I fell asleep pretty early Sunday night, around 9:30, but was somehow wide awake at 12:30. Thankfully I was able to get back to sleep, although not until 3:30 or so probably. I woke up around 7am and felt much better. So maybe 6.5 hours sleep total? I’ll take it.
The hotel has breakfast available, a completely unimpressive array of fruits, breads, cheeses, and some deli meat. I wasn’t that hungry so ate just a little. The coffee was surprisingly good though and I had several cups of that while confirming that, yea, the internet availability is touch and go.
If you read yesterday’s entry you know I went to the train station to finish the blog. This is a random little park I passed along the way, which I’d passed by twice (coming and going) yesterday. Nothing in particular to point out, just capturing things.
I also passed the cathedral on the way of course so got to get a shot of the front without all the people in it. I went in for a little while to do my morning meditation. Morning mass was happening again, in a side chapel up on the far right. The rest was open for wandering.
I sat at Kamp’s, one of the local bakery chains, got some coffee and a struselthaler (sort of like coffee cake) since I felt like I needed to pay for the table!, and spent about 2 hours finishing the blog. The internet was painfully slow.
I walked around the train station a bit, mostly because I was heading to the restrooms on the opposite side. You have to pay €1 to get in but it’s super worth it in my opinion: it’s close, I knew where it was, and know it will be super clean, which it was. I took a few other shots while I was making my way there, realizing as much as I talk about the train station I don’t think I’ve ever really included photos.
As you can see, it’s nothing special to look it, just sort of like a mall. Mostly I love the concept of a transportation hub that facilitates a lot of other things – I’ve bought nail clippers and batteries here on previous trips – and wish the US would do this.
I do love this shot though; the Body Shop (of which there are an extraordinary number of in Germany for some reason), Kamp’s, and the cathedral right outside,
I did make my way over to the Cologne City Museum, but it’s closed on Mondays. Not surprising. Most museums are closed either Monday or Tuesday. But there was a sign on the door that said most of the permanent collection is closed due to renovation anyway, so I don’t feel like I missed anything. It was approaching Noon and I decided I would stop for lunch early since I hadn’t eaten much breakfast and wasn’t sure how long I would be at my next stop. I wandered around a little more and eventually decided on a little Indian place that was way off the beaten path. Glad I did.
With a name like Taj Mahal it was very likely that it could be kitschy, but it wasn’t at all. The tables were set for fine dining, and the menu had lots of interesting things. I settled on a cod dish made in a creamy, yogurty sauce with coconut in it. It was pretty amazing; I was surprised for some reason how good it was. So I sat there for about an hour and took my time with my meal and my sparkling water (“with gas?” still takes me by surprise when they ask!).
Much of the walking around I did before and after lunch was in pedestrian friendly shopping areas – no vehicles allowed. You have lots of that in Europe; it’s another thing I wish we’d adopt! The two shots below are just some of that.
Notice the umbrellas. It was drizzling much of the morning. I brought one on the trip but didn’t bring it with me when I went out because there wasn’t much rain in the forecast, just like a 5% chance. I managed without it.
After lunch I made my way over to the Kolumba Museum. I really had no idea what I was getting into. I knew loosely it was based on finds of Roman ruins, but certainly didn’t expect what I found. It was a delightful jaunt through this eclectic mix of historical things with some very interesting modern art, as well as some WTF pieces. And there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to any of it. You’d turn a corner and have no idea what you were going to see next. I spent probably 2 hours here and it was a total delight.
Before I get started on photos, I think it’s helpful to orient yourself in Cologne history. Cologne was established in the first century AD as a Roman colony, which is in fact where it got its name. Most if not all of what we know of as Germany today has roots in the ancient Roman empire. And, after that empire fell and the Catholics came into power, Germany from like 800-1800 was included in the large area of central Europe referred to as the Holy Roman Empire which, at various times depending on the century, also included France to the west and Bohemia to the east. At any rate, some of this museum is based on archeological finds discovered under the Saint Kolumba church after it was bombed in WW2. Saint Kolumba was the largest and most important parish church in medieval Cologne.
This is the end of the foyer where Medusa was in. To the right of this was the excavation room, where is where the next 4 photos were taken. There was a map that showed which sections were developed in what century. Some dates all the way back to the 1st century, but much of it dates to about the 12th. Old no matter how you count it.
Behind where I was standing to take the foyer photo was a staircase. There was something bare and almost creepy about it and I started to wonder what I was getting into. Nothing could have prepared me 🙂
The first room contained several items, including the first “WTF” modern piece – a video that made no sense to me. The description didn’t help; something about “distorting film quotations to create a new construction of meaning.” Huh? I went for the classics in the room instead, pictured below.
The next room had a modern piece I could appreciate. Oddly by the same artists as the earlier video, Annamaria and Marzio Sala. These are “light frescos” – interesting and beautiful, which are projected on the wall by what looks like the kind of overhead projected I haven’t seen in about 25 years.
What I always appreciate about stuff like this above is the craftsmanship and patience it must’ve taken to create these pieces. Not sure what kind of tools they had to work with but couldn’t of been much.
I loved the bowl. The was the only item I photographed out of this room.
This was perhaps the oddest thing I encountered, with a description that epitomizes what I hate about modern art: “…oscillates between picture and stage, between the captured moment and space for action, between looking back on the lost traditions of Western culture and a challenging confrontation with the present.” Exactly what I got from it, how about you? This, mind you, was in the same room as the classic pieces below, sculptures of heads of Roman Emperors from the 1st-3rd centuries.
And on the wall behind me where I took the photo of the ancient vases…
This actually started 4-5 frames to my left on another wall entirely.
I left the museum and walked around to the side to get to the chapel referred to as Madonna in the Ruins.
Remember the stained glass you saw from the excavation site? Here’s what the inside looks like. The centerpiece is the statue wall called Madonna in the Ruins. It is of Mary and the child Jesus, and is named so because it escaped destruction and was found in the ruins of St. Kolumba after the war.
Are you exhausted? I was! The Kolumba was less than 2 blocks from my hotel so I went back and rested for a bit. I was able to get some of the photos uploaded but not eventually gave up on the frustrating internet at the hotel and went out again after just laying down for awhile.
I wanted to go into a portion of Old Town on the other side of the cathedral by the Rhine river so headed in that direction.
That’s the train bridge to the far left and a building called Triangle in the distance. I walked the train bridge – which is also loaded with love locks! – and went up to the observation deck of that building in 2014.
There were lots of options, but I figured since I hadn’t had German food yet I may as well. And I’m very glad I did.
The restaurant called this a Cologne specialty so I figured I had to. And it was pretty good: a toasted rye roll, served with Gouda cheese, raw onions, mustard, lettuce and tomato for you to make a sandwich out of. It all worked great together.
This might be the best plate of German food I’ve ever had. Schnitzel is very thin and lightly breaded fried meat, in this case chicken. It was crisp and moist and tender and just kind of amazing. There was a mushroom cream sauce on it which was just OK. The potatoes were, get this: fried in teeny pieces of bacon and onions. How can you go wrong? The might’ve been the best bite of the trip so far. I was so full after all this I even skipped gelato after!
But I couldn’t leave without one more shot of the cathedral. I knew it would be beautiful at night and I was right.
And realizing I hadn’t included myself in any of the photos yet, I ended with this.
PS: Thank God for fast internet! I was finally able to finish this once I got to my hotel in Paris. More on that tomorrow…