Monday, October 28, 2013


Guten Tag!
This last weekend Eric and I traveled to the German city of Köln, also known as Cologne. We did not have a specific reason for going, mostly that we heard it was nice and it was reasonably close enough for us to make it a weekend trip.

Cologne is Germany's 4th largest city and is located on the Rhine river. It was founded by Romans so there is a lot of cool Roman ruin stuff to see. The big thing in Cologne is its Cathedral. The cathedral construction began in 1248 and was halted in 1473. It sat unfinished for a couple hundred years but was eventually completed (as per the original plans) in 1880. The cathedral is Germany's most visited tourist site.This is easy to believe because it was crazy busy when we went!

The 5 other tourists in this photo are not doing justice to how busy it really was.

Cathedrals are a lot like castles…they all look the same after a while. Even so this one had a nice interior with some cool stain glass and pretty floors. Best of all- free to get in!

After the cathedral we went to the Roman museum which is super close to the cathedral. In the second picture you can see the cathedral through the window.

The highlight of the museum is a large mosaic floor. The floor was discovered during WW2 when bomb shelters were being built. Eventually the museum was built around the floor.

We saw lots of cool things and were able to spend a leisurely time strolling around. The cathedral was really busy but the museum was not which was really nice.

 I have to take pictuers of every gaming device we come across in our travels for Eric. Roman dice!

After the museum we gabbed a late lunch and ate it in a park along the Rhine. The pigeons in the third picture are enjoying the crust from my pizza.

We took the scenic route back to the hotel through a nice park Eric found on our map. (Fun Fact: Cologne has the BEST free city map we have come across in any country).

In the park Eric found a 'minibib'. The German word for library is bibliothek, so it is a mini library. Sadly it was not open but the way Eric was oohing and ahhing I think he was ready to move in. (Basically everywhere is more appealing than our apartment).

The next day we only had a little bit of time in the morning before we had to catch our train back to Marburg. Lots of things are closed on Sundays but the Wallraf - Richartz Art Museum was open! We checked out of our hotel and left our luggage at coat check. The museum was a really nice size, not too small and not too big. We were able to see all three floors of the permanent exhibit with our limited time and only missed the temporary exhibit. From now on I will always go to museums on Sunday mornings. There were a few times where we were the only ones on the entire floor! This is evident in the these photos Eric has titled 'Connoisseur'.

Here are a bunch of nice paintings I took photos of. There is also a dark photo of Eric where you can see the cathedral out the window.

After the museum we had to run to the station and get home to Marburg. Overall Cologne was a nice trip that we could have spent more time in. Brace yourselves for next weeks post- Essen Board Game Convention!!!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bad Driburg + Marburg Special

Guten Tag!

This last weekend Eric and I made a special trip out to Bad Driburg. This is a small quaint town that requires many train transfers to get to and is generally unknown. Why go all the way out there? To visit friends of course! Eric's graduate school advisor is from Germany and he, Martin, and his wife, Anja, were in Bad Driburg visiting Anja's parents. We had planned on seeing them while they were in Germany and so Martin and Anja generously invited us to come stay with them. We were treated to delicious home cooked German meals, reliable Wi-Fi, and excellent company. We stayed up to almost 1 in the morning talking and playing cards! Unfortunately I do not have any pictures from this part of the trip but it was a really nice time.

Anja and Martin were leaving the next day and so were only really available for one evening. Eric and I researched the area looking for something special to do with the rest of the weekend but ultimately decided to stay in Bad Driburg. Martin drove us to 3 hotels before we finally found a room. They had a room available but it was still being cleaned (it was about 11 in the morning on a Saturday) so Eric and I left our luggage at the front desk and went out for the afternoon. There are some castle ruins on the top of a hill in Bad Driburg so we set out to do some hiking. Martin and Anja had warned us that it was an intense hike that would take 2 hours. We packed a picnic lunch from our breakfast buffet and were ready to brave the mountain.

It took a little while to walk through town and get to where the park begins. Along the way I took this picture of Eric with the church in the background.

We finally reached the bottom of the mountain; 20 minutes later we were at the top. Not quite the 2 hour trek we were mentally prepared for. Note: even though we were mentally prepared we were not physically. This was a surprise hike that we had not packed for and it was really really cold!! We only had light jackets and were not prepared for the 40 degree weather or so.

At the top are some ruins, a large restaurant, and a tower. Here is Eric peeking from out of the tower door and some lovely view shots from the top.

After the tower we walked around the adjacent ruins and ate our picnic lunch. It was very cold...

After the castle ruins we walked back into town. It was an awkward time in between lunch and dinner. We both decided that if we made the trek back to the hotel coming out again for dinner would be a struggle. So we decided to kill time and have an early dinner, even though we just ate lunch. It also started to rain quite heavily so we took refuge in a coffee shop.

We still had more time to kill so we did a little shopping and bought Eric a few items off the sale rack, and then a beer. Finally 5:30 rolled around when our preferred restaurant opened up. We had a nice meal where we both ordered the same Mediterranean pasta. After Luxembourg every meal we eat is so affordable!

We were finally ready to head back to the hotel and boy was there a surprise waiting for us; the most amazing room ever!! It was actually a top floor apartment!

Needless to say we were instantly ready to move there. This amazing room, only 62 Euros a night! Internet and Beautiful breakfast buffet included.

Bad Driburg was a success! I am really not sure what we would have done if we had to entertain ourselves there for another day but the amazing pension is almost worth going for alone. It was once again a nice reprieve from the 'new' apartment. On the way home we grabbed my first Doner in Germany. Doners are basically Gyros; but they are one of the only food options that are open on Sunday. It is a double whammy, gone for the weekend so you eat up your fridge but then no stores are open to get food when you get home! The Doner ended up being good though.

Marburg Special

Since this post is a little on the short side I am adding in a special little expose I have been working on for a while. Early on in my Marburg stay I noticed small vending machines of toys and candy all over the town. America has lots of these contraptions; the main difference being ours are located inside restaurants and stores where they are protected from the elements and somewhat supervised. Marburg vending machines are all outdoors and incredibly sketchy. Would you let your child buy something out of one of these??!

Some are sketchier than others but even the best (above) are cringe worthy. Do you really want to ingest something that came from one of these? Who knows how long it has been there. Buying a toy is slightly more justified but it still gives off a used needle vibe. Also all over the place are cigarette vending machines. My theory is that the candy vending machines are put out by the cigarette companies in an effort to accustom you to buying things from sketchy machines.

Then I had a breakthrough with my theory, side by side vending machines!

 And my personal favorite:

I eventually had to stop taking pictures of these things because they really are all over the place and I think you get the idea by now.

Auf Wiedersehen!