We had a rough train ride. Bayern Munich vs. Wolfsburg at Allianz Arena + Oktoberfest equals the craziest shit show of people you’ll ever see. 71,100 people went to the game. The most we ever see for the Whitecaps in Vancouver is 20,000!!
We missed a couple trains. They were so busy. I sat near the train door on the ground and held onto my backpack. A young, well dressed man sat on the floor next to me, eating his Burger King. A man sat on his luggage, by the hand rail by the WC on the train, trying to sit and rest his laptop on his lap. A girl sat between two men, taking out her book. Selma sat infront of me, and there were plenty more people in the gangway.
When we landed in Cologne, we discovered pretty quickly our hostel (Black Sheep Hostel) was in a sketchy area and the upkeep was questionable. Like, instead of refilling the dish and hand soap, they filled it up with water. The “clean” dishes were dirty, so the residents didn’t take the time to clean them. I checked in the washroom. 2/3 toilets were out of service, and there were bugs crawling out of the drain. (Later on in our travels, I had to take a shower. So I showered with my socks on and threw them out.) I wanted to get out.
We ended up in a cute Pho place down the street called Lu. I am a big pho aficionado back home in Vancouver. I was surprised to find Lu was pretty gourmet pho. I had chicken pho and felt well nourished after. It was not extremely salty nor was the meat fatty – just lean mean with fresh vegetables. Selma had a type with tomato.
I tried the kolsch, Reissdorf. It was zippy, crispy and light beer. It was slightly bready with an underlying sweet tone I can’t pinpoint. The beer does not leave an aftertaste in your mouth.
As days would come, Kolsch bier became a big reoccurring thing.
Cheeseburgers and Beers at the Rhine
So, I had this tradition of eating McDonalds here. I was too freaked out by our hostel’s cleanliness to cook. Everything was DIRTY. Thankfully, it was also next to a McDonalds.
Thus began my breakfasts of 1 euro cheeseburgers. I had a wrap on one occasion. I find the McDonalds not that salty here. At home, if I want to poop, McDonalds is my go to laxative. Here that was not the case. Also, their coffee is slow poured here, so I indulged in their cheap coffee. If you buy from the McCafe, they serve you your food on classy looking plates and mugs. I’m under the impression McDonalds has to be somewhat nicer to compete with the bakeries around. Bakeries are even cheaper than McDonalds. So, if McDs was a total dump, no one would go. Anyhoo, it’s interesting, they have shrimp burgers,thai burgers, Western, Italian, Greek…
Did I mention I was running low on funds in Cologne? Cause I bought shoes cause my last pair broke – but I love European shoes because they’re always well made. I bought a pair of Hispanitas two years ago and they’re still going strong. Nothing beats European leather.
Coffee and Berliner
During our shopping day, we stopped at Merzenich Bäckereien. They had 2 Berliners for 1 euro – they’re jam filled, powdered donuts. I had a macchiato with it. Selma and I ate these light, fluffy donuts – they weren’t too sweet!
Selma talked not being enthusiastic returning home. She’s been travelling all summer! She went to Paris before she met me up in Germany. She also went to Istanbul and was in Bosnia before that. As she told me tales of the train station, the metro and eating out in Paris, Vancouver seemed so far away. But I knew with each scoop of foam, I was days closer to going back home.
Kolsch, Kolsch, Tequila, Kolsch
One day, I was ok with making dinner in our hostel. We made pasta, and we met some girls! They were from the UK and Italy. We joined them for drinks. Cologne is small, known for its cathedral, shopping and street of pubs. We walked down the street pub hopping. A woman gave us a flyer for 1 euro shots. Sarah turned her head and giggled, knowing we were going to have a good night that cheap shots route.
We started in Cubana Bar, where the game was playing! Selma though the waiter was quite attractive. (German boys are awesome) Kolsch for all of us!
We went across the street for cocktails at Soul Bar. They had wonderful music – I’d break into yeeahhhh- I wanna dance with somebody! – with Lodovica. She loves singing and I hope one day to hear her sing. I know I’m in Canada, but somehow…
We went to Movies, the one euro shots place. What a dump, full of bros and playing Nelly. We downed our shots and got the hell out of there. We bar hopped but I can’t remember where exactly, the street is covered in bars. The street is Zülpicher Straße, I think.
We returned a day after to drink with Jess. We ended up at a bar on Hohenstaufenring for more kolsch!! I had a hot chocolate instead. I kept watching the Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City game. Bayern played beautifully. We sat near some boys, who were also watching the game. They were piqued to hear I work at EA. One boy stayed behind and described events in Cologne to us. Apparently, they have Carnival here. He described it as a Halloween during February. From what I get now, people dress up in masks and party on the streets. He talked to Jess, who had just found a flat to live here and study, that it’s dangerous for women in Cologne. I liked how some time, like fifteen minutes or so, Jess said she’d go to her new place to check it out. I texted her later and she said she was completely fine, unharmed and maybe the guy was being overly concerned!
Café Wahl Bäckerei & Konditorei
It was German Unity day the next day. Everything would be closed, and we were looking for things to do before the day. We went into Cafe Wahl. It was a fancy, Victorian, white table cloth cafe.
I thought of the Secret Garden back home, but this is much fancier and they have big slices of marvellous cake. I had this fruit covered cake. I didn’t understand the name, so I’m not 100% sure what it was. It was creamy and buttery inside. I loved the peaches ontop. There were also sour cherries ontop – I notice there’s lots of cherry pastries in general in Germany.
We returned to Nordsee because we love it! Even Selma, who detests fast food and watched in horror at my cheeseburger fest, loves this place. I had backfisch baguette again for 2.80! So cheap! It’s not too greasy and the baguette is nice and fresh. We had a beet salad as well, and shared it between the two of us for 1.50.
Winner, winner, Chicken Dinner
On German Unity Day, the only thing open was a Rewe-to-Go. How do you pronounce that? I heard on TV a roo-ei, but Germans say Revvie. Confused.
Anyway, another thing here is kiosks of roast, baked meats on sale. I wanted to hit up a rotisserie before I left. I ordered a big thigh for one fifty. So good! I love baked chicken, plus after a diet of cheeseburgers, kolsch and cake, this was nourishing.
Germany has a very strange past. With the shadow of Hitler and the Berlin Wall still in the memories of the older generation, there are a lot of historic monuments all over Germany. German Unification falls on October 3. It could have been on November 9, which was the fall of the Berlin Wall, and earlier the defeat of Hitler’s first coup. But, the 9th was also Kristallnacht, a series of attacks against the Jews led by the Nazis. So, they chose the 3rd of October.
Chicken and Waffles?! Merzenich
So, I turned a very European meal into an American one. Selma and I went to Merzenich again. I got a waffle and she got an almond covered pretzel. I still had my chicken from Rewe-to-Go. My lunch was Pink Lemonade Emergen-C, espresso, chicken and waffles. The waffle was really light and fluffy, powdered by sugar. The espresso was smooth and the I could taste the full bodied crema.
I think I really started to realize how much I’ll miss Europe and be depressed at the shitty food at home. Really, we have overpriced kiosks, the Asian bakeries like Maxim or shitty assed Safeway for places to pick pastries up. Sigh. There will never be something quite like this.
Last Dinner at Sassan and Dunkel Schoko
We always passed by this restaurant and it was always busy. It’s called Sassan. They have all you can eat brunch, 4 euro pasta or pizza, and regular pub fare. I had Al Forno pasta, Selma had pizza with spinach and tomatoes. We had our last kolsch together. I kept eating their free bread, because it came with whipped garlic butter. My pasta was alright, though the warm tortellini was comforting, the best part being the baked, crispy cheese on places. Selma’s pizza was very good, it had a thin crust and moist, thick bunches of spinach.
I started to really feel this sense of sadness at leaving soon. We had gelato or “eis”. We loved this place called the Eis Cafe Cortina, because they had dark chocolate ice cream – dunkel schoko. Both me and Selma ordered a scoop and went back to our hostel to sleep for an early train ride. In total, I paid for my dinner, ice cream and beer for 10 euro – around $14 CAD. Wow!
Also, my beer collection was now complete. I had a beer from each city. I chose Fruh over Reissdorf, simply because the Fruh is light, spirtzy and a bit fruity inside its breadiness. So good!