29 June 2011

europe week--cologne, germany

From Luxembourg I caught a train to Trier in Germany. I grabbed a bite to eat before I boarded my next train. As it's light late in this part of the world I got to see quite a bit of German country side and the little towns along the way. I must admit I was surprised to see it so green.

I arrived in Cologne at 11pm and then tried to find the hostel I'd booked into. After wondering around a little I realised I'd exited the wrong side of the train station. So I went back in and came out the other side. WOW! I was met by the impressive DOM (Cathedral). All lit up at night. Spectacular. It was my highlight of all that I saw in Cologne. The magnificance and the detail. I'm sure it took hundreds of years to build.

I then found the hostel which was quite a lot nicer than I was expecting and I only had to share with one other girl who was in town for some lectures. The next morning I stored my luggage at the hostel and took one of their city guide maps and went walking.

I first headed down a long street toward the South Gate (and did a little shopping along the way). You can see it there at the end of the street. It's from the 12th century and the main road to Rome ran through it. I then went across past the Bottmühle which was originally a defence platform and over to the Rhein.

I walked along the Rhein to Altstadt which use to be the old harbour and fishmarket. I found a Thai restaurant there where I had a quick lunch. I back tracked a little to find the Overstolzen House because the architecture looked very interesting. Apparently the only richly ornamented building in the 1200s that wasn't owned by the catholic church. The Overstolz family became rich through trading wine. Quite different style to the churches around. I wandered back through the shopping streets--lovely to do since Luxembourg denied me ;)--up toward the train station as the time for a long parted friendship was due to reunite. ^^

Suhra and Mike met me there!! It was really good to see them again. It was wierd too because last I saw Suhra she was farewelling me in the USA three years ago telling me to save so I could come to her wedding and now that time had come. We met some other wedding guests there as well. Some I knew and some I didn't. Then we walked along the Rhein to the chocolate factory. Mmmm.

We wandered through the various levels where you could learn important stuff like how chocolate is made, fairtrade and how chocolate is good for your body. There was even a mini-tropic zone so you could experience the environment that's needed for cocoa to grow. Hot and sweaty! I actually found it interesting to see pictures of the cocoa plant. The 'fruit' grows straight off the trunk and are quite large. At least bigger than I thought. Inside the 'fruit' is a whole bunch of cocoa beans. There was also a factory making chocolates and we could watch how a little square of lindt chocolate like what we ate when we purchased our tickets was made. Oh, and they had a chocolate fountain flowing from golden cocoa 'fruits'. A lady was dipping in wafers for us to eat. Yum. Suhra and Maddie kept going back for as many as they could get.

I was drooling all over the place when I found the biggest Lindor chocolate ball I'd ever seen!! Lindor is my favourite chocolate if you want to buy me some. ^^

Suhra's brother led us to an Italian place for some tea. I had a schnitzel but I was a little disappointed. It wasn't as good as others I've had. I did have my first ever mojito though which was quite pleasant.

After this followed some drama of retrieving a hirecar that had been towed earlier. We hung out at the guest's hotel while Suhra (being a natural german speaker) went and helped out. Then we wandered back to the DOM for some final photos and night shots. I went and collected my bag from the hostel and Mike, Suhra, Suhra's brother and I got on a train to Düsseldorf. By the time we caught all the trains we needed to get back to Mike and Suhra's it was 2am and I was tired. But there was not to be much sleeping whilst in Düsseldorf where I spent most of my Europe week...

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