(That's German for hello.)
That’s German for Hello.
So we made it over to the continent! I was slightly nervous about getting over here and into our hostel, but everything worked out fine.
We did have a bit of an issue with our luggage before our flight into Dusseldorf. It turns out that the luggage scale I brought isn’t exactly accurate. When we got to the airport we all weighed our bags and we were a bit over. After several attempts to meet the weight limit by moving things around I eventually had to part with one pair of jeans, one pair of shorts, a shirt, and some toiletries. I wasn’t too thrilled, but I also was not about to pay the extra 20 euros per kg. Luckily, both Emily and Monica still had some room in their carryons so I didn’t have to get rid of more than that. After that was taken care of we got through baggage check and security just fine, got breakfast, then went to wait at our gate. The flight was quick and the plane was not nearly as questionable as I thought it might be. It even had classical music playing throughout the cabin for boarding and disembarking.
When we got to Dusseldorf we definitely knew we were in a different country. Most everyone spoke English, or at least enough to understand us; it was figuring out the ATM, finding the bus, and figuring out how to buy tickets that gave us a little confusion. Then once we got to the train station we hit another few snags figuring out what trains to take, and if we had to pay for them, but we ended up at our hostel just fine.
We’re staying at Hostel Pathpoint Cologne, which is really very nice. Not what I was expecting as it is a renovated church (I was expecting the outside to at least look SOMETHING like a church), but we are very happy with it. There is a nice common area, kitchen, courtyard, and washer/dryer area. We are on the second floor in eight-person female room with one shower and one bathroom. The place is brand new so everything is really clean, and our beds are pretty comfy. The only problems are that its incredibly hot at times, and that the shower is kind of odd. It seems to flood a bit, and when I showered tonight the water pressure was so strong that the shower head went out of control and ended up showering the ceiling. I only had a minor heart attack though. I’m fine now.
Yesterday we explored a city an hour out of Cologne by train called Aachen. It’s a small city comparable to Oxford. When we arrived the city seemed dead. All of the stores were closed, and there wasn’t a person in sight. Then we found the town center. Aachen’s Dom and another church mark the center. Surrounding that there are plenty of shops (unopened) and restaurants (open). This is where all the people were. The area is full of narrow cobblestone streets that zigzagged and got us a little confused at times. We all loved the city though, and should we ever go again we won’t go on a Sunday so we can actually go in the shops. When we got back to Cologne we had dinner at a traditional German restaurant. I couldn’t remember what I used to order at The German Restaurant back home, so I just took a shot in the dark and ordered Jaegerschnitzel. It was delicious. I wish it came with those potato pancakes I used to get, but I have yet to see them here, so maybe that was more of an Americanized German food. After dinner we wandered around some then got gelato, and sat and people watched for a bit. Then we planned our next few days and went to bed.
Today we gave ourselves a treat and slept in till 10:30. Considering we had gotten up at 4 that morning, we really needed it. Actually, we got up at 1 on accident (shoddy alarm clock at the B&B), and then I kept waking up every half an hour thinking we were going to miss our cab. So sleeping in really helped. When we got up we wandered over into the old part of the city for breakfast. I wish I remembered the name of what I got, but it was something like sweet bread rolled in cinnamon sugar with an apple piece inside. Delicious. I also got a Kaffe Creme. I’m still trying to figure out what the difference is between that and a Kaffe with milk. No clue. Of course right when we were about to eat it started drizzling (and we’re in shorts and tank tops… we looked pretty out of place). We found a tree to sit under though so that helped. After we ate we went to see Cologne’s Dom. It is an amazing gothic cathedral. We toured the ground floor, and listened to the pipe organ then went and climbed the 533 steps to the top of the belfry (and the 533 back down). The view was amazing. My shaking legs later were totally worth it. After we recuperated we walked around what is supposedly the busiest shopping street in Europe, which included way too many H&Ms to count and a giant outdoor store that puts REI to shame. That took up a lot of time. Then we went to where Eau de Cologne was created, and washed our hands in pure Eau de Cologne. Awesome. Next we crossed the Rhein for dinner. We had Italian because we told Monica last night if she tried our food we’d reward her with an Italian meal. It was nice to sit and eat. We were pretty dead by then. To end the day we sat looking out on the river waiting for the Dom to light up (which took forever.. it wasn’t dark until about 10). Now we are at the hostel, and I’d like to put this online and put in the German words for food and places, but apparently I have an invalid username or password. A new girl showed up in our room who is from Riverside (she just graduated from Stanford) and knows someone at Cal Poly SLO. She’s giving us tips about Germany since she studied in Berlin. It’s pretty cool how we run into people from home (I also saw a guy with a CSUN sweatshirt in Dusseldorf).
Off to and Munich tomorrow!