Day 7: Cologne to Amsterdam (Monday, March 25,2013)



It was a slow day in Europe today 🙂  We spent a couple of hours at the Cologne Cathedral this morning. The photos (in yesterday’s and today’s entry) tell the story much better than I can. It’s old, much of it built between 1250-1350. It’s sort of the definition of Gothic architecture. If you like that sort of thing (we do), it’s nothing less than spectacular. I have never seen this amount of intricate details in one spot before.

 

There were bunch of these, every one different, each telling multiple stories – one story on the top half, another on the bottom half.

 

 

 

One of many side altars, the one courtesy of a church in Antwerp, Belgium.

The highlight of our visit was the climb up the bell tower: 533 steps in a very narrow, steep spiral staircase, that got even narrower at the very top. We were standing right next to the bells at the strike of 11am. Can you say “loud”? I wasn’t expecting it and nearly jumped out of my skin when the first one struck.

 

 

 

 

 

The majority of this climb was in a tight spiral staircase. The last part was about 3 stories up an open air metal staircase, no spiral, just typical landings and 90′ turns. The spiral one was a bit claustrophobic for me. This one gave us both a decent case of vertigo because for the first time you could tell how high you were.

 

 

We also toured the cathedral’s Treasury, it’s collection of artifacts, relics, garments, vessels, etc. Lots more very intricate things, mostly in gold, most several hundred years old. Some of them are still used in appropriate occasions by the Archbishop.

Dan was having Asian food withdrawal so we went to a Vietnamese place for lunch. It was pretty good! For dessert, ice cream and people watching in another square we came across. Then we picked up our bags from the hotel and headed back to the train station for the 2h 45m ride to Amsterdam.

 

Amsterdam! We are renting a small apartment for 7 nights and will use this as home base to see more of Netherlands outside of Amsterdam. Just walking out of the train station, 3 things hit you right away to let you know you’re not in Kansas anymore:

  1. Diversity – if you didn’t know where you were, you couldn’t tell just by looking at the people around the train station – perhaps not even what continent you are in.
  2. Bicycles – holy cow, everywhere! In like 30 degree weather!
  3. Canals – duh, you’re in Amsterdam!, but it really is charming
Apparently the Dutch don’t really have their own cuisine – they rely on everyone else’s. With that in mind, we had an excellent Indonesian dinner.

Here are a couple of random Cologne pics: the first of some cool buildings on the river’s promenade, the second of  railroad bridge going over the Rhine. It’s the busiest in the world, with 30 trains crossing every hour.

 

 

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