Monday, February 14, 2011


A week ago we decided to take our first train trip.  We thought we would start off small since we have never ridden the trains before and go to Cologne, Germany for the day.  Getting there was a breeze…we only had to walk two blocks to the train station from our home, we didn’t have to fight traffic, or worry about parking…it was a stress free trip.

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When we got there, we had lunch and then went across the plaza from the train station and visited the famous Cologne Cathedral.  It was huge!

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The architecture inside was amazing to see as well…

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One of the neat features of this cathedral is that they let you (with a small fee) climb these stairs to the top of the tallest spire.  I don’t think I realized how many stairs that was going to be or how out of shape I have really become.  It was an endless, narrow, spiral, cement staircase that went almost to the top and then you get on some metal, flimsy feeling stairs for the rest of the way.  We had to take a few breaks along the way for Ethan and I to make it to the top.  We found out from this that apparently he’s a little nervous of heights, but with a lot of coaxing he made it the whole way.  The view from the top made the pain of it worth it as well.

This is room where the large church bells were.  You can see one of them hanging behind James and Ethan.


Here are the flimsy stairs that made Ethan really nervous, but it was the home stretch at this point.

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Once at the top you could walk around the whole spire and see the city from all sides.  It was a beautiful sight.

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We thought it was a little interesting that outside of the Cathedral there were Egyptian protestors.  I’m not sure what they thought they would accomplish from all of the way over here in Germany.

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After our huge workout at the cathedral we decided to reward ourselves by visiting the chocolate museum/factory.  They showed us how the chocolate is made and even let us sample some.  Then, of course, we bought three different slices of cake for the trip home and a bag of chocolate.  The cake was delicious, but the chocolate was definitely over priced.

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At this point you might be wondering why I titled this very long post “Brussels?”

Well, we had such a wonderful, relaxed, smooth day that we knew it was too good to be true…

After the chocolate museum, we had dinner (and I had the most wonderful baked potato I have ever eaten) and then headed back to the train station to go home.  While we were waiting for our train to come, we heard over the intercom, that our train was going to be 5-10 minutes late.  About 5 minutes after our train was supposed to get there a train finally comes and we get on.  I notice as we get on that people are bringing suitcases on with them and the train is amazingly comfortable.  Our previous trains that day were similar to a run down city bus.  This train is a bit closer to first class on an airplane.  Both of these things should have given us a heads up.  While we were sitting there waiting for the train to leave, I notice the sign up front listing some cities and our city we were supposed to be heading to was not listed.  At this point I start to question it and then realized that we are on the wrong train.  I convince James and Ethan that we need to get off and we start heading towards the door and it closes right in front of me.  I try pushing the button to open it, but it won’t.  We are stuck and the train starts moving!  Now we are really panicking (ok mostly me).  Over the intercom we hear something about going to Brussels.  We realize we are on a high speed train headed to another country.  This may seem exciting to most, but we don’t have our passports with us, we don’t have the proper tickets for this train (which could mean jail time and a huge fee), we have 10 euros in our pocket and at this point it is almost 10 o’clock at night…

To make a long story short, this train had come in on the wrong track and being our first day of the train system, we didn’t realize this.  Luckily the conductor was very understanding and only a few people actually outwardly laughed at us.  After a few more train changes and a long, expensive cab ride home, we made it back to Eltville at 1:30 in the morning.

Believe it or not, we had a great experience on the trains and can’t wait to try it again.  However, it was a very expensive lesson we had to learn.

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