Movement! And Köln, Germany :)

I promise I will get to my exciting Koln adventure, but first, I FELT BABY HERBIE MOVE!  Wow, what a strange, incredible feeling!  I don’t even really know how to describe it!  I have been trying to explain to B what it feels like, but words just seem to fall short.  I can’t wait until he can feel it!

Ok, so onto Köln!  Köln is the German way of spelling Cologne, Germany.  Some family friends of mine were headed to Dusseldorf, Germany for work for a week, and asked if they could come visit us first, then asked if we would want to spend some time up in Germany while they were there.  We of course took them up on the offer!  They got into London May 2, and we met them down there for the weekend.  Lots of sightseeing and train craziness (tube strikes and shutdowns), but it was fun!  They then came up and spent a few nights with us in Brandon.

Wednesday, May 7 we left for Köln (well, Weeze really) early in the morning.  I was under the assumption that we would be staying in Dusseldorf, as that is where Wayne’s work conference was, so I booked flights to Dusseldorf-Weeze airport.  We caught a flight out of London Stansted (about an hour from our house) for about £40 per person round trip (about $60).  When we arrived in Weeze, we realized we were actually pretty far from Köln, which is where the hotel ended up being.  We took a bus from the airport to the train station, then a train from Weeze to Dusseldorf (with no help from the angry very-little-English-speaking bus driver), then another train from Dusseldorf to Köln.  The trip wasn’t bad, especially since B and I have learned to pack light, and we ended up in Köln early afternoon.  B and I got to check into our hotel room, which was super fancy shmancy, thanks to Connie & Wayne!  It was nice to set our backpacks down and relax for a minute.  We decided to just stroll around town and grab a bite to eat…

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Our fancy shmancy hotel, Hotel Mondial am Dom, Cologne

Image   The view from our hotel doors!  That is the Köln Cathedral!

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Streets of Koln…

So, German food is really good.  I could eat me some schnitzel, sausages, kraut, taters, and pork all day, every day.  And I could probably drink me some German beer all day, though I didn’t get to on this trip, sadly.  I suppose we will have to make another trip to Germany once Baby Herbie is here!  I did have a few sips of Brandon’s Weiß beer, and boy was it tasty!  Instead of beer, I indulged in gelato every night we were there…yea, yea, I know gelato is Italian, but goodness, it is so delicious!

I love the Köln Altstadt (old town) area of the city, it is where the colorful buildings and cobblestone streets along the Rhine are:

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We of course wandered over to marvel at the Cathedral (Kölner Dom), but I will post pictures of the Cathedral at the end, because I have so many.  It was so incredibly breathtaking!  Construction began in 1248, and it took over 600 years to complete!  As you will see, it is clearly Gothic and dominates the Köln skyline.  Here is a ton more information about the Cathedral, if you’re interested 🙂

http://www.colognecathedral.net/

We made it an early night that night, as we were all exhausted from traveling all day, and Wayne had to be up for work the next day.  Thursday, B, Connie and I ate a delicious, full meal at the hotel then set out to explore.  The Schokoladen Museum (Chocolate Museum) was first on our agenda, and I’m glad it was, as it was getting busy by the time we left!  The museum was pretty cool and I think it was well worth the 9 Euro entrance fee.  It tracked everything from the production of cocoa to the factory process to the history of ads for chocolate.  A bonus was, of course, the CHOCOLATE itself that we got!  They gave out a free piece as part of the tour, then we bought some at the gift shop 🙂  I found some absolutely delicious Sea Salt Chocolate, and some chocolate-covered gummy bears too.  [I know, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person on the planet that likes them, but whatevs.  Also, they totally reminded me of the the candy store Mr. Bulky at City Center in Columbus, as I used to buy them there in like middle school.]

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Can you taste the deliciousness?!?

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Adorable, no?  Also, chocolate noodles…who woulda thunk.

After the museum, we wandered a bit down the Rhine.  I found my favorite thing ever, a “street library” where people leave a book, take a book, as well as a pretty cool mural (very Dia de los Muertos-y):

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It’s interesting, because obviously parts of the city are super old (hence Altstadt), but other parts are super modern, like these buildings along the Rhine…

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That night we had another delicious German meal and the gentlemen enjoyed some German brews.

Friday was another eventful day, full of walking and sightseeing.  After breakfast, B, Connie and I headed out the opposite way along the Rhine, ending up at the Köln Sculpture Garden and the Köln Botanical Gardens, both of which were free!  The botanical gardens were in full bloom, which was fabulous (much better than our limited flower-viewing in Edinburgh!)

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One of the sculptures & a little baby bump profile pic 🙂

One of my favorite pics from the gardens:

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We found a nice little cafe after the gardens, and moseyed our way back to the hotel.  After a nap, we enjoyed some Italian for dinner, and of course, a little gelato!

Saturday was Brandon and my last day in Köln, as we had to leave early Sunday to get back to the UK for work and classes.  It was a rainy day, so it was perfect for a boat ride (on a covered boat!)  The tour was an hour-long ride up and down a little bit of the Rhine for 9 euro.  We didn’t see a whole lot of things we hadn’t seen before, but it was nice to be sitting and relaxing under the cover of the boat, rather than walking around in rain gear.  I will say that my North Face raincoat that I bought off of a yardsale website here is probably the best $40 I have ever spent–I have used it countless times in London, as well as during our trip to Edinburgh and this trip to Köln.

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The cathedral from the river…

Saturday was also Brandon and I’s first anniversary!  So we went to Peters Brauhaus for a late lunch/early dinner, which was delicious.   After dinner, B and I wandered over to the bridge pictured above, which was covered with “Locks of Love.”  I know there are a few places throughout Europe that have bridges with locks, but this was our first one.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to buy a lock, but it was fun to see them!

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We also stopped by the train station to check the train times for the following morning, since our flight was fairly early.  More about that later, as it was a bit of a fiasco getting back to Weeze!  Later that evening, we headed to the cathedral, as we were hoping to tour the belfry.  Apparently, we should’ve checked the times and gone earlier, as they were getting ready to start Saturday evening mass.  We got a quick peek of the inside of the cathedral though.  It was absolutely gorgeous, as all of the cathedrals I have seen over here are.  I wish we could’ve seen it all and climbed the steps to the belfry, that’s the only thing we really feel like we missed out on.  Since it was raining (pouring, actually), we had a fairly relaxing night, the boys drank some German beers and we packed up for our early morning of traveling.  As promised, here are some pictures of the cathedral, both in daylight and at night.

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I took like a million more pictures of the cathedral, so if you wanna see more, check my Facebook album.

Sunday morning B and I had to get up super early (in fact, the nighttime picture were taken early that morning before our traveling) in order to get to the Dusseldorf-Weeze airport in time.  According to the train schedule we were given (by the information desk, who had checked the computers, mind you!), we were supposed to catch the train at 5am to get to Dusseldorf by 5:30ish, which would then allow us to take the train from Dusseldorf to Weeze just after 6, getting us to the airport around 7:30.  Since our flight was at 9:30, timing would’ve been perfect.  So, we took the train to Dusseldorf and got there around 5:30, as expected.  Well….the information desk failed to mention that the 6am bus from Dusseldorf to Weeze didn’t run on Sundays.  The next train wasn’t leaving until just after 7, which wouldn’t have gotten us to the airport in time for our flight, so we ended up having to take a cab.  An hour and a whole lot of euros later (I don’t even want to admit how much the cab ride cost…), we got to the airport with plenty of time for a quick snack before waiting for our plane.  Our flight to Stansted and drive home was uneventful, which we were very thankful for after our crazy, dramatic morning.

All in all the trip was amazing, and I am so thankful and grateful for Connie and Wayne inviting us!  I can’t wait to check out different parts of Germany now!

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