July 23, 2014

We Made it to Deutschland: Cologne & Heidelberg

Back on the bus, we were an excited group because our next stop meant that we had crossed over into Deutschland. I was looking forward to Germany because my parents had spent much time here and it was technically my second time on German soil.

After traveling for a bit, we arrived under grey skies to Cologne for a visit to the world's largest gothic cathedral. The detail and gothic nuances throughout the facade were even more impressive to me than Notre Dame!

Side Note: If I could sum up this trip in one word it would be scaffoldings. But seriously...almost every. single. major site was done up in scaffolding for restorations. This is mild compared to sites coming up in later cities. Sad.

It was Sunday and service was actually being held, but we were still able to pop in for a quick peek. 

We also had the option to climb one of the spires up to a viewing platform. Any chance you get to climb and have a tip-top view of the city is prime sightseeing in my book, so up I went.

After what seemed like forever on the never ending sets of stairs, we finally made it up all 533 steps. Through the gloomy fog you can see the Rhine river cutting through what looks like a typical city. What I found breathtaking was the close-up view of the cathedral's exterior. It makes the intricate detail for such an old building even more mind-boggling.

It seemed a bit early for lunch and all I really wanted was coffee so a couple of us popped into a bakery where I grabbed some kind of cheese bread. I wasn't snapping pictures at this point because I was panicking that my phone wasn't in my purse. Luckily, it was back on the bus! Whoops!

Next on our schedule for the day we jumped on a ship to cruise the Rhine River. Some ate lunch; I enjoyed my first German beer while taking in the view. The lush green hills were dotted with small towns below and a few castles and fortresses tucked in. 

Our final stop before getting to our Heidelberg hotel was the Heidelberg Palace. Heavily damaged by war and fire, these ruins are known for the romantic setting amongst the lush green forests up-top the hill.

The sun did its best to peak out from behind the clouds while we were there, but at least it wasn't raining! 

After a long day of travel, stop, sightsee, travel, stop, sightsee I welcomed the hotel with a loving plop onto the bed only to hop back up and ready myself again, this time for dinner. 

Having experienced good ol' Steinkeller in Oxford, trips to the Hofbrauhaus, and many Oktoberfest celebrations, I knew that German food was GOOD food! Claudia (in the picture below) took us to a restaurant within walking distance of our hotel called, Zum Guldenen Schaf (The Golden Sheep). 

I ordered pork schnitzel with spaetzle and ate every last bite.  Claudia recommended the dark German lager, dunkel. Although I don't typically like dark beer, it was delicious!

We rounded out the evening by visiting a local bar where we young, obnoxious fun Americans were the only customers. Remember, it was a Sunday. The German bartender was wearing a 49ers hat and there were American dollar bills with previous travelers names written on them hanging from the ceiling. He chatted with my Californian travelers about his visits to San Fran and made us delicious drinks with a smile. We sure livened up his otherwise customerless Sunday night!  I enjoyed a lighter beer this time, but saved my liter drinking skills for our next stop--Munich!

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