Köln (Cologne)

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Do you ever look around and forget you’re not in America? That you haven’t been in a long while and you think, “I could do this. I could be far from home.” And for a split second you forget about the people who would miss you and the friends you might lose contact with, and maybe even finishing your degree just to take in all the experiences with your friends and people you’ve never met before.
Today I had that moment sitting in a pizza place with some friends for lunch.
“I just feel far away, but I don’t feel like I’m in Germany.” One said.
“I feel you.” I replied nodding my head in agreement.
Our waiter came up to our table to grab our Euros for the check and then it hit me…
Our check came and it was not conveniently split up into different checks for the seven people in our group. I looked into my wallet to dig out what my share of the check was, and realized I didn’t have much there to give (thankfully I split a pizza with someone else). In the reality of needing to go to the ATM for the umpteenth time, and not understanding our waiter with the beautiful eyes, this post goes out to all the people I missed in that moment. I haven’t been gone long, and I won’t be gone for much longer, but the journey home is so long and sometimes you miss the comfort of knowing exactly what you’re ordering because it’s on an English menu. Today I was thankful for everything that reminded me of home.
We went shopping down some street and found two H&M stores both with more than one level, and I was comforted by the fact that on any summer day I would do the same thing (shop with friends) in Alabama or Mississippi. My friend was right: today doesn’t feel like we’re in Germany, and by that I am comforted.
More than once I have walked into a restaurant that was playing American music (one place served a delicious veggie burger). Me and my friends sang along, not caring how loud we harmonized because we were in Europe and we knew we would never see these people ever again…so I started asking myself the question, “why not?”
On a day when we were having free time in Salzburg a man next to us ordered something that looked delightful.
“Was ist das?” (What is that?) I asked him, pointing to his dessert plate.
“Apfel Strudel! (Apple Strudel) Is very good.” He replied jovially.
Why not? I thought.
The next thing I knew I had an Apple Strudel sitting at my own table, and yes: “Is very good.”
Cologne has a lot of history behind it. There was a lot of talk about Ancient Rome amongst my group who took a tour around the city. The Roman Empire was a vast expansion of land that extended across the Danube (which I saw yesterday, no big deal 😳) in what used to be part of  “Gaul” (now modern day Germany). Because of this, I’ve gotten to see some random artifacts here and there, and also be in places that were once part of the Roman Empire. When I tell you my favorite subject I ever learned was sitting in Mrs. McGuffey’s ninth grade history class on Ancient Roman Civilizations, believe me it was.We saw an original Roman mosaic floor in a museum not far from the cathedral in Cologne and my jaw dropped. I just adore history, so my heart was so delighted to see it all around me.

After the guided tour through the windy town, we ventured towards the Lindt chocolate museum where all our dreams came true (not joking). There was the history behind it and how it came to be the phenomenon that it is today which was pretty cool, but mostly I just wanted to try the chocolate. If we had gone through the whole museum without trying it I would have been sorely disappointed! Fortunately, as we descended some stairs we were able to see the factory where it was made and wrapped carefully in the signature paper we all recognize as chocolate. Just around the corner there was a figure that had golden lives it looked like and around them was a moat of chocolate. The woman tending to it had the plain-flavored wafers in her hand to dip in the chocolate and hand out.

I assure you I made my rounds with that chocolate fountain.

There were other places where you could make your own chocolate, but I decided to forgo that option to get another wafer (hehe). The chocolate museum was definitely a highlight for the day, and then we were on our own for the rest of the day! It was such a joy to be able to explore and see what we wanted to see and eat when we wanted eat–I know that sounds like little thing, but it was honestly so much more relaxing than if we had to take our big group of singers everywhere we went. I stayed close with my small clique of friends and in it flowed through various people, which made it fun. Everyone was kind of all over the place and saw everything and anything we really wanted to see.

Cologne is a nice place, full of beautiful sights and coffee you can by for one Euro from a vending machine. I’ve enjoyed this day very much. Tomorrow we are off to Leipzig!

Until another time~

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