Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Not Another &*) Museum?

Not Another &^*) Museum?

The clock said three o’clock when I finished writing last night. The cathedral bells confirmed it. Breakfast is too early at 9:00 or 9:30, but I drag my tired butt down there and promise my body a shower afterward. I am not socially acceptable with so little sleep and should be caged or at least manacled until after a nap, but no one has the guts to try it. Ron finished his breakfast before me and said he was going to take a few videos of the cathedral. He said he would be back in ten minutes. I knew from this that I had at least an hour to finish breakfast, shower, and dress so I poured another cup of coffee and lit a cigarette.

Cologne would never have been on my list of places to see again. As I have said I was here for one day and that was plenty, but Ron had a need to come here. I am Italian and was raised a Catholic, so playing martyr is second nature when I have to and it builds up points that I can redeem later when there is something I REALLY want to do. Cologne is not a pretty city. It never occurred to me why, but it isn’t and I found out today why.

Ron found the Museum of Cologne and wanted to go in. Truly, I have had my fill of museums for the next month or so. I will be happy to tour museums with anyone who comes to visit in Budapest or wherever else we stay put for a while, but not another museum now. Due to the fact that none of the displays were in English or any other language than German, there were free audio guides. The problem with audio guides is that everything that you really want to know about is not included in the guide. The things that you could care less about are given in endless detail to the point that you want to bang the audio machine until the little man inside speaking pops out and you can strangle him. There were many objects in the Judaic section and few explanations. The children’s section had no explanations at all, which was really frustrating. Plus, I really did not want to be there, so I was not in a “Let’s get more culture.” mood to begin with. However, much against my will, I did get a few tidbits of information worth passing on.

The Patron Saint of Cologne is St. Ursula. Having you been waiting for us to make this trip to learn that information? Ursula was the daughter of a British King on her way to a pilgrimage and was passing through Cologne with eleven virgins. How they can carbon date virginity was not explained on the audio guide. Anyway, Ursula and here band of girls of the hood were attacked and killed here. She was named a martyr and became the patron.

Also here are the relics of the Three Wise Men. They did not come from here, but somewhere in Italy. Ron found out on his tour of the cathedral that the Archbishop of Cologne had more influence with the Pope than did his counter-part in Italy, so he was given the collection. The cathedral is dedicated to the Three Wise Men and St. Ursula. The other virgins shall remain nameless and without any elevated status for some reason. The story according to the museum audio guide states that some like to inflate the number of virgins to eleven thousand. Common sense would tell you that with the population of England being what it was at that time, there were surely not eleven thousand virgins in the whole country that were beyond the crawling stages of development.

During World War II, eighty percent of the homes and buildings were bombed and destroyed. Some of the historic churches and other buildings were hit, but not as devastatingly so. Just as in Berlin, with so much war damage, the city needs to build up again fast. This does not leave a great deal of time for architectural plans that re-create a gingerbread village. Therefore, the buildings go up for function and not for beauty.

The last interesting bit of information is ‘Eau de Cologne’. An Italian created it when he came to Cologne and made scented water, calling it Miracle Water. Originally, it was water that you drank for medicinal purposes, but French officers found the fragrance refreshing and started dapping it on their bodies and clothes. Now in order to use the words ‘Eau de Cologne’, it has to be produced in the Cologne region. One of the more famous brands you see in all of the shops is 4711. It has been in the States for years.

Dinner was back to the Christmas market to sample more goodies. One booth was cooking sauerkraut with bits of bacon and these things that looked like little torpedoes, then putting sour cream on top and garnishing it with scallion greens. From the smell, we believed the little torpedoes were potato dumplings of some sort, but strangely shaped. We both ordered it and were given a heaping bowl each. Potato dumplings are very filling. Once in your stomach, they expand like a helium balloon that has gone out of control. After four bites, we were both full. We tried walking some more, but that only helped in another couple of bites. The smell was wonderful and my official taster said it was delicious.

Ron decided he needed the recipe for the gluhwein for future reference so he meandered over the information booth to ask for it. The woman wrote down the ingredients, but said each one was to your own taste. There was one ingredient she did not know the English name for, but wrote it in German.

Back at the Internet café we received ten disappointing e-mails stating that none of the hotels in Salzburg or Vienna had any rooms available. I even tried , but it seems that they have all been turned into homes for unwed mothers and they could not accommodate us either. Time to reconnoiter once again. Ron’s initial idea was to stay here yet one more night, but I dashed that hope quickly. Getting a Saturday and Sunday at a hotel is a real pain. We went to the train station to check on trains to Budapest. If we take the 5:40 am train, the trip is direct and we will arrive thirteen hours later. This will use only one day on our Europass and we can always return to Austria with the balance of the days on the pass. Back to the Internet to now find a hotel in Budapest until Monday when we meet with the rental agent to look at apartments. This is a royal pain and I will be glad to be settled in one place for a period of time.

Our friend Myrtis had given me the name of a hotel in Budapest that she has stayed at and liked. She only had the name, the night before leaving Amsterdam, I found their web site. All of their reservations are done through a travel agency in the Czech Republic. I e-mailed them asking for a reservation for the 9th, thinking at the time we were going to Salzburg. When we got to Cologne, there was a response saying they book for a number of hotels and I did not specify which one I was interested in. Send a more specific e-mail with the name of the hotel. The next day, I get a reply stating that I need to print out their form and sign it and fax it back to them. E-mail back to them stating we are in Germany, the Internet café has neither a printer nor a fax machine, and can’t we do this over the phone or on the Internet? E-mail back with the response that “No, we need to have the form with your signature on it.” My response was then verbal and loud enough to draw the attention of my fellow computer geeks in the café. So, back to hunting for hotels in Budapest in the search engines and start e-mailing again, hoping that they respond in time for us to get their reply before we leave at 5:40 am on Friday. We may be homeless for a couple of nights, so watch the news for a couple of American vagrants that were picked up in a Budapest train station while mumbling, “But we didn’t have a printer or a fax machine.” This is what relentlessly adds to my mental exhaustion and forces us to spend non-enjoyable time in Internet cafés.

Being full, cold, and tired we returned to the room. Fortunately, the beds in this room are wonderfully comfortable. The pillows must be entirely made of feathers, because even with two each they can be squeezed into a small ball. We have television, but none of the channels are in English, so there is no competition between the television and the computer for the one plug in the room.

Pin It Now!


Post a Comment