Whilst boarding was on time, the sitting on the tarmac bit for what must have been an hour was a bit boring. I woke up a couple of hours somewhere over the old Soviet Union after indulging in a second champers whilst waiting.
It was dark, so nothing to see here until breakfast just before the landing in cologne 1 ½ hours late. So no time to dawdle on landing to get a coffee. Got a move on to catch the shuttle bus to the other terminal and the train to Cologne. The ICE (Inter City Express) is better than anything in Australia. Travelling at close to 300 km/h we made it to Cologne in just under an hour.
The Ibis Hotel I am staying at is on the edge of the train station, my window overlooks a square with views to the justifiably famous Cologne Cathedral (Der Dom). Time for some sightseeing and exercise it turns out. I get a ticket to climb up to the main tower, all 157 meters and 509 steps of it. In the steep winding staircase you don’t notice much apart from your rapid breathing. Through the occasional small windows you see intricate stone carvings that decorate most parts of this Gothic masterpiece.
There are also the massive yet delicate flying ramparts that made this construction possible in the middle ages from 1200 to the late 19th century with Friedrich Renard being one of the last Dom Baumeisters (master builder). The footings of Basalt and Tufa under the tower dive 16 meters into the earth to support what was the tallest building on the planet for a number of years. The layers of human presence under the cathedral include parts of a previous cathedral and Roman Structures 2000 years old.
Onto more worldly matters. The cathedral’s liturgical treasury items are supposed to show the glory or something like that. I personally found it a bit over the top, even though as some of the items as a demonstration of the art of gold and silver smithing is fabulous. One of the bits I enjoyed the most at the cathedral was a tour of the excavations under the cathedral. The Archeologists drilled through meters of the thick foundation walls to get access to the sub floor area and below. The cathedral is retrofitted with a concrete below the original floor, and the history beneath back to Roman times is then exposed.
By the time we emerged back to the surface the warm sunshine was replaced by lightning and torrential rain. Back to the hotel to recover from 2 days of travel.