In case you’re curious, here’s a little report on our roadtrip to Germany (via a Belgium waffle tour). Our destination was Cologne. Fun fact: in German the city is called Köln. Which reminds me, do you remember that phase, I think it was the early nineties, where hip new startups would add two dots over any random vowel in their company name because those two dots are so darn cool? I’m glad that phase is over, but I still think the two dots are awesome.

For this report, I think I’ll start backwards. The very last thing we did, before we jumped in the van to drive home, was add a lock to the the Hohenzollern bridge, which spans the river Rhine.

From what I understand, the locks are for lovers. They scratch their names into the locks (or have them engraved) and then add the lock to the bridge. But we adapted the tradition for our family, since all the kids wanted in on it too. Ben Blair scratched a B into our little red lock. Then we each took turns holding the lock and making a wish for 2012. Then we attached it to the bridge.

And then, since we’re no good at secrets, on the drive home, every one shared their wishes. : ) We all felt like it was a wonderful way to mark the new year.

Other things we loved about our visit to Cologne:

– Climbing to the top of the Dom Cathedral. 509 steps! Ben Blair and I took turns carrying June. We heard the Dom is the 2nd largest cathedral in Europe, and truly, it was massive. (Does anyone know what the biggest is? Fill us in, please.)

– Buying Cologne in Cologne. Bottles of the “Eau de Cologne No 4711” were sold in every touristy spot. I have no idea if Cologne actually originated in Cologne, but we got a kick out of buying a bottle anyway.

– Seeing lots of Picassos, and one of my favorite cut-paper works by Matisse, at Museum Ludwig. And watching Oscar accurately point out any art that qualified as “cubism”.

– Eating dinner at Früh am Dom, the local touristy beer hall that was just right for our crazy family.

– Touring the Chocolate Museum — which included dipping wafers in their famous chocolate fountain and enjoying mugs of incredible hot cocoa at the museum café.

– Yummy German food! Schnitzel and potatoes at every meal. Hearty breakfasts. Some kind of pastry called Butter Cake that was so yummy we went back to the bakery for more as soon as we’d had one bite. I loved the food. I thought it felt especially perfect for a winter trip.

– Lots of reviews on travel sites said the Cologne Christmas Markets are the best in Europe. Bummer for us, they closed on December 23rd and we didn’t arrive till the 27th, so we missed them. But they were being taken down on the 28th and we got a glimpse of how charming they must be. Made me want to make a goal of spending a future Christmas there.

– People were so friendly and kind — and broke into English as soon as we opened our mouths — very helpful!

– I think the thing I found most charming, is that every where we ate in Germany, we were served drinks in happy little bottles. Water, soda, juice (I assume beer too). I loved that! It made me smile every time the bottles arrived on our table.

Here’s a little slideshow of our adventures in Germany (click prev/next):


Germany has so much to see and I realize we only had a peek of one (terrific) city, but we sure loved our trip. How about you? Have you ever been to Germany? Which part was your favorite?