on the train. ICE Internationals are big, sleek, muddy, and look a little like older, more tastefully decorated versions of the Virgin Pendilino, train fans - quite comfy, but nowhere near as pink. Virgin have the pinkest trains I've ever seen.
A very nice man gave us some of his chocolate holly leaves, and I hope that very nice man had a very nice day too. They were very good, and it started to get Ilka and I feeling a bit more festive. Ilka in particular misses the Christmas traditions of home - she's German, and the Dutch focus on Sinterklaas means that there's less in the way of Christmas decorations and things. So her enthusiasm for the trip was catching - not that I wasn't excited on my own! - and by the time we were as far as Arnheim we were getting quite giggly.
Arnheim has hills, and looks quite pretty, which I was surprised about - I don't know why, but no-one has ever mentioned that Arnheim was hilly and pretty to me so I was quite excited.
Köln station is on the other side of the Rhine from the direction we were travelling, and the Rhine really impressed me. It's huge. Really - almost as wide as the Thames at Dartford, with several hundred miles still to go.
We met Lauro and Luci without any problems at the Dom side of the station. The Dom really is right outside - A huge, black presence dominating the square, towering over a surprisingly modern city. And it was the first thing I wanted to see. We went in, and I walked around with my mouth hung open, in genuine danger of walking straight into a pillar because I was looking at the windows. It's absolutely stunning, and there's no way I can do it justice in either words or the few pictures I let myself take.
The tower is quite high, and there are no places really to take a break. The staircase is narrow. ABout midway, my lungs remembered that I am a) asthmatic and b) totally out of medicine. I was really, really glad to get to the top! But the view over the Rhine and the city was so worhtwhile. The only niggle is the graffiti - if you're going to deface a place of worship, several centuries old, could you not do it more attractively? And there were a few "F*** God" type comments - some people, huh?
We took a bunch of photos of each other with our hair all over the place and our faces all red, and walked back down.
The chocolate museum rocks.
Near the Dom, we found a Mediterranean restaurant that looked pretty nice. Dinner was great - a chance to chat, really laid back restaurant where the service was attentive, the food took quite a long time but they were cooking it fresh, and the food was just lovely.