Pul the COL in Cologne

Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
Trip End Aug 19, 2011

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Flag of Germany  , North Rhine-Westphalia,
Monday, September 20, 2010

Finally, 8 years since I have learned German I would get to practice it a little bit. I was excited about that as I departed Amsterdam.   First of all... the German ICE trains.  Wow! Even better than the French TGV.  The train itself looks like a bullet and I think it moves like one two.  They can be 20 carriages long and I reckon they can travel at least 250kph if not more.  Something so big, moving at such speed, must carry an awesome amount of momentum.... think of the damage it could do... cool! Being an engineer, these are the things I wonder about.  It was a shame that my train was not an express and had so many stops that I doubt it even got to come close to top speed.  It was getting dark pretty quickly so I didn't get much of a view from the train either. No harm though, as an hour of snoozing was definitely required after the last 4 days.

Cologne was a city that I knew very little about, apart from that which I learned while doing a small project in German in first year of secondary school.  I had no expectations, and that is a great frame of mind in which to arrive.  Expectation breeds only disappointment, as a wise girl I know would say... In Cologne I would be meeting up with the first of many people from the International Students Society.  Saskia was to meet me at the platform and it was such a wonderful luxury to be able to arrive without any worry about where I was going or getting lost.  She was putting me up in her house and this was also fantastic, and greatly economical, especially after hemorrhaging money for 4 days in Amsterdam.

We met at the platform and headed straight to her place, Of course I had to take a quick peek at her beloved Cologne Cathedral along the way.  When we arrived she had prepared a lovely dinner and it was great to eat something home cooked for a change. We caught up over dinner, and from the moment I arrived Saskia made me feel right at home.  It was the perfect remedy for my previous bout of homesickness.  We went out for a beer in one of the pubs on the student strip.  In Cologne they drink their own beer called Kolsch, and they are very proud of it.  It’s ok, I guess, easy to drink but perhaps a little bit tasteless.  they mix it with coke or lemonade, which is really wrong I think.  Drinks are served in these strange 200ml glasses which are very tall and very narrow.  We were home pretty early and again I had a nice long night’s sleep, even until 11.30 the following morning which was really nice.

The following day we took a tour of Cologne.  The weather was really perfect, hardly a cloud in the sky and 25 degrees!  Actually it was almost too hot! Saskia says Cologne is the hottest place in Germany.  We did a nice quick tour of just half a day, I saw all the major landmarks and we also went up a skyscraper in order to see a panoramic view of the city.  Apparently Bonn is only a stones’ throw from Cologne, had I known I would have planned a visit there.  After drawing the cathedral and taking enough photos of it to satisfy Saskia we headed back towards home for a beer garden.  After a quick beer I met another ISS friend for dinner.  Jean, one of the founding members of the pantless society!  It was cool to see him and we caught up over dinner.  I asked for something very traditional and he recommended the famous Snitzel.  Famous for what? I found it quite bland and boring with not a vegetable in sight.  That night we headed out to an Irish bar in the town, Flanagan’s.  Saskia was something of a celebrity there and the owner kept throwing us free beers and shots, he was even doing shots with us which was quite cool.  He was a cork man and full of the cheeky charm that you would expect.  You know the kind that is offensive to anyone who doesn’t understand it.  It was really cool; the Cologne people seem very friendly and extroverted.  I lost count of the number of random strangers I was chatting too, I like that.  We had a fairly early night, were home by 12.30, which was fine as I had an early train to catch the next morning

Cologne people are a very proud type.  They love their city dearly and they are not afraid to proclaim it and try to make the visitor love it just as much.  In fact one might say that they are ridiculously proud of Cologne.  They are particularly proud of their cathedral which survived the Second World War fully intact, kudos to the RAF for that I would say.  There is a very cool picture which shows the city in ruins with the cathedral standing firm.  It's cute how proud they are and in some ways it reminds me of how Corkonians call Cork the real capital or the People’s Republic.  They are right to be proud, it’s a lovely place.
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