Saturday, December 08, 2012

PHOTOS: Cologne, April 2012

I recently shifted back to my trusty iMac 24". It's been with me ever since I started Goodputty in 2007 and it's as awesome as ever. Even better than the lousy Mac Mini that I brought home from work that's, what, only 3 years old?

I had put aside the iMac since July, that is, since I started working from home for MERX and they provided me with the Mac Mini. And now that I no longer work there, I'm back to the iMac. Hence the discovery of old photos and things that I'd been hoarding before.

Among them, I discovered the photos from Cologne, Germany, from when Rik, Harry and I took a day trip there back in April. I searched my blog but found that I hadn't posted them or written about Cologne. Then I realised that it was in April, and Pim had just left us a month earlier. If you guys follow my blog, you'll know there was quite a long silence from me at that time because I was in mourning.

Anyway, although the photos are up on Facebook, that's not the same as writing it up in my blog. So here they are, 7 months later, our trip to Cologne.

First up, you absolutely cannot visit Cologne without seeing the Cologne cathedral. Literally and figuratively. It just stands out. It's a World Heritage site and one of the top sights in Germany and is very impressive indeed.

After parking the car, we needed a refueling of coffee and pastry. So we sat in the very touristy yet not too terrible cafe opposite the cathedral.

The only photo of me during the whole trip. We took this using the old-school timer method!

We didn't really have a plan for the day. Our aim for the trip was actually for Harry to buy German beer at half the price. So we just wandered around following tourist signs. We ended up here at the City Hall, which seems weirdly to be located in some back alley. There was a wedding going on.

Harry and Rik trying to blend into Karin and John's wedding party, probably for the free food.

Rik's going: Ermahgerd, Lergo!

Such a brilliant and colourful shop. In these bubbles you can pick up individual Lego pieces that you need. You just pick a cup size, fill it up and pay one price for whichever cup size you chose.

Just one of the many times we checked the map.

Rik and Harry were debating the map so I took a photo of where we were.

This was a lovely break from the walk. We had wandered kinda out from the centre and were getting hot and tired. I may point out here that it was only April, and in NL it was rainy and cold and you needed to wear leather jackets still. Then look at us here. Look at the sun shining onto Harry's arm. It was bliss.

Not a very interesting structure, but it was weirdly located in the middle of nowhere.

You know how you sometimes wonder if someone, somewhere looks exactly like you? Ahem.

Finally reached the shopping street!

Found the famous No. 4711. A verrrrrrrry old and famous eau de cologne company. I believe that's where the name Cologne comes from.

You can wash your hands in it and smell like 4711 all day.

I don't know what this means but I thought it just looked cute. It was tucked away on a corner wall upstairs.

The outside.

Map-checking again.

It was getting close to dinnertime, so we decided to start looking for the beer. Strangely, it was super difficult to find a supermarket or any beer shop. Someone on the street pointed us towards the station, saying there was a big supermarket there. But we still couldn't find it, so we stopped by this cafe to ask where the supermarket was. An asshole barista there cut us off mid-question, saying: We are not an information desk.


Eventually, we found the supermarket thanks to a girl behind the counter at a bookshop opposite the cafe. There wasn't any Paulaner, which Harry wanted, but he found the Vita-malz for Vicky.

Harry carrying it one-arm style like a hero, and the Cologne cathedral in the background.

We gave up on the Paulaner and decided to head to this brewery-restaurant that I found on Tripadvisor. It's supposedly the number one restaurant for people visiting Cologne, but not only that, it's also exceedingly popular with the locals because of its amazing food and Kölner - special Cologne beer.

But then whaddya know? Across the street from the restaurant, we found a little kiosk in the wall selling all kinds of things, like a mini market, and we decided to ask for Paulaner. And they had it! Not in a crate, but Harry didn't mind carrying 24 bottles of Paulaner in plastic bags :P We had the car just there anyway. So we finally had success!

This is the brewery-restaurant - Päffgen. I would recommend this to anyone visiting Cologne.

Inside is big. But they are so popular that even when we went in at 6pm there were already people at tables, and the rest of the tables were reserved. The only spot we could find was this little table in the hallway (they even had to make an eating space of the hallway!) nearly opposite the toilets.

The photo above shows the German dishes waiting to be served, unloaded from a dumb waiter, and a guy on the right serving kölner. They march up and down and around tables watching if anyone's glass is empty, and once it is, they just replace it with one of those full glasses and make a notch on your beer mat. Talk about efficiency!

The hallway towards the entrance.

My delicious delicious (big) wienerschnitzel.

Harry's, I don't know now... pretty huge dish of sausages.

And Rik's, I don't know either... pork cooked in beer and things like that.

Look how popular this place is! And it has such a genuine authentic feel to it plus great service. Surely a winner!

The kölner is so popular - each brewery brews its own kölner, and this is Päffgen's own - that from our special vantage point in the hallway, I could see them changing the beer barrels once every 10 minutes or so. And they had three big ones! See that barrel on the top right? That's not just decoration. I saw them hoisting it up, but I don't remember why now.

Cologne had one more surprise for us. When we finished dinner and went back to our car, we found this lovely white rose waiting for us. No note and no one else around. No roses on other cars either. Maybe it's one of those pay it forward good deeds kinda things. Or maybe they wanted to show appreciation for our eco-friendly Prius. Whatever it was, it was certainly something to remember of Cologne!

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