Thursday, June 22, 2017


Wow, another really hot day. Luckily, we were travelling to a place with the perfect antidote to the heat: Kölsch. (For you philistines, that's a style of beer that can be found only in Cologne – or at least it can only be called "Kölsch" if it's brewed in Köln; one might call it the Champagne of Germany.)

Our train from Heidelberg came in right on time. And we were placed at the correct end of the platform for the bicycle car; but of course, just before the train pulled in there was an announcement that the bike car would be at the end of the train rather than the front, so there was a bit of a mad dash to get to the other end of the platform just as the train came in. But other than that, the trip was uneventful.

When you emerge from the Cologne train station, you are greeted with this:
View of Köln from the train station. 

Needless to say, when we got there, around 11:30, it was a job to get out of the station (especially with pannier-laden bikes), because the tourist's natural instinct when confronted with such a spectacle is to stop and whip out the camera. So our path was initially blocked.

But we eventually escaped and made our way to the Airbnb, which was just a few blocks away. After settling in (and chatting with the cleaning lady and her daughter, who where just leaving and who were recent immigrants from Syria – lovely and amazing women who showed no outward signs of the incredible hardships they must have endured... but that's another story...) we set out to explore and do some shopping. I actually had a purpose here, since on the train, I realized that the reason one of my panniers seemed a little less full than usual was that I had left my raincoat behind somewhere along the way (likely Sankt Goar). Since there is some rain in the forecast for next week, I didn't want to be caught without one. Sonia was happy to have a shopping partner for once.

By mid-afternoon, the temperature in Cologne had climbed to 36C, about as hot as I have experienced in many a year. But if there's a place to endure such heat, it's this city. There are probably 30 bars/restaurants within a 200 metre radius of our apartment (I may be underestimating this significantly). The first one we came to was Peters Brauhaus, so naturally I had to try the Kölsch there. Sonia seemed to get a second wind for shopping and so left me to my "research." By the end of the day I had sampled 5 different brands (out of the 13-odd breweries around the city brewing this style). I was honestly quite surprised at how different the various brands were. And the nice thing is that it's mostly served in 200 ml glasses. I wish North American bars served beer in this size.

Cold Kölsch with a hot date.
Owing to the heat, we had supper in the apartment fairly late and then went to look at the Cathedral, the other must-do on my checklist. What an amazing space. Especially after seeing pictures of the city after World War II. The only other churches I've been in that compare are Barcelona's Sagrada Familia (which I think may be even bigger in footprint) and the cathedral in St. Louis, which is probably half to 2/3's this size, but still huge by North American standards. In any case, my poor little iPhone camera was no match for a building this size.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral
Tomorrow, we take the train again, this time to Emmerich, near the border with Holland, where we will get back on the bikes again to start week 3 of the trip.

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