|Guten tag from Germany.
Well actually, we've now arrived in Italy but I'm a bit behind with this journal due to issues with my tablet. But let's move on.
Our visit to Cologne (Köln) started in a leisurely fashion afer our comfortable train journey from Paris. I had booked a hotel near the famous cathedral and fairly close to the train station. We headed off with map in hand but it was no use. Google maps was sending us in a direction that didn't correspond with street names. Finally I asked the concierge of a fancy hotel and he didn't recognse where Google was sending us either. So the lovely man gave me a path to get us to our hotel. It was easy when you knew how but I've got some serious issues with Mr Google.
Cologne turned windy and rainy in the afternoon when we had planned a walking tour. In the end we decided it wouldn't be fun fighting the elements so we rescheduled for the next day. When the weather cleared we went down to riverbank to explore and found some really interesting buildings. There were many painted places marked by the dates they were built. Some had multiple dates indicating that the strories were added in different eras.
The next morning we did a walking tour of Cologne learning many facts and enjoying the kind of stories that make a city come alive. We saw monuments and an outdoor cafe/library, churches and historic buildings. Later we visited the 4711 Cologne house. It was filled with products that took us back to childhood when ladies would spray us with 4711 eau de cologne at the Royal Show. We saw a lot on the tour and we loved it.
The afternoon was spent in and around Cologne Cathedral. It is the most beautiful that we've ever seen. It took our breath away; every aspect was wonderful, every element was gave us pause. They even have the relics of the Three Wise Men (the Magi,) in a golden casket. The mosaic floors and the stained glass windows were remarkable.
The next day we travelled to Berlin where we visited the Jewish Museum. I'd been there before and was really looking forward to sharing it with Lorri but it was a little disappointing this time with no special exhibitions available due to renovations. Penelope arrived from Montreal in the evening and we went to dinner to have German sausage and beer. Our waiter was not pleasant and even corrected my pronunciation when I asked for the bill. He then had the cheek to put his hand on my shoulder and tell me that the tip was not included in the bill. I gave him a look which he thought meant I didn't understand so he repeated it in a condescending manner. I understood him but none of us believed he deserved a tip. The tip for him was, be nicer to your customers!
Our walking tour the next day lasted about four hours, in strong sunshine. We saw all the sights - Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Jewish Museum, Brandenburg Gate and many more. Our guide told us interesting stories and a lot of history from the early days of Germany's foundation through the Nazi times to today. When we went to the sight of the major book burnings Lorri and I were close to tears.
In the evening Penelope and I did a delicious beer tasting at our hotel. The characteristics of five specialty beers were explained then served with accompanying snacks. Lorri joined us later for a kir royale. A good time was had by all.
The next morning we walked to the Reichstag to climb up the glass dome that sits above parliament house. There we had a bird's eye view over Berlin. The next stop was the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which comprises the remains of the bombed old church linked to a 1960s church. We just happened upon a tour of the area which was very interesting.
Later we had the obligatory kaffee and küchen then took the underground to a local bar that had been recommended, where we sat under chestnut trees to enjoy a cold drink. That night we had schnitzels for dinner (fish for Lorri) and completed our German adventure.
Now we are in Italy where it is very hot.
Love to you all,
Jude, Lorri and Penelope xxx