Germany diary, day 3

Sunday, 30 September, 2018 17:00

We are resting at our hotel for a little bit before heading out for a drink somewhere before our dinner appointment this evening with the two guys from Canon in Japan.

We slept reasonably well. We woke up around 03:00 and M. had one of the pretzels as a snack. I feared we’d be awake from then on, but we both fell back to sleep, and when I woke again it was just before 07:00, giving me almost ten hours sleep.

We prepared slowly to leave the hotel, being in no rush as we knew nothing much would be open before 10:00, and in fact most shops would be closed for Sunday. We showered and got dressed, and I did some stretches earlier before M. woke up. Then we had the remaining pretzel and I had an apple. By the time we left the hotel, it was about 09:30. We stopped at the reception to ask about what would be open, both today and on the public holiday on Wednesday. The guy there basically said shops would be closed both days, but museums and restaurants would be open.

We walked across to Hohestrasse and passed an open bakery that looked decent, but M. wanted to find the Espresso Perfetto place we’d passed yesterday. We went down a side street and did a bit of a loop to find it, but it was closed Sundays. So we walked back the three blocks to the first bakery, as another one we ran across didn’t look as good.

M. got a slice of Apfeltorte and a cappuccino, while I got a Mandelhörnchen and a hot chocolate. The hörnchen was full of almond paste and had slivered almonds all over it, and the ends were dipped in chocolate. The hot chocolate was pretty good too. M. said the apple cake was nice.

Apfeltorte for second breakfast

After this, we walked north to the cathedral and went inside briefly, but there was a Sunday service in progress so we couldn’t walk around very far. Then we went across the square to the tourist information place, and got info about museums that would be open on Wednesday for M. We also looked at the souvenirs for sale and bought a calico bag to carry snacks and other things in while we walk around.

Door handle of the Kölner Dom
Door handle and knocker on front door of Cologne Cathedral

Then we headed through the train station on our way north to the Agnesviertel quarter. We stopped in the station so I could use a toilet and M. bought a couple of large pretzels to have as breakfast tomorrow morning. Then we continued north, heading past a hospital and through a park with a duck pond. There were also large geese there. The trees here are just starting to turn into autumn colours, even though the weather is quite cold already. The forecast maximum today is 18°C, and it was very chilly in the morning, being only about 5° when we left the hotel.

We came across Ebertplatz, where there was a small market in progress. We stopped to have a look, and after browsing around the stalls and food trucks we noticed the theme of everything being recycled, natural, or green in some sense. All of the food was vegetarian, which took us some time to realise as we slowly wandered around, but the fact that all of the burgers at the burger van were vegetarian made me twig eventually. So we were spoiled for choice for M. After our late morning snack though we weren’t hungry for lunch too early, so we left to walk around the Agnesviertal neighbourhood a bit before returning to get something for lunch. But M. bought a bronze locket from one of the stalls first.

Outdoor seating
Lifestyle market in Ebertplatz

We walked north through the neighbourhood of arty shops and cafes, doing a loop around one block. We stopped in the large church of St Agnes briefly to see inside, but it was about the only thing open to look at. So we returned to Ebertplatz and the market before too long.

Kath. Kirchengemeinde St. Agnes
St Agnes church

There were more people here now and we had to queue briefly to get some food. M. got a falafel plate with hummus and a couple of different salads for 6€, while I tried a burger from a truck that looked like a yellow American school bus. It was a sweet potato and blue cheese burger, and I got some sweet potato chips to go with it. After taking my order in detail and my payment, the woman in the truck asked me (in German) to make sure if I was aware the burger had no meat on it, which I indicated I did. I thought it was going to be a rösti-like potato patty, but it was actually just a handful of sweet potato chips on the bun with the cheese and sauces and some salad! It was good though. After eating this, M. got some banana bread for later and a coffee to drink. Then we set out again to follow the park to the bank of the Rhine river and walk along the bank south to the Hohenzollern rail bridge, intending to walk across it.

Falafel plate
Falafel plate from food stall in Ebertplatz

When we reached the end of the park and crossed the road to the river bank, we found that a market was set up, with stalls lining the pedestrian path all up and down the river. It looked like a flea market, with lots of second hand and antique goods of all sorts. M. got excited and wanted to go north away from the bridge to see what was up that direction first, but we turned back around before too long and began walking south. There were stalls selling housewares, tableware, glass decorations, books, records, toys, carved wooden items, clothing, jewellery, cooking utensils, and all sorts of other knick knacks. And there were a lot of people walking in both directions along the line of stalls, browsing the goods. It was clearly a popular pastime for a fine Sunday afternoon. And fine it was, with the sun burning down and making it quite warm, despite the cool air temperature.

Rhine flea market
Browsing the flea market along the Rhine

We took quite a while to reach the bridge. As we got nearer, the uniformity of second hand stalls changed as food and drink stalls appeared, and the crowd got thicker. We bought a bottle of water to keep hydrated. Eventually we reached the bridge and climbed the stairs leading up to the northern pedestrian way over the river. I was happy to walk across the northern side as it was mostly in the shade of the steel bridge arches, thinking we could walk down the eastern side of the river to the next bridge (the Deutzer Brücke) and cross back on that.

Old records for sale at the flea market

But a glance showed that the next bridge had no shade at all, there didn’t seem to be much interesting to see while walking on the eastern bank while the western bank had more of the market, and on this bridge the southern side was actually more interesting as it had by far the greater preponderance of padlocks attached to it. Yes, this is one of those bridges that lovers attach padlocks to, and the local authorities seem to condone it. The north side had hundreds of locks, but the southern side had thousands. We stopped to inspect a few of the more unusual ones, including giant old fashioned locks, bicycle locks, locks with chain attached, and a chain of interconnected locks all engraved with the same names and date but in successive years as the chain grew lock by lock.

Rhine flea market
The flea market near the Hohenzollern bridge

When we got to the eastern side we turned around, crossing under the bridge to the south side and back up to the southern walkway. Here there were rock climbers scaling the rock walls of the bridge, with ropes and belayers for safety. We walked across the bridge again, astounded by the sheer number of padlocks on this side. There were so many that it seemed that it would be difficult to find any open space to add another one.

Wilhelm I
View across Hohenzollern bridge from the east bank

Eventually back on the west bank, we continued along the river. The are behind the cathedral seems to be an old historic area with traditional steep roofed buildings, and converted into a promenade of restaurants and beer halls. It may have been a bit touristy in its styling, but it was interesting to walk through, and busy with people. After this area petered out it was the remainder of the walk along the river back to our hotel. We crossed over onto the spit of land with the chocolate museum on it, to see something different. To get back before overshooting our hotel we had to climb a series of steps to the next road bridge and then back down on the other side of the bay of water inside the spit.

Lion sign, old town area

We rested in our room for about an hour, with M. having a nap. Then we walked out in a different direction, heading directly west away from the river, towards our dinner appointment with Takagi-san and Udagawa-san from Canon. They’d arranged to meet us for dinner this evening, booking a table for us at Sonder, an upmarket restaurant with a very vegetarian friendly menu. Before going there for the 19:30 booking, we had an hour or so to kill, so found a bar restaurant called Mango and sat in for some drinks. M. had a cosmopolitan while I tried a bananenweizen beer, which indeed had a fairly strong banana flavour to it, very nice.

Drinks at Mango
Cosmopolitan and bananenweizen beer at Mango

We arrived at Sonder, a few minutes walk away after our drinks, and Takagi-san and Udagawa-san were just arriving as well. So we went in together and got our table. The menu was very interesting. I chose the cold cuts of wild boar with celery chutney as an entree, followed by main course of confit pork neck with miso sauce, pumpkin, and pickled pear. M. had harissa cauliflower with pomegranate seeds and roasted sesame sauce, followed by pumpkin gnocchi with romanesco broccoli, saffron sauce, and roquefort. Takagi-san chose a white wine for us to share as well, which was astringent but pleasant. We avoided business and chatted mostly about our various travels. After the two courses we were too full for desserts, so headed back to our hotels, heading in different directions.

Cold cuts of wild boar
Cold cuts of wild boar, Sonder restaurant

After the 30 minute or so walk back to our hotel, it was getting towards 22:00. We had quick showers, brushed our teeth, and flopped into bed, with an alarm set for 07:00 for me to get up in time to catch a train to Horrem for the start of the ISO meeting.

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