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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Day 5 - Cologne and Roermond

By now, my foot was hurting badly. One of the tour members offered to lend me her ankle support sock. Another handed me an ointment made of real snake oil and the tour guide himself gave me Chinese meds that looked like black pearls!

I had to pass up the sock brace as it was too thick to fit into my rather tight boot. I eyeballed the weird black pills skeptically. Snake oil (pardon the pun) or not, I applied the ointment and swallowed a couple of the pills. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

From Frankfurt, we traveled to Cologne, a two-and-a-half-hour journey by coach.

Today's itinerary began with a walking tour of the Cologne Cathedral.

The mere sight of the mega structure from the outside just blows you away.
Cologne is one of the hippest shopping metropolises in Germany and where the most iconic monument, the Cologne Cathedral (German: Kölner Dom), is situated.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture. It is the most visited destination in Germany, drawing an average of 20,000 visitors daily.

The nave



Sunlight pours through the stained-glass windows that adorn the walls


The 12th Station Of The Cross


A lapsed Catholic, I have not stepped into a church for a long time and the cathedral was just the sanctuary I needed for some quiet time with The Lord to recharge my spiritual battery and rest my injured foot while the rest of the group wandered off to the streets outside for shopping.
Lighting a candle at the 13th Station, I said the Rosary and prayed hard for a quick recovery.


INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE COLOGNE CATHEDRAL

1. Like other Gothic cathedrals, the shape of the Cologne Cathedral is a Latin Cross, the length and width of which are 144.6 meters(474.3 feet) and 86.3 meters(283 feet).
image source - thetowerinfo.com
2. It is believed that the remains of the Three Wise Men who visited baby Jesus are in this shrine.
image source - thetowerinfo.com
image source - https://commons.wikimedia.org
The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of the cathedral.

The Sarcophagus kinda looks like the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones, don't you agree?

3. The Cologne Cathedral was bombed 14 times in WWII!
The Cathedral survived 14 aerial bombs and more than 70 firebomb hits over the course of the Second World War. Whether an act of God or otherwise, the building did not collapse and remained standing in a flattened city.


A street artist at work outside the cathedral


After a quick lunch at McDonald's following the cathedral visit, we journeyed for another hour by coach to the McArthurGlen outlet in Roermond in The Netherlands.

Oh, did I mention you have to pay to pee in Europe?!  We had to pay 50 Euro cents for a pee at McDonald's which totaled up to 150 euro cents (USD1.69) for the three of us! That was almost 7 ringgit and could buy me a McDonald's meal back in Malaysia! Thank God I have a bladder the size of a hot-water bottle!!!

The McArthurGlen Designer Mall, Roermond



Opened in 2001, Designer Outlet Roermond offers bargain hunters 30-70% discounts at a choice of more than 120 shops with over 200 Dutch and international designer brands including Armani, Burberry, Gucci, Scotch & Soda, Nike, Diesel and The Bodyshop.

Designer brands are not my thing so I skipped the shopping and was content to just thaw in one of the heated cafes. Moreover, it was a good opportunity to rest my foot and  enjoy a nice steaming cup of Macchiato while people watching. Besides, the outlet is an outdoor mall and I was shivering despite piling on 4 layers of winter clothing!  Brrrrr!


The Hubs bought himself a pair of shoes and a windbreaker for my other son Josh who couldn't make it for this Europe trip.

After the shopping stop at Netherlands, we adjourned to our hotel in Belgium for the night.

Can you believe we were in 3 countries in just one day!!!
Brrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

Despite my hot flashes, I was frozen at 3°C!!  How do you guys survive winter year after year???!!!

Hats off to you!!

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Day 4 - Germany

I hurt my left foot when I tripped and fell on the way out of the hotel restaurant after breakfast this morning.

In panic mode, negative thoughts swirled around my head. I couldn't believe that this tour of a lifetime that I had put on the back burner for 27 years culminated to this! Despaired at the situation, I was on the brink of tears.

Although I was insured for this trip, I decided against seeing a doctor for two reasons:

1. The  hubs and Rodney would have to remain behind in Switzerland with me, while the rest of the group would proceed to Germany without us. As we did not know the extent of my injury or how long it would take to get my foot fixed, it would be terribly unfair to expect the rest of the group to wait indefinitely for us. This was a very compact tour (5 countries in 8 days) and a delay would disrupt the entire schedule and itinerary.

2. We would have to find our own way to rejoin the group in Germany or whichever country they may be by then.

No, I was not going to miss out on any part of this tour that I had dreamed of all of my life. I didn't fly halfway around the world for nothing. Enduring the pain, I assured everyone that I was fine and limped my way to the coach with The Hubs and Rodney as my crutches.

Pain or rain... Germany, here I come!

Isn't it amazing how adrenaline can make one almost invincible!?

Luckily for me, the Rhine Falls was an hour's drive from Zurich so I had time to rest my poor throbbing foot.

As soon as we reached SchlossLaufen, we could hear the thunderous tumbling and rumbling of Europe's largest falls.

Then, as the full expanse of the falls unfurled before us, our jaws dropped....

We were spellbound!

The teal water...the azure sky... the white foam......it's hard to describe the mesmeric blue vista.

There are some things you just can't capture in a photo. A frozen snapshot couldn't possibly do justice to what we had witnessed.

Here's a video of the falls taken with a drone by Youtuber schrägoben


I had to hobble all the way down this path from the top where our coach was parked so I could get a closer view of the falls.

Every step was worth the pain!











After SchlossLaufen, we crossed the border to Germany and arrived in Titisee, in the southern Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg.

On the way to Titisee we were told that the Black Forest is really dark green and not black! Its dense fir population  makes it appear almost black  from a distance, hence the name Black Forest.

The forest where tales are spun: sinister, fanciful, mysterious, mythical...

Our tour in Titisee began in Drubba Shopping, a quaint place where we were given a briefing of how cuckoo clocks are made.






Cuckoo clocks galore!
There are clocks for every taste, and budget. Back in Malaysia, I could buy a brand new car for the price of some of these!

The  mechanism in a cuckoo clock works in tandem with its melody and automata : moving trains, dancing figurines, water wheels, even wives beating up husbands!

My favourite was the Romeo and Juliet cuckoo clock.

The cute little door opens up, the cuckoo bird looks out and cuckoos out the hour.  Once the cuckoo has finished, Romeo climbs up the ladder to reach his Juliet, only to fall back down again as Mr. Capulet threatens him with his hay fork. Dancing figures also turn to the sound of music.


This mill house clock is just as adorable. 3 woodsmen work the mill. One chops while the other two saw wood! A water wheel turns and happy couples dance to the music!



There's something magical about the cuckoo clock, don't you think? It's amazing how they have survived the test of time (pun unintended) for hundreds of years and are still around and cherished in  many homes today despite the digital age.

While admiring the clocks, I was contemplating getting one as cuckoo clocks are so quintessentially German. Having one ticking in the house would be the perfect memento of our visit to this wonderful country.

 "Nah, they're probably made in China," Rodney remarked.

"Please, they are a 100% German made!" a guttural voice corrected us in heavily accented English.

We turned our heads to find a man suddenly standing beside us.

Ooops! That remark wasn't meant to be heard!

The man who was staff then proceeded to give us a very long and detailed lecture on where each part of the cuckoo clock was sourced! Clearly, the Germans are very proud of their cuckoo clocks!

 Sorry! Our bad!

And yes, we did buy a small one that didn't cost us an arm and a leg. It is now ticking happily in our living room and will be treasured forever. That darn bird can be quite annoying! Contrary to what we were told, the silly bird is never on time —  always late by a few minutes.

LAKE TITISEE

Lake Titisee against the Black Forest backdrop



After a delicious German specialty meal of pork knuckles, we headed for Heidelberg, an hour's ride by coach from Titisee.

Heidelberg, a medieval town in southwestern German is famous for its university. Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University is the oldest university in Germany. Perhaps it was the pain in my foot that was numbing my brain or that I was having a sensory overload but I couldn't recall visiting any old university! I checked with The Hubs and he said that the only thing he could remember about Germany was the pork knuckle meal!! :smack:


Our walking tour of Altstadt (meaning old town) began with a photo stop in Kornmarkt.

KORNMARKT

Heidelberg is broken up into many different market squares. Each has its own personality and served a purpose in Heidelberg's history. Fish, vegetables, and other goods were sold separately in each individual square, hence their names. This square is Kornmarkt or Corn Market.

You can see the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle (German: Heidelberger Schloss) up on the hill

The Madonna statue at Kornmarkt
In an attempt to motivate the citizens of Heidelberg to switch to Catholicism, the Jesuits erected a Madonna statue in 1718.

MARKTPLATZ

The Marktplatz, is the city´s main square with the Church of the Holy Spirit at its center

It's really hard to put into words how enchanting  Heidelberg was with its Baroque-style Old Town, cobbled streets and fairy-tale castles. It was like something dreamed up by Disney.




The Carl Theodor Old Bridge (German:  Alte Brucke)
This 18th-century bridge spans the Neckar River.


The Nekkar River

The day ended with a Chinese dinner at a restaurant nearby and a 2 hour drive to Frankfurt where we checked in to our hotel for the night.

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday