Next up was Cologne, Germany. After an hour or two spent trying to figure out the rail system (for the record, it was Good Friday – the timetables get all switched around, a secret unbeknownst even to many of the employees, apparently, in particular, all of the employees we attempted to ask). So we got to the Bahnhof, (German for train station) in Cologne slightly behind schedule. We were supposed to meet my Mom’s friend Rosi. One little problem- I’ve never met Rosi and had no clue what she looked like. Cologne’s a pretty big city, too, so the chances of us meeting up by chance in the massive train station seemed pretty slim. After a minor panic attack, I finally figured out how to call her and she designated a meeting point, to which Maura and I stayed glued to for a half an hour until this small little German woman called out, “Lindsay?” and I turned around to have said small German woman throw her arms around me. These Germans, I tell you, were just the nicest people!

Die Dom in Cologne!

With Rosi, we got the express tour of Cologne. I can’t tell you half of what Rosi told us because she moved at light speed and I had to practically jog to catch up with her. She showed us the Dom, the famous cathedral; the Rathaus where JFK spoke years ago;  told us about Karneval, the massive Lenten celebration that the city is famous for; and took us up a huge tower with a panoramic view of the city. Cologne was different from all the other cities we visited- alright, all of the cities we visited were different, but I’m trying to make a point, so go with it- anyway, it was different in its since of pride. The people have such passion and loyalty for the place they live- there is a Kolsch beer and a special Kolsch way of drinking it, and so much Cologne paraphernalia it blew my mind. The city was still, to me, incredibly overwhelming and I don’t think I would ever consider living there, but it was fascinating to visit. Oh and the street culture- all the performers and musicians and artists, was more prolific than I have seen in any other city. It seemed that everywhere you turned, there was someone dressed up in costume, or recreating the work of a Renaissance artist in chalk, or playing an instrument. Such a lively atmosphere! That, in combination with the Rosi Schute express tour, wore me out, so I was rather grateful when we got to head back to her house for dinner!

Street performers

  

It was there that I met Richard, her husband. Three things to know about Richard: 1) He likes his motorcycles- a lot. He has two. 2) He likes red wine- a lot. He has a ‘hobby room’ in his basement, which is a temperature regulated cellar that is solely responsible for housing red wines from around the world. 3) He won Rosi’s heart by his ability to eat a brotchen (a hard, fist sized breakfast roll) in one bit. Unfortunately, he did not perform this talent for Maura and me, but, nonetheless, I still believe the legend. We also met her daughters, Lisa and Maria, and Maria’s boyfriend, Daniel. They all speak incredibly good English, thank goodness, and we talked for hours. I think to say that was the funnest night in Germany would be both grammatically incorrect, and would undervalue the rest of my time spent in Germany, but it was definitely up there on my list of favorites.

The next morning, after a breakfast of brotchen and MilchKaffee (in which we all ate our brotchen in multiple bites), Rosi and Richard drove back to Oma’s with us for the Easter Saturday and Sunday celebrations.