-first of all, I apologize about omitting the umlauts that should rightly be in place. It does give you a sense of how I speak German, since I can never remember how to pronounce words with them anyway. (In high school, my German teacher would have me read two paragraphs out loud instead of the customary one, because my accent was so bad. I’d stumble along, praying to be done, and dreading the inevitable command that I briefly summarize what I’d read. I always looked at him blankly – I could focus on comprehension or pronunciation, but certainly not both. Things haven’t improved since then.)
-We arrived at Koln Deutz, not Koln Hauptbahnhof, which meant we had to cross a bridge to get to Cologne proper. The bridge was decorated with so many little locks: love locks, as it turned out. I loved this, and plan to add one of my own next time we come back.
– Bas and I both really like food. And one of the things Bas likes to do in an unknown city is visit a supermarket and get a feel for the local food. For Cologne, he had chosen the Aldi Sud, which is a slightly more upscale Aldi – or better said, an Aldi featuring slightly more luxurious products, like fresh pasta and chestnuts and fresh fish and meats. And English muffins, which I was delighted to find. I think we spent half an hour here, and this was the end result:
– we went to quite a few stores. It was a bit of deja-vu in that the main shopping streets of Cologne and Hamburg have a similar feel to me, complemented by the fact that they seem to offer the same stores (Lego, Orsay, Saturn, six thousand H&Ms..). And bookstores. Lots of bookstores, both chain- and locally-owned. I spent a lot of time hunting for English books between the German. And reading Maus in German (that felt weird, by the way). Cologne also has a Muji, and I spent quite some time handling the nice stationary and pretty pens. I also spotted the most adorable pajamas ever, and was on my way to buy them when I noticed that the sizes weren’t European – they were Japanese. And apparently the Japanese are tiny, since an L translated into a Dutch size 40, and that was the largest size they had. It took me a while to stop grumbling about that. (I feel the disappointment welling up inside me again, so I’m going to go on to the next bullet point.)
– one of the few things I did buy were very cute muffin forms made out of silicone, from Habitat. I love making cupcakes, but the baking time always gets doubled because my tray only holds six. Well, ta-da, I now have a way around that. It’s nice when easy solutions present themselves in bright colors. Habitat is a fun store, with some pretty nice stuff. I may have to go back when and if I ever have a house to decorate. (I can’t have everything in IKEA style, right?)
– For those of you that read German, check this out. I almost bought this set of placemats but decided against it because I didn’t like the other ones included in the set. But the quote made it on to my blog (for those of you that don’t read German, just look up).
– we ate dinner at Ox & Klee, a tiny restaurant quite close to our hotel. The waitress was patient with our less-than-stellar German and served us some really delectable food. Afterwards, we walked back to the hotel and watched a movie in bed (having an iPod touch comes in handy on such occasions). I’m not really that much into nightlife (at least not when it involves alcohol, dancing and looking cool and/or pretty), so this, while perhaps a bit tame, was perfect for me.
– our train left at 12.46 the following afternoon, and we had no plans beyond going out for breakfast and then walking some more through the city, so that made for a leisurely morning. We stumbled upon a cute breakfast place quite by accident and enjoyed our eggs and coffee very much. We even had time to get me a Frappuccino before the train left (I think we saw at least six Starbucks scattered throughout the city. We even had coffee at one of them, even though we both felt slightly guilty for doing so. Starbucks is fine in the States, but it feels vaguely culturally imperialistic and globally homogenizing to patronize one in Europe. Yes, I do realize it’s just coffee and I might be overanalyzing it a bit..).
– In Arnhem we changed trains for the last stretch home (about fifteen minutes, give or take). When we were almost there, the train had to stop because an accident had happened two trains up. The train turned around and went back to Arnhem, and we promptly decided to wait for the accident site to be processed and cleaned up in the park, instead of at the station. Smart move, because we had a lovely hour-and-a-half lie -in in the sun, instead of standing around watching all those people go home while we couldn’t. A picnic in the park – what a wonderful way to end our days together. (Just so you know, I’m obviously not glad the accident happened. But, you know, making lemonade out of lemons and all.)
– we decided we’d like to go back (preferably, during the sale season). There’s a bunch we haven’t seen yet (thanks to the museums pretty much all being closed on Mondays) and a bunch of restaurants we haven’t eaten at yet (sometimes it saddens me that there are only three meals in a day). Best of all, the train tickets are cheap and it’s only two hours away. After all those years of spending most of my vacations in the States, I like that I’m finally getting to know Europe a little bit better.