Monthly Archives: July 2008

Our Walk to the Chocolate Factory (Part One)

Lindt Chocolate Factory, Koeln, Germany

Lindt Chocolate Factory, Koeln, Germany

Yesterday Matt and I went for a walk from our apartment in the cute little village of Rodenkirchen (pronounced: Rodenkeerken) just on the outskirts of the city of Koeln (Cologne in English) to see the sites.

Our first stop was the Lindt Chocolate Factory that sits right on the banks of the Rhine River. We were told that originally the factory was owned by a local chocolatier but over the years was bought out by the Swiss chocolate company, Lindt.

We managed to remain in control and not buy any chocolate at all but we did have a lovely lunch of a French style pizza (very thin cracker type crust with mozzarella, scallions, and pieces of ham) and a local Koeln beer called Kolch. All was quite tasty and fortified us enough to continue on our journey into the center of the city.

Statue in Front of Lindt Chocolate Factory

Statue in Front of Lindt Chocolate Factory

As we left the chocolate factory we happened upon this statue. I am not real sure what the significance of it is but I am sure it has something to do with the Rhine due to the fact that the character seems to be pulling on a rope like the type that one would have on a boat. The butt view was nice too but I’ll leave that out of this post for now. 🙂

Next we continued our walk along the Rhine and watched as the boats from Holland and Germany chugged down with loads of coal and other merchandise for the masses.

Matt and I enter the City of Cologne

Matt and I enter the City of Cologne

As we continued on our way to the city we found the remains of the Roman wall that used to surround the center of the city. All over the city of Cologne you will see reminders of the Roman’s control of this city centuries ago. We even came across an excavation site in the center of the city where they were uncovering Jewish baths and a Jewish synagogue. It seemed really strange to have this site being uncovered in the center of a city while a couple was being married at the fairly modern city hall just 500 feet away. History is always being made and constantly being uncovered every day.

Next we continued on to the famous Cologne Cathedral. This cathedral is huge and nearly impossible to get in one picture. It is over 2000 years old and is constantly being updated. Once they are done updating it it is time to start all over again.

One of Matt’s patients was kind enough to show us around the city center and she brought us in to the cathedral and showed us the latest stained glass window.

The Newest Addition To The Cathedral

The Newest Addition To The Cathedral

Apparently the artist who created the new stained glass window used precise mathematical equations to decide where each color would be and the frequency of each color’s appearance.

We were also told that the current, I believe, Archbishop doesn’t like the new window at all. He feels that it is to modern and doesn’t match the rest of the cathedral. I wonder if they are going to leave it or eventually replace it with something more in style with the rest of the building? Regardless I thought it was interesting because of the way it was created but I do admit that it seemed to stick out like a sore thumb in comparison with the rest of the cathedral.

Another interesting thing about the Cathedral is the fact that there is a monument to the ‘Three Kings’ or ‘Three Wise Men’ in there. The moment is encased in Gold and is now fenced around it because apparently people were trying to take chunks of it home with them.

I plan on attending at least one Sunday Mass there just to really get the feel of being in a historical place like that an imagine all the people through the ages that have sat in those same pews.

Matt and I in Front of Cologne Cathedral

Matt and I in Front of Cologne Cathedral

Outside many of the young (and not so young) kids use the plaza in front of the Cathedral as a great skateboarding terrain. I wonder how many of them realize the history that they are skating on and in front of. It’s amazing how we tend to take for granted the things right in front of us and I can imagine some of those kids thinking that that big church is such a waste of skateboarding space. It makes me wonder what things I walk right past in my hometown that I think are a bother or a waste of space but if I really payed attention would tell me something of my history if I would only look and listen.

Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for Part Two of our walk to the Chocolate Factory. Until then Matt and I send our love to you all!

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Categories: Germany, Koeln/Cologne | 2 Comments

Recycling in Germany

Recycling

Here in Germany they are very conscious of recycling and it is very refreshing to see. At the grocery store you can either bring your own bag from home (recommended) or buy a new bag (about 10 euro cents or 18 U.S. cents) every time you go shopping.

After forgetting your bags at home several times and having to buy new ones it really reinforces the habit of thinking about the environment in every thing that you do daily. Now we have bags that we just keep in our jacket pockets. This way on the way home from a day on the town if we decide we need something from the supermarket we are prepared and being environmentally conscious. It feels good to do that all the time and not have people look at you like you are strange when you proudly pull out your very own bag from home.

Other things that they do to recycle here are in our apartment building there is a room that we have a key to that houses several different garbage cans marked ‘Paper’ ‘Glass’ and ‘Regular garbage’ and you just put your garbage in the appropriate can and they take care of the rest.

The plastic bottles you take back to the grocery store and there is a machine in the back where you insert your plastic bottles and get your deposit back. We had these machines in New York too but I haven’t seen them since then. Apparently Florida doesn’t think recycling is that important.

Categories: Germany, Koeln/Cologne, Recycling and the Energy Crisis | Leave a comment

Carbonation and The Energy Crisis

Carbonation and the Energy Crisis

Germans apparently have a love and fascination with carbonation. It seems it is nearly impossible to find regular, plain ‘wasser’ (water) with out bubbles. I imagine that if they bottled the energy from all the gas everyone is running around with there wouldn’t be an energy crisis at all.

In the local supermarket called Toom there is a huge aisle of different types of water but really only one type of plain old non-fizzy water. For someone like me who hardly ever drinks carbonated drinks it’s been a challenge.

Most times in restaurants they will bring you fizzy water unless you specifically ask for something else which I don’t really know how to say ‘without bubbles’ yet so I continue to drink mostly carbonated beverages for now. I really have never seen a nation so attached to drinking carbonated water as they are in Germany. All I can guess is that either the German nation doesn’t drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day or they do and they are really a gaseous bunch. J

Categories: Challenges Insights and More, Food and Other Stuff, Germany, Koeln/Cologne | 4 Comments

Kitchens and Other Strange Things

Well, Matt has been in Germany since Thursday and started his new job Monday and is reporting back to me that he really likes it there. He secured us our first apartment in a section of Cologne called Rodenkirchen in a really convenient location close to groceries, stores, train stations, and bike trails among other things but in the process we’ve learned a few things that we would have never thought of.

For example, at the first apartment that he looked at he was baffled to learn that there was no kitchen! Apparently in a lot of German apartments you have to buy your own kitchen appliances, counter tops, sinks, etcetera and when you decide to leave you just take it all with you. Boy, that makes the move I just made look like a cinch. I mean, imagine if I would have had to pack up my refrigerator, stove, microwave, sink, and counter tops too? And to think that I had a meltdown last week because I felt like there was too much to do in such a little amount of time…boy, was I naive!

Very few apartments have closets either (but that’s kind of a European thing and I kind of knew about that one) but on top of the kitchen thing it was just an added challenge.

But Matt and I were set on renting a furnished apartment in order to avoid the above challenges and fortunately found one in Rodenkirchen where the woman who was renting left us just about everything we needed to move in and start living in Germany including spices, dishes, a bed, and yes, a fully equipped kitchen. So we have by passed that challenge for now.

The next challenge is getting high speed internet set up in the apartment which the landlord is working on for us. Being I work from home on the internet and Matt and I are depending on the internet for emails and Skype to stay in contact with everyone this is a major thing to us both. If the Germans are as serious about superior service as I’ve been told then I am sure this won’t be much of a challenge either.

Well that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more adventures in Germany!

Until next time Tschuss!

Categories: Challenges Insights and More, Germany, Koeln/Cologne, Rodenkirchen, Strange Ways and Customs | 1 Comment

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