Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cologne, with Another Everest Reference

Gosh, are we still in Cologne? I mean, I'm not physically still in Cologne, of course. I'm not even in Gent at the moment. I'm writing this blog post in a hotel in Padova, Italy. Which means that I am getting more behind by the moment. But let's not think about that for the time being. Instead, let's hop into the Wayback Machine and set the dial for Cologne.

In my last post, we had just blown our minds at the Golden Chamber in the Basilica of St. Ursula, as you may recall. We headed out to the Belgian Quarter, which was supposed to be sort of hipster central in terms of shopping. I didn't see that much evidence of hipsters, but there were a few cool shops - music, clothes, kitschy goods. Some interesting street art, if that's your bag (daddy-o).

We visited a biergarten so Emily could experience the flavor of Germany (beer and pretzels). It wasn't the nicest of days and we were all getting chilly, so although we had a nice return bike ride along the Rhine, we didn't stop to take pictures. But we did head back in that direction to eat dinner, and now that we were properly attired, we took advantage of the photo ops.

We had dinner at a Thai place here. The river is just out of frame,
opposite the buildings.
After we were fed, we did a little night wandering. I haven't yet mentioned the elephant in the room, or really, the elephant in the middle of Cologne. Officially, it's the Cologne Cathedral, but it's generally just known as the K├Âlner Dom. Lonely Planet called it "the Mt. Everest of cathedrals."

I hope that photo gives some sense of scale. First of all, let me point out that I was across a square from it and still couldn't get the whole thing in the picture. Secondly, those are normal-sized people down there in front of it.

We planned to go into it the next day, but like moths to a flame or one magnet to another magnet or something, we were drawn to look at the outside at night. I wouldn't be surprised if there was actually a scientific explanation - this thing must have its own gravitational pull (this aerial image on Wikipedia shows you how it looms over everything). We ended the evening really excited to see the inside.

The next morning after I loaded up on liverwurst at breakfast ("mmm, cat food!"), we dove into the Dom. There was so much to see that we pretty quickly lost each other and just wandered. I took just short of a million pictures while we were there.

I'm going to try to give you an idea of what it's like inside without making your eyes bleed from too many pictures. It's actually made slightly easier by the fact that I know nothing about churches or Catholicism so I often have no idea what I'm taking pictures of, and therefore can't offer any lengthy explanations. Lucky you.

The ceiling isn't much to look at, I admit, but it
goes on forever.
First off, here is a not-great picture that shows what the interior is like. It's like ... the Great Hall at Hogwarts, except bigger and with higher ceilings. Much higher ceilings. I tried a variety of ways to capture the enormity of the inside, but I don't think I managed with any of them. This one comes the closest.

And now for a few of the details. There's something for everyone!

You like tombs? We've got tombs.
Shrines? So. Many. Shrines.
Stained glass? But of course.
Well, that about wraps it up. We had to leave and come back to see the whole thing, so there was a lunch involved, and some time spent at a cafe having coffee. But generally, we saw the Dom and then in the evening, it was time to catch our train back to Gent.

Here's one final image from our time in Cologne:
You can never go wrong with ice cream.


  1. That ice cream...ooh la la!
    Did you go up into the belfry of the Cathedral? (I think that's what it's called. Way up high where the big bell is.)

    1. No, we didn't go up. I was wondering if it was possible to do, but I didn't see any signs for it or lines or anything. I wonder if it was closed temporarily, or if we just missed it in the confusion.

      We had to come back for a second time because the first time, everyone got chased out of the front area (where most of the good stuff was) and they locked it all up for a while. I had gotten in there, but Morgan and Emily hadn't made it there before that happened.

    2. Thanks. I ask because the bell started clanging when my family and I were up there, and wow, was it loud. I still remember the tears of a little boy who was traumatized by it.