Friday, 25 July 2014

Holy detour! (or Le Velo has arrived in Cologne)

When I bought this bike in Brest last summer and told the clerk at that I was planning to ride this bike to Cologne, he just looked at me and said "C'est fou". And he was partially right.

But I did make it to Saint Malo and Mont St. Michel.  And then I did make it to Brighton and Gatwick.  And then I did make it to Vancouver. And then I did make it to Saltspring Island. And then I did make it to Parksville. And then I did make it to Frankfurt.  And then I did make it to Neuenahr.

And with any luck Le Velo will FINALLY make it to Cologne today !!!!

A last lunch at the "Bavarian Embassy". The food is not bad for a Bavarian place, i.e. not only meat with meat and meat.
Neuenahr Train Station

I remember going shopping here with grandma when I was little

Another hip-replacement patient

Along the bike path to Remagen

A smoking bicycle in Remagen

I leave Bad Neuenahr at 1pm and am in Remagen to catch the yellow train at 14:11 and even buy a ticket at the Reisezentrum before. No need to take a number here, three clerks look at me hopefully when I enter the door: They finally have a customer!  This is when I realize that so far my bicycle has been riding without a ticket, since the bicycle ticket costs 5 Euros.  Holy Crap !

Remagen train station

my ride

with saddlebags taking up 2 spots

right next to my hotel
around and around I go
I arrive at Cologne Main train station and right away head for the hotel which is about 500 meters away. Not too soon I am told by the thunderclaps and the arrival of very thick drops of rain.  Bicycle storage in this hotel is on the first floor and the stairs are steep.  So I lock the bike to a lamppost for now. I leave by foot again right after bringing my saddle bags and backpack to the room, because there is something I have to do that I haven't done in a long time. And it involves 509 of these steps:

behold St Peter's Bell (Fat Pete in the local dialect) ...
It also involves a few bells (no whistles though):

... with 24,000 kgs the largest freely swinging ringable bell in the world

Cologne Railway Station and Hohenzollern railway bridge right next to the Cathedral

The cathedral, built from originally WHITE sandstone, has been attacked by the combination of Acid Rain and earthquakes. There is an artisan shop attached to the cathedral that tries to recreate and replace all the missing pieces.  Even Hercules would shy away from that task, me thinks.

Being down on terra firma again, I head over the Domplattform (large square) and am deviated from my original course by the sound of Vivaldi.  Vivaldi steers my right foot right into a huge pile of dog shit.  I forgot that I'm back in Germany, where people would use a doggy bag to bring food home but not to scoop up after their 4-legged shit machine.

After pretty much ruining the heather plants in front of the Roman-Germanic Museum in my attempts to clean my sandal I head back towards the Vivaldi sound and discover a quartet.  Great music and as a cyclist I am always looking for ways to reduce the weight I carry around in coins.

The cathedral climb in the lovely Rhine Valley weather (don't ask) has left me drenched in sweat. I guess I was not the only one because even as a smoker I notice on the way down from the fresh-air viewing platform that the spiral torture staircase smells a bit like a gym bag.  I head to the hotel for a quick shower and then take the bike out. This bike now reminds me of that infamous Garden Gnome that showed up in pictures from all over the world ;-)

not crazy after all ;-)
A reasonably yummy dinner at another Thai restaurant is affected by another rounds of thundershowers as I am sitting under another one of those sun umbrellas when it hits.

A short aside and a closing note on Bad Neuenahr:  I have never ever seen such a high density of electric bicycles in the streets.  And accordingly, the electric bicycle store around the corner from the hotel has at least 50 brand new e-bikes on the floor of their showroom.

After Thursday afternoon's thundershowers, Cologne weather on Friday morning is sunny and refreshingly cooler.  Breakfast at 7 am is yummy (no olives though ;-) and with a view of the Rhine promenade.

 Since at 8 am it is still nice and cool, I carry the bicycle down the stair onto the street and go for a two-wheeled stroll.
 I cross Hohenzollern-Bridge (a nice wide sidewalk next to the train tracks) to what is situated on the right side of the River Rhine and is considered by the people of Cologne the wrong side of town (Deutz) but offers much better picture opportunities.

This bike is balanced on a narrow wall with an abyss to a construction sight behind. I was pressing the release button VERY GENTLY ;-)
 On the way back I notice that every available metal strand of the pedestrian/train barrier has been used to defend love locks from gravity's attraction ;-)

One of these riders at each bridge corner
Back on the left side of the river, which of course is the right side of town, I keep meandering between the cathedral, my hotel, and the main train-station.

Cologne HBF (main train station)

I am outside the cathedral when I get this view!
 When I notice how even from the outside the stained-glass windows shine with beams of light presumably passing through the cathedral from another window, I decide that it might not be such a bad idea to go inside Cologne Cathedral.

Some impressions from the inside:

now from the inside 

This being an active church, a lot of the faithful are kneeling in the pews. And this being the real world, half of the visitors don't think to or don't know how to turn off the flashes on their cameras. A bad combination.

I leave the cathedral and head south. Then I find myself on Altermarkt with a view of the Rathaus (City Hall)

This is it for this Blitz-Visit to the town I grew up in between the ages of 5 and 21. I check out at the hotel and head for the train station.

No comments:

Post a Comment