Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Talk about Adventures in Deutschland!

(Have I used this subject before?)

This weekend was my first Weekend O' Travel since I've been here. Destination: Köln, via Kaiserslautern. I left Thursday afternoon, spending 6 hours and 36 minutes on the train. Thankfully, Pamela met up with me in Frankfurt and we traveled the last leg of the trip together. I probably would have gouged my eyes out if I had been by myself -- that's a loooooooooong time to be on the train alone!

So we got to K-town and headed back to Bridget's. We didn't do too much except listen to music and stay up way too late talking about randomness. I got the privilege of sleeping on the floor -- nothing like a couple of rugs and sheepskin seat covers for a makeshift bed! It really wasn't too uncomfortable, except that Bridget's room was absolutely freezing, so when I woke up in the middle of the night, it was virtually impossible to get comfortable again, as the cold permeated... well, everything. So I got up and put on another pair of pants. Layers work against the cold, right?

Needless to say, when the alarm clocks started going off, it felt incredibly early. But, we persevered and got to the train station only ten minutes later than we were supposed to! It's a good thing we arranged to meet Jamie a full 25 minutes before our train to Köln left, or we might have missed it. The train ride itself was okay. We got seats together and spent the duration of the 4 hour ride talking about randomness. We arrived around 1:30 and headed to the Station Hostel for Backpackers. Our bags were promptly deposited in the luggage room downstairs, as we couldn't check in yet, and we departed. Destination: Chocolate Museum!

Let me just say that when we walked into the building, we were enveloped in the wonderful scent of chocolate. Mmm. Makes me hungry already! We learned about the history of chocolate and cocoa production, the growth of the cocoa tree, how cocoa beans get turned into something useful. They have a greenhouse with real cocoa trees in it!! Then we headed into the production room -- heavenly! They had a mini-production line where you can see the beans get processed, the chocolate in the machines, how it gets molded, wrapped, packaged, etc. We even got to see how chocolate is molded into those crazy Santas and bunnies and roosters! But the definite highlight of this room was the chocolate fountain, which drizzles real chocolate. Our free samples (tasty warm, melty chocolate on one of those wafer cookies like the kind you get when you're little -- the ones that come in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry). Upstairs we learned more about the history of chocolate consumption. (Did you know that back in the day, 100 cocoa beans could buy you a male slave? And only ten got you a rabbit!) We also learned that women eat more chocolate in the winter than in the summer, because it stimulates those same chemicals that stimulated by sunlight. Basically, I think this is a way for women to feel more comfortable in their chocolate intake. Frankly, my personal chocolate intake doesn't bother me. It's not like I'm only eating chocolate! There's some Pringles and lots of bread in there too ;)

But, the chocolate shop was our downfall. I personally spent the least amount of money there, at €12. I got some lovely chocolate balls that you put into hot milk and they melt and make delightful hot chocolate. I also got a bar of 70% dark, a bar of dark with orange, and a bar of dark with -- get this -- chili. Honestly, I didn't expect my chocolate to be spicy, but it was good! A word of warning: don't follow the chili chocolate with ginger chocolate or you will experience the weird phenomenon of Chinese Food chocolate. It was...interesting!

That is enough for part one. I'll finish it up this week. But for now, enjoy!

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