|(The world's best currywurst at the CGN (and Berlin, as it happens) train station.)|
The weather has been awesome for the first part of our travels. We came to Frankfurt with no idea whatsoever about what we wanted to see. Our usual tactic is to just pick a direction and head out on foot, and that strategy (if it merits the name) served us quite well there. In Cologne we had a bit more plan, since I know the place. We hit the high spots on the first two days, and for this half-day we had no special plans. Well, almost none. While having our daily ritual currywurst yesterday at the train station, we sat next to a young American woman who was clearly being tour-guided by a German-speaking relative. They were at the train station so the visiting American could sample the brilliance of the currywurst (no, really). Susan struck up a conversation, and the visiting woman was from Seattle and was studying in Ireland. She was over to Cologne for her first visit to Germany and to meet a distant cousin (her guide) for the first time. Fun. They were both chatty and friendly. Susan overheard them talking about the distinctly German phenomenon that is the Currywurst, and she interrupted to say that her husband (that is, me) was obsessed with them and from this vendor at the train station in particular. The German woman piped up that there was a place we HAD to try over at the Rudolphplatz (not far from the hotel) that specializes in many different wursts with sauces.
So that was our sole plan for this half day: get to the Rudolphplatz and find the CuLux (Curry Delux). On the way Susan managed to do some fabulous shopping at a huge C&A store (she had previously fallen in love with several things from H&M), and I stood in line to find out why the french fries from one particular vendor next door seemed so irresistible (yesterday there were 100 people waiting in line for this place). By the time we got the CuLux we were almost too full to eat. Almost. But it was very fun. The waitress--who could not give specific, heartfelt recommendations because (dramatic pause) "…I'm a vegetarian!"--helped us through the large menu and we chose a traditional currywurst like at the train station, and a cheesewurst with a honey mustard sauce. Both were deeeeeee-lectable! They also looked to have great french fries, but alas, we had just indulged ourselves. The decor was much more like a hip restaurant and bar than a place specializing in sausages, but such is the delight of Germany that they are in love with their processed meats! Even Susan began to see the light, I daresay.
|("Currywurst Delux." Dog comes at no extra charge.)|
|(Inside the CuLux.)|
|(Why is there always a line for these french fries?)|
|(Nothing teaches like experience!)|
From there we made our way back toward the Dom, stopping to shop and nibble and sightsee as the fancy struck us. Susan found some famous "Eau de Cologne" and I found a Bechstein piano seller, we both looked at shoes. The weather was spectacular and everything was crowded and festive. Dogs are allowed everywhere, and lots of folks are on bicycle. There are street musicians everywhere across town, and they're usually pretty good. We eventually made our way back to the riverbank near the hotel where we sat in an outdoor plaza and had one of these paper-thin pizzas and Susan had the famous local beer, Kölsch (which she likes). We could not have mapped out a more perfect, relaxing and enjoyable day. After a quick freshening-up at the hotel, we caught a cab for the short ride to the Hauptbahnhof (Susan is mortified to see the cabbie try to lift our ABSURDLY overstuffed bags. Hey, we're traveling for three weeks!)
|(Taking down a tree at the back of the Dom.)|
|(The fabulous, and always-busy, "City Shopping" section in CGN near our hotel.)|
|(Old Cologne. This is a reconstruction, as the city was bombed almost out of existence in 1944-45.)|
|(Lots of these paper-thin pizzas at the local CGN bars. Delish!)|
|(A group of excellent street musicians on the crowded square beside the Rhine.)|
We showed up at the Hauptbahnhoff about 45 minutes prior to departure, which is how we got to watch the world go by for nearly an hour before the train showed up. Everything comes and goes like clockwork, and we were soon whisked on our way to Amsterdam.
(An aside about bikes in Germany. I've seen these in the US as well, but the rage in Germany is for your toddler to have a little bicycle. And rather than starting with a tricycle or a bike with training wheels, the Germans start their kids on bikes with… no pedals! It's just a sit-down scooter. And the kids pad themselves along with their feet, Flintstones-style. Brilliant. By the time they're old enough, they have the balance thing figured out perfectly and one just adds pedals!)