From Amsterdam to Koln

My Morning

Because my train left early in the morning, I decided to go to bed earlier than previously planned (about 1am or so). I woke up to the sound of rain, a horrible sound to hear when one knows that a heavy backpack and suitcase will be trudging with you through the maze-like streets of Amsterdam after only about 6 hours of sleep!
The hostel where I stayed had a weird policy, where the front desk was closed until 8:15. I know that people have to sleep, but I’m sure this is why shifts are used everywhere else, and besides, 8:15? That’s really late for a business that caters to people who are backpacking and want to make the most out of their day. So, after enough rambling [which I’m sure it looks like I’m doing again in this post] I went out into the cold morning.
I decided that one of the trams that whizzed about the streets would be my best option for getting to the station on time. I would best sum up my spending policy as “spend only in case of near death.” But, that was not to be for my train to Cologne as I spent almost 3 Euro (USD$ 4.50) on the tram! Note that the price wasn’t bad in and of itself, because if I had been able to use the ticket for the full term of its validity I would have realised the savings. 

Photo notes:

  • Tram in Amsterdam
  • Station in Cologne
  • Me after hurriedly throwing on “warmer” clothing for the wet, chilly morning
  • My camera created this weird two-photo, two-tone image. I thought it was cool. I wish I knew how to replicate the effect.
  • Amazing camera/souvenir shop that unfortunately didn’t have my size battery
  • Excavations
  • Glimpse inside Kölner Dom

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook album for extra photos! Here.

Arriving in Köln*

If you have been tuning into my endonyms and exonymns series, you will remember that Koln is the German name for the city that we refer to in English as Cologne

The rail lines seem to have been built intentionally above the entry/exit platform, forcing you to walk downwards to ground/or below ground level when stepping into the sprawling square outside. You feel the station with its trains high above your back, but in front of you, a bit off to the side, off of the train at Köln Hauptbahnhof (main station) I was immediately greeted by the overwhelming facade of Cologne Cathedral, or Kölner Dom as it is known in German goes. A prominent set of steps glossed by the rain led their way up to the building’s towering expanse that seemed to embrace the heavens. Needless to say, I was awestruck. I was confused. How was this obviously old structure supporting itself and why weren’t the brown stone blocks falling to the earth? Of course, I’d read about the load bearing flying buttresses and all the artsy physics details, but to this moment, I feel like that guy from the Discovery Channel and would like to say, “aliens!”

The doors of the great cathedral were lined with figures of saints and biblical statuary prodding one with fear or familiarity. From my constant religious and historical research, I knew most of them by name and bid them a happy “Guten Tag” as I walked through the celestial portals they guarded. I was welcomed by the church’s treasury and the guard that let me know it was €8 to view its wonders. Lover of history that I am, I paid, and was able to visit rooms filled with reliquaries, bishops’ regalia, altarpieces and crucifixes. All photography was expressly prohibited and I haven’t uploaded any photos of the underground museum lined with ancient and probably priceless religious and historical artefacts.

One of the most important of these artefacts is the Dreikönigsschrein, the tomb housing the bones of the three kings who travelled for Christ’s nativity in the New Testament. Being the largest reliquary created in the western church, it is truly the most prized possession of the cathedral. The main part of the cathedral was closed in the morning and opened in the afternoon for mass. I will be posting the footage from inside in a later post.

 

Cologne souvenir: I bought a rosary made of red wood with stainless steel inlay.

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