Cologne meetings, day 5

It stormed overnight. I heard the heavy rain and thunder briefly in the middle of the night, probably some time after midnight. A bit later it had stopped, but the room was so hot that I was sweating while trying to sleep. I got up and opened the window to let in some cold air, which helped. But I had to close it again a short while later to keep the noise out. It had cooled the room down enough to allow more sleep.

When we went out for breakfast it was cool and overcast. I thought it didn’t look like imminent rain, so we didn’t take umbrellas, but this turned out to be a mistake. We sat outside at the same cafe as yesterday and by the time we were finishing our muesli it started raining, lightly at first, but steadily getting heavier. We followed the lead of a pair of women were were sitting at an adjacent outdoor table and dashed inside to wait out the rain before returning to our hotel. However it looked like it had set in, so we decided to make a dash for it when it became at least a little lighter. As we were about to leave, the cafe owner appeared with an umbrella and said we could borrow it and bring it back tomorrow. I was about to say we wouldn’t be around tomorrow, but my wife reminded me that her plan for the day was to walk north past Eigelstein to Agnesvierteil and Nippes, so she’d be walking right past the cafe later this morning. So that worked perfectly.

We stopped in at the hotel and then split up for the day. I went south towards the cathedral.

Cologne Cathedral in the rain

I had about half an hour to spare before needing to catch my train, so I took the chance to go into the cathedral briefly. Even though we’ve been in there many times, I like to have a quick look at least once every trip.

Inside the Dom

Then I caught my train out to Horrem for today’s closing sessions of the ISO meeting. On the train I spotted a couple of birds which I used Merlin to identify as common wood-pigeons. This brings the number of species I’ve managed to spot and identify here up to 7 as recorded in eBird (but 8 if I also count some mallards at the beer garden on Tuesday night).

The meeting today was all of the closing administrative details, going over action items, resolutions, planning for the next meeting, and other stuff like that. My lunch today was cheese spätzle.

After the meeting business and saying goodbye to all the delegates, I caught the train back to Köln and was back in the hotel room about 3:45. We went out together to get some cake, because oddly enough I hadn’t had a chance to have any cake in Germany yet on this trip! My wife led me to a cafe she’d found with lots of good cakes: Cafe Printen Schmitz. We sat inside, being the only ones to do so, when everyone else was sitting out in the sun. We want to avoid both the sun and the cigarette smoke, so we often end up being the only ones sitting inside at places here. I had a slice of cherry cheesecake, while my wife had some of the house-made gingerbread. The cheesecake was good, but the gingerbread was really excellent – full of ginger flavour and firm and hearty rather than soft.

Having taken care of dessert before dinner, we walked over to the laundry to pick up our clothes that we’d dropped off yesterday. The man was very friendly again, and said he’d given us a 10% discount because we’d said we didn’t need them ironed. I guess that’s part of the normal service and it must be unusual for people to say don’t bother.

Then we wandered slowly towards Henne Weinbar where we had an 18:00 booking. We were a bit early, so stopped to browse in some shops, including a really amazing and large second hand clothing store that sold clothing by weight. We’d also passed a ceramics store the sold tableware and other ceramic items by weight too. Some of the plates looked really good, but we resisted because there’d be no way to carry them home safely.

We arrived at Henne Weinbar just before 18:00 and were shown to a table set for 4 people. We sat on the same side against the staircase so we could both look out into the room. We tried several of the wines, and slowly worked our way through several small sharing dishes, as well as some excellent bread. The food was delicious and inventive, with unusual combinations of ingredients. We had the burrata with dukkah pesto, turnips, basil, and mint; corn croquettes with parmesan lime aioli and pepperoncini; zucchini flower with cacao e pepe stuffing and spicy coloured tomatoes; and the pike perch dumplings with rice bisi, peas, ham, and beurre blanc. M. finished with coffee and we shared a plate of chocolates, which were hand made and had the following flavours: apricot and basil; verbena, raspberry, and cucumber; nut butter, popcorn, and sea salt; kombucha and caramel; and coconut, cashew, and gochugaru (Korean chilli pepper). Overall it was an amazing meal, and a great way to end our stay in Cologne for this trip.

We walked slowly back to our hotel where we had to pack our bags for a quick departure early tomorrow morning, catching trains to ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.

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