Taking the Scenic Route

Leaving Cologne, The Autobahn, Part II

18th August 2008

Leaving Cologne, The Autobahn, Part II

As we were finding the highway, I saw this out my window

The navigation system, again, didn’t really know where we were for a while and kept trying to get us to turn into buildings. Eventually, on one of the more major roads, it started working correctly.

Over the Rhine

And this made me feel right at home.  (except that the driver had to be completely insane to drive a long hayrack, pulled by a tractor, through the city of Koln)

Once again Ms. Navigation Lady was leading us back to Attendorn on the curvy countryside roads. They are lovely, but we were hoping to get back there before dark, and really didn’t want to go down hairpin turns at night, so we pulled over to see if there was another setting that would direct us back to the autobaun instead of through the countryside. After flipping through the settings, we guessed that “Fast Route” might be what we need. After some anxious minutes trying to follow where it was taking us on the map, it finally lead us back to the Autobaun and we were off.

The sun was behind us and the road stretched out in front of us and it was fun. Great weather, great driving. Not so great navigation system. As we neared the intersection that would lead us on another short jaunt on a different autobahn highway before turning off towards Attendorn, the navigation lady told us to “Prepare to stay in the left lane in 300 meters”, (is she worried we will ignore her again and giving us a bigger warning now?), “…200 meters”, then “Stay in the left lane” and we watch what we thought was the exit go by on the right hand side. Just as we wiz pass the only exit, she insists “Turn Right NOW”. Um, lady, we are in the left lane, and the only thing to the right is through the barriers, off the bridge and down the hill. Not gonna happen. She then starts her “New Route, Make a U-Turn” in her sing songy voice again. She keeps repeating it to the point Zach and I are laughing as we argue with her that there is no place to turn around. Then she starts with “Off Road….New Route, Make a U-Turn”. Eventually, her meltdown turns to begging us “Off Road, Please Follow Arrow” (little arrows on her screen). More of the “Please follow arrows” and “New Route, Make a U-Turn” in that same sing-songy voice has us laughing so hard we have to slow down.

We find a place to turn around. She seems happier. She is now “Calculating a New Route” and we are back on the highway, cruising along. Pretty soon we are getting the warnings that the turn off is coming, except that when we come upon the exit, it is closed. Navigation lady doesn’t know it’s closed and is throwing another hissy fit. “New Route, Make a U-Turn” (a phrase that is now so stuck in our head that we know Zane is going to pick it up anyway because it is becoming part of our lexicon). She was convinced we were off roading again (clearly, she doesn’t know what off roading actually is, but if she is as autistic as she sounds, she wouldn’t like the dirt much). Nine KMs down the road we can turn around again, and she recalculates again.

This time, as we approach our intersection, when she tells us to “Prepare to stay in the left lane” we tell her where to put it and go into the right lane, get off the exit, and wonder of wonders, are actually able to follow her desperate plea of “Turn Right NOW” when she says it because we ignored her earlier.

She does a good job the rest of the way, except that we don’t follow her directions into the center of town (off roading again, apparently) and after a few more “New Route, Please make a U-Turn) we shut her off. We know where we are going and don’t need her any more.

Up the hill and to the castle festival for our last stop of the day.

(just a note, we are in no way being critical of autstics here…it was just our experience of the sing song repetitive phrases that autistics often have as they are scripting or using delayed echolalia. We could clearly hear Zane’s voice in our heads repeating the exact phrasing she used, and we found joy and humor in it, as only other parents/caregivers of an autist would probably relate to so well)

posted in Attendorn, Autistic Life, Autobahn, Cologne/Koln, Germany, Travel | 1 Comment

18th August 2008

A relaxed walk back to the car

Some more amazing architecture

There was an archelogical dig of an ancient Roman site and an old Synogogue.  It was closed, but surrounded by a glass enclosure.  Too reflective to take a picture, but we stood there for a while and looked in.  As we walked away from it, we traveled down this old Roman road that had been uncovered by the archeologists.

Another pass through the Plaza around the Cathedral

This time we had time to linger in the plaza and soak in the sights a bit more.  The pictures start at the other side of the Cathedral from our first set of pictures.


Kölner Dom bells sounding…

This guy was in the middle of the plaza, at the front of the Cathedral, playng piano.  Earlier, when we were being driven around the surrounding areas we saw a similar type set up on an island in the middle of the street, but couldn’t grab the camera in time to snap a picture.

Sidewalk Chalk artists.  (notice the doggy companion in the suitcase)

Front doors

We think these are cabs, but not sure.  These little bicycle things were all over though.

Living Statues and Street performers

Random Silliness as we left the plaza.  First, a group of guys enthusiastically chanting as they crossed the plaza, second, a bunch of drunk guys chanting as they opened beer.  lol.

posted in Art, Cologne/Koln, Germany, Music, Travel | Comments Off

18th August 2008

The Art Museum

Irony: The Art Museum is one of the only places there are no pictures of.

We truncated short our visit to the Cathedral so that we could get to the Art Museum. We walked to the nearest Museum from the Cathedral, but upon entering, it was obviously the Modern museum. I knew the German-Roman Museum next to it wasn’t where we wanted to either, so asked the guy at the desk, who directed us to the other museum, another 5 minute walk. We booked it as fast as our legs could carry us, despite the blisters starting to really flare on my feet. We got to the museum we wanted, with only 40 minutes to go through the museum. An impossible task, but I knew I might not get a second chance, so we paid the admission and started on the top floor, where the impressionist where, and worked my way down to the first floor, where the earliest works were.

It was, honestly, some of the best 40 minutes of my life. I was so overwhelmed I was wiping back tears as I stood there seeing the paint strokes, the areas with thicker paint, seeing where a brush was lifted, where paint was applied with multiple colors on the brush, and seeing the full masterpieces instead of just the pictures on the pages of my Art books. We saw sculptures of Degas and Rogin, sketches and paintings of Rembrant, and I stood in front of an enourmous water lily painting by Monet. Many of the paintings, including the Monet and Rubens, were out in the open so that you could get up close to them and really see the paint, see the texture of it. If you wanted to, and there were no guards watching, you could have touched them, I mean, you probably wouldn’t want to touch the actual paint, but you could probably touch the canvas if you were overwhelmed and not thinking clearly. Of course there were guards next to the Rubens. There were so many names and painting I was so familiar with, both famouse and not as well known, and it was almost shocking to see them in real life.

We made it down to the first floor, those old Christian Iconic art that was, honestly, something I just “got through” when studying art. It never really held my interest when studying it, and the only images that really stuck in my brain where the ones Monty Python used in his shows. Much to my shock, those pictures had a life in them I never imagined. What looks flat and not particularly intersting in a book, jumps out at you in stunning life when you see them. The gold appeared to be painted with actual gold, so that as you moved, the color subtly shifts. The details really pop, the faces look smooth and photographic almost. I was really taken aback by work that I had so iritably dismissed for so many years.

When the call came over the speakers that the museum would close in 15 minutes, the only thing that pulled me away from them was my desire to look at some of the Rubens again. There were about 3 of them there that had really captured me…huge, enourmouse paintings. Much bigger than I had ever imagined them to be. I stood there and just absorbed them in the short time we had left.

It would take me a week to really, truly, “look” at all the paintings and sculpture. I wish I would have the time, but I am so thankful we just went for it, even at the unmerciful pace. It is a life changing experience to see paintings like that. (at least for me it was. So many years of studying art and it all seemed worth it in those 40 minutes)

posted in Art, Cologne/Koln, Germany, Travel | 1 Comment

18th August 2008

Arriving in Cologne / Koln, finding the Cathedral

Again, pretend the little dots are above the “o” on Koln. I know there is a way to do that, but don’t really want to figure it out right now.

We were told ahead of time to just go to the center of the city and park, and indeed, the big Cathedral we wanted to see and the art museum near it appeared to be at the center of the city on the map, but we didn’t have a specific address, so we set the navigation for “city center”. This means that at some random point, after weaving through insane little streets so choked with people walking that you just have to slowly go to push through the crowds, the navigation lady will abruptly say “you have reached your destination area” and you are left to figure out how to find a parking garage in utter chaos. Needless to say, we did a lot of looping around to try and find parking. Thankfully, the “P” signs look like they do at home, but when there are multiple parking garages, they seem to point every direction, but are hard to spot when you pass by them. lol.

Eventually, we did find one. We had no idea how far away it was, but when we emerged, I saw a Marriot parking garage across the way and insisted we find the Marriot attached to it and ask in there where to go since it was already late in the day and we didn’t have time to waste. That was a fantastic idea. English speaking concierge with maps. A couple of Euros tip, and we were off with a map, with the Cathedral, the Art Museum, and the Marriott all circled. (so we could find our car again, relative to where the Marriott was).

The Train Station

We had to go through the train station to get to the Cathedral and Museums on the other side. That was an adventure in and of itself. We were parched, and saw a McDonalds near the entrance and decided that might be the easiest place to get a drink. Wow. I had never been to a McDonalds like that. People were packed in there like sardines and it took a while to even get the the front of the line. Upon exiting, we did note that the coke is so much better here in Europe because they still use sugar instead of HFCS. Much more refreshing without the aftertaste we are so used to it seemed normal.

The train station was a marval to behold. Just about every race and culture were represented in the shifting crowds. We saw groups of Punk Rock kids looking very much like our friends did in college, we saw lots of people from India, several different styles of Jihabs and Burkas, and every style of Western clothing imaginable. It was a lot like an airport, only much louder and a bit dirtier. I think the train station dwarfed the airport we flew out of in Wichita.

The Cathedral
The Cathedral is what the word “Awesome” was made for. There is no way to truly capture it in pictures. The intricacies of the architecture were beyond overwhelming. At one point, before the Washington Monument and Eiffle Tower were built, it was the tallest building in the world. It has also been under construction, of some kind, since they broke ground for it, and true to the literature, there was scaffolding around it in places, fixing the building.

Inside, this is the view of the “short” length of the cross shaped building

Zach, former alter boy, lit candles for his Roman Catholic Grandparents. They would have loved to see this place.

On to the Art Museum, but we will pass back by the plaza on the way back to the car, so more pictures from the other face of the Cathedral later.

posted in Cologne/Koln, Germany, Travel | Comments Off

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