It’s been two weeks since my last blog post. Two weeks of meeting tons of new and awesome people, jumping from train to train, riding in cars with strangers, wandering through new cities, hiking, and lately, Oktoberfest. I really don’t like having these lapses in updates because not only is this blog a way for me to share my experience with the world, but it’s my way of recording my memories. To place into concrete an amazing moment or experience. But anyways, let’s get into what I’ve been up to lately.
Köln: A great city made up of a varied population (culture-wise) with a focus on performing arts. As soon as you get off of the train and walk out of the station, all you see is this monstrosity of a cathedral. Köln’s cathedral has been one of the best that I’ve seen. Besides its sheer size, there are so many meticulous details tied into every arch, spire, column, nook, and cranny. Regardless of where you look, you see something else and if you look twice, you’ll find that you probably missed something the first time. Anywho, enough about the Kölner Dom (you can find a drawing on my facebook page as well as a 360° photo in my “Germany 360” Flickr album). As a city, it’s like most German cities… Not a lot of really tall buildings, but otherwise really similar to any city of 1,000,000+ inhabitants. So I’ll quickly skim over going into too much detail in regards to what you can see (because you don’t really have anything mention-worthy). Just a lot of bakeries… I’m getting distracted. If you’re not interested in the city life, you can take a train for a fairly cheap price to one of the surrounding cities. I stayed in Euskirchen which was a quite nice little town on the outskirts of Köln. Nearby, there’s Bad Münstereifel which is an old village with a castle and the original wall still stands today. There’s also Burgruine Hardtburg which is the remains of a castle in the woods. It’s a beautiful setting and if you go there at the right time of the year (non-summer I believe), you can go up into the ruins. During the summer, it’s closed to the general public to allow birds to have free reign.
Frankfurt was my next stop. I stayed with a man named Sascha and his family where I soon felt at home and had some interesting and stimulating conversation. Besides him and his hospitality, the rest of the people can be friendly, the transportation is as on par as other German cities, and they …(wait for it)… have a skyline! Apparently most German cities don’t so the fact that they do is a huge deal and some Frankfurters as a result have the idea that their city resembles NYC. It’s a bit laughable, if I’m being completely honest. They have the “Main Tower” (seen HERE in 360°) which gives you a great view of the city for a fairly inexpensive price of 6€/4€ if you have a student ID or are elderly, a beautiful canal, and a great collection of pre-1800’s artwork at the Städel. They also have a main cathedral, though I don’t consider it a positive and I’ll explain why. When you go into many old homes, over the years, coats and coats of lead paint have been slathered on until the fine details in woodworking/masonry are no longer visible. Yeah, that’s how the church is. Like many place that I’ve seen in Germany (Bad Münstereifel was another example of this), they require the buildings to be kept visually appealing. They’re old, but they’re supposed to be touristic, so they paint some of the buildings with ridiculous and nearly fluorescent-bright colors that would never have a) existed as an option originally and/or b) wouldn’t have been affordable had they existed. Old homes didn’t have bright blue, red, yellow, and purple paint covering the façade and on that note, neither did the churches. Frankfurt’s cathedral appears to be made out of a sandstone or other reddish stone with a powdery texture and in order to maintain a new appearance inside, they painted EVERYTHING this horrible red. Even conduit and pillars which wouldn’t have been made out of the same material. And to top it all off? They then went and PAINTED white lines to simulate stacked blocks with mortar in between. Again, even on the things that aren’t stacked blocks. I don’t know if I’m being vocal enough about it, but it really pisses me off. I’ll post pictures of what I mean to better illustrate how bad it looks.
After just 2 days, I moved on again. To Heidelberg! Which so far has been one of my favorite towns. Right off the bat, I met Victor (the boyfriend of my host, Lea) and we became friends. This led to us sharing a pot of pasta while discussing where I should go the following day. He told me about the castle and a tradition to get a liter bottle of beer from Vetters (a local bar), walk up to the castle’s courtyard, and drink it there. From there I hiked an old stone staircase (and I use that term loosely **see photos at bottom**) to Königstuhl which gives you an amazing view of the entire city and the mountainous hills that surround it. The steps up are extremely direct, and I was in a hurry to get back down to the train station where I was meeting Victor to go to an indoor rock-climbing place, so I brought my huge beer with for the climb. It was unpleasant initially as it was quite warm, but the view at the top without a doubt made it worth it. In addition, the cathedral there is quite nice. It’s smaller than some that I’ve been into, but you can walk up to the tower and then outside where you a great view of all of the city (and the castle). While I’m mentioning views, the castle also provides a great place to just relax and overlook something that could be out of a different era. It’s breathtaking. If you love old architecture, beautiful landscapes, and friendly people, I highly recommend Heidelberg! Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for very long so I had to cram everything into a very short timeframe. That being said, what a wonderful time it was!
That’s where I’ll end this post as I feel like Munich deserves its own blog.