Cologne, Germany December 21, 2008
Last night, after a great deal of noise, we docked in Cologne. So I am tired again. I have been working on sending my notes to the blog and to Hilde so either I will try to find free wireless today or I may just log into our Viking minutes to do it. If it works, then it will be a great way to keep up my travel log while I am away. I can also then turn it all into a travel journal with picures when I get home. (Note: all this worked really well so everything is on the blog and the emails have gone to Hilde.)
Apparently bad weather has hit the Midwest and we may have had some ice. So far I haven't gotten any emergency emails so I am not worrying about it. I just hope it clears up so that we don't have a problem getting home.
Last night I met a woman who lives in Tennessee, not that far from Asheville. She grew up in Glenview, was two years ahead of me at GBS, and got her grad degree at Illinois. She worked in the Champaign schools. We remember a lot of the same stuff. She worked at Young's, which was funny since we frequently ordered our Chinese food from there. Evidently they now have a restaurant, not just a carry-out place. I guess you never know who you might meet when you travel.
We had a walking tour of the old city. As in many places seeing things was difficult because of the Weihnachtsmarkts. Most of Cologne was destroyed during the Second World War but the cathedral, while damaged, remained standing. Fortunately for Cologne, Konrad Adenauer (who was from Cologne) was an advocate for rebuilding the city so there has been money for rebuilding since the formation of West Germany. There is a lot of construction going on with the subway system although constant archeological finds, particularly Roman artifacts, have slowed the work.
We saw the St. Martin Church, the exteriors of the Ludwig Museum and the Archeological Museum and the cathedral. Mass was going on in the cathedral so we have to go back this afternoon to see more of the interior and we want to go to the Archeological Museum as well. If we have time, we might also go to the Chocolate Museum (we didn’t). We ended at Brauhaus Früh for a glass of kölsch. I can't say that it is a beer I would drink again. Bring on the Belgian beers.
We came back to the ship for lunch and then went out again. Peter had gnocchi and I had sauerbraten, which was a disappointment. But I would have been more disappointed to find out later that they had it for lunch and I hadn’t tried it.
This afternoon we spent more time in the cathedral after pushing through the huge crowd at the Weihnachtsmarkt and saw the casket of the three kings and various architectural elements. I got some nice photos of the floor and some windows and wall decorations. We saw Karen and Steve, who told us about an excavation by the Rathaus of a Jewish Synagogue from the Roman period so we went over there later in the afternoon. It was historically the Jewish area of Cologne, presumably until the Jews were forced to leave in 1423.
After the cathedral visit I got a small cone of roasted chestnuts since I can't resist when they are available since we never get them at home. We walked over to the Archeological Museum, where Peter toyed with getting a history of Cologne in comic book form in English and I found a book on Cologne in the Middle Ages that looked good but was only available in German. Then we walked to the Ludwig Museum but in the end we went into St. Martin's. It is a rebuilt Romanesque church with very little decoration but some preserved Roman mosaics on the floor, some painting on the columns, and a triptych of the three kings painted in Antwerp around 1530. We walked through another Weihnachtsmarkt and looked at the food and some "traditionalbaking and then came back to the ship.
After dinner, where I had braised duck, we watched Echt Kölsch, two guys who do Cologne carnival stuff. For some reason Carnival starts on November 11 at 11:11. Peter danced and sang with some of the audience but we left after half an hour or so. It was ok but the humor is a bit local. They did explanations in English but the songs were in a mixture of German and Kölsch. Later I asked Walter about the congruence of the date of carnival with the armistice but he said that 11 was just an important number and it was a coincidence. I don’t think he had ever thought about it before so really I am no wiser.