Thursday, August 27, 2009


Oh, I am so tired. Michael wakes me at 9:30 am. "Do you want to come down to breakfast?" "Uh uh" I groan as I pull the doona higher and snuggle in. Bugger I thought, I really should eat something - "Hang on, I'm coming". In for a quick shower to a bathroom that is the size of a postage stamp! The room we have here at Hotel Friends is lovely - 6th floor, looking out over parklands towards the spires of the Köln Dom (not back over the chemical park), it is very tastefully decorated - modern and large. The beds are so comfortable and the pillows wonderful - don't laugh, we get good pillows in maybe 1/4 hotels only! (Yes, Hels, bring your microfibre pillow!!)

But the bathroom is tiny. The door opening almost touches the toilet seat next to that is the shower and between the shower and the door is the basin. It measures literally 4' x 4'!

Breakfast at €10 a head is on the upper end of what we have been paying, but it is worth it. Juices, hot and cold dishes including a hot vegetable medley, nice rolls and croissants, fresh fruit - and a good selection of it, plus the usual cereals, toast and nutella! Coffee is good - in fact this morning coffee is very good! (If you get my drift!)

Breakfast over it is back to the room to finalise the blog and upload the photos, time also to print the details of my rail ticket and our accommodation for the next couple of days while we know we can have access to a printer. Michael strolls down to the local Aldi to replenish or water and snack supplies. We check in with Gen on Skype - thanks DM who has just taken her and the mower down to have it repaired. And then Hels is online. 50 minutes later, lots of giggles and some half plans made, we sign off. Yep, she is just as excited as me!

This afternoon we go in to Cologne. Kaiser Wilhelm is riding confidently into the City atop one of the bridges over the Rhine. Gosh he gets around. Truly he must have been 'the Great' to have such an outpouring of sentiment that is reflected in all the memorials around. Too bad our leaders of today do not command such respect!

And while like all the other major cities in Europe, the roads are a mess, there is plenty of underground parking in Cologne - like under the Kölner Dom (Cathedral)! We have no trouble negotiating the dug up streets and signage is very clear which is a lovely change. So down into the depths under the 175m towers we go. Plenty of parking here and close to the lifts as well.

You come up from the carpark right next to the south tower of the Dom. It literally takes your breath away as you step into the square and have this tall edifice tower over you. To see the top of the tower up this close you have to throw your head back - all the way back! You can go up this tower to see the Dom and the city from on high - and so off Michael goes to climb the 509 steps! There as no way I was going to be able to climb up that many (and make it down to the bottom alive - hm, what would they do if someone had a heart attack halfway up, or at the top - bugger, should have gone - maybe I could have been rescued by some hnadsome fireman!!)

On the way up he passes the belfry with the huge bells ready to peal out the quarter hours and sing the hours to the heavens. The largest is the St Peter Bell that weighs in at a very hefty 24,000 kgs. And still up he goes until he is at the very base of the spire itself. Fascinating to look up from here too. The photos of the bells are not clear enough to put on here.

Michael complains that it was hard to get a good photo from up top because of the safety cages and the bird wire - however, I don't think he has done such a bad job!

We are peckish after our first look through the Dom. Initially we head out to the plaza to get some tourist information from the Visitor Centre and we stop for a coffee, then looking at the menu at the Cafe Reichard decide to have something to eat. We are contemplating that we might try for a river cruise by night tonight and so decide to just have something light. Michael opts for Berner rösti mit gebratenen, mageren Speckstreifen und Spiegeleiern (Swiss rösti with slices of bacon and fried eggs) while I choose Genfer Rösti mit frschen Kräutchampignons und Crème fraîche (Swiss rösti with herb mushrooms). It was perfect - enough to fill the hollows without being too heavy. The service is great too - Michael's gross black coffee is in a silver pot!

We were going to head back to the hotel, but the light has changed and the front of the Dom is now bathed in the late glow of the afternoon, so we dash back in for a few last pics. It is amazing how different a space can look given changing light! The rays of light that are streaming through the window spaces without stained glass are surely the light from on high, beckoning us to reflect.

In our travels around the various cathedrals and churches we have collected a great number of photos of gargoyles and grotesques. The difference being that gargoyles gush water from the guttering systems while the grotesques are merely ornamental and have no practical purpose. Today is no different. I think that this could easily be yet another book that is printed when we return! This one on the western facade of the Kölner Dom is a little different - a shy mermaidish type of charachter with her arms across her breast.

Driving an English car on the continent draws lots of looks. Whenever there is a double take, Michael usually pretends to be driving as well in an exaggerated form of oversteering! It always gets a laugh and today was no different - there was this young lass on the tram travelling next to us who was getting such a kick out of it that she started to take a video of him - and so, he promptly took her photo, taking the video! What a dag.

On the drive back to the hotel we get a chance to see a little more of Köln and realise that there is a real juxtaposition here in this city - the industrial and the green parks, large suurbs and a tight inner CBD area, stately old buildings that sit comfortably aside new gleaming examples of modern architecture!

Anyhow, we got back to the hotel just after 7:30pm and promptly set about continuing the planning of our respective journeys for the next few days. So, until next issue...auf weiderschein.

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