This was an amazing day, just like every day till now. Tough night last night though, as the “hotel” we’re in is less than top notch. To call it a hotel is really kind and gracious; it’s more like just a room with beds and a bathroom. No amenities. No TV, no air conditioning, no top sheet on the beds (we have 2 twin beds pushed together). But this “no top sheet” seems to be consistent everywhere we’ve been so far in Europe. Also, the top quilt works like one of those weighted blankets that is designed to make you feel secure, but only serves to make you sweat like crazy; the rooms are hot and stuffy!
Our first excursion of the day was to the bakery and coffee shop. Breakfast consisted of a piece of bread, about 2” around and maybe 6” long, and salted like a pretzel. Sorry but I didn’t think to photograph it. Along with the pretzel bread was a bun that had chocolate chips (of about 1/2” square each) throughout. Both we lavished with peanut butter, because – protein, right? You can’t eat bread without some kind of protein!
After breakfast, we headed to the Cologne Chocolate Museum. On the way, we walked along the banks of the Rhein (we spell it Rhine) and encountered some incredible sights. One was the sidewalk memorial of the Fillenbaum family of Bruges, murdered by the Nazis. Another was the bridge, destroyed by Allied bombing and now rebuilt to move only trains and pedestrians – oh and to hold thousands of “Love Locks.” Oh and you have to read Sherry’s Account of the museum!
Boy was this Chocolate Museum different than the one we visited in Bruges! This one was the real deal. 3 floors of magic. Sure, there was the historical info describing the genesis of the cacao industry, which began in the Aztec history of Mexico. But here there was far more information about how the cacao is grown, harvested, processed and ultimately made into the chocolate we love so well. Also part of the museum, is a fully working chocolate manufacturing line that has little spots where you can “press the green button” and the manufacturing process diverts for just a moment, sending one of the chocolate pieces just finished to a little chute that drops it into your hand! And you can press the green button as often and as many times as you want!
From there we went to the Wallraf Richartz Museum, where we spent 3 hours gorging on original works from Monet, Renoir, Raphael, Van Gogh, and a host of other famous artists from Cologne and Paris. I’ll simply show an array of photos from the museum below . . .
By the way, tomorrow, Day 13 will be a complete travel day. We found out that our train to Prague won’t leave when listed, so we’ll be at the train station at 06:00am and see what our options are. . .
OK, here’s the update. 3 trains; first from Cologne to Hamm; 2nd from Hamm to Berlin; 3rd from Berlin to Prague. 11 hours on trains + another couple of hours waiting and walking.
Day 13 was basically a lost day to travel! Actually, not lost – it was beautiful watching the scenery as we moved through Eastern Germany to Czechoslovakia.