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Day One: Cologne, Germany

Posted on Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Dave!Because I have friends in the city, I've been to Köln (Cologne) here in Germany many times. This has its benefits. I know where everything is, I know how to get around, that kind of thing. But, like with any city I visit that I am already familiar with, I try to find new things to see and do to keep things fresh.

Naturally, I've been to the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) on previous visits. It's a major landmark for the city and pretty impressive. But I've seen it all before. I've studied the architecture, gaped at the stunning artworks, and marveled at the tiled floor with all those cool mosaics...

Dom Mosaic
Herr Knight Sweetcheeks.

But what I haven't done is climb the spire. There are numerous reasons for this, but I'll narrow it down to the top five...

  • I am terrified of heights.
  • I am terrified of being in confined spaces with tourists.
  • I am terrified of Germans in high places*
  • I am terrified of old buildings that might collapse from age.
  • I am terrified of being so out of shape that I'll collapse on the way up.

But every time I pass on the opportunity, I always regret it on the way home. So this time I decided to throw caution to the wind and just do it. Finally I'll be able to say "I climbed this bitch!" when I see a picture of the cathedral or accost hapless tourists on the streets of Cologne.

The Dom Cologne
525 feet (160 meters) of sheer terror!

Yeah, well, I climbed this bitch, but I was stupid, stupid, stupid to do it. Not only was the climb completely terrifying, but I think I am dead. The good news is that my legs are so pumped now that I could probably jump over the cathedral in a single bound. The view from the top is pretty spectacular though (once you stop crying for your mommy long enough to take a look around)...

Top of the Dom
Oooh, look! Tiny people in that other tower! I'll have to climb that one next time (not).

After I managed to keep from vomiting on the way down, I decided to torture myself at the Hard Rock Cafe. For some reason, German HRCs have terrible service... but I can never figure out why. The staff is always friendly and running around, so it's not like they sit on their asses. Maybe they're just really over-extended? On the up-side, Cologne is better than Berlin, which has given me the worst service of any Hard Rock world-wide (I was seriously considering lighting myself on fire there once after waiting 45 minutes to get my check... all in the hopes that the flames would finally get somebody's attention).

Hard Rock Cologne
Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

Sure enough, it took a half hour to get an order of potato skins (no bacon) and 20 minutes to get a Pepsi refill. When I handed over my credit card, I fully expected that I wouldn't see my server for another 20 minutes. I was thrown into shock when she returned after only 10. Total time for an appetizer order and two glasses of Pepsi... 1 hour, 17 minutes. I timed it. Only about 10 minutes of which was spent eating.

I could have ordered dessert at the Hard Rock, but I didn't have another hour to kill because I wanted to hit a few museums. So instead I stopped off to have a SNACK WAFFLE!!

Snack Waffle!
Not as good as the waffles at the Eiffel Tower, but still delicious!

After lunch, it was museum-time. I first went to the brilliant Wallraf-Richartz Museum to see if they had a special event showing but, sadly, the answer was NEIN! That's okay though, because the third floor alone is always worth the price of admission. They have some sweet impressionist and post-impressionist works I love, including a Monet that's terrific. In the paintings I've seen where Monet is capturing fog or snow, he uses pastels for shading instead of gray. The effect is quite beautiful, and looks different depending on how close you are to this foggy scene...

Monet Foggy
A similarly-styled painting that Monet painted of snow in Giverny hangs in New Orleans.

Then I was off to one of the best modern art museums on the planet... The Ludwig Museum... which was amazing, as always. This time was really cool though, because they had a mind-blowing Paul Klee event, filled with bunches of his pencil drawings and pre-painting study sketches. After looking at really cool art crap for two hours, I exited the museum and saw a group of people walk by dressed as pirates. That's when I remembered there was a Lego store over on Hohe Straße, so I thought I might check to see if they had any pirate Lego in stock. No pirates, but they did have viking Lego, which is pretty sweet.

By now it was approaching 6:00 and was starting to rain so I decided to call it a day (8 hours of constant walking and climbing on no sleep is pretty harsh). Oh yeah... I have to be up for work early in the morning too, so I figure I had best take my exhausted ass back to the hotel for an aspirin and sleep.

Ludwig Museum Roof View
Looking back at Kölner Dom from the roof of the Ludwig Museum... I climbed this bitch!

Holy crap do my legs hurt. I hope I can get out of bed in the morning.

* Remind me to tell the story of nearly being pushed into The Grand Canyon because of a group of eager German tourists. These people are totally fearless when it comes to heights so, naturally, they scare the crap out of me.


Categories: Hard Rock 2007, Travel 2007Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. Anita says:

    Being from Germany,I get an absolute kick out of Your experience at the HRCs. Do You think, service is better in other German restaurants?
    In Germany, the server owns You,lol.

  2. diane says:

    I never bothered to wish you happy travels. Happy travels! And thanks for sharing your photos and adventures.
    I think you are wise to be afraid of Germans in high places, but then again, I can’t fault a group of people that eats waffles for a snack! :-)

  3. Dave2 says:

    Anita… Nope, many other German restaurants I’ve tried have quite good service, I think. I don’t know why the Hard Rock Cafes here are different.

    Diane… Warm waffles with powdered sugar are the ultimate dessert. I have no idea why the idea isn’t more popular in the US.

  4. Göran says:

    Although leaving for Paris on monday I envy you for being in Cologne, I´ve always had a feeling that it´s a special place somehow.

    Have a good time there!

  5. claire says:

    Congrats on climbing your tower of terror! If you haven’t gone to bed yet, be sure to stretch your legs some. It’ll help lessen the agony tomorrow. And then stretch some more… gently, gently.

  6. Dave, you climbed that thing?

    If I wore a hat, I would remove it in respect. That is awesome.

  7. Mooselet says:

    Many years ago I lived in Germany with my now ex-husband, who was in the USAF. We lived not far from Trier and made the trip to Cologne not long after we got there. I loved that cathedral – simply gorgeous.

    Nice to see you’re enjoying yourself.

  8. Avitable says:

    Sounds like fun. I’m impressed by your decision to climb the spire.

  9. kilax says:

    I have wanted to see the Cologne cathedral in person ever since I learned about it in my architecutural survey class, and I still haven’t seen it! Thanks for sharing it! I hope your legs have stopped shaking by now!

  10. Mrs. K says:

    Hallo und guten Tag! I hope you are enjoying your stay in one of my favorite cities in the world! I hope your legs are doing better so that you can drive over to Duesseldorf and have an Altbier, it is so much better than Koelsch. And in regard to Germans being totally fearless of heights…my husband is from Essen (just an hour north of Cologne)and is a total wimp when it comes to heights!

  11. Laurence says:

    Your photos are beautiful… You are amazing… Your travels are amazing…

    P.S. Nothing is better than waffles at the Eiffle Tower !!! ;-)

  12. ms. sizzle says:

    can we make snack waffles at tequilacon? those look Deeeeelicious!

    the view IS pretty but the fact that i would likely faint from my intense fear of heights means i won’t ever be climbing up there. good for you for facing your fear. :)

  13. adena says:

    Oh man….the VERY first thing I’d do would be to climb that spire! I love…LOVE…buildings like that.

    I’m afraid of heights, but I can do tall buildings, lighthouses, etc…

    I just can’t stand next to a guard rail over a giant canyon*, or walk across a bridge….

    *I, too, had a terrifying experience at the Grand Canyon, where my father made me CLIMB OVER a guard rail, and stand on the edge of a cliff so he could take a picture. I think I soiled myself.

  14. Dave2 says:

    Göran… Cologne is quite wonderful. I never tire of visiting.

    Calire… Oops. :-) They’re not too bad this morning, but it’s going to be a long day!

    Kachina… Yes! I climbed that bitch! :-D

    Mooselet… Enjoying myself is what I do best! :-)

    Avitable… Thanks. Probabaly not the best idea for somebody afraid of heights, but it is nice to check it off my list.

    Kilax… I am guessing it will be days before my poor legs recover. :-(

    Mrs. K… Are you sure you married a German? :-) My friends here laugh at my fear of high places… fortunately Colonius (the telecommunications tower) is closed to visitors now, because I don’t have to listen to them make fun of me for not going up there too!

    Laurence… Certainly the waffles at the base of the Eiffel Tower are the best on earth! Of course, the fact that you are eating them in Paris is what helps to make them so great. :-)

    Ms. Sizzle… I didn’t faint from the height, but nearly fainted from the climb. It’s brutal!

    Adena… Now-a-days, you could sue your father for child endangerment! :-D

  15. LarryB says:

    Koeln = Koelsch, in the little cylindrical glasses. Have a few and you’ll forget about your anxieties before climbing the spire. Oh, and for me, down was much harder than up.

    I find German service to be remarkably uneven, but if you smile and trot out your best German, you may just charm your server, if they’re attracted to people of your sex.

    I got all sorts of great service in Germany, and some really bad service, just like here in the US. I didn’t go to any HRC’s but I did collect quite a few Starbucks in the German-speaking world. (The attraction was a smoke-free store, strong coffee and free wireless internet, at least in Berlin-Mitte.) Mostly the servers there wanted to speak English with me, while I wanted to practice my German – even though I usually order Americanos.

  16. Marc says:

    Your problems with German HRCs truly puzzles me.

    I’ve been to 18 cafes so far – including Canada, USA, Beijing and most of Europe – and I can’t see any notable difference.

    The Cologne cafe is my “home cafe” (a ~1 hour drive from Essen where Mrs. K’s hubby, an old friend of mine, comes from) and I’ve had nothing but great service during all of the 10+ visits. We’ve never had any waiting times like this…

  17. nancycle says:

    OMG – I’m in love. I’m so happy you’re there. With that camera! LOL

    T ~ H ~ A ~ N ~ K Y ~ O ~ U for posting these pictures.

    You may or may not know I climb and while in Paris a woman asked if she could join me and my travel partner to the top of Notre Dame due to her immense fear of heights. It turned out she was a university teacher from Toronto and she couldn’t have picked a better person to ask. We went up together and for me it was such a wonderful experience to help put someone at ease.

    As irrational the fear is. And IT IS. Empathy for what FEELS real to another is always parimount.

    Back I go to fall into that Monet.

    You, sir, ROCK the Casbah.

  18. nancycle says:

    Tell me the story about the Germans nearly pushing you into the Grand Canyon!

  19. Belinda says:

    So glad you’re thoroughly enjoying yourself, and not a little jealous. Snack waffles. Mmmmmm.

  20. Mmm, waffles…

    Not to be pedestrian, as you’ve provided us with some incredible shots today, but where is the picture of the Lego Viking?

  21. Sergio the frenchie says:

    Waffles Waffles !!!!

    The best waffle are in Belgium, but maybe german ones may be tastier.

  22. RW says:

    These are cool pics. Love reading (and seeing) your travels. Are there flamenco dancers in Germany??

  23. Mr. K says:

    Dave, the Colonius might be closed for visitors but you can always try the Rheinturm in Duesseldorf. Its 790 feet high and sure puts an iron grip on my ‘knackers’ (as the English say) – and I am born in Gelsenkirchen, just a stone throw away from you.

    If you have more time on your hands in Cologne, you should go and see the ‘Roemisch-Germanisches Museum’ where the Roman garrison is documented, a settlement which later became Cologne. Also try the big sweet pretzels at the Merzenich bakeries.

  24. Classified Info says:

    Uh, you forgot to go back into normal sized font.

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