Wednesday, January 04, 2012

3 Cities- 1 Day

Dec 31st is more commonly referred to as New Years Eve, the last day of the old year where friends and family celebrate and bring in the new. For Mariko and I its usually more of a night of relaxing and one of the few times that we go to bed before midnight.... not sure why, we just usually do. This year was different for us. We had just finished our Christmas trip to Sweden plus the extension to Baden-Baden and we we now on our way to bring in the new year with some of our Fulbright friends.

The Düssel river
We first stopped in Düsseldorf to pick up Mary. Though since Mariko and I had never been to the city she was kind enough to give us a small 3 hour tour of the city. We saw the Düssel River, which is where the city gets its name from (though people outside the Düsseldorf area are rarely aware of this). Also on the list of attractions was the Rhein River, Königsallee (Rodeo Dr. of Germany), the RheinTurm (obscurred by fog) and the city Rathaus. It was a lovely little city and I wouldn't be opposed to return
The Rhein River
and see more of it... preferably when there is less fog so we can actually see things. With Mary in tow we were soon back on the tracks and headed for our next stop: Bonn!

A short one hour train ride later and we were in Bonn. Home of Haribo gummi candies and more importantly (to us anyways) our friend Julian. We arrived in Bonn and made our way back to Julian's apartment (where we would be spending the night)... sadly it was rather dark out and negated any site seeing that we may have done. Luckily it was dinner time once we arrived!! We were rather hungry as it is difficult to eat while traveling on trains all day. After a nice dinner by our gracious host and some Glee (not my choice) we gathered up and headed off to the next stop: Köln!

Fireworks in front of the Köln Cathedral
The stations was full of people on their way to Köln, and nearly all of them drunk, drinking or both (at least they weren't driving). According to Julian there was going to be fireworks along the Rhein river, so that was where we were headed. The majority of the people got off at the Main train station, so we elected to get off at the station across the river.... crowds are rarely fun. Both banks o the Rhein were crowded with people, and nearly everyone there had brought their own fireworks and were lighting them off at random times. Being an hour early I was worried that we may have been slightly bored, but there were plenty of fireworks for me to take pictures of.  We were all surprised to see that there was no rules or law about the fireworks... you buy them, light them and ooh and ahh all you want.

Even without a watch you could tell when Midnight was approaching (just not when it actually arrived) because the sky got more and more full of fireworks. I think as it was almost Midnight it hit me that the fireworks that we would be seeing were not put on by the city or performed by professional.... every single firework during the "finale" was done by people who had brought their own.  I video taped a minute worth of the fireworks right near Midnight:

We left shortly after Midnight.... not wanting to get caught too much in the crush of bodies that would soon be leaving the Köln area. Luckily it looked like most of the people leaving were headed in the opposite direction as us. But of course just about everyone was drunk on the train back.... Julian and I even had a interesting conversation with a drunk German about where in Bonn Julian lived. One nice thing about taking the train (other than not having to deal with drivers) was that there was security all over the place.

Church in Bonn
Luckily Julian has plenty of room, since there were three of us staying there that night (Mariko and I on the floor and Mary on the couch). The new year dawn sooner than I would have liked (me being the last one awake... Julian was the first as he went jogging). Julian provided a quick tour around Bonn as we made our way back to the train station (Mariko and I have been spending way too much time in train stations recently).

Finally after nearly 2 weeks of traveling Mariko and I were on our way home! Sunday night was a relaxing night after being away for so long. We definitely had an amazing time during our vacation, but there is always something to be said for coming home afterwards. And good thing Mariko doesn't have to go back to work for one more week, as it gives her time to recuperate from our fun traveling.

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