We spell it Cologne, but the Germans spell it Koln. I will respect their way and you will have to imagine the umlout ( those two little dots) over the O, because I don’t have an international keyboard.
The train station in Koln literally let’s out onto the plaza in front of the cathedral. I mean, it’s RIGHT THERE…the biggest church in Europe, the biggest church facade In the world…it is HUGE. We vowed to visit it properly..which meant we had to eat first. Passing an elaborate statue dedicated to the “heinzelmannchenbrunnen” ( a tailor’s wife who ruined a good thing for the city of Cologne when she angered the little gnomes who were doing everyone’s work for them) we found a family style, loud, beer-full restaurant called Fruh and ate some good German hack steak, bratwurst, potatoes, a huge pretzel, and drank beer, schnapps, and some good red wine. Our waiter, as it turns out, was from Spain, so we had a good conversation, in Spanish, in Germany. The world keeps getting smaller.
After a bit of wandering to let dinner settle, off to the church! Dedicated to St. Peter but full of lots of other folks, the church has lovely statues of St. Christopher carrying a child to safety, the oldest crucifix north of the Alps, bones of the Magi in a huge, rather gaudy shrine, and some odd tombs. One of these was to the only non-saint and non-bishop in the place, Count Gottfried, who, in life, had given his entire estate to the church. That gets you buried in the catherdral. Odd is the iron cage over his effigy…looks like a very dangerous dead person, but turns out it was the style of the time.
The church as a whole was huge and wonderful, but dark….winter is dark here, but it seems a couple dozen well-placed incandenscents could make a huge difference.
Leaving the church feeling inspired but in need of sweets, we found Cafe Riecherd, which fed us a milk shake, appelpannekokken, coffee and a Benedictine. What a day!
I must confess, growing up on the history of World War II and watching every war movie ever made, I was not initially crazy about coming to Germany. Most of the German I have heard was a language of anger, power, and interrogation. It is delightful to hear mothers coo their babies to sleep, or children ask for a sweet, or couples exchange endearments, in this language. I love allowing myself to be a citizen of the world, if only for a little while.
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