With Love From Germany
By: Ronke Alao
I know by now you are wondering if I have become a travel photographer of some sorts. The last post was about my trip to Portugal and now I’m writing about Germany? No, I’m not quite the travel photographer just yet. I am still based in Lagos, Nigeria but after that trip to Portugal, my husband and I went to visit my brother who lives with his family in Cologne, Germany. I’ve written this blog post about a thousand times in my head already but never got around to it. So why now? Well, with Germany emerging as the Champions of the just concluded FIFA World Cup and a bunch of my Facebook friends now claiming links to German Ancestry, (yeah, Success has a lot of relatives!) , I figured now would be the right time for me to
boast write about my experience in Germany.
We travelled by train from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Cologne, Germany. It was my first time on one of those hi-speed trains. It was my first time on any train, period. The train ride was an adventure in itself. It almost felt like flying in an airplane for me. The trip took about three hours. Once we arrived in Cologne, my brother picked us up and we were in his home in like 15 minutes. I wasn’t feeling too well and hoped it wouldn’t ruin our trip. We were only going to be there Friday night, Saturday all day and Sunday afternoon. My sister in-law had prepared some Rice and dodo with chicken; oh pure heaven. After our meal, I felt great. We stayed indoors, it was late anyway so we figured we’d rest and the adventure would start the next day.
Saturday morning came; we had breakfast and headed out. Our first point of call would be Rheinpark which is a very large park (about 40 hectares) but we decided to stop by at this Trinkbrunnen.
I understand it flows with the healthiest mineral water ever so we decided to have a drink. It was the saltiest tasting water I ever had. I gagged! We continued on our walk and soon got to Rheinpark. We kept walking and walking and walking, then my brother suggested at some point that we get “ice” and I kept wondering why he needed ice. Was he going to chew it? Couple of minutes later, it all became clear, we stopped by at a Ice-Cream kiosk. That was my first lesson in German, ice-cream is called “eis” , (pronounced same way as ice). We got ice-cream and ate it as we continued walking in the park. We walked across the Hohenzollern Bridge and that was when I saw something that I found both amusing and interesting- The Love Locks!
I had never seen anything like it. I had never seen so many padlocks in my entire life, all gathered in one place. The story goes that lovers come to that spot with a padlock that they lock on a barbwire-type fence and they throw the key into the Rhein river below. That symbolizes their love has been locked and secured so nothing would break it, I guess. You might laugh at such belief but you should have seen the display of what appeared to be hundreds and hundreds of locks. It looked like it was never ending as we kept walking and walking. I learnt the locks have an estimated weight of two tonnes!
I wondered how many of the padlock owners already had their love “broken”? How many were divorced by now or broken their relationships? There were hundreds of padlocks in different colours,shapes and sizes
Soon we got to the famed Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom, as the Germans call it. It’s the most magnificent building I have ever seen! My lens couldn’t capture it’s greatness!
Inside the Cathedral was equally magnificent.
My husband and I just marvelled at the beauty of this cathedral. It had so many fine details that just made the whole experience surreal.
Right outside the cathedral, we saw this group of people doing some protest of some kind. I can’t read German so I couldn’t tell what was on their banner but I just found their style of protest interesting. No shouting, no chaos, just people lying on the floor in the sun in protest of God knows what.
On the other side, we saw this lady artist who just sat on the floor and painted, using the floor as her canvas. I think she is mighty talented. Her paintings looked really life-like.
We spent the rest of the evening browsing stores and went back home quite exhausted. Sunday, our last day came and it seemed the weekend happened too fast. It had been a fun experience and I couldn’t complain. We didn’t do much on Sunday, I did try to ride a bike for the first time but that didn’t work out. I struggled to find my balance, (I eventually learnt to ride a bike in Amsterdam). We soon packed our bags and headed to the train station. I wished we could have stayed a few more days and explored restaurants that served German cuisine. Well, hopefully we can come back soon.
************************What part of our little Germany adventure did you enjoy the most? The lovelocks or the Cologne Cathedral?******************************
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