So, after all the planning and effort that went into getting me, quite literally ‘off the ground', we finally made it onto the plane for Cologne yesterday morning. The journey was pretty quick and I took the liberty of enjoying one of Cologne's world-famous Kolsch beers during the flight. For some reason, Germanwings have this strange pricing policy that sometimes means a beer costs the same as a can of coke if you pick the right value meal. It's very bizarre. Anyway having taken all the beer on-board, we literally rocked and bumped the rest of the way into the city, passing straight overhead and consequently, leading to some beautiful views. Cologne airport however, is not how I remember and somehow in the intervening years since I was last there, they've succeeded in making it worse. If I knew however that this would be a sign of things to come downtown, I might well have elected to head straight for the ICE to Frankfurt.
Into town then, we arrived to Hennings place, dropped our gear and legged it for the local park, where pretty much the whole of Cologne (and his wife…or being one of Europe's major gay outposts, his boyfriend) were out having a beer, having a barbecue or whatever else you do in Germany on a stunningly hot day. It was pretty much beautiful. Myself and Anna went to a cocktail bar later for one or two before returning home for sleep.
Today then, my feet are falling off me. We rose pretty early and went straight for town. There's a bit of an issue with the local tram vending machines as illustrated in the portrait of me kicking one below. They seem, in spite of being vending machines, to only accept coins or ‘AutoCash' ATM cards, which of course only Germans seem to have, thus pretty much making them quite impossible for anyone not familiar with Cologne to use. Even Anna, a German, had has extreme difficulty trying to come to terms with these machines. They don't have destinations – instead, a bit like Dublin Bus, you sort of just have to know how much it is to go where you want to go. We ended up getting on and off the train a few times before finally settling on tier price ‘1B' and hoping that'd do the job.
We went to the chocolate museum, which was both delicious and interesting. It was pretty cheap too, only about a fiver and if you were scabby enough, like myself, there was the possibility of going round and round the tasting stand and taking a stick and dipping into the chocolate fountain – again, and again, and again, with the repeat visits purely dependent on the individuals scabbiness. After that, we met with Anna's friend, Anja and her boyfriend (while I, getting a taste of things to come, secretly starved from not having had any food all day) and went into the cathedral, the third tallest in the world I'm informed. Of course, Brett, Chris and myself were in it a number of years back but it's still always a joy to see – and unlike the rest of Cologne, didn't require a degree to get into. So that brings us to now – by the looks of it, dinner will be consisting of a mixture of chocolate and crisps I brought from Ireland and some bread if I can nick it secretly in the next 5 minutes while making it look like I'm just looking for something of mine…
So here we go, I'm going to go look for my ‘USB key'…
*In the time since this was written, I was up early today and on the ICE to Frankfurt, which, if the internet becomes slightly easier to find, will be the topic of tomorrow's writings…*