Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vierundzwanzig Stunden in Köln

Arriving in Köln by train from Frankfurt was amazing. Before you can even exit the Köln Hofbanhof you can see the Kölnerdom, the enormous gothic cathedral across the square.

The Kölnerdom itself is enough for a separate post, so for now I'll just say it's bigger than I could have ever imagined. It's dark, imposing, intricate, and beautiful.

But, the purpose of my visit wasn't to admire the architecture! It was to meet a dear friend in her city, to trip around her world, and to catch up with the one and only Angelika!

After finding my hotel and walking around for a bit on my own, I met Geli about two hours after I arrived. My hotel was one address up the street from her apartment (thanks for the tip, Geli!). Geli then took over and showed me all over her delightful city:

down to the Rhine and the Schokoladenmuseum Köln;

across the Rhine on the bridge that is famously covered in "Love Locks" - padlock mementos left by couples;

all over the downtown shopping area and into the biggest - and coolest - outdoor store I've ever seen (they've got a dive well, a rain storm generator and an arctic room with a wind tunnel and a thermal imaging camera, all for testing out their gear in the store before you buy!!) There are people testing out kayaks in the photo.

For dinner, we ate schnitzel and zweibelringen at a brauhaus (we mistakenly thought "onion rings" would be American-style fried onion rings - heh, joke's on us they were fresh raw onions!) and drank Kölsch (regional beer); wandered around in a snowstorm and planned the next morning's adventure.

The next morning it was off to breakfast for meuslix, cappucinos and PB&J on bagels at Cafe Cafe and then over to the belfry tour at the Kölnerdom where the view of the city and the inside of the cathedral is stunning.

Notice that there was snow at the top of the cathedral, but none on the ground.

The belfry itself was beautiful.

This is looking down the cathedral dome from above the bells. When you're up here, you're really high off the ground. To give you an idea, the windows are roughly 75 feet tall!

One more tourist picture before walking back down all those stairs!

Sadly, all too quickly I had to jump back on the train to Frankfurt to catch my flight home. Right before I left I snapped this last picture! The Pingel family misses you, Geli! Can't wait for this summer!

One last cool little item. On the ride to Frankfurt it snowed, making the countryside picture-perfect beautiful outside the train window.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wiesbaden, Germany

Wiesbaden is beautiful. Clear skies, crisp, cool air, small streets and great food. The drive from the airport was completely uneventful, except that the in-car nav system avoided the autobahn entirely. It took us through every small village and hamlet possible between Frankfurt and Wiesbaden. Not sure why, but it was educational.

It seems everyone here drives some kind of wagon. Audi, BMW, Benz, Fiat, Alfa, Opel, Jaguar, Ford, Chrysler, you name it, it's a wagon. Over half the cars are some kind of cool-looking wagon.

Marktkirche, Marktplatz, Wiesbaden

Bonifatiuskirche, Lisenstrasse, Wiesbaden.

Wilhelmstrasse, Wiesbaden. Cool trees and a cobbled sidewalk.

Futterneid? Nein. Rheingaupfanne (Schweinnefiletmedaillon), de Pinte, Dorint Hotel, Auguste-Viktoria Strasse, Wiesbaden. All three of us ate something traditionally German and everything was great. Rheingaupfanne is pork medallions with bacon and a sunny-side up egg, potatoes and a delicious onion-wine reduction sauce. Yum.
Tomorrow it's the train from Wiesbaden to Frankfurt to Koln. I expect to be in Koln around 3, for dinner with Angelika. Can't wait.