Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Into der Fatherland

Deez veekend vee traveled into der Fatherland. Vee hauled a$$ on der autobahn, ate some vienerschnitzel und drank some beer!
For Easter weekend we drove to Köln (Cologne), Germany. With the usual stops it was about a 6 hour drive. A good two-thirds of it was driving on the much vaunted German autobahn. Though not entirely unregulated, there wasn't a speed limit for much of our drive. We made good time cruising at 160 kph - that's about 100 mph. I found that most cars didn't exceed this speed. Slower cars did a good job of staying in the right lane or getting out of the way. It was somewhat dangerous, but far less so than doing it on an American highway. It is unexpected in the U.S., yet normal in Germany. This makes the difference.

Kathleen set us up with a very nice room at Marriott. We were only a few blocks from the 'old city'. We got checked in and were out and about by 6 o'clock or so. We were hungry so that was pretty much the first order of business.
I had checked the internet for American fast food. I found KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King and of course the standby McDonalds. They even had Subway. We never ate at any of them which brought great happiness to Kathleen. After dinner we just walked around down by the river - the Rhine river.
Before the night was out we ended up at Starbucks. If you count this as American fast food then I stand corrected.We didn't really plan anything for our trip. We just went and saw what we could see. On Saturday we just headed out to walk around the old city. Each day our walk took us through the bahnhof (train station).The polizei seemed all decked out for a riot. This seems to be the case in all of Europe we have seen. They are more para military than police if you ask me. But none threatened to knock me in the head. In the picture below Payton walked from the train platform down to Kathleen. One of the polizei walking up saw this and eyed him all the way to Kathleen. He didn't know if he was going somewhere or just a lost boy. That was nice of him.We headed over to Hohe Straße (street). This is a pedestrian only street with shopping galore. There were several of these. It is really quite nice and I think I prefer this over a mall.After walking down this street for a ways we came upon the holy grail of stores for Payton. It was a Lego store that Payton immediately started calling Lego Nation. We are baffled as to why he added 'nation' to the store name. Looking at the store front there really wasn't a store name at all. No need really. Anyone with kids knew what was inside.There was everything Lego in this store. They sure had a lot of stuff. It was a popular store. We got Payton a new Gladitorian Bionicle - TUMA - and some ordinary building blocks. TUMA is a really cool looking Bionicle. It is his best Bionicle to date.

Ahh Parker. He really needn't look so sad. His day is coming to start getting the cool stuff.
There were several musicians playing around the city. We saw this trio everyday at a different location. They played classical music and were very good. I don't know what you call that big bass 'guitar'. It looked homemade; possibly from an old guitar and some plywood. Like I said, they sounded good.

Sunday we went to Mass at the church that dominates the city skyline. The Köln Dom (Eng.: Cologne Cathedral). This church is HUGE. Construction began in 1248 and was completed in 1880. Take the time to read about by clicking here and also here.
The church under construction back in the 1850s.

The church is really something. Sadly it is in need of constant repair and restoring. The building is nearly black and it should be a sand color. They are working to make it its best. Being a city of Germany, Cologne got its share of bombing raids. Check these pictures out. The church stands tall after 262 air raids. It looks undamaged, but it took a few hits. Try as you might I doubt you could intentionally spare it with carpet bombing. I read a comment on the 'net that said it was largely undamaged by the raids because it was used as the aiming point. I doubt this is true, but who knows?
The Sunday service lasted about an hour. After it was over we walked across the river on the bridge you see destroyed in the above pictures.

On the bridge we saw what looks to be a tradition. People have padlocks engraved and lock them to the fencing on the bridge. If we had known about this we may have done it. If you go to Cologne you should do this since you know about it.

Just on the other side we saw people rock climbing. Not a cliff per say, but they were climbing rocks - very steep rocks. Guys and gals were climbing the stone walls around the bridge. Look how steep the incline is by comparing it to the building in the background. It is near vertical.

We walked south along the river to a carnival. Payton rode his first roller coaster and Kathleen nearly made herself sick. Payton was excited about the roller coaster. He didn't get scared, but was a little worried once it started downhill. When it was over he was smiling ear to ear.
After the roller coaster he did a couple of things a little less exciting. To Payton they were thrilling.
But then Payton saw a spinning ride, but it looked to wild. He saw another and it looked calm enough that Kathleen chose to ride it with him. Kathleen usually doesn't go for the spinning stuff. This ride's looks were deceiving. This thing started out slow enough, but it quickly gained speed and just kept going. Kathleen had to close her eyes. She was glad it ended after about 5 minutes. No more rides for Kathleen.

Sunday night I went out to try my hand at some nightime pictures.
Payton called these door handles the scary knockers.

Well that's about it for our trip. Stores weren't open on Sunday and the next day was still Easter holiday and the stores remained closed. This bummed Payton because he had wanted to go to Lego Nation once more. Restaurants and coffee shop were open though.

Our first trip into Germany was pretty cool. It was (sort of) a PITA driving on the autobahn. I think the unlimited speed is a little stupid and just isn't necessary. You just had to be on your toes all the time. You really have to drive looking in the mirror. Germany must use way more gas and diesel than the other European countries.

Here is one last tidbit. I bet you have received the email showing a similar bathroom to this one. The email says something about a New York place being decorated without limits. I have always thought the email was bull and that the bathroom isn't in New York, but in Europe. This bathroom is in the Cologne Marriott. The women pictures are the same as in the 'New York' place. I don't think you'd see such a thing in a reputable U.S.A. office building - certainly not in a Marriott hotel. No problem in Europe though.


  1. Hi, nice page. Enjoyed reading your comments :-)
    Best wishes from Cologne, Germany

  2. to let you know, the bathroom shot with the women is also in the Las Vegas Hilton


We always like to get feedback. Please leave us a note. Merci and remember to do so again soon!