Here is part two of my trip to K-town and Köln. Part one was posted on...Tuesday, I think, so just scroll down and look for it :)
So, after we left the Chocolate Museum, we tried to figure out what to do and ultimately decided that dinner was a completely viable option. Of course, then came the problem of where to eat -- we didn't want to spend too much money, and no one really had any suggestions, so we just walked around til our stomachs demanded that we stop. Really. They DEMANDED it.
We ended up at a "typical German" restaurant, which was a lovely change. It's not often that you can find real German food over here. I'm completely serious here; there's an abundance of restaurants, but they're Italian, Mediterranean, Chinese, anything EXCEPT German food. We all had lovely meals and we tried the famous Kölsch beer (only found in Köln and the very near surrounding area). Not bad, for beer!
Then back to the hostel. We checked into our room -- four beds in a five bed room -- and just relaxed. We thought we'd go out and do something, but ultimately decided against it, instead testing our different flavors of chocolate and talking about anything and everything from world tolerance to Harry Potter (and I did NOT bring it up this time, I swear!) to the state of the union. It was quite an enjoyable evening.
And then we met the fifth bedmate -- an older gentleman, dressed in a suit. He came in, stopped (we think he was surprised to see us -- I would have been!), said hello, asked us if we knew how to open the window (at which we slyly looked at each other with the wtf look on our faces) and promptly left again. We resumed our discussion til he came back an hour or so later. It was getting later, so we thought maybe he was waiting for us to shut up so he could go to bed. We asked, and he was like, "Oh no! It's Friday, I'm going out!" and he did! Of course, he came back in the middle of the night and woke us up when he opened the window, but whatever. He's a crazy man.
Saturday morning we got up and left fairly early. Stopped at a bakery for breakfast where this guy kept looking over at us and edging closer to our conversation 1) to listen in or 2) because he was amused that people in Köln were speaking English (gasp!) . Strange, but we just finished up and left. Then we headed over to the Cathedral -- Pamela went crazy with the pictures (surprise surprise, heh heh) and then we made the executive decision to climb the tower. All 509 steps of it. We got going at a good clip, but I had to stop by the time we reached the third landing. I just could not continue. I don't like stair machines, why would I do it voluntarily, even if the view is spectacular? So they continued on without me, and I rested for a few minutes at the landing. I told myself that if I could make it up to the next one, I'd continue up. Needless to say, five minutes later I was back at the bottom trying not to cough my lungs out. So I waited for them.
Then we toured the cathedral (and by toured I mean "walked around it on our own, staring at the windows and not knowing who they depicted"). Bridget's friend Matt met us there; he's about an hour away and decided to venture to the city for the afternoon. After the cathedral itself, we headed to the "treasury," where all the gold and jewels and reliquaries are kept -- nothing like seeing the bones of the Magi or the staffs of the popes or engraved and jewel encrusted robes from the 18th century! (Actually, it was pretty cool -- lots of stuff belongs to the church... lots of very expensive, very ornate stuff.)
Our last real stop of the day was the NS Museum. For those who don't know, NS stands for Nationalsozialismus... National Socialism... or Nazi. The museum is housed in the El-De House, the Köln HQ for the Nazis back in the day. It's got a very detailed exhibit on the upper floors that goes though the rise and fall of the party, before, during and after World War II. But the most moving part of the exhibit is in the basement. It's the former prison for the Gestapo (the police). You can see the individual cells used to house the prisoners, and on the walls outside of the cells are photographs of the various graffiti from within. It is very hard to come to terms with the horrendous acts committed during this time, especially when confronted with notes that say "So-and-so was here, xx-xx-19xx through xx-xx-19xx" or scrawled calendars on the wall marking the days of confinement. I had tears in my eyes by the time we walked upstairs to view the rest of the exhibit.
It was a subdued train ride back to K-town, not just because we came from the NS Museum, but because we were tired. When we finally arrived (around 8pm), we dropped our stuff off at Bridget's and went out to dinner for... Mexican! That's right, folks-who-have-heard-me-complaining-about-the-lack-of-Mexican-food-in-the-Berg! It was delicious and I'm very happy that we went there. Plus, my pineapple daquiri really hit the spot! After our meal, we ended up back at Bridget's and played cards for a while. I had brought "CAfe International" and I taught them how to play, plus we figured out how to play "Guillotine." Yes, that's right, I have a card game called "Guillotine" -- and it's the best game ever!
Then Sunday came way too soon, and we had to leave. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I am so glad that I got to go visit Bridget. I'll definitely be trekking her way sometime in the future. Thanks for everything, hon!