Cologne Germany

Trip Start Mar 12, 2010
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Trip End Sep 17, 2010


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Flag of Germany  , North Rhine-Westphalia,
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

KOLN – Cologne (Germany) initially started out as merely a stop-over on our way from Split, Croatia to Athens, Greece. Arriving at around 0030 hrs on the 10th of June, 2010 we made our way via Taxi to A&O Koln Hotel just off the main shopping centre on the Old Town side of the river and crashed for the night. The building was old however the room had been refurbished - though the cleaners did miss a spray of "snot" like substace  attached to the ceiling over our bed and threatening to detach from it's anchor giving us nightmares  until after two days without the room being cleaned we told the night receptionist who promptly allowed us to move to a new room.  I believe they have a lot of young high school / uni student groups who stay at the hostel portion of the hotel which appears to overlap the hotel section of the establishment depending on occupancy.   We would not stay again because of the noise factor.

Day 1

WE rolled out of bed early the next morning just catching the 8-10am breakfast time. 4 Euro for Sonya and I, and 2 euro for  a great breakfast of boiled eggs, cereal, fruit juices and an assortment of pressed meats and salads to make bread rolls. Good value really if that’s what you like – it worked for us.

We then meandered down through the streets toward the river where we found the 'Dom’ Cathedral. It is such an imposing building that when I first saw it I stood in the moving throngs of people in the square and stared up at the intricately detailed sculptured  stone spires and lofty bell towers of blackened sandstone in awe.  About 50 meters from the front door is an ancient arch which is said to be one of the gates to the ancient city built by the Romans around 30-50 AD. While Daniel captured the moment on digital media Sonya, Karlie and I captured a seat against the arch and took in the site.

In front of us were about three buskers all doing various musical, Magic or comedy skits. There was this one guy who drank down about 4 1.5 litre bottles of carbonated spring water which were consumed a bottle at a time.  Where did it all go!?!

Entry to the Dom is free and it is quiet inspiring to just be in the building – they say that the treasury is a great tour but we didn’t quite get there. To the left of the entry there was a rack with tour brochures which lead you through the church and were quiet informative in various languages. There was a box for your 1 Euro gift if you took one. The leadlight  windows in this cathedral are exquisite and it took some time to venture through the enormous place of worship. Sonya and I returned on Sunday and heard a mass where the priest sang – needed some vocal lessons – and the enormous pipe organ rang through the building. Kind of like a responsive reading in song!

Shopping in the city is magnificent with a Galleria shop – like Myers in Australia – and lots of other fashion shops. We found a great music store and an even better outdoor store that has four stories of outdoor bliss – it even has an indoor pool in the centre where people were being instructed in a paddy scuba diving course.

 Day 2

Venturing out we walked to the chocolate Museum on the Rhine river .  It looks like a huge boat and is set on a small island. The good part is that it is sponsored by Lindt chocolate and is a working factory – the bad thing is that they look out for your weight and you really only get two meagre samples - one on entry purchase and one a wafer dipped in a huge chocolate fountain at the other end of the museum . WE bought a bag of chocolates at the end of the tour at the factory shop – that was good – they have tempting flavours of chocolate I had never heard of in Australia like Hemp! Maybe they visited Nimbin.....

We then walked next door to the Sports Museum which would have been great though everything is in German. It has a great collection sporting memorabilia from the Olympics and was quiet good to view  - even if we couldn’t completely understand it all.

Day3

Today we did a bit of reflection at the local SSD headquarter museum which had been used as a torture and interrogation centre during WW2 by the Gustapo.  It was a confronting experience with the two upper floors documenting the Nazi  rise to power and how some of the major purpetrators of horrific crimes only spent  a short time in prison post war and then lived in the same city as successful business men! It hardly seemed fair given the sight when you walk into the down stairs prison cell area where you read the stories told by survivors of overcrowded cells and inhuman treatment by their captors. Upstairs hasn’t much English though we had a electronic English recording with head phones which walked us through.  It showed that those who were gypsies, handicapped or homosexual or jewish were sent to camps, terminated or had compulsory hysterectomies to prevent them from reproducing.  Interesting are the video collections  of propaganda which was shown to the people to get them onside with Hitler – these would have been great if you had an English guide to interpret them. Downstairs appeared newer and had both German and English translations and was much more enlightening though contemplative.

Day 4

Today we did the 2 hour Rhine River cruise. The highlights of this trip could be summarized  in a couple of points. Nudism is ALIVE  AND WELL ON KOLN RIVER BANKs though the subjects tended to scurry for cover! The river is quiet dirty through Koln though there are some magnificent old buildings. Lastly Dogs and bike riders are well entrenched elements of the Koln lifestyle. There were bike paths on either side of the Rhine which were well used by both dog walkers and bike riders. The view of the Dom Cathedral from the river is great.

Just on Dogs and Bikes in Koln – they are everywhere!  There is a bike path in Cologne on the footpath and we were found quite often in their pathways as we forgot and had to pull each other out of the way of been run down by a cyclist – no helmets either.

We hired a car for two days and went and checked out some family history on the Vogel side in Rauschenberg and the following day went to Nurburgring where Daniel and Paul enjoyed looking at some fast snazzy looking cars.  You can pay 22 Euro and do a lap but we figured our car insurance wouldn’t be effective on that track should something happen, so we just watched the FAST cars ROAR past us!
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