Monthly Archives: October 2011

Well, That Was a Once in a Lifetime Experience.

Saturday night I had the pleasure of visiting downtown Cologne with my co-worker and Serdar and Ugur, two friends of mine from past excursions to this area of Germany.  Frankly, this was probably the best night I’ve ever had over here.  I almost never have the time nor the energy to go out and have fun on these trips.  But, having already decided to sleep in the following day,  we decided to give it a go.  Hit up my Turkish homies and off we went. 
We started by crossing the Rhine River on a truly amazing pedestrian and train bridge.  I included a picture of it in my last post about Cologne.  People come from all over to have locks engraved and then lock them to the chain-link fence that surrounds the train tracks.  It’s kinda like when lovers carve their initials into a picnic table only a shitload cooler.  You can see the sheer quantity of locks on this fence is astonishing.  Every time I’ve been here there have been at least a couple of people looking for, or taking pictures of, their locks.  Really neat, really romantic place.  It’s one of those places where the sum is greater than the whole of the parts.  It’s just a bridge with a fence, some locks and a couple of train tracks on it, but the sentimentality of the place has lent it a life of its own.  And the view aint half bad either.  On my last visit to the place I immedaitely knew I’d be getting a lock and putting in on there myself.  Easier said than done out here, it took some help from a good friend of mine to find a locksmith, buy a padlock, and get it engraved with what I wanted, but so worth it.  After throwing my (our) lock on there, tradition dictates that I had to throw the key into the Rhine.  Before tossing it, I couldn’t help but linger there for a moment or five just taking it all in.  The pictures below ought to do it some justice.  Really makes me wonder what would’ve happened if someone had removed the very first lock placed here….  And now I can say there’s a lock representing myself and a beautiful girl from Kenucky on there too.   Pretty damn cool.   
We continued on to the Kolner Dom, because one can’t visit Cologne (Koln) for any reason and not see this place.  We met up with Serdar and Ugur and got an awesome steak dinner and a few beers.  After taking a picture or forty of the Dom, we meandered down to the Rhine.  At river’s edge, we definitely did NOT smoke a joint, like at all.  No way.  Right up there with the coolest shit I’ve never done…  After not doing that, we wandered for several miles along the Rhine shooting the breeze about everything and nothing.  The range of topics included everything from prostitution houses to foreign policy, George W. Bush, Obama, Obamacare (go figure, the rest of the world is astonished that attempting to pass universal health care was an unpopular move, but I digress) and the differences between being Turkish and American in Germany (Serdar and Ugur are of Turskish descent).  You name it, we talked about it.   
It was amazing to have a good conversation with good people out here.  The language barrier makes this quite a rarity.  Most Germans speak some English, but not like have a deep conversation with them English.  My conversations generally consist of awkwardly checking into a hotel or ordering a big mac.  I so often forget that people are people wherever you go.  And in general, people are good and it’s fun to get their perspective on life.  Especially 5,000 miles from home.  And frankly, strolling along the Rhine not smoking a joint and discussing foreign policy with a couple of Turkish dudes is something I’m never gonna have the opportunity to not do again. 
After a few hours of this, and several more photo ops, we parted ways and started back to the hotel.  At this point, it occurred to Kevin and myself that we were driving an $80,000 BMW.  In Germany.  And that the Audobahn is also in Germany.  And that we should go drive really, really fast.  So, we did.  We cranked up “The Distance” by Cake about as loud as we could stand (I can’t think of a better driving really, really fast song) and started heading towards Dusseldorf .  We drove about 40 miles, hit 135 mph on a virtually deserted highway, and satisfied with our respective adrenaline rushes, decided to head back home. 
Seriously, like the best night ever.  For once, thousands of miles from home on a Saturday night for a service call for work, a Saturday night where just about everyone was out partying for Halloween no less,  I DIDN’T feel like life was passing me by.  I felt like I was living life to the fullest, and life was passing everyone else by.  I was happy, like legit, straight up happy. 
And I can say, in earnest, that I had a once in a life time experience.  I mean how many times have you wandered through Cologne, had a really good dinner with good friends, not smoked a joint while strolling along the Rhine, and then culminated the evening by driving better than 130 miles an hour on the Audobahn in a crazy expensive Beamer?  I bet one less time than I have. 
And…  here’s the pictures from the evening.  Have a look.

Strolling into Cologne. Crossing the bridge over the Rhine. This is, rather obviously, the bridge that is covered in locks engraved with lovers' sentiments to one another. As you can see they're absolutely countless.

And as of Saturday night, I've made an addition.

A big fountain in front of the Kolner Dom. My Turkish buddy there on the right.

Two of my travelling companions and myself standing in front of quite possibly the most breath-taking structure I've ever seen.

Yes, this is the 3rd time I've published pics of this place. I'm cool with it.

The Turks. Good guys.

Place is unreal.

The train station.

Ok, this is quite possibly my favorite shot I've taken here, and that's saying something. One of the most serene and romantic places I can imagine.

The view from the lock bridge. Don't know what it's called, so it's the lock bridge.

Leaving town for the evening. Awesome night.

 Bed time.  Off to Brussels in the AM.

-B. Littleton


Filed under The Sights

An Evening In Nuremberg

So the last three days I’ve worked better than sun-up to sun-down.  As my co-worker put it, we’ve been working dark out to dark out.  Our tourism days (well, day) are behind us.  But, had a pretty sweet afternoon on Sunday; explored the castle outlined in my last post, and then spent a chilly autumn afternoon and evening wandering around Nuremburg.  Unfortunately, I was too spent and too uninformed to do much other than wander aimlessly, or to get any kind of impression of the place…  But, as always, the shutter was snapping away…  I’m too tired to say stuff, so here’s some pictures.

This is right by where we parked the car... Some huge church...

A bike taxi... Or something... Either way, I want a ride...

The spire in the town square.

Pretty sweet little facade there....

Like this shot. Some other impressive church, only this time reflected in the back of a VW. How quintessentially German.

A gargoyle on that there church.

The streets of downtown.

Pretty crowded on a Sunday. Lot's of people wandering to and fro.

Yet another gorgeous church. They were everywhere. Really pretty.

Ha. As with most stuff I see out here, I have no idea what this is, but that's a pretty sweet juxtaposition. Besides, I'm pretty sure Jesus would wear Armani.


Apparently, we were in town for the annual week-long fish fry. Who knew?

A turret in the walls that surround the inner city.

How they pass that off as an actual street is completely beyond me.

A skate park right in between the two tiers of walls they have. Pretty cool.

Pretty. View strolling along on top the inner wall.

And last not but not least, The I'm-in-a-bad-ass-old-city-in-Europe river shot.

That’ll be all for this evening.  I’m worn out.  Stay tuned.

-B. Littleton


Filed under The Sights, The Sights of Europe

The Ruins of the Rothenberg Fortress

Tonight I sit sipping a pils in the hotel bar at the Best Western in Leverkusen, Germany.  So far it’s descent.  The hotel is old, and pretty worn, but I get the feeling it was the shit in 1978.  During the day today I spent a good 9 hours learning how to wear my personal protective equipment in Germany (because apparently hard hats and boots work differently over here).  Wasn’t a horribly stimulating way to spend a day in Germany. 

Yesterday however, my co-worker and I spent the afternoon exploring the sights and sounds of  Nurenberg.  Believe it or not that was substantially more fun than watching a power-point on scaffolding and fork-lifts.  The first place on our little mini-tour was the Rothenberg Fortress ruins.  Of course this little visit followed the protocol of all my company-sponsored tourism: I knew nothing of the area or what I would go see until I arrived at my hotel that morning and Googled it, we had half a day to see everything we wanted to see, we got pretty damn lost on the way and ended up on some dude’s farm, and we saw what we wanted to see on a few hours of sleep stolen on our trans-Atlantic flight. 

But of all the places to go for a sleepwalk, this place was pretty damn cool.  It’s not every day one gets to explore a Medieval castle in the states, or any day now that I think about it.  We had to take a guided tour to gain access to the ruins, and of course the tour guide spoke the Deutsch, so while he seemed quite informative, and based on the reactions of our fellow explorers, he was downright knee-slappingly funny by German standards, he wasn’t horribly helpful to either of us. 

Apparently, this place doesn’t so much as have an English Wikipedia entry, and it seems Wordpress doesn’t like that I’m in Germany so it won’t let me put an actual link up in here.  So if you want to read a little about this place, I guess copy and paste this link into your browser 2004 style:

While I know next to nothing about the place, I did take a crapload of pictures, so, have a look. 

The outer walls.

And in we go...

What’s left of some of the inner walls… This place must’ve been a sight in its heyday

Our tour guide, woulda been really cool to understand a lick of what he said about the place...

Up on top of the fortress, which is located on top of a hill. It was impressively expansive up here, and downright cold.

The view from up top. The little town of Schnaittach off in the distance there.

More of the inner walls on top the fortress. Place was too big to do it any justice...

Descending into the innards of the fort... Kevin and his long blonde locks are doing their best to fit in around here.

Down we go.

Deep inside the annals of the fort. It was seriously dark and gloomy in there. The new camera can tell it's dark and leaves the shutter open longer, so the pictures are deceptively bright.

Ok... So this was either a joke, or they had some seriously daunting rodents in this place. That's a full-blown wagon wheel next to it....

Cannon. I definitely wouldn't have enjoyed trying to conquer this place...

I bet getting stabbed by one of these would be pretty fun.

More walls, and the sun if I'm not mistaken.

Um... Walls.

Do me a solid and click on this one so you can see the full-sized image. You can clearly see that this little lantern was made in China. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's not original.

Lastly, what I'm guessing is an artist's rendering of what this place looked like in it's full splendor. Sucks to be the French.

Well, I’m calling it a night.  Stay tuned.  Pictures of Nuremberg proper and my reflections on the Audobahn coming soon. 
-B. Littleton

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Filed under The Sights