Cologne, Germany – Day 1 of #15daysthrougheurope

Cologne, Germany – Day 1 of #15daysthrougheurope

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So this is where my adventure with my mom began!  Well… the fun part at least – we have been planning and booking and re-planning and researching and planning… for a while now.   But this is when it got exciting.

To be fair, I accidentally started 24 hours early….  whoops – I guess we should begin there?

So the evening of June 9 I took Bravo to the kennel and dropped him off.  When I got home I finished up getting the house organized for my moms arrival and started packing the car to be ready in the morning.  Then I got a text.  My mom was letting me know that she had successfully checked in online (she had not done online check in before for international travel) and I stopped cold… shouldn’t she be halfway across the Atlantic already?!  I stopped everything and pulled up a calendar and her ticket info to see I had been running on a schedule 24 hours early.

The good news: I had a whole extra day to get things together and take a breather before we got off to the chaos that was our trip.

The bad (but not really all that bad) news:  Bravo was at the kennel an extra day – I don’t think he minded and its not TOO pricey.

… Oh yeah, and that pesky hotel cancellation and change of plans because I had an extra 24 hours in there….

So I took it easy on the 10th and did a little more spiffing up in the house with plenty of time to get in bed early so that I could wake up at 0400 on the 11th and start driving!  And drive I would.  It took me about 3 and a half hours to get to Frankfurt airport to pick her up.  Now I have flown out of Frankfurt (when I went to Belize, remember?) recently and knew the airport.  What I haven’t done is drive right up to the front – I parked in holiday parking and took the bus in.  So I wasnt ready to sit in traffic for 30 min when I could SEE the airport.  So mom ended up waiting on me instead of me waiting on her.  But I pulled in and found her in about 30 seconds and we loaded up the car!

And we were off!

Almost.

I know how the parking decks and the street parking works here.  But I wasn’t ready for pulling out, stopping, paying, and then continuing out the gate.  I tried to revert back to my american ways and pay at the gate.  Opps.  Welcome to Germany and my life mom.  IE: Never quite knowing exactly what your doing at any given time.

And we were off!  To a whopping 50k through town and terrifying a sleepy mom driving through Frankfurt – and we hadn’t even made it to the Autobahn yet!

So once we did make it onto the Autobahn I was nice and stayed mostly in the truck lane creeping along and a sad 90k on our way to Cologne, Germany.

We made it there safe and sound without too too much fear – probably due to some sleepy jet lag kicking in.  Because we had a tight schedule to keep we got to our parking deck and basically had our own personal tail gate party while we made some sandwiches out of the cooler and munched on snacks out of the trunk.  Yep, we got stared at… a lot.  But who really cares right?

OK, THIS IS “THE MOM”.  So sorry for the interruption, 😉  Let’s back the BUS up just a little.  Sleepy…jet-lag?….More like comotosed, hehe.  Let’s start where I started…..I drove 4 hours to the west of Atlanta Tuesday after work and stayed overnight with my sweet cousins, went to bed and tossed and turned full of excitement and up at 5 a.m Wednesday, June 10th to primp for air-travel.  My cousin drove me for an hour to the airport and I got there at 8 a.m. and checked my luggage in and all that stuff.  At 10:40 a.m. my flight left Atlanta to Charlotte and 4:35 p.m. left for Germany and landed at 7:20 THE NEXT DAY.  Somewhere over the ocean I lost 6 hours but seemed like a whole day.  I tried to sleep while over the ocean, I even brought my my big soft bed pillow (I’m a pillow snob and the guy sitting next to me was a good sport) but there was no getting comfy and quiet enough to sleep.  I sat to the side, to the other side, straight back and even laid my head on the snack tray with the pillow on it.  Nope, none, nada, no sleep.  How were those other people sleeping?!?  I was jealous.

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So, we landed and I was excited but staggering around a foreign airport getting through passport control and all.  My only means of communication with Paige was the internet (thanks Facebook:).  Simple right?  Well I turn on my Wifi to get airport internet but it’s all in German, hehe but I get help and then assist Paige so we could rendezvous.  Ahhhhhh, there’s my sweet baby Paige and I’m finally sitting in the car.

OK, the car ride… here’s how I remember it.  Driving through the Frankfurt airport and driving through town was, ummm, somewhat unsettling, the cars on the roundabouts were out of control and then there was driving on the interstate, oh wait, that’s the AUTOBAHN?!!!  Uhhh, we were getting up to 90 miles per hour and cars had to have passed us at 150.  Now picture this, Paige could see these cars coming at 150 miles per hour in her rear-view mirror, but I was of course in the passenger seat and oblivious to the cars when they passed us at this ungodly rate of speed.  I mean, gosh, our car shook as these unidentifiable speed bullet cars passed us.  I think I half-screamed a couple of times and begged Paige to please stay behind the slow trucks.  lol 

The parking deck was big with several floors but the all the spaces were tiny, made for Fiats and SmartCars I guess.  I felt the need to get out of the car (Toyota Prius which seemed like a barge in comparison) and guide Paige into the 4 x 4 (just kidding) spot for her car. We had a great lunch that Paige had prepared with German bread, cold-cuts and cheese.  Ok, the floor is all yours again Paige…

Ok, Ok, scary driving, too fast, blah blah blah… maybe we went over what I had previously stated a few times while her eyes where closed… can you blame me?  So – moving forward!

Once we emerged back above ground we got re oriented on the map and started walking to the river to hunt down some chocolate. If you haven’t guessed (or follow me on storie) our first stop was the Chocolate Museum in Cologne Germany.

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Even though we visited on a Saturday in the summer, I made sure to get there early to try a beat the crowds.  While it was still crowded and there were a lot of people filing through, it wasnt too bad and we only waited in line for tickets for a few minutes.  But it seemed there were a lot more people coming in as we left.  The museum was wonderful and the staff was super friendly (I think they enjoyed listening to me butcher German – but I try).  It was a real treat – and completely unplanned – to go here right after visiting Belize in central america.  I recognized all of the plants and was even able to give my mom extra info that wasn’t offered on the tour.  Even more fun were the images and info on the growing and harvesting – and again, I was able to share my fist hand experiences from both Belize and Panama alike.  And most exciting for me was the gallery that held their collection of art and artifacts at the end of the tour.  No one really mentioned this and I didnt know it was there – so I was quite excited about getting to wander through and, again, see so much from where I recently left part of my heart in central america.  So all in all – QUITE a treat.  And while I know the situation would be pretty rare – if you get the chance to go after visiting central america 😉 it makes for an even more interesting visit.

Once we left the Museum (after purchasing and consuming our fair share of chocolate) we wandered through the streets of Cologne and slowly made our way to the Dom while stopping in bakeries and sampling tasty treats.  This was the largest “cathedral” structure I have been too.  If I am not mistaken it is 19 in the top 20 largest.  I would LOVE to visit the cathedral in Ulm, which is still larger.  It was hard to take it all in.  I don’t know if it is more impressive, or if my appreciation differs as an artist to that of a non artist, but I just cant even imagine what would have had to go into this buildings creation.  Every inch is covered in something worth stopping and taking in.  I was truly in awe.  When we finished walking through it was hard to walk away.  I felt like I had done the artists, architects, and builders a disservice somehow by not lingering longer.  So in my lack of words I will share some of our photos 0 and be sure to watch the video of our walk through.

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This was the end of our whirlwind tour of Cologne and marked time for us to return to the car and get on the road.  So we walked, a bit slower than we started, back to our parking deck. We packed back into my Prius to hit the road and make our way to Colmar France in time to pass out, rest up, and prepare for a FULL day of French cuisine, culture, and adventure the following morning.

See all of the photos from Cologne here.

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