Julia and I traveled to Cologne for the Easter holiday. We met up at her brother and his wife’s house as did the rest of the immediate family.
We took the train over to Köln from Heidelberg and it was about a two and a half hour ride. A lot of the trip was along the Rhine (Rhein) river, which is really wonderful to see. We joked about how many castles are to be seen on the landscape – it seems like every few miles you see the ruins of another huge castle.
When you walk out of the train station in Cologne you walk into the main square and are immediately confronted with the Dom, the massive thousand year old gothic cathedral. It is impossible not to be instantly impressed by its size and grandiosity. It is hard to imagine that generations of people worked on the single goal creating this monument. In any given place including high, high up you can look in a tiny corner and see intricate stone carvings that only a professional could have crafted.
Later in the day we climbed the 533 stairs of the tower of the Dom and got a wonderful view of the city. We have climbed many church towers at this point; many of the churches in the cities here offer the climbing of their liberally-graffitied, narrow-spiralling-staired towers for a nominal fee.
We stayed in Julia’s brother’s house for a couple of days and spent a lot of the time with her family. Each of the three mornings we had a huge – I would even say traditional German – breakfast with tons of fresh bread, jams, cheeses, meats, cereals, vegetables, etc. The house and her brother were both very accommodating and with the penthouse apartment we were offered a very great view of the city, including the Dom.
On Easter morning, after our breakfast, we drove to a park and hid some candy and presents for Julia’s nephew and then took a nice walk through the park. Later we drove to an old coal mine and got a tour inside. The tour guide spoke very clear German so I was able to understand quite a bit which was nice. After the tour, we drove back to Cologne and had dinner at a traditional restaurant for the area. It was a very different Easter for me – I am used to staying in the house and having a big meal with the family at home. This Easter felt less traditional in the sense that there weren’t as many customs, but at the same time it was still hugely family oriented with everyone interacting together and enjoying each other’s company.
The next day we went to a botanical garden and took another nice walk around as a group. It is hard for me to imagine American families talking walks as a group of nine people for over an hour. In the park we even saw a peacock showing its stuff. After a bit more walking around it was time to go to the trainstation and head back to Heidelberg.