December 6 - Yo Ho Ho Ho

We woke up in the middle of the night again, because of drunk people outside that were singing (not well).  Our sleeping had been very off since we arrived, and it wasn’t getting better.  This time Justin took a benadryl to assist in getting back to sleep.  He got up just before 10:00, and Crystal was still asleep.  He jotted down notes from yesterday, and was going to shower in the second bathroom, but couldn’t find the shampoo and conditioner, and didn’t want to make too much noise looking for them in Crystal’s bag.  She woke up just before 11:00.

After we each got ready, we pinged a potential tour guide about his schedule, then headed out for some exploring.  It was sunny for the first time this trip, and there was no wind, either.  The Christmas Market near the Airbnb was way less crowded than yesterday.  The curling looked fun, and we made a mental note to try that before leaving Cologne.  From the market we walked east to the river, then south.  We saw several river cruise ships, including Viking.  We were walking south to check out the mustard museum, which Crystal had read about.  Unfortunately, it was closed, with only the gift shop open.  We knew anything of any size wouldn’t be able to come back in our carry-on bags, so we just bought some mustard schnapps.  There was a tiny Christmas Market right next to the Chocolate museum, just across the street, so we went there next.  One of the shops in the market was on a pirate ship, and had a flag out front with a Pirate Santa that read “yo ho ho ho.”

Since we were right there, we went in the chocolate museum.  It was interesting to see that while most of the cacao is grown in the Ivory Coast, most of it is produced and consumed within Europe.  The whole place smelled like chocolate, since the museum is a functional factory in addition to a museum.  It was fascinating seeing all of the individual steps in the process.  The people working there must have their photos taken all day, every day, as everyone (including us) was taking photos of what was going on behind the plexiglass.  When we were done, we checked the store to see if they had any of the “Krakakoa” that we’d seen in the museum, but they did not.  [It turns out it does appear to be available online, though.]

After finishing up at the museum, we walked north a bit, then east across a bridge to get photos of the Old Town and the Cathedral.  The Cologne Cathedral is so big, and the camera lens is  such a big telephoto lens, that we needed to go all the way across the bridge to fit everything in the frame.  We immediately walked back across the bridge into Old Town, and walked through the market again.  We stopped at a restaurant we’d seen packed yesterday (Servus Colonia Alpina), but it wasn’t very busy today, certainly not at 14:30.  We split an appetizer that was a spread of brie, paprika, red onions and some other stuff.  Crystal got a crispy half duck, and Justin got a pork neck steak.  We each got a couple of beers, and we finished with some cherry schnapps.

After “lunch” we went back to the house since Crystal had a Hungarian lesson at 17:00.  While she took her lesson with Janka, Justin did some German lessons on Duolingo, and also checked out some of our photos and videos.  After Crystal’s class ended, we made the final arrangements for a tour the next day with the local guide Marcel.  We decided to spend the evening looking for something Crystal had heard about on a podcast, and seen as well on Atlas Obscura, a reference to the Edelweiss Pirates, which was a nazi resistance group in Cologne.  She saw that there was a mural and plaque to them in Cologne, to the west of Old Town.  We started walking west, and stopped for a bit to get some of the apple gin punsch at the Angel Market.  Continuing west, we ended up at yet another market, the Nikolausmarket at Rudolfplatz.  We didn’t spend much time at this market, we basically just walked through it on the way west.

The neighborhood changed quite a bit after we passed the Hohenzollernring, as it became much more local and much less touristy.  We searched for any local bars that looked interesting, but didn’t see anything obvious.  Soon thereafter we were in a giant park, and we walked along the perimeter towards the Edelweiss Pirate address.  We found the spot, but there was nothing that looked remotely like what we were looking for.  We shrugged it off, and told ourselves we needed the exercise.  From there we walked to a Christmas Market at the Stadtgarten, which was one that Marcel had recommended.  This market was pretty packed, and full of locals, mostly young folks.  It wasn’t our favorite, both because of the crowds and also the amount of people smoking, but it was still nice, and it was also nice to get an idea of what the non-touristy parts of the city are like.  From the Stadtgarten we walked back east (probably southeast, actually), and ended up at the Angel Market again, just before closing.  If we were going to take a wrong path, it was a good place to end up unplanned.  Back at the house, we tried to find what was up with the Edelweiss Pirate stuff.  From our own research (we had to change Google settings to allow us to see all the German results), plus some messages Marcel separately sent us, we determined the correct location was on an underpass of Venloer Street, a little further west than we’d ventured.  We enjoyed the mustard schnapps (not much of a hint of mustard, by the way), and then went to sleep just after midnight (Justin) and a little later than that (Crystal).

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