Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

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Koln – The End

December 12, 2008

Monday morning we got up, gathered all our belongings and got on a train. Both coming to and leaving Koln we rode on the high speed train. Very smooth ride with a little side to side motion that made walking down the aisle a challenge, but nice otherwise.
Above is the other side of the heroic statue as our train heads across the bridge over the Rhine.


I got a couple of snaps in before we hit fog and couldn’t see anything.
So, what did we learn while in Germany?

Signage is all in German, so be prepared to struggle to translate it or be in the dark. However, most people are multilingual and are fluent in English. Once they figure out what language you speak they are happy to switch over and help you out. There were a lot of French speakers in Koln, both visitors and workers, which may be due to the proximity of Belgium. Heidelberg is not very far from France, but we did not hear French spoken while we were there.

Attitudes regarding public display of sexuality in Germany are the direct opposite of those in the UAE. I guarantee that you won’t see marzipan pigs doing naughty things in the store windows here. Dubai is liberal, but not that liberal.

Aside from being sick and the general miseries of travelling, we had a good time.

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Koln – River tour

December 12, 2008

On Sunday afternoon we took a leisurely one hour tour (not an ill fated three hour tour) up the Rhine.
Above is the view down the river as we are standing on the shore.
The pictures above and below are of the same buildings, one on the way up the river and the other as we came back by down the river.

Below is a park where there were several people flying kites.

Below are some extremely odd shaped buildings still in construction phase (notice 2 construction cranes). These look more like something we’d see in Dubai, although there they would have to be 100 stories high and rotate, or something.

Below is the view of the Dom as we are coming back to the dock.
It was a very pleasant way to spend an hour and I especially liked that I could do it sitting down. Much easier on the feet. The sun came out and I had to actually wear my sunglasses. What’s that about!

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Koln – Cathedral

December 12, 2008

The Dom St. Peter und Santa Maria or Cologne Cathedral or Kolner Dom or just The Dom. No matter what you call it, it is massive and amazing. It is impossible to get it all in one picture without being a mile away. I am ignorant of art and architecture history, so will not try to tell you what style it is, etc. Construction was started in 1248 AD and completed in 1880 according to my guide book.






Beautiful tiled floors. The interior was too dark for successful picture taking, except for the stained glass windows.
Below – I think this is the Mailander Madonna (ca 1290), however the picture in my guide book has the image reversed with Mary looking her right instead of to her left. Maybe it’s a different statue altogether.


The colors in the windows were vibrant, amazing reds, blues, pinks. Very beautiful.
Below is what I think to be the Shrine of the Three Kings. They claim to have relics of the three wise men. I am guessing about what things are because all signage was in German only. The idea of multilingual signage for the sake of tourists has not caught on in Germany. So I am comparing to my travel guide book and making my best guess.
Don’t know which Bishop this was, but liked the design of his resting place.
The church was very impressive and beautiful. It was also packed with tourists like us taking it all in. We had hoped to take the guided tour, but they only do one on Sundays and we missed it.

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Koln – Christmas Market

December 11, 2008

We went to the Christmas market around the cathedral on Saturday morning and the crowd was this thick throughout. It was the happenin’ place to be.
There was also a cute little Christmas “train” running (no tracks and rubber tires).

Down by the river was a Christmas market on a boat. It was 2 euros just to set foot on board, so we skipped it.

We stopped at the tourist information center to ask for directions to the nearest post office. We had this lofty idea that we were going to send our Christmas presents from here and it would be less expensive than sending them from UAE. Anyway, the tourist bureau clerk sent us into the shopping mall and told us it would be easy to find. HA! First of all, the “shopping mall” is a several block radius of open streets with lots of stores and as you can see lots of shoppers. Secondly, her directions were not good and we walked way further than necessary. So, suffice it to say that nothing got mailed from Germany. When you only have two days and you are sick and you need shipping boxes and tape and to find a post office in a strange town on foot, it’s not such a great plan.

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Koln – Hotel and General sights

December 10, 2008

These are the views out our hotel window. We were right next the train station, as you can see. It was very convenient, since we didn’t have to deal with taxis, buses or trams to get to and from the hotel. We slept with the window open. Since I had lived as a child next to a train track, the thump, thump, thump of the trains was familiar and kind of soothing.

In the hotel, there is a vine that begins on the sixth floor and travels down the stairwell all the way to the bottom.

Beautiful houses down along the river. Below is a statue of some heroic fellow, I know not who.
Below is proof of high culture in Germany.
Below is the other side of the train station, rather pretty architecture.
Below, just a general picture of the river (Rhine) and Germans out for a walk on the weekend.
We arrived in Koln late Friday night. Unfortunately, I was already feeling sick. Saturday, we went out for a little while, but I was clearly not well, so went back to the hotel and Paul went out on his own for that afternoon. After throwing up and getting a nap, I felt better and was able to get on with sight seeing. Sunday night the same ailment hit Paul hard. We were to spend all day Monday in travel back to Dubai — which meant a train ride to Frankfurt and a plane ride after that. It was a very hard day for Paul and I was worried we wouldn’t make it, but we did. He is still sick, poor thing. We attempted to upgrade our flight to business class, but were not able to do that. Luckily, there were empty seats next to us, so Paul could lay down and get a little sleep. We are too old and decrepit for travelling economy class anymore. We have vowed to travel business class in the future, but that may cut back on how much travel we can afford.

Despite our illness, we did still manage to do a few things, so more pictures will follow. It is a challenge to organize and post pictures because my camera stores them in completely random order. I usually take two of everything because the first picture tends to be too blurry to use. Even the two identical pictures are separated, so it takes a while to figure out what I have and what order they should go in.

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Heidelberg Miscellaneous

December 10, 2008

Here are some miscellaneous images to wrap up before we move on to Koln.

Here we can see that they are capable of providing soft facial tissues, however, the toilet paper is capable of standing up on it’s own. That is not a roll of t.p., but just four sheets. I think it was brawnier than Brawny paper towels.
Below we have evidence that not all the construction cranes are in Dubai. We saw about 4 cranes during our trip. It’s funny how they stick out to us now.
Unfortunately, all the night time pictures I took were blurry, but I thought you should see how pretty it is all lit up.
Below is the big frying pan where they cook up steak and onions and serve them in a sandwich. Paul loves this pan. He loved the steak, too, but I think he loves the pan more.

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Heidelberg Castle

December 10, 2008

Unfortunately, my camera became uncooperative while we were at the castle and claimed that the memory was full, so I did not get very many pictures.
We took the guided tour. Below is a model of how the castle looked at it’s peak.
This is a model of how it looks now, after years of war and neglect. They have done some restorative work, but some areas are hollowed out shells or not even that.
Below is one of the walls in the restored section. I thought it was interesting to see a mounted head with a painted on body.
If you want more info on the castle, Wikipedia has a lengthy entry (but you didn’t hear it from me.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidelberg_Castle