Our short one-night stay in Cologne was intended to be a resting period between the possible rigours of the cycle trip and our final European destination, Amsterdam. I had been to Cologne several times in the past few years and Garry thought he might have been there many years ago.
It was Saturday and the city was abuzz with tourists, football supporter crowds (supporting either the local team or the visitors), and with groups of young people on bucks and hens party excursions. I don’t understand all the details of the latter groups, but it appears to involved a themed t-shirt uniform, a costume outfit for the prospective bride or groom, lots of alcohol and lots of noise from singing and chanting. And it’s much the same for the football crowds too. All pretty harmless, and no great nuisance to others.
On Saturday night we dined and drank at the Fruh brewhouse and restaurant, not far from the Cathedral. It’s very convivial, very German, very good fun and very satisfying in all respects. It’s currently the white asparagus harvesting season in Germany, so we each had White Asparagus with Veal Meatballs and béarnaise sauce, and boiled potatoes with melted butter. And a couple of beers each. It was great!!
We stayed at the Ibis Hotel attached to the main railway station, and located adjacent to the Dom (the Cathedral). It’s a great location, so close to everything, and so convenient for travellers.
On Sunday morning, we travelled by German Inter-City Express train to Amsterdam Central. The trip was OK, about half an hour late arriving in Amsterdam and with no ticket control for most of the journey. We don’t mind paying train fares, but we object when freeloaders take advantage of poor train management to travel for free (and in First Class!). Occasionally there can be a Magic Moment when the interlopers get turfed out, but it is not a frequent-enough event.
In Amsterdam, it was a five minute walk from the Central station to our rooms at the Accor M Collection Convent Hotel. The hotel is in a group of three former houses, including a former convent, restored, modernised and converted into a four star hotel. The rooms have a traditional look to them, but include all the usual modern hotel features. Unlike some old houses converted to hotels where I have stayed in the distant past in Amsterdam, there are no narrow and steep staircases, tiny rooms and antique bathroom fittings (especially the old fashioned Dutch toilets, with the ‘inspection platform’ inside them).
We returned to the Hotel late yesterday afternoon to find a gift from the management for my Platinum level Accor Club membership – a half bottle of French Champagne (Laurent Perrier) on ice with two glasses, some chocolates and other assorted goodies. Very nice and unexpected. Of course, we three made short work of the bubbly very soon afterwards.
I’ll end this blog update here, and the next posting can include details of our visit today (Monday) to the tulip gardens and displays at Keukenhof, about 25km out of Amsterdam.