Monday, July 20, 2015

Europe Tour - Cologne & Rhineland, Germany

We woke up at 5.30-6.00 am today and had breakfast at 6.30 am, then left the swanky hotel at 7.30 for Cologne. In the bus we watched a video on Anne Frank's short life, making my mum and I silently emotional towards the end.
We slept through most of the way and arrived in Cologne about half past 11, but due to traffic and construction. The road, initially a two lane road became a one lane road, making the bus very difficult to turn, it being a very long 54 seater bus. The good looking driver managed to squeeze us through the one lane, one way traffic. We were headed for Kölner Dom - Cologne Cathedral. It was as magnificant as the Notre Dam. When I went in, I somehow felt overwhelmed, not the super excited kind but the overpouring, close to tears kind. I have no idea why I felt that way, observing the intricate architecture and the sermon happening in German. I also felt rather irked with the amount of flowing tourists that snapped away as much as possible, then leaving when they were satisfied. After visiting some of the catherals in France, I now believe that one should respect the church as it is simple not a building if centuries old architecture, but a place of worship and prayer. With bustling tourists chattering excitedly and the flashes of light from cameras, how was one supposed to worship in church? It's not a crime to take pictures of the giant pillars and painted glass windows, but treating a church as simply a tourist attraction shows what I believe, a lack of respect
Anyhow, we took our pictures - I snapped some for my parents and grandma and obliged for mine to be taken with them, took some shots of the arches and pillars, the windows and the ceilings. After that, we exited the cathedral and snapped a couple more. We had about another half an hour for lunch. We had snagged some food from the hotel breakfast buffet and I had an apple (Imsochubbynowomg). We rested on the stone steps of the cathedral. There was man who appeared like a labour worker, another man dressed more cleanly sat next to him eating bread. His silver hair looked greasy, the shirt that covered his bulging belly was faded and had dirty stains on it. I didn't give him much thought, nor my attention. But from the corner of my eye, I noticed him reaching out for a paper cup before his booted feet, which I had not noticed, and immedietly realised that he was a begger. He jangled the cup and muttered angrily what I heard to be "fuck". Suddenly he took out the three coins in his cup and threw them away at the passing crowd of locals and tourists, then hurled spit at them in what I believed to be an angry response to his fate. I then quickly signaled my mum and told her in mandrin to move my grandma away from the fuming gentleman. He was then hurling cusses at a group that walked past. I didn't want to stand nearby. Understand that my reaction isn't because he's a stinking beggar. The way I interpreted the situation, he seemed to recognise the irony of his fate. Here he was in front of the church, a place supposedly for the poor and the outcast, but he isn't receiving any help. What's more, thousands of tourists throng the area, passing by without so much as batting an eyelash. One would think that perhaps out of the 15 tourists that pass by each time, one would drop a coin or two into the cup, but we all know this is reality. The able don't really do much about such people. We ignore it. We ignore the tragedy that appears before our eyes. Perhaps it's fear? Fear that our money given out of a good deed would be misused by the beggers, or perhaps it would simply be easier to ignore them and pretend we don't see them. Someone else would help them, right? This is the mentality of the world. Even more ironic, as my mum pointed out, there was a protest against food wastage and the protesters were giving out day-old bread to people. They didn't offer it to the begger.
Anyway, we left after using the loo at a nearby McD and waited for our bus. We then left for Rhineland. In the bus the tour director played us a video detailing the bombing on Cologne during WW2. Half way through the mountains (alps?) It started raining again. It kinda feels like Cameron Highlands with all the trees lined up alongside the highway. We arrived in Boppart where we took the Rhine cruise at 3 pm. It was surprisingly humid at 22°C when we got off the bus. But that soon changed into cool breeze when we boarded the boat. The river cruise took us through a scenic route surrounded by lush green hills and very old looking castles that dot the hilltops. The clouds looked as though they were threatening to rain, but wonderfully enough, the sun stayed there all the way through. When we moored at the pier, we were then taken to the world's largest free hanging, hand crafted coo coo clock. I also spotted one ridiculously large german shepard which I suspect could've been cross breeded with a wolf. Pretty cool stuff.
After that I pretty much knocked out as the bus took us to our next hotel - Achat. Bloody hell, for a four star, there isn't any air conditioning. If the place was cooling at night, then it'd be all good, but it's so humid and stuffy in the room I'm wondered if I'd be able to sleep at night! We took a shower before having dinner at 7.30pm, a three course meal. The dessert was my favourite. It was simple: canned peach, pineapple and orange, topped with vanilla ice cream, but it was good. My family and I, with a few others at our table decided to take a stroll outside the hotel. There wasn't much, just houses and dog walkers. We turned back at 9.30pm. It was so hot, I felt like sitting in a tub of cold water, which I did not.
Tomorrow we'll be heading to see a little more if Rhineland, then moving on to Munich and Innsbruck in Austria.
Sorry guys, no photos today. The internet's too slow and it's too bloody hot for me to want to stay up any longer. Cheerios!

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