Driving Deutschland

On May 22 Tilo, mom and I set out from Amsterdam and drove straight (except for a quick police check) across the border into Germany! Our first stop was the city of Cologne, or Köln, as the Germans would say.

When we arrived in Germany it was dark and rainy; a bad omen and common weather for the remainder of our time in the country. Luckily, we managed to find some delicious seafood pasta (and not so delicious stuffed calamari) at an Italian restaurant, one of the few restaurants open at 9pm, which tells you a lot about Cologne.

Highlight of our first night in Cologne!

Highlight of our first night in Cologne!

We spent the next day exploring Cologne starting with a visit to an old SS prison now-museum.  I had read about the museum in researching Cologne and was interested to learn more about Germany’s horrid history.  The visit was extremely impactful, mostly because the prisoners’ writings were still visible on the prison walls.  Many prisoners counted their time in prison on the walls or left messages for their homelands and loved ones.  The prison also housed a courtyard where many of the prisoners were executed.  Museum visitors were free to stand in the courtyard and try to digest what had happened there.

Record of time spent in prison

Record of time spent in prison

Top left is writing of an American soldier who found the prison during WWII

Top left is writing of an American soldier who found the prison during WWII

Hard hitting message on the way to the courtyard

Hard hitting message on the way to the courtyard

After that chilling history lesson, we walked over to Cologne’s most famous sight, the Cologne Dom (or large cathedral). And it was huge! I heard varying accounts on just how huge (largest in Europe, tallest in Germany, etc.) but suffice to say, the beast was impressive.

Cologne Dom!

Cologne Dom!

From there we picked up lunch, walked through the city streets and headed back to the car to drive on.  A few hours later we arrived at a roadside motel an hour outside of Erfurt.  Despite the reputation of roadside motels, this place was beautiful with a big room and the nicest shower I’ve had in months.

The next morning we drove into Erfurt, one of the cutest towns I have stumbled across in Europe.  It reminded me a lot of Holland’s Utrecht with adorable old houses, a big cathedral and water running through the town.  While walking through the town we witnessed four (4!) weddings and the shooting of a music video. So chances are we ended up in the back of someone’s photos/film!

First wedding of the day in front of Erfurt's big church

First wedding of the day in front of Erfurt’s big church

Would you believe this is the set of a rap music video?

Would you believe this is the set of a rap music video?

From Erfurt we kept heading east, with bad Chinese take-away in tow, to Dresden.  Our first move in Dresden was to hide from the rain in Tilo’s apartment while watching Firefly.  After getting our fill of Joss Whedon sci-fi and ensuring the rain clouds had moved on, we ventured into the city for some evening sight-seeing.  Tilo played tour guide and walked us over to the Old Town (fun fact: the Old Town is actually newer than the New Town because it had to be rebuilt after most of it was destroyed during the war).

Walking over to Old Town

Walking over to Old Town

The buildings in Dresden’s Old Town were marvellous to look at.  We caught the end of an outdoor choral performance and walked along the world’s (or maybe just Europe’s?) longest mosaic.  We found another big church (surprise surprise) and even a Canadian restaurant! We ended our evening with Italian food, gelato and fireworks!

BIG mosaic!

BIG mosaic!

We're pretty excited about the Canadian food, eh?

We’re pretty excited about the Canadian food, eh?

BIG church

BIG church

Beautiful Old Town of Dresden

Beautiful Old Town of Dresden

The next morning Tilo showed us around a series of connected courtyards in Dresden.  Each courtyard is decorated with a different theme, like the animal courtyard that had a giraffe on the wall and a buffalo-shaped rock in the middle of a fountain.

Wall in the water-theme courtyard

Wall in the water-theme courtyard

After the tour we ate some leftovers for lunch, packed up our stuff and set off for Berlin where we would spend the next five days.

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