Bye Bye USA
While on the plane, they fed us dinner, and I worked on fetching a little before I went to "bed". The flight was not full so I got the two seats all to myself, which made a very happy me :)
I arrived Düsseldorf around 7am their time. They are 6 hours ahead of EST and if you know me well, you know I hate getting up in the morning, let along that it's really midnight!!! But I got off the plane and saw my favorite person standing there waiting for me :) We got back to his hotel at Solingen, freshen up, and started our advanture.
Before we left Solingen, where they make the best knives (no I didn't get any, because they are just as expensive there as here!), we drove by the Schick plant:
Wilkinson Sword at Solingen
It was Saturday, so I didn't get a tour :( And on our way to the Autoban (freeway), we passed this factory:
A blurry picture of the HARIBO gummy bear factory
Although it wasn't open, I decided that I need gummy bears at some point!!!
And then we saw this:
4-wheeler on the street?!?!
I guess the Germans don't really care if you kill yourselves on those thing, if you want to do it, go ahead!! That's the same attitude they have on the airline, too! They never came to check the seat belts, nor the trays or the seats, for take off and landing. And they only give you 5 minutes warning for landing!!! It is quite interesting!
We decided to drive south to go to Köln, which is Cologne in English. I don't know who and how they translate it, but the words did not really match, I have to say, though, pronounciation was pretty accurate. There, we saw the famous Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral). It is soooo tall and beautiful and old! Doesn't it just have the look of medival time feel?
The beautiful Kölner Dom
The carving on top of the entrance
From the inside, you can see the beautiful stained glass all around the cathedral. The glasses were taken off during WWII to prevent them from being damaged. You can see the famous stained glass at this video. (ok, so I don't have the video online yet cuz I don't know how to use the video camera, but I promise they will be up soon!)
And the organs!!! See how big they are?
The old set of organ that are not being used today
Then we decided to go up to the tower to get the view of Köln. Let me tell you, those spiral stairs are only pretty to look at and not very friendly to your legs!!! There were so many people that it was hard to move around the staircase! But finally, our hard work paid off:
The view of the Rhine on top of the Kölner Dom
The view of the tip of the Kölner Dom from the highest point you can goIsn't it beautiful? On the way up, we stopped at the bell tower, and here it resides the biggest bell in Europe:
The bell!I was just glad that it wasn't ringing at the time when we were there!!! The guy who sat there actually have ear muffs in the office!
David and I with Kölner Dom behind usAfter touring the catheral, we decided to walk around. We went towards the beautiful Rhine River and I have to say, it really isn't that pretty! It's actually really muddy because the speed of the river, as you can see the picture I took from the top of the cathedral. As we were walking along the river, we came upon an ice cream shop, and one of the flavor is "Mozart"!!! Of course, I had to give it a try:
Me eating "Mozart" and Mango flavor ice creamSo "Mozart" is really a chocolate ice cream with *I think* pistachio flavor. It is very rich and creamy, even the mango flaver!!!
There are a ton of boat tour on the Rhine to take you to see what Germany was famous for - castles. There are a ton along the Rhine, but the tour was very expensive! It costs 44 euro per person to go from Mainz (pronounced 'mons') to Koblenz. And that's only one way!! And then you gotta figure out a way to get back! So we decided to rely on our good ole GPS to take us for a drive for the next day instead of taking the water route.
Further down the river, we came upon a Chocolate museum!!! And at this point, I have to say, there are A TON of wine/beer street vendors EVERYWHERE!!! It is just a very cool thing to have, but not for US though, I think everyone would be drunk if we have beer/wine vendors everywhere. The chocolate museum was very cool. On the second floor, they actually have machines that makes the chocolate in there to show how they make it. They made the Lindt truffles there. When you entered the museum, they give you a piece of Lindt chocolate too.
Golden cocoa tree chocolate fountainOf course, I can't forget to mention the chocolate shop they have - there must be over 100 different variaties in there and everything looked so good! I ended up with a Dark chocolate bar with mango chili flavor, and a milk chocolate bar with lavendar. The mango chili has a very bitter but yet creamy taste with just a hint of mango(77% cocoa), and it smells like mango. The chili really doesn't come in till the end, it's more of a after taste kick, which was just excellent. The milk chocolate with lavendar was what I was expecting, creamy, sweet, and relaxing. It also smells just like lavendar which is also very great.
After the museum, it got pretty late, so we decided to drive down to Mainz, which is about 2 hours away. But on the way there, we saw this and I had to take a picture:
Don't the Germans know that Walmart is BAD for them???
I was exhausted and fell asleep right after I saw the walmart. When we got to Mainz, we stayed at Advena Europa Hotel that was supposed to be the "Best Western".
The room was very comfortable and clean. We walked around the town and settled on the little restaurant next to the hotel. I had pork with bacon wrapped around and home made "dumpling" which is not the type of dumplings I ever seen. They are basically bread but with very strong herb flavor. I also ordered a glass of reisling from the famous Rhinegau region, which is where Mainz is. The wine is to die for! Especially now, it was the perfert time to order wine because it is their fresh wine season.
After the side walk dining experience we had, we went back to the hotel, took a shower, programmed the GPS to take us for the route that we are going to take along the Rhine the next day, I passed out almost immediately, with the glasses still on my face and everything...