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Day One: Köln

Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Dave!And so here I am, happy to be back in Köln (Cologne), Germany again. It's a city I have been to many times before... not just for work, but to visit good friends living near here... and I never tire of the city. Last time I finally mustered the courage to climb the cathedral, so I don't know what new thing I'm going to find to do this time. Or maybe I don't find something new. Maybe I go to the Chocolate Museum again? I could sure use a wafer dipped in melted chocolate!

Anyway, here's my day...

Cologne Minute

  • Wake up at 3:30am yesterday so I can finish packing and get to the airport on time.
  • Fly into Seattle where I have just enough time to eat a delicious Qdoba breakfast burrito before flying off to Newark, New Jersey.
  • On the flight, I watch some movies I own on DVD that I've "backed up" onto my iPhone: EuroTrip (inexplicably one of my favorite films... "SCOTTY DOESN'T KNOW! SCOTTY DOESN'T KNOW!"), and Minority Report (which I hadn't seen since it was in theaters... "PRECRIME WORKS!").
  • Realize I forgot my iPhone charging cable at home when I get to Newark Liberty Airport, so I end up spending an outrageous amount of money to buy a new cable. I then lament how I am so very close to New York City, and can't go into the city for a bagel.
  • Pass directly over central London at exactly 7:00am on my way to Germany. The skies are so clear that I can make out streets I know and even a few monuments (it's the Tower Bridge!). A beautiful morning to be in London.
  • The 7-hour flight to Köln arrives at the gate a half-hour early. Even better, my Continental flight had media centers for every seat, featuring on-demand movies, television shows, games, and more... which made the trip just fly by. Seriously, I have no idea where the time went, because I barely noticed the flight over. Watched Balls of Fury (WALKEN!!) and played games for hours.
  • Breeze through passport control in under 60 seconds, then get embarrassed over the way that we treat our foreign visitors when they come to the USA. I figure it's only a matter of time before Homeland Security is requesting a DNA sample and an anal probe from anybody not holding a US passport (if they don't already). Oh well. I guess this is what you have to do when you're a country that's run by people who don't care about international relations, feels no obligation to consult with the international community before doing outrageously stupid shit that affects the entire planet, and likes to make enemies out of friends all over the globe because they think God tells them to.
  • Arrive in Germany and marvel at how Köln-Bonn Airport is one of my most favorite in all the world. It's beautifully constructed, easy to navigate, sparkling clean, highly efficient, and makes travel here a joy.
  • Go to the cash machine and weep openly as I see the pathetic exchange rate for the Euro vs. the US Dollar. Kneel down on the floor after getting my money so I can count out my cash to make sure that every precious Euro is accounted for. I pretty much have to since my €200 cost me $320 American. FUCK!! And yet, I'm sure we'll get some bullshit crammed down our throat about how strong the US economy is when President Bush gives his State of The Union address on Monday. Yay! I wonder if any German pubs will be playing it off the CNN feed? I think the only way I could bear to watch it would be totally drunk, so maybe I'll check into that.
  • Catch a taxi and head downtown. As always, my driver travels at hellacious speeds with expert skill. He compliments me on my broken German, which is very kind, but complete crap... Deutsche is one of those languages I simply can't seem to wrap my head around. Probably because they like to smoosh multiple words together to make new words... YOU try to say "Gepäckaufbewahrungsschein" with a straight face! It means "baggage claim ticket" (or "baggageclaimticket") and I actually had to use it once when my luggage missed a connecting flight. Even if you know the individual words making up the word, it's still tough to get it all out. Fortunately, most people here speak English better than I do, and have no problem jumping in and rescuing me as I mangle their language. Still, I like to make an effort when I can.
  • The quick 13km taxi trip takes €30 of my precious cash. I foresee lots of trips to the ATM (which is "Geldautomaten" in German, a word I love to say when asking locals for directions, because "Geldautomat" sounds wicked-cool in my faux-German accent for some reason).
  • Check into my usual hotel in my happy little neighborhood where I know where everything is.
  • Go to my room and turn on the television. Am pleasantly surprised that I don't find channel after channel of Germans laughing at we Americans because of the mess we've gotten ourselves into with our shitty economy, worthless dollar, and pending recession. Instead I find an assortment of German children's programming which is entertaining as always.
  • Pick up the local newspaper and am pleasantly surprised to find no editorial cartoons of a Euro beating the shit out of a US Dollar because it has the approximate value of a paperclip here. NOT a jumbo paperclip, mind you... but one of those tiny little paperclips that can barely hold two pieces of paper together.
  • Sorry to keep harping on the WORTHLESS PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT that is the US Dollar, but I really can't help myself. If our delusional government continues to ignore the problem (or thinks giving everybody $600 to spend on imported goods is going to solve a fucking thing), then I won't be able to afford much foreign travel this year. Of course, with a recession underway, even domestic travel is going to be a bitch.
  • Write all the above in this blog entry while contemplating begging for Euros on the street so I can afford to eat dinner. When even a lowly candy bar costs the equivalent of $1.75, it helps to have skills that can pull-in the big money. I wish I knew how to juggle. Jugglers get all the best hand-outs.
  • I usually avoid touristy Hohe Strausse (street) like the plague, because the crowds are insane. But two things that made me change my mind: 1) There are a half-dozen pizza stands I love (my favorite being Pizza König) and I want pizza for lunch... and 2) That's where the Lego store is, and I want quite badly to see the new Indiana Jones Lego in person (awww... so cute!).
  • I remain amazed at the musical talent of European street performers. While window-shopping for stuff I can't afford at Jack Wolfskin (my second-favorite clothing store after Helly Hansen), I hear a hauntingly beautiful rendition of The Beatles "Yesterday" by a guy with a guitar across the street. Stunning. Later I hear a girl being accompanied by a guy with his guitar singing 4 Non Blondes "What's Going On" whose voice is as big as the world and fills the entire square south of The Dom (cathedral).
  • Goof off in the Neumarkt neighborhood for a couple of hours.
  • Decide to finish off the day by having dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. How can I not? The evening is great... a little cold, but not freezing like when I was here last time. All-in-all a good first day!

And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to put away my blog and have dessert...

Funny Donuts

I usually hate clowns, but clowns dressed as pirates are okay.


Categories: Travel 2008Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. Hilly says:

    I am so excited to read all about your Germany adventures and cannot wait for more. I love the pics and I swear I want to lick your donuts.

  2. whit says:

    Jealous! (me, not you)

  3. Avitable says:

    Those look equally tasty and frightening.

  4. kilax says:

    I don’t see how the exchange rate will get any better with our economy. Giving everyone $600 seems like a joke!

  5. Dave2 says:

    Heh. More than a joke… it’s just plain STUPID.

    What are people going to go buy with their $600? Oh… probably something made in China or some other country… it’s not like the $600 is going to be restricted to American made products!

    Sure some American re-sellers will benefit but, for the most part, this will benefit manufacturing countries outside the USA more than anybody else. More of our government’s genius at work. They got us into this mess, and they’ll bury us deeper into it! :-)

  6. Lewis says:

    Don’t stoop to begging on the street levels. Sell yourself, you’ll bring in more money. Flying over London on a cold clear winter morning? Doesn’t get any better! I’m continuing to live in my jealous state of you being there and me not. Sigh

  7. Those are the cutest donuts I’ve ever seen. I’d so place one of those pirate toothpicks in my ponytail after I’m done eating.

    It’s a tough job traveling to all the HR cafes in the world… isn’t it? LOL

  8. bogup says:

    Sweet!
    Toilet paper is now worth more than the USD. Hey, there’s an idea…
    Looking forward to more pics and reports on your fun trip. Eat pirate/clown pastries, drink lager, and be merry!

  9. sizzle says:

    i can’t stop giggling at snackie’s comment. you two and the licking! ;)

    have fun!

  10. Tracy Lynn says:

    Great. Now I want to punch our government in the head while simultaneously eating donuts.

    You, my friend, are a bad influence.

  11. Miss Britt says:

    Living vicariously through you is remarkably fulfilling.

  12. ChillyWilly says:

    Jealous here. I have a friend that grew up in Germany and has been back several times over the last 10 years I’ve known her. Would love to go there someday.

    Enjoy the trip and hope you find some Euro goodness (since you won’t be finding US Dollar goodness)

  13. Bec says:

    Hang on there was good weather in London? Not fair! It’s been all clouds until about 3 o’clock this afternoon all the way in Lancashire! Anyway, the UK offers it’s thanks for using our air space, and I wave the 476 miles from here to there!

  14. iddly says:

    Let me see… 200 Euro converts to:
    US Dollars 320
    Australian Dollars 335
    South African Rand 2,100
    Bangladeshi Taka 20,125
    Vietnamese Dong 4,700,780
    Zimbabwean Dollars who knows…

    Perhaps it ain’t so bad after all

  15. diane says:

    Hmmm…seems like a much happier day (dollar exchange aside) than you usually have in America. Perhaps that’s a sign…?

  16. Dave2 says:

    It’s the first day I’ve had not working since October. That might have something to do with it too…

  17. Neil T. says:

    Eurotrip is one of those trashy teen films that you’re not supposed to like but that’s actually quite good, in a brainless sort of way. Obviously as a Brit I should be offended at the portrayal of British football hooligans…. but actually it’s quite accurate…

    Glad to see London was having nice weather – up north we’ve had 2 days of gale force winds. Which is great when part of the building you work in is a glorified tent (no, I’m not kidding) and the other part has windows that don’t properly fit their frames.

    I’m sure you already know this but most people in other countries appreciate it if you try to speak in their language, although 9 times out of 10 they will start speaking word-perfect English to you. Except in France.

    And OMG PIRATE CLOWNS!!!! WANT!!!!

  18. martin says:

    Dave you flew over my house in London. Had I have known I would have painted ” Hello Dave” on a sheet and tied it to my roof. Enjoy your trip.

  19. Mr. Fabulous says:

    I’ve always wanted to lick your donuts…

  20. Michelle says:

    Sounds like so much fun. Ya know I’m totally living vicariously through you.;) Thanks for sharing your trips with us.

  21. yellojkt says:

    See, Dubya doesn’t care about the exchange rate because he’ll never get to travel to Europe without being charged as a war criminal.

    I have a trip to England in six weeks and the exchange rate gives me a pain in the wallet every time I think about it.

  22. karla says:

    1) Enjoy Germany! I’m going in March and can’t wait. My half mother country (my mom is German.) I love speaking German, it’s like a puzzle for my tongue. (Wait that totally comes across naughtier than I meant.)

    2) The dollar is SHITE and you really only see how painful it is when you are out of the US. People notice the increased cost of things at home but you don’t really get the extent of it until you travel and see how the dollar ain’t worth a buck. When I think how the US went from being a super power to a super dud in a mere 7 years it makes my blood boil.

  23. ssp says:

    Perhaps you could join the Germany industry in hating this exchange rate because it makes them less competitive in the U.S..

    A few years ago, I found that buying stuff in the U.S. was incredibly expensive, not just because I was in California but also because the US Dollar was quite pricey. Now things are the other way round. And perhaps in a few years things will be yet different.

    Candy bars (like Mars) are usually around 55 or 60cents btw. You may be ripped off a bit more in railway stations or airports. But that’s probably par for the course.

    (Your umlauts look like they’re utf-8 but your server/html claims otherwise.)

  24. Lisa says:

    I’m so jealous! Not of the fact that the dollar is basically worthless in comparison to the Euro or the fact that you had to buy a new iPhone cord…but that you are in my absolute favorite country. My family is from Germany, a town called Ludwigschaften.

    AND you went to the candy show.

    As far as the State of the Union address…as disrespectful as this may seem, my husband and I play a drinking game every year while watching it because it’s ridiculous. We decide before hand the words we think will be repeated over and over throughout the address. Each time Bush repeats the word…DRINK. Last year I was smashed 15 minutes into his speech.

    I’ve got my “words” picked for tomorrow evening.

  25. kapgar says:

    Did you buy the Indy Legos???

  26. Dave2 says:

    Yeah, right… with the worthless US Dollar exchange, the cheapest little set would cost me $25!! Ouch. Hopefully they come out with Indy magnets or keychains so i can just get the mini-figures, because that’s all I really want. :-)

  27. Wayne says:

    What are those pirate things? Donut Burgers? Man they look good!

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