Okay, so overall, Amsterdam wasn’t that bad. I got a good night’s sleep, breakfast was nice, and we were able to get on the road by 8.30. I even managed to put some of my back-logged post-cards in the mail (and now that I’ve bought stamps, more will go out tomorrow).
So, Dad drove us out of Amsterdam, thank god. The commuter traffic combination of bicycles and cars was a nightmare. After we were out of the city, we changed over driving and I drove from the outskirts of the city to Koln (also knows as Cologne). Between traffic, road work, poorly identified signs to the inner-city, it took us about a half hour and a few trips across the river to find parking near the main church in town.
The church in Koln started off as a pilgrimage church and took a few hundred years to build, and was finally completed in the 1800s, only to have to be re-built after WWII. We wandered around the outside of the Church snapping pictures, then went in, only to realize that there was a service being held, so I didn’t feel right taking pictures or milling around in there. We could have climbed to the top of the bell-tower, but since I don’t do well in tight, narrow, steep spaces, I opted to pass and so did Dad. Instead, we found a brew-house turned restaurant (much like the one in the basement of the Rathaus in Munich) for lunch – I had a ½ roasted chicken that put Swiss Chalet to shame and dad had some liver.
We then headed out of Koln, heading for Bingen where we are for the next two nights to we can take a river cruse up the Rhine. On the way here though, we stopped at a small river-side town for a snack and partook in some spaghetti-ice; you see it everywhere in Germany: it starts with a mound of whipped cream, then vanilla ice cream is extruded though a die to make it look like spaghetti and it goes over the whipped cream, then it’s topped with strawberry sauce and some sort of white candy, so you end up with a bowl of sweet pasta-looking yumminess.
Heading into Bingen we passed a couple of hotels in the small village just outside of town (it’s literally a ten minute walk and involves crossing a bridge over a Rhine tributary) and decided to try getting a place here. We ended up with rooms in a 3 story hotel that’s very quaint and old-fashioned, yet has one of the most stable internet connections of our trip so far. After checking in, we walked into Bingen-proper to look into the cruise for tomorrow, find some stamps and have a drink. We then walked back to the village we’re staying in, found a nice, quiet restaurant for a light dinner, then headed back to the hotel.
Tomorrow should be a relaxing day: we get to be tourists without having to drive, and plan on stopping in a couple of little towns with castles for a few hours for some exploration. I’m pretty beat, so it’s early to bed for me tonight. The only problem is that today is the longest day of the year and, being so far north, it’s still full daylight out, and in yesterday was any judge, the sun won’t be going down for another hour. Oh well, I’m so beat, I could probably sleep through anything tonight!