September 8th, 2007


Der Zweiten Tag, or 'Over the Rhine'

Here again. I actually had to wait an hour or so for a PC to be free this time, but I needed to go on to check for a response from the Rosenhof. I am really going to have to talk to them tommorrow, because it's nice actually having a place to live. We have other things to do tommorrow too, such as getting our Bahncard 50, booking tickets to our respective homes (Eutin for me), and visiting Europe's largest CD store, Saturn, which is apparently located in a skyscraper not far from here.

As I guessed, we didn't get up anywhere near early enough this morning for our day trip. Thus, we spent the day in Cologne itself, doing the usual touristy things. Sort of. We got breakfast from the Hauptbahnhof, and ate it on the platforms, watching the trains come and go. Oh, how they come and go. English stations have nothing on stations such as this, with trains coming and going every minute, from Bonn, to Berlin, from Luxembourg, to the Cologne suburbs, from Vienna, to Paris. The station trainshed was also most impressive, reminding me of the big stations in Berlin. It was difficult to forget that I'd be getting on one of those trains myself soon enough, to head up to Hamburg, then Lübeck, then Eutin...ach, it still feels more of a holiday then the beginning of the Year Abroad.

After the Station, we crossed the Rhine on the grand railway bridge (Höhenzollernbrücke, I think), watching barges pass beneath, and trains pass by us. Upon reaching the other side, queries as to what to do were answered by a convenient tower with a viewing platform on top, and so we went up to get a bird's eye view. It was a little odd, largely because to get to said top floor, you passed through the corridor of a modelling company, complete with glitz, glamour, models, and expensive equipment. Cologne sparkled from above as much as it could be expected to with a cloudy sky. My late Oma lived in Köln when she was little, and I remember her telling me about the cable car, which I have also seen in my various German atlases, and so we decided to head over there to take it. Getting there involved walking through Cologne's second station (which was actually a bit grotty), between a construction site and the Messe, which wasn't the prettiest of walks, and then the Rheinpark, complete with a myriad of fountains, diving ducks, and a miniture railway that seemed to have no passengers, with the drive just taking his train round and round...

The cable car ride across the Rhine was an experience. Various mountain cable cars and chairlifts can't really prepare you for crossing not only a wide river (the Romans must be credited for their bridge-building skills), but also a four-lane highway, itself crossing the river. I've got photographs of a road that zou'd normally only gain via helicopter. The ride itself was over all too soon, however, and then we were down on the other side, outside the zoo, but not especially wanting to go into it (as we've done when we were in Munich and Berlin). We did find a garden full of sculptures instead, and posed with some of them, but as interesting as that was (and as surreal as it was), we still had to walk a fair distance to get back to the city centre, where we were in desperate need of rest and nourishment. A pizzeria by the river did the trick, despite copious numbers of small birds, and the occassional randomly-singing passing youth. Finally, we decided to go shopping, and after an ice cream each, which was much better value than anything you'd get in England, we wandered the shopping streets, past the sports store that so blighted my visit in December 2000. We visited the CD store on top of Kaufhof in the hope it was 'the big one', but while it wasn't, we still wasted away a lot of time listening to CDs.

Holly was exhausted by this point, and soon so was I, so we went to the nearest coffee place (tragically, a Starbucks). My fears were justified when my cappuccino revealed itself to have a small wooden spike and two pieces of paper in: the cup hadn't been cleaned since the last person. I was too tired to make a fuss, but Holly did for me, so I got both a free coffee and a voucher for another free coffee. The first free coffee came in handy when we stumbled, tired out, back to the hostel. Eventually, we went to get a meal, ending up passing a vast number of police (Polizei) outside the cathederal (Dom), and eating at an Asian buffet in the station. It wasn't bad.

We found an 'English Shop' here, selling such things as Marmite, Pot Noodle, Twinings Tea, Fruit Pastilles and even Quorn. In fact, it was moreorless your typical English supermarket, with slightly inflated prices. As tempted as I was to pick up a convient pot noodle, or maybe some cranberry juice to drink, it did seem odd buying English groceries in Germany, especially since we were in Nottingham the day before. I daresay my view there may change in a few weeks, after I've been living on German groceries, which whilst nice, are not what I'm used to...

I'm still to get used to the German keyboard. It's the Z and Y being reversed that is the confusing thing.

Not the most exciting update I know, but it's late. More tommorrow, hopefully with reports of the view from the top of the cathederal. Bis bald!
  • Current Music
    It's a Tracy Chapman CD, so let's say 'Fast Car'.