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A New Year

A Day-Trip to Cologne

January 30, 2010

Written February 8

Friends and Families,


Introduction for the new year

This is the first diary of 2010. We have been doing these things for over a decade now and in that time we have stayed with a fairly simple format, in part because that's all that was practical ten years ago and partly because the "web crew" (of one) has limited skills and time. We thought about going more elaborate as the new year hit, but the skill and time limits are still in effect. So, it stays simple.


A Day Trip to Cologne*

One of our New Year's resolutions was to take at least one trip every month. That's what we are in Europe for, after all, and last year our traveling was limited. Mostly, it was limited by our own choice, as we settled in even more into our now-finished house and barn/atelier. So, now we can choose something else and our first decision was to squeeze in a visit to the famous cathedral of Cologne.

We started with Marianne joining me in Offenbach for Thursday and Friday. She shopped and I worked. Early Saturday morning, we jumped on the subway for the ten-minute hop to the haubtbanhof. There we caught our high-speed "ICE" train and left, on-time of course.

The train ride was most pleasant. The car was not crowded and the view of the snowy countryside was pretty dramatic. It made the decision to abandon the car for the train look like a perfect decision. We had calculated that gas, at $8 or $9 per gallon, would be almost as expensive as the 2nd class tickets.

At the other end, we discovered that the cathedral was a snowball's throw from the exit of the train station. It was snowing enough that the towering church almost disappeared but it all made it more dramatic.

We immediately made it into the cathedral and did our standard swing through a European-cathedral. This one was particularly grand. It had been the tallest building in the world for a decade or so in the 19th Century but not remarkably different than many others. Maybe we are getting our fill - finally.

The rest of the day was spent just slogging through snow and grabbing a bite here and there. The first bite was a huge pig-knuckle, at Peters Brauhaus, washed down by the local beer (kölsch). Not dietetic. After the light lunch, we hit a couple of museums, The Ludwig Museum for contemporary art and The Roman-German Museum about Cologne's Roman past. I'll admit I didn't get the art part. Too many "installations". (And no photo-taking allowed so I couldn't keep distracted.)

The Roman museum was educational, since we had no idea of how large a Roman settlement Cologne originally was. There were mosaic floors from a pair of original villas that were really quite impressive and thinking that they were over two thousand years old made us think: always a good idea.

By now, we were wearing out, but Marianne suggested a bus tour. This turned into two comfortable hours and a nice overview of the old city. We saw more Roman and medieval walls and gates, as well as small slices of pleasant modern neighborhoods. And, we stayed dry and warm.

After trying more walking, we needed a coffee and cake, a European practice we absolutely endorse. Then, it was back to the train station, where we were treated to a bit of an extra wait as the German train system was running late on this snowy day. No matter, the return was pleasant, the subway waiting to take us back to Offenbach. All in all, Cologne was a good start for our one-trip-a-month resolution.





John and Marianne


(* Cologne is the English name for Köln and I use it because this diary is, after all, written in English.)



Wikipedia for Cologne

Peters Brauhaus

Museum Ludwig

Roman-German Museum

Dom (Cathedral) Museum


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