Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cologne, Germany

Here I go again, pinching myself to make sure I'm not just dreaming!  Bob's work took him to Germany mid-October for a trade show and other meetings, and I had the opportunity to accompany him and plan a trip that would extend to Switzerland where we would visit our friends, The Newmans.  It turned out to be one of the most scenic and memorable travels I have experienced.  We flew into Frankfurt the evening of Monday, October 14th and directly drove two hours north to Cologne (also spelled Koln in Germany).  Bob was in meetings there on Tuesday and Wednesday, which gave me plenty of time to explore this beautiful city.  Sitting on the banks of the Rhine River, Cologne is a scenic town with lots of impressive architecture, the most famous being the Cologne Cathedral.  This Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral is Germany's most visited landmark and is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe.  Construction began in 1248 with the second-tallest spires and the largest facade of any church in the world.  It is said to house the bones of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus after his birth.  Hanging upon one of the walls is the "Crucifix of Bishop Gero," from the 10th century and the oldest known large crucifix.

The Shrine of the Three Kings

Crucifix Gero
Like we found at Seoul Tower, the Hohenzollern bridge across the Rhine River is adorned with love locks!  I was totally charmed by the colorful German style buildings around central square near the cathedral.

The old City Hall Building and Bell Tower are beautiful.  And underneath this part of town are Roman ruins which are carefully being excavated and preserved.  Sewer canals run under the city hall and nearby the "Praetorium", which is the remains of a Roman Governor's Palace from 50 AD, has been unearthed.  A small museum showcases relics found during the excavation.

It was enjoyable just to walk around town and see the many churches, city walls, parks, and a very modern shopping area with stores containing every brand of merchandise you could imagine!  The vivid fall colors intensified the beauty of the area.  But a word to the wise:  this is also a place to be on guard.  I was approached by a pleasant and nice-looking gentleman looking for companionship, whom I'm sure was left wondering how his approach turned into a discussion about the gospel of Jesus Christ!  I was sought out by several beggars looking for a handout or an opportunity to pick my pockets.  One of Bob's business associates was "bumped into" by several friendly people who somehow managed to slip the wallet out of his front pants pocket while engaged in pleasant conversation.  Thankfully, I think have learned to be aware and prepare myself against ill-intent while wondering the streets alone as a tourist!

I was also able to enjoy the humorous side of life in Cologne.  From clever street performers to unique store fronts and funny food, I got a taste of the "lighter" side of Germany.  Tuesday night we went to dinner at a very traditional German restaurant where I was told to order their specialty.  So they bring me this ginormous pig leg . . . but oh, it really was the most delicious ham I've ever eaten.  Yes, there was plenty there to share with everyone else!  Sausages, sauerkraut and bottomless mugs of beer accompanied most orders.  (No, the beer is not mine!)

I took a long walk to the outside of town on Wednesday morning to visit a famous European cemetery.  The Melaten-Friedhof Memorial Park is full of interesting tombstones erected by some of the most wealthy families in the region.  It is a very big park and I'm sure I only managed to cover a small part of it as I meandered over the grounds and discovered these unique and beautiful sculptures.  Yeah, I could have gone shopping . . . but then I would have missed all this!

 My favorites?

Such lovely tile work
and the colors age together beautifully.
Very humorous -
Love the kid with the big nose!
Most famous tombstone in the cemetery -
Gothic horror story scare!
Just a beautiful emotional depiction of grief and hope.
Inspirational and full of light and truth -
"He is not here, for he is risen"!

No comments:

Post a Comment