Here we are, once again. In Germland.
Yeah, I finally got off my ever expanding arse and decided to pay a visit to my paternal relations in Cologne, old Grandma, Aunty and lil’ cuz. My consciousness was getting the better of me, haven’t seen the buggers in almost two years, so I took some time off work, within the time frame of my obligatory spring vacation, booked the tickets, and kissed my sulky girlfriend goodbye.
I spent my last day at work in sweet, sweet anticipation. Whistling show tunes and juggling office supplies, to great annoyance of my co-workers who were not equally blessed with a vacation in an exotic foreign location free from tender nagging of a loving spouse. And as the clock struck 3pm, my dad picked me up from the office (hey, beats having to pay for a cab) and dropped me off at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. He did extract a price though. He loaded me up with 4 kilograms of salted salmon and about a cubic meter’s worth of sweaters, blazers, jumpers and bathrobes, still sporting their price tags (and in some cases theft alarms…). After that I could no longer claim that my backpack, that now looked like it was stuffed with pillows, was a carry-on piece, so had to check it into the cargo bay, which doomed me to an hour of baggage carousel watching when I eventually got to Düsseldorf.
So yeah, got thru the security check without even a pat-down (which was a bit of a disappointment, as the security officer was a comely wench, for once), and hit the bar. It’s been a few months since I last flew, so I was a little worried on how it’d go (I used to have a debilitating, very limiting fear of flying), and decided to tank up on Dutch courage in order to insure smooth going. But once I got on the plane, an Air Berlin 737-700, it was like riding a bus. I was hemmed in by a couple of abominable ham-beasts, but managed to switch my window seat to aisle after take-off, so that was fine. I enjoyed the flight immensely, playing my DSl for a bit, and reading Stardust on Kendal the Kindle for the rest of the trip.
Once I landed in Düsseldorf I took a train to Cologne, a 40min ride. The train ticket cost an atrocious 25e, but I got myself a 10e local version and decided to pretend to be a semi-retarded foreigner, thick & aggressive Russian accent and all (works every time), in case I got into a spot of trouble with the conductor. He never came.
My relatives greeted me in a wonderfully expansive Judeo-Russian style that I’ve come to miss. Liters of vodka, mayonnaise-based salads, radishes, aubergine paste, pelmenis… Thank God that food was plentiful, otherwise I’d have been absolutely bricked by midnight, since I did have a couple of Johny Walkers under my belt already. I finally managed to excuse myself from the table at 2am, greatly disappointing my aunt, who was knocking back shots of vodka with great relish and was showing no signs of slowing down. She does, after all, top the scales at around 130kg… Making my chubby 82kg frame look positively athletic.
So this morning I got up, valiantly resisted granny’s attempts at overfeeding me first thing in the morning, and went off for a walk along the Rhein into the center of Köln. Despite this being my umpteenth visit to Köln I never properly took the time to take a leisurely, meandering stroll along the banks of that historic river, something I decided to thoroughly remedy this time around, creaking joints and jiggling flab be damned.
Ha, you thought I’d describe my trek in great detail, din’t ya? No. I won’t bore you to tears. I’ll save that for later. I did inadvertently end up in the middle of a large (a cop I questioned said that there were well over 10000 participants) anti-nuclear demonstration on my way to the cathedral, that was fun and worth a few snaps. As for the rest of it, well, let us just say that I ended up at an Irish pub downtown, randomly chosen somewhere in the back streets, a place that had a friendly waiterger1 and free wifi along with cheap, cold Kölsch. An hour later, as I type this, I am surrounded by a an incredibly noisy throng of expats watching the England-Wales football game. I am quite a local curiosity, typing this up while being fried by a dozen curious gazes. Hope I don’t get a friendly beating culminating with my netbook being shoved where the sun don’t shine for not standing up to the English anthem… That might have been a fatal mistake.
Anyway, time for me to wrap it up and head home. Over and out.