A bit of confusion on the way here. Becky and I took the train into Germany and were supposed to change trains at the Koln HBF station. I saw Koln Es---- and figured it was probably the same station.
We quickly found ourselves at a tiny station with one light post and no idea of what to do next. There was nothing around us save for a few run-down houses and country side. Scouring the train schedule, we were delighted to see that another train would be coming in ten minutes that could take us to Koln HBF--just late enough to miss the train we wanted to be on. But at least it got us out of the scary station.
While we were waiting, however, we read up on Koln, and it turned out it actually had a nice little selection of sights and things to do. So we decided to find a hostel in Koln once we got to the next station.
Turned out to be a pretty fun mistake. We got a room in a hostel about two blocks from the train station and it was a very fun place. Bad showers, but free internet, 1 euro laundry, free luggage storage, living room in the six-bed dorms, free drinks from 9-10pm and a very helpful staff.
In the commons area, we met an entertaining bunch of Irish travelers. They were pretty nice and pretty drunk. I have to say that they lived up to the Irish stereotype: loud, drunk, constantly arguing and breaking things. lol
Outside of the hostel, Becky and I saw the Koln Chocolate Museum. Honestly, if you love chocolate, you might just rank this on same scale as the Louvre. lol They had displays on the history of chocolate, chocolate today, and they even had a chocolate fountain. Best of all, I learned how they make hollow chocolate goodies, which I've always been curious about. (It's a lot more high-tech than one might think).
Next, we visited the origin of the "Eau de Cologne." It was neat, but I have to admit, it didn't smell very good. I guess they've come a long way since the first perfume. It was also very expensive.
The Dom Cathedral, pictured with this entry, was a wonder. It was one of the few structures that remained unharmed during WWII. We noticed that the ceiling paintings were unlike those of other cathedrals we've seen so far. The biblical figures looked like they were painted recently, in acrylic, maybe. They were good, but not really "professional." It was a fun depart from the norm, I have to admit.
At the end of the day, we went to a sculpture garden. It was about to close, so we had the place to ourselves. There were some pretty interesting sculptures, and Becky and I had a field day taking pictures.
All in all, this was a great mistake. Best of all, there wasn't much freaking out when things didn't go according to plan. Even though I messed up, Becky just assured me that we'd figure things out, and that it wasn't a big deal. This is a treasured trait in a travel companion.
What I learned from Koln:
-Mistakes can become great adventures.
-It's always good to try speaking in the local language first, even if it is just to ask them if they speak English. Locals always appreciate the effort, and it's more polite than expecting everyone to speak English.
-Currywurst is delicious.
-Trust the travel guide about hostels. They have good picks.
-I love coffee.
-Go with the flow, don't get stressed, and be forgiving when mistakes are made.