We enjoyed the typically German breakfast spread in the hotel, including cold meats and cheeses and those amazingly crusty rolls (brötchen), hard boiled eggs, yogurt, fruit, cereal, juices, and of course coffee and tea.
We walked around Mainz with the boys, and found our way to a pedestrian shopping area. We spent some time in a fun toy store. Steve and I left the boys and returned to a restaurant by the Hauptbahnhof to meet his friends, the Gerhards, for lunch. Steve had worked with Ludicke on a documentary he (Steve) produced, and was delighted to reconnect with old friends.
Meanwhile, the boys found their way back to our meeting place on time and we boarded an I C E train to Cologne (but not without a last-minute change in track assignment that caused us to almost miss the train!). The tracks followed the Rhine River and we oohed and aahed for the entire trip at each small town, each with its large church, perhaps a smaller church too, and a castle atop a hill. And acres and acres of vineyards covered the steep hills lining the river valley.
We told them that if they liked the churches we visited in Mainz, they would love the one in Cologne. How come? They asked. We replied, it’s “somewhat larger”. So when we emerged from the train station right next to the cathedral and came through the main hall with its glass ceiling that revealed the massive cathedral, the boys were completely blown away. It was bigger than anything they had imagined. We found our hotel to check in and drop our bags, then ventured back out to the cathedral. Unfortunately, there were services going on, so we couldn’t walk through the entire building, but we did get to go inside for a peek. Then we walked around the outside, where were all blown away, not only metaphorically but also literally – it was SUPER WINDY.
Then we walked down towards the river, and along a stretch with a lot of restaurants. We ended up at one that was touristy, sure, but also fun. We selected a table on the patio – covered, with heaters and blankets at each chair. We all had a few beers (even Eli tried some – it’s OK in Germany – and yes please do be sure to include that when you nominate me for Mother of the Year) and enjoyed conversation and laughs. Our waiter was great – he brought us a round of gratis (tiny) shots (some kind of Croatian liqueur?) – including one for himself! Later he asked if we wanted more and everyone else said no – I said, I’ll have one more if you have one too, so we did.