Friday, December 04, 2009

Mini gummy bears and a massive cathedral

Once again you've entered a time warp here at the Nutshell. See, it's Thursday while I'm writing this but I've scheduled it to post on Friday, at which time I'll be lying on a massage table in Dresden and getting ready for a weekend of Christmas Market paradise!

(Seriously though. Is that a little creepy? To know that at the exact moment you're probably reading this - assuming of course that you stalk my entries and wait with bated breath for the next post and thusly read the post within about an hour and 45 minutes of actual posting time...and I know you do - I'm at the spa getting a massage and facial right at this very moment. Too much?)

But for now, I present to you, our trip to Köln (or Cologne as it's known elsewhere). We turned this mo-fo out. Let's do it.

We got lucky on the hotel front and scored a room at the Renaissance on Jason's Marriott points. Here's where they get you though.... When he checked in, they asked if he wanted to upgrade our stay to "Club" for an extra 50 euro. We were dubious at first but once he got the run down on all that included, he decided it was a steal and went for it. A few of the highlights:
  • Club access, stocked with all sorts of delicious treats and bevvies (Translation: We acted like some fools who had never stayed club level before and started jamming mini Twix and Snickers into our coat pockets and shoveling chips and peanuts down our throats like we hadn't eaten in a month and don't even ask me about the open bar.)
  • Unlimited soda, juice and water from the mini bar (Translation: I drank my weight in Diet Coke and Evian.)
  • In room movie of your choice (Translation: Yes, you can get one of those movies, but we opted to watch The Hangover again. That shit never gets old.)
  • Fruit basket sent to your room (Translation: I totally carried those apples home in my luggage and ate them the next day.)
  • Full breakfast buffet (Translation: You're dang right we had us some eggs and bacon. I don't know about you but when it's paid for, damned if I'm going for the fruit and cereal.)
  • Half off parking (Translation: Half off parking.)
And I don't know if this is in all the rooms or just the club ones but they give you little mini packs of Haribo gummies on your nightstand! (Translation: If it's free or mini, I love it. If it's free and mini, I'll cut a bitch for it.)

After I finally quit having seizures over all the awesome stuff we were getting, we finally made it out on the town. After a few minutes of walking, I caught a glimpse of what appeared to my eye to be an official Starbucks Redcup. This was doubly shocking since I still haven't gotten over the fact the we don't have the 'Bucks in Brussels and I had been having severe Redcup envy as the season approached.

Glory be to God in the highest and peace and goodwill towards men, it was TRUE! Oh snap! It's on!

This is it...being on.

After I finally quit having seizures over the Redcup sighting, I was able to focus on other things. Culture-y things. Pretty much the first thing you notice when you're driving into Cologne is the insanely massive cathedral. I know I say that about a lot of cathedrals but this time...I really mean it. It's the massive-est one yet. In fact, it's the most massive in all of Germany. Maybe...the WORLD!

Or maybe not. I don't know. Facts, schmacts. But it is the largest church facade in the world and it was the tallest building in the world - until the Washington Monument went and got itself built in 1884. So, you know...that's not nothing. Jason was sufficiently impressed anyway.

Though it isn't a very good photo (we aren't Neanderthals - we're not going to use a flash in a sacred cathedral), this is what some would call a Very Important Thing. In that gold shrine are the bones of...get this...THE THREE WISEMEN. Yes, those wisemen. You know... gold, frankinscence and myrrh and 'we three kings of Orient are' and all that stuff. If you say so.

We then opted for a walk along the river, where there were lots of lovely things to see.

It's not a terrible view from the bridge...

It just wouldn't be a trip without an indulgent and narcissistic self-portrait.

After the walk, we rewarded ourselves by stopping into a very cosy looking pub for some Kölsch, the official brew of Cologne. (And coincidentally, also the exact type of my favorite local beer in Raleigh - Big Boss Angry Angel. Pow!) I had to make way to the ladies so I asked Jason to order for me. I came back to this:

Now don't freak out. Those are tiny glasses. Less than a half pint each. And we shared them. So that's really only one full beer each.

Earlier, our hotel had given us a recommendation for dinner - a very authentic place that served up some excellent traditional German food and on top of that, was a Kölsch brewhouse. They make their very own Kölsch right there in the building. In fact, there was no other choice of beer. To order, you just say "beer". There's no confusion.

The atmosphere was fantastic. It seemed very much like a local's kind of place and was definitely off the beaten path. It was full of long open tables, kind of like a tiny version of an Oktoberfest tent. You just walk in and look for a couple of open seats. And the food. The food. The food was ri-dic-u-lous. The Germans sure do know their way around potatoes and pork.

So, we hung around for a while the rest of the night and had us a few Kölsch. Or...let's see...what's that coaster say? (That's how the waiters keep up with your tab.) Oh right, ahem...thirteen Kölsch. Okay, okay, okay. Before anybody freaks out and sends us to AA, let me remind you how small these are. Scroll down.

Look how small they are!!! Plus, Kölsch is very low alcohol content. Plus, we'd had a very heavy meal (remember pork and potatoes?). Plus, this was over a span of something like three hours!

And before you pass judgement on us, let me tell you about the people with whom we shared a table. There were eight of them I think. When the waiter came to tally up their coasters and brought out the tab, it was 850 euros.

I'm sure they each had a meal so let's average that at about 15 euros each - 120 euros. Hell, I'll even give them the benefit of the doubt and say they had lots and lots of starters and snacks to share so let's call it 250 euros. The Kölsch were 1 euro 50 cents each. If all the above is true, that means those eight people drank 400 beers. That means 50 beers per person.

I don't even know if that's even humanly possible. Maybe they were there all day. Maybe they ate a lot more food than I thought. Maybe they ordered all the most expensive food on the menu. Maybe they came there every night for a week and had been running a tab. I DON'T KNOW. I CAN'T EXPLAIN IT. IT'S CRAZY.

*passes out from brain exhaustion*
*deep breaths*

And now, some cuddly woodland creatures in their magical Christmas village... Toy store holiday windows are totally out of control in Germany.

And for lunch, one more very authentic Kölsch brewhouse - Früh. Jasön was very excited tö try the Früh Kölsch. It was very gööd.

A much more respectable showing with only five (little) beers... I mean, it is daylight. Give us some credit.

I have nothing to say about this except that this is the most useless hood ever created. So on that note... auf wiedersehen!


andrea said...

The hood would be appropriate if you were, in fact, a giant.

The Cathedral is beautiful!

Beth N said...

I love umlauts.

Kate said...

Ah, this took me right back. We ate in that very same restaurant (twice actually!)

And I totally forgot about no 'bucks in Brussels. It really confused my friend who came to visit from the States. He just kept saying 'what do you mean I can't get an ice coffee in this city?'

Alexandra Taylor said...

Oh I feel you on the no Starbucks in Brussels. Sometimes, during my lunch break, I actually go to the airport to get Starbucks (it's called 'Operation Starbuck' and takes exactly 30 minutes round trip. You also require an accomplice to do it in my case). Went to Koln this weekend and must have had 4 'red cups' in about 36 hours.

Meg said...

Glad you came back for a bit, Heather. I was having withdrawl ;) I absolutely love that the hotel gives Haribo gummi bears! They are my fav and I'm going to add this to my list of places I want to visit for sure. Oh, and I think that your Starbucks picture should totally be a print ad for them! Love it!

peachesandcurry said...

That cathedral looked amazing/stunning. What gets me is that it was built so long ago!
And yea, it probably was 50 beers... at least it's mini size?