Anna'a party was exciting! There were so many cakes and sweets to eat at the party! Someone gave Anna a hot-air balloon for her birthday. Later that evening we took it outside and launched it, and it sailed off over the neighborhood until it looked like a star in the night sky.
Mandie and I took a daytrip to Köln (Cologne) via train. As soon as we exited the train station we were standing in front of the magnificent Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral). An impressive sight, the Köln Dom is one of the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world. Construction of the Dom began in 1248 and ended in 1880. It was the tallest building in the world for four years. We went inside and walked around. There are lots of sclptures, pictures, artifacts, and stained glass windows. This is the home of the remains of the Three Wise Men which are kept inside a golden sarcophagus. One of the oldest crucifixes also resides here, as well as the largest bell in the world: St. Petersglocke. We met a Polish lady who gave us her address and insisted that we visit her in Poland. We are still not sure why. We stuck around for midday prayer. Winfried Bönig played the pipe organ which was a real treat! There was more than one organ playing, or maybe the pipes were just placed in two different locations, and it sounded as if the enormous cathedral vault had pipe organs in surround sound. After prayer, we climber the tower which was 509 steps up to an openwork tower platform with a breathtaking view of Köln.
Official cathedral website with tons of info!
Kölner Dom on wikipedia!
Following the Cathedral we had lunch at a sidewalk café where we ate delicious sandwiches and I tried a Kölsch, which is the beer of the city. It tasted sweet and sort of hazelnutty. Having never really liked beer, have no idea how to describe it properly. When lunch was over we made our way down the Rhine to the chocolate museum. I learned so much about chocolate including, history, processing, packaging, advertising, and etc. Inside they had a climate controlled garden (which was hot and humid!) with chocolate trees! There was a great chocolate fountain with golden decorations, and free chocolate bars, wafers, and truffles! Oh it was so good! On exhibition were processing machines that were in operation making chocolate bars, hollow chocolate figures, and truffles so that we could see how the entire process worked. One of the rooms had vintage chocolate advertisements playing. They were funny in that old commercial sort of way. There was a walk-through exhibit of historical things relating to chocolate from its Mayan origin all the way to modern-day aspects. I even found a chocolate phonograph from 1903 that came with chocolate discs with 38 second recordings on them each.
Walking around Köln, I saw these bikes periodically that were labeled, “Call a Bike.” The deal was you call a phone number and it unlocked the bike so that you could ride it around wherever you wanted, for a fee I am sure. What a clever idea!
Historically, the Romans at one point in time had expanded their empire into Germany. The origional doorway to the city and parts of the roman wall are still in Köln. We both passed through this door. Of course thinking back, that would have been a good picture to have taken, but at the time we were just like, “Oh thats cool!” and then ran off (as we do often).
I was walking ontop of this wall, and when I got to the end I looked down and saw the ost peculiar thing: a large rat that had been squished by a substantial brick! What an odd thing to stumble upon!
We went into a string instrument store to look around and the cellos caught my attention. The girl working in the shop showed them to us. There was one cello from 1900 France for over 6000 Euro, and a German one from 1920 that was equally expensive. I'm sure that they sounded as lovely as they looked!
Alternately, I found an electronic instrument store which is a bit more in my price range and practical interest. I am already looking at ways to expand this street music, and have been considering going partially electronic.
I have enrolled in the Sprachenatelier in Berlin. This is a language school as well as a culture and art center. I plan on taking several of their German programs. The school is located in the middle of downtown Berlin And should make the perfect opportunity for meeting people and obtaining a firmer grasp on the culture of Germany. After all, if I am going to go back to school it might as well be fun!