Thanks, Germany! At 3 PM, we arrived in Cologne and took the U-bahn to our hostel. Now that we are back in Germany, we are getting shamelessly stared at by everyone. Literally, almost everyone stares at us for a solid 3-4 seconds, but not in a mean/friendly way-- in a very neutral way.
And they all stare at one another as well! At least that rules out the theory that they were staring at Jenna and myself because we were doing something inappropriate... they just like to stare.
The hostel was pretty fantastic for the price-- 12 Euros a night! That is the cheapest hostel we've seen since Budapest!
Our room was sort of cramped and the internet was completely broken and unusable (which, combined with the internet in Geneva, is why these blogs are so behind), but the beds were comfortable and our roommate was very quiet. We dropped off our bags and headed back to the center of town to wander around Cologne.
The walk from the hostel to the Old Town was pretty cool. There were a number of little cathedrals along the way, but the majority of the walk was along a huge shopping street. We passed 5 H&Ms, 3 McDonalds, 3 Starbucks, and 3 Dunkin Donuts!
Can't understand why they don't incorporate other stores into the walking mall-- there is no way Cologne could possibly have enough demand to support 5 H&Ms...
We spent a ton of time circling the Dom, which is obviously the pride and joy of Cologne. It is the biggest cathedral in all of Germany, and it is pretty freaking huge and impressive. The inside was lovely, and there was a beautiful service going on.
We felt pretty guilty about snapping a ton of pictures during service, but everyone else was doing it so we jumped on board. I'll post a video of the service at the bottom of the blog. The lighting was pretty tragic with the cloudy grey sky, so we decided to hide out in a beer hall until the sun set so we could get night pictures.
The beer hall was not as epic as the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, but it was still awesome. We got a few of the local beers, goulash, and a few different kinds of sausage with potatoes and saurkraut.
Everything was excellent, just as we expected, and the atmosphere was very fun and German. Plus, we had a really funny waitor that helped us with the menu and was very attentive.
After dinner, we walked along the water and checked out the Rathaus (town hall). It was still far from dark and was starting to get cold, so we found a restaurant with a terrace equipped with blankets and heat lamps and ordered a few drinks. We managed to nurse our giant beers for over an hour until the lights in the cathedral turned on.
We walked across the bridge to get shots from the other side of the Rhine river and got pretty distracted on the bridge itself. There were millions of little locks attached to the bridge! We've seen the locks before (Florence, Prague, Paris, etc.) but this was definitely the most impressive lock display so far. The bridge was literally covered in them!
The locks are attached by couples and symbolize something about eternal love-- very cute. The view from the other side was unbelievable, so we spent a long time taking a million pictures.
Because the cathedral was so far away, it was pretty hard to get clear shots without a proper tripod (which we are obviously not carrying), but we got a few decent ones. Just don't zoom too far in... haha!
By this point it was pretty late/cold, so we walked halfway back to the hostel then caught a tram the rest of the way.
Once we arrived, we discovered that the internet was STILL not fixed, so we showered and went to be so we could wake up early and solve the internet dilemma in the morning.
Tomorrow, we are spending the day in Luxembourg, which is the third smallest country in Europe according to the guidebook (beaten by Monaco and the Vatican at least, but it cant be bigger than Andorra, so this tidbit is probably not true). Guess we will see tomorrow! Auf Wiedersehen!
Our train ride from Switzerland to Germany was pretty great. All of the trains were on time, new, and perfectly clean. We had a nice bread and Nutella/peanut butter snack on the first train, then a bread and cheese feast on the third train. Plus, we didn't have to mess around with seat reservations or supplementary costs on any of the trains.