Koln was the third of five legs of our EU journey and the last that was for work (though we squeezed every moment of play we could out of our free time!).
After a very pleasant morning and early afternoon on the train from Hamburg, we departed the Koln station to see the Dom being gorgeous and impressive right there in front of us!
Then, we checked into our hotel and found two things: one, it had a lot of character in that it was partially renovated but not entirely. So, we had this giant, almost suite-sized room with a new, nice tub and shower, and a great view from the giant windows that let out to the fire escape. However, there was also really ugly orange 60-year-old shag carpet and furniture and also a weird closet/room area.
There was also no AC, just one teeny fan from 1980, and the weather was unseasonably warm (upper 80s, pushing 90). So, the first thing we did was take a team building trip to Ikea in the suburbs via U-Bahn and we boughts some really high-powered fans. After returning to the city, we saw a Mexican restaurant and decided to see what German Mexican was like. It was… interesting. Not bad, but definitely not the same as any Mexican food I’ve had anywhere in the US.
Then, we went to the convention to get set up. It took a few hours, so when we left at 10pm, nothing was really open for dinner, so we hit the Doner shop.
This did not make me sad in the slightest. I’ll take a Doner for any meal, any time. 🙂 I figured the fans would just barely cut the heat, but they were pretty breezy. Also, the white noise made it so easy to ptfo. Best sleep of the trip so far and woke up feeling refreshed the next morning!
We had a great day meeting current and future partners, talking to press, and meeting some more of our German coworkers.
After the show closed, we were invited to a team dinner at a traditional German restaurant on the waterfront. I got my first schnitzel of the trip and man, it was AWESOME. We enjoyed good food, good drinks, and good company for the rest of the evening and into the night.
I have no pictures but good memories of the paragon of confidence walking out of a bar with an unauthorized drink like he owned the place (and I tried the same and got stopped, heh). I talked with a girl from France that gave me all sorts of travel tips, and the departure home was interesting. The most adventurous took a scooter, the least adventurous took an uber, and the rest of us hiked through the city like little baby ducks following the leader in the wee hours to arrive back to our hotel and have another night of white-noise induced great sleep.
Thursday was another excellent day at the convention. After the evening before, I definitely made use of the free cappucinos and free food to counteract the debauchery, but this is how these things go. 🙂 Afterwards, we tried out the steakhouse in the host hotel and it was pretty darn yummy. However, more fries. Always fries. In Europe, everything comes with fries. I was hoping for some other sort of potato but… fries.
Afterwards, we let one of our coworkers pick the rest of the evening’s plans, and they chose these crazy large rainbow fruity drinks at the Mexican restaurant. Ok, well, fine. Let’s go! We finished the evening with a trip to get said coworker “chicky nuggies” (hell, I wanted chicky nuggies too at that point) and they came with this delicious side of jalapeno cheese bites I honestly still dream of to this day. Looking on the McDonald’s website, I think they’re widely available but, in my mind, (and for the sake of my waistline), they’re a German thing.
Friday, we were up and at it again, and closed out the convention successfully. The team decided to do dinner together and ended up at the same steak place. To switch it up, I got a burger (and fries, sigh), and sadly, the Hamburg-er will be the best one of the trip.
After the crazy few days, we didn’t want to go out and party with people again, so we sipped a glass of wine in the trippy pre-renovated basement lounge on the cushy brown couches and prepared for two days of aggressive sightseeing.
Saturday, we slept in a bit and then took a trip outside of town to visit a palace! We walked the grounds and took a tour of Schloss Augustusburg. It was very, very cool. It was also apparently a popular site for weddings and wedding photos, as we say many, many bridal parties around.
The inside was so ornate and beautiful, and the grand staircase (one of the only places they allowed photos) was one of the most awesome sights, though I loved the Summer Dining Room. It had tile all over the walls to keep things cool (and holy cow, it really did!). This event took most of the day, so after tromping all over the exterior and interior and then a long trip back, we ate pastries, took a quick nap, and then got some delicious Indian food to close out our Saturday.
Sunday, we finally got the word that the hotel had breakfast (!!), and we partook before we headed out for the day. First, we toured the Dom.
It was also awesome and ornate and gorgeous and beautiful.
After touring the ground floor and then the catacombs, we left our group to go climb the 600 stairs to get the view. It was a rough climb on a very very narrow winding staircase, but the scenery was totally worth it.
Then, we got a salad. Because OMG, after two weeks of eating junk food, all I wanted out of life was a salad.
After resting at the hotel a bit, we went to climb the Triangle building at sunset so we could get the iconic Koln picture. I really wanted to go at sunset and wait until dark to get the city all lit up, but they close early on Sundays, so that will be on the list next time for sure!
We strolled over the bridge and looked at all the love locks, and wandered into a street performance of a guy juggling fire balancing on a balance board. As one does.
Then, we spent our last night in Germany getting a smorgasbord. This was entirely too much sausage and we did our best, but could only eat about half of it. You know your meal is heavy when the fries are the palate cleanser and the least greasy thing about the plate.
Finally, we took one of our last U-bahns back to the hotel and I ruined my Bloodbowl opponent 3-0 to finish out the evening (my dice were on fire).
In the morning, we woke up in time to get one more German breakfast, and caught the train to our next destination. Tchuss, Germany et Bonjour, Bruxelles!