DM and MM's Germany 2019 Diary

Day 4 - Essen to Cologne, Meeting day 1, Horrem

Monday, 28 October, 2019

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We woke up way too early, with the sun not yet up, and couldn't get back to sleep. Eventually we decided to get up at 06:00 and get ready for the breakfast at 07:00. I did a full set of stretching exercises in the time available. Then at 07:00 we went down and had breakfast. I had two bowls of muesli today, and a couple of slices of the yummy hot bread with cheeses on them.

After eating we went back to our room to wait until it was time to leave to catch our train to Cologne at 10:00. Unfortunately while in the bathroom I pulled a muscle in my lower back really badly, the worst for a long time, and so I spent much of the time trying to stretch it out. But it was persistent and dogged me all day, getting worse as the day went on. Tonight I can barely manage to roll over or get up from lying on the bed. Hopefully a night of sleep will loosen it up, but I fear it might also do the opposite and it will be worse in the morning.

We checked out of the hotel, paying cash for the breakfasts we'd had, then walked over to the station to catch our train. It was on time, and was a EuroCity service to Zurich, operated by the Swiss rail system. It got us to Cologne on 50 minutes.

Halfway there the sunny skies of Essen became cloudy and then foggy, and the fog really got thick by the time we reached Cologne. When we got off the train just before 11:00, it was so foggy that we could barely see the cathedral, right next door to the station. And it was cold, much colder than Essen earlier in the morning.

View from Hotel Domstern
View from the window of our room at Hotel Domstern

We walked the couple of blocks north to the Hotel Domstern, where we checked in, and were lucky to have our room ready early for us. We quickly dumped our stuff and I packed my backpack with the things I needed for the ISO meetings, and then we left to go back to the station. I bought a four-trip train ticket and said bye to M., who wandered off to explore the city, while I ascended to platform 8 to catch the next train to Horrem. Interestingly, within ten minutes of leaving Cologne Hauptbahnhof, the train emerged into sunny skies with no fog.

Platform 19
Platform 19, Horrem station

The train arrived at Horrem's tiny platform 19, on the north branch of the triangle of train lines surrounding the Image Engineering building. (There aren't 19 platforms. The platforms are numbered 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, and 19 for some reason.) From here it was just a minute's walk to the building, but I was early so I walked over the road bridge across the track to the forested hillside on the other side to have a bit of a look around. There wasn't much to see and the pedestrian path ended abruptly, with no obvious way to continue in any direction (other than walk on the road). So I headed back and to the IE building. The door was locked, but a catering guy arrived soon after, presumably with the lunch for later, and rang to be let in so I followed him inside.

Forest at Horrem
The road through the forest near Horrem station

The meeting started with lunch, which was what the catering guy had brought in. There was rice, green beans with coconut (an odd combination), a vegetables in tomato sauce combo, and a curry with beef. As last year, the food was okay, but definitely not great or particularly inspiring.

The opening session of the meeting was the regular session, which is administrative stuff. And then we had the first technical session on resolution measurement.

The sessions ended a bit late, around 17:15. I left quickly to go to the train station and catch a train back to Cologne. M. was back in the hotel room already. I did some stretches to ease my back, and then we dressed warmly to go out for dinner.

ICE, Köln
Arriving back in Cologne after dark

We planned to go to the Bierhaus am Rhein, where we'd had a good meal last year. But when we got there, it was shut, and had a sign on the door that seemed to say (in German) that the place had closed down. Disappointed, we walked a bit further down the street along the river to try to find somewhere similar. We found the Haxenhaus zum Rheingarten, which was a similar old dark panelled wooden establishment.

Monkey at Hexenhaus am Rheingarten
Haxenhaus zum Rheingarten

I asked if they had vegetarian dishes, and the waiter said yes, but not many and walked us through the options on the menu, which consisted of some of the salads, or the knuddel with mushrooms. M. thought that sounded okay, so we got a table. The menu had a couple of dozen dishes with pork knuckles, including one which was pork knuckle plus bratwurst plus leberkäse. I settled for the comparatively meat-free pork knuckle with mashed potato and sauerkraut. I had some Kölsch while M. chose the red wine, the only option being a Spätburgunder.

Mushrooms and bread dumpling
Knuddel with mushrooms, Haxenhaus zum Rheingarten

The knuddel turned out to be a bread dumpling similar to the fried bread I had back in Essen. The pork knuckle was less salty than the ones I had last year, and I discovered the sachets of mustard on the table in time to add a couple to it. It was very filling, and I had some of M.'s mushrooms too, which were very nice. We didn't even contemplate dessert, but paid up and went back to the hotel through the cold night.

Pork knuckle and sauerkraut
Pork knuckle with mashed potato and sauerkraut, Haxenhaus zum Rheingarten

I did a few more stretches as we prepared for bed, and hoped to get a good night's sleep.

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