Monday, January 19, 2015

Cologne (Köln): not just a perfume

This post features our trip to the lovely cities of Dusseldorf and Koln (known as Cologne to anyone outside of Deutschland). Lots of cool stuff goes on in that region, including "Carnival", which is basically like Brazil's Carnival, but toned down and Deutsch-style. We were there just before Carnival started, so they had set up all the bleachers along the streets and were advertising all over town for it, but it hadn't got all cray-cray.

We started off in Dusseldorf. Our friends Justin and Miranda were flying through Dusseldorf on their way home from London and spent the night there so we could hang out with them. It was great! We took them to get some Bavarian food and see the sights (what there was to be had in Dusseldorf anyway).  I feel bad that we didn't take the 20 minute train ride to Koln to show them the Dom, but... we didn't really know at the time. Oh well. Here's some pics!

This may look like a giant turd on a bed of mashed turd, but it was delicious. Bavarians know how to eat!

This is a disturbingly awesome sculpture memorializing some medieval war or something... my German wasn't good enough to read the description. Regardless - it was awesome. 

It wouldn't be a German city tour without old churches.

The riverside buildings and scenery was very nice.

From left-to-right, Miranda Jennings, Risa Nielsen, Mike Nielsen (me!), and Justin Beecher.

Keeping with our travel tradition, we got some expensive and amazing gourmet hot chocolate. It's always worth it. ALWAYS. ALL... WAYS... (chocolate addiction is a real thing kids. Just say no.)

Dusseldorf struck me as a somewhat "modern" city - there were some very striking skyscrapers and hip business districts.

These buildings were all the way across the river. Go semi-decent-camera-zoom. :)

One of the best things about having awesome friends is that they bring you awesome stuff. Miranda and Justin brought us Rootbeer (an American favorite) and Three Dragon Ante (our favorite card game) among other things. This is actually the SECOND time they have given us this game. There's a story here, so bear with me. 
While living in Vietnam, Miranda also gave us the gift of  Three Dragon Ante. We began playing it with our friends there. Before long, Xavier, Maxi, Charles, and even Phi were hooked. And I mean HOOKED. We played that game every day at lunch and sometimes at parties. It was serious - so serious that when we moved, they would have cried if we took it with us. Naturally, we left it there like good friends do. Well... come to find out, the game is out of print! We tried to find another copy, but the cheapest that eBay had to offer was around $50! That wasn't going to fly. We nearly resorted to printing an illegal pdf copy, when Justin and Miranda came to rescue and brought us another copy. It was epic. They were like timely, well-dressed American super-heroes.

Now for Koln. Koln definitely had more interesting things to see, but don't let anyone from Dusseldorf hear you say that - I guess like many German neighboring townships, there's some kind of rivalry going (as we learned the hard way from our friend Helmut Winterstein). Check it!

A lovely banana mural! Lot's of cool street art in this city.

The Kolner Dom is the defining feature of the city. It's... HUGE. And amazing. It kind of jumps out and smacks you in the face right off of the train.

 Inside the dom.

Of love how Germany is full of unicorns.

 From the top of the dom. Now THAT was a lot of stairs.

A famous pair of statues in the city. Rub the nose for good luck. :)

This guy is hilarious. A statue built to taunt the government (housed in the building across the square). At least I think... I hope my history is right.

And the retort. Here's the Rathaus across the square with a face under the clock that sticks out it's tongue twice per day. :D

Again - a place of amazing street art.

As per custom - gourmet hot chocolate. Aaaaaawwwwwwww yeah.

It's tradition to write you and your love's names on a lock and attach it to the bridge. Imagine this going aaaaaaaaaaaall the way across the river. There must be hundreds of thousands of locks. Seriously.

And of course we did our own. :)

St. Ursula's church... not so impressive from the outside, but inside...

Yup - a giant room plaster with human bones. All over the walls, making interesting art - it was equal parts of creepy and amazing.

Berliner - a city as awesome as the donut is tasty.

Hey hey - I got super behind on our blogging... SORRY BOUT THAT!  As a result, I won't be adding a lot of detail. Actually, this is mostly going to be pictures with a few comments.

We went to Berlin about a year ago. Very cool place. Just a weekend trip, so we didn't see EVERYTHING, but - check it out.

Poles downtown are over-exploited by posters. Big time.

The iconic communications tower. 

Inside the dom. Beautiful.  

On top of the dom - after an extended climb up a lot of stairs. :) 

 The dom from the outside. 

A section of the Berlin wall!  We're trying to look very serious about it.  

I loved these wurst vendors. They were everywhere. 

The iconic crossing signal guy. He's all over the city and is unique to Eastern Germany. 

The best freakin' burger ever - nothing tastes as good as after a HUGE day of walking around without end.

One of the coolest sculptures we saw in all of Berlin, and it happened to be outside the Mexican embassy on an otherwise very unimportant street.

We visited the flohmarkt. It was not only the biggest hipster yardsale I've ever seen, but they had amazing choco-covered waffles!

At the huge chocolate shop / museum.  

Brandenburg Tor. Cool. 

The best freakin' chocolate and marzipan torts that have ever been created ever. Also at the huge chocolate shop / museum downtown.

Also Brandenburg Tor. Night shot. 

As per custom... gourmet hot chocolate for the win.  

Victory tower in Berlin. Climbed to the top. Awesome.  

Pergamon museum - the famous gate of Ishtar. 

Also at the museum.  

The Sony center. Kind of a big outdoor mall thing under a dome. 

And... that's about it. Sorry the text is a bit slim, but I gotta catch up on all our trips from last year!!!