Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Places to See

Day 140

The morning tour at the Dom wasn´t until 10:30 so I had a bit of time to kill. I was sort of lazy and spent some time reading in my bed.

This was my third time in the Dom. I walked around a bit, but I really wanted to save it for the tour. Like normal, when the tour began I pulled out my notebook so that I could take notes. I wasn´t the only one doing this. It turned out that a local paper was writing a story on tourism in Köln and wanted to find out what people thought of the Dom. They asked almost everyone in the group questions except for me. It was bit frustrating. I think that I alone would make a good story!

Construction began on the Dom about 760 years ago. It replaced a smaller building that no longer fulfilled the towns needs. The church was constructed to house the relics of the three kings, or magi. The problem was that they kept running out of money. For quite some time only the apse was finished, and the relics were placed there. Building continued intermittently up until 1560 when the reformation began. People lost all desire to continue the church. It was basically a large shell at this point. During Napoleon's occupation it was used as a warehouse and a prison. It wasn´t until 1802 when there was a resurgence in German nationalism and that it was decided that the cathedral was important and should be finished. They stuck close to the original plans and the cathedral was finished in 1880. During WWII the Köln was flattened, but somehow the cathedral survived.

There are some really fabulous pieces are art here as well. The three maji´s container is just amazing. It took 30 years to build and is mostly gold. The oldest wooden sculpture of Christ on a cross is here. It dates from 973. Most of the stained glass in the apse is from the middle ages. It´s amazing to think that it has survived for so long. The crypt was a bit boring though, no bones.

After the tour was a slide show. I thought that it was a bit boring. Afterwards one of the other people on the tour asked why I was taking notes. I explained about blog. His name was Brian, he was an American that had been studying and working in Germany for a year. Today was his last day before his flight home to Wyoming.

We decided to go to the Chocolate Museum together. The entrance ticket included a small piece of chocolate. It was very good. We were then given a very detailed description of the labour intensive process that is harvesting coco beans. It´s really amazing that a Hershey bar only costs a dollar. There was a small rain forest to walk thru, but that just made me sweaty. Then there was the chocolate factory that actually made chocolate. I liked the fountain with more free samples.

When Brian and I had bought some chocolate we decided to go for a typical German lunch. I had some pork thing with some potato thing that sort of had the consistency of mashed potatoes but was a little different. It was really fabulous.

Brian and I then decided to check out St. Ursula´s church. St. Ursula was a British princess that was being forced to marry. She didn´t want to do this, as she was pious and all that, so she struck a deal with her father. She would marry if she could take her 11,000 best virgin friends on a pilgrimage. They never made it. Instead they were all killed by the Huns near Köln in a terrible massacre. St. Ursula´s is where their bones are kept. There were thousands of bones, well over 11,000 actually. This definitely fulfilled my creep factor for the day.

Brian and I made plans to meet up after diner. On our way to the chapel we had passed a super cheap internet cafe and I headed back there to update blog for a bit and deal with more credit card crap. Brian went off to check out the town gates.

While I was back at the hostel I met Aussie Andrew, also on an RTW and I invited him to join us.

The three of us took the u-bahn to another part of the city and managed to stumble on a really fabulous beer garden. Eventually one of Brians Couchsurfing friends, Patrick showed up with his current guests, Alexandra and Dimitris from Greece. They offered to let me crash with them when I get to Greece. We had a really nice night chatting and getting to know one another. I love how friendly and open travel people are.

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