Saturday, June 1, 2013

Köln day 1, thoughts about cities

Today I had a quiet morning as my friend's boyfriend was working. He works at a German bakery and Northern German food is so delicious! It is also very similar to American, but slightly different. While in Southern Germany (or at least Bavaria) it is common to have a platter of different meats and cheeses next to a basket of bread, and then everyone takes as much bread and meats and cheese as you want. Northern Germany is more where everyone has their own dish and they are very similar to what is considered American food that you could get at a good restaurant. It is very clear that Northern Germany had a large influence on American cuisine. We went with the same friend we went with yesterday to downtown Köln and walked around for probably a good 5 hours. We took the U-bahn which is by far the most convenient way to get around and is the least expensive and most flexible option (since you could arrive let's say in north downtown, walk for a few hours to the other side of the river and catch a different train without ever having to back trace) and you don't have to waste time finding a parking spot. We went right downtown and I found a card store my friends had never found before. We went to a very nice chocolate factory where they show people how they make chocolate and have old chocolate dispensers and things like that. There were a lot from Dresden before the American military destroyed it. We went to the bridge of love. We then went to get our lunch at a Turkish section of Köln which was absolutely delicious. Köln is a huge city and as a huge city there are people from around the world here which I really like. We were then quite tired after a long day walking around this beautiful city and came home. I remembered that we were going to get a board game (Settlers of Catan in English, originally a German game) so we walked into the mall in Weiden where they live and got it. Our other friend went home at that point so I played Catan with my friend who I went to school with for a good three hours since her boyfriend was so exhausted.

I am surprised that Köln has free parking, it probably won't last because we saw our friend trying to park this morning and she had trouble finding a good spot, the Bahn is by far the best option, and goes everywhere in the city and to the neighboring cities. It is also very quick and pleasant, and for intercity travel you don't have to arrive several hours beforehand for a flight which wastes valuable time which I've grown to hate. That's my advice for travelers to Europe, since all cities here have excellent mass transit systems and the intercity mass transit system is very good, and has a lot of room to improve in the next ten years if they choose to. You also go to the center of downtown when you take the train into Köln which is right next to the second largest cathedral in the world after St. Peter's Basilica. It is a must see on a trip to Northwestern Germany.

Köln is currently the fourth largest city in Germany and the largest of the Rhine region (behind Berlin, Hamburg, and München) and I love this city as much as München and Tbilisi. I have liked most cities I have been to, the only ones I don't care for so much are Los Angeles (because of the god awful smog and lack of options to get around, there is very little freedom of movement in comparison to European cities or other American cities), Tri-Cities Washington (urban sprawl, three eyed fish, excellent apples you can get at home at your supermarket and not much else), and in the future there will be other cities I will not be so enthralled by. Cities I have really enjoyed are Seattle, Sydney, Brisbane (for the 3 hours I was there, and I need to explore this city more), Portland OR (which has a lot for its relatively small size), Vancouver (amazing people, amazing culture), Victoria Canada (for everything), München (wonderful city with amazing food, excellent museums, wonderful people and it is extremely easy to get around), Köln (for the same reasons as München), and I enjoyed Tbilisi (it takes a few days to get used to the differences which are quite extreme, but once you figure out how the city ticks it becomes quite pleasant.

In the future my list includes (but is in no way limited to): The Northeast coast of the USA from Boston to Canada. There is so much to see in my own country still! San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Northeast Brazil, Santiago, Bogota, Medellin, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and different places in South Africa along with Botswana and Namibia. Paris, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Rome, Venice, Milano, Istanbul, Berlin, Hamburg, Mainz, Hanover, Leipzig, Luxembourg, Nuremburg, Bern, Zurich, Vienna, Stockholm, Gotenburg, Copenhagen, Malmo, Oslo, Helsinki, Vasa, Nice, Monaco, Stuttgart, Strasbourg, Athens, Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Seville, Granada, Melbourne, Adelaide, Tasmania, New Zealand, Singapore, Delhi, Calcutta, Dubai, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Chongqing, Beijing, Tianjin, Seoul, Pusan, Tokyo, Osaka, and so many places I haven't thought of yet!

A summary of my route yesterday:
I started in Munich, and passed through Ingolstadt, Nürnburg, Würzburg, Frankfurt, Mainz, Koblenz, Bonn, Köln. The most beautiful part of the trip was between Mainz and Bonn. I want to explore Mainz in the future, the home of Johannes Gutenburg, and a city that has been settled for over 300,000 years. is an excellent map of the German train system that is useful for people who plan a trip to Germany in the future.

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