By now it’s pretty obvious where the term Eau de Cologne originated from. I’d never thought about it so now it’d be really cool to walk the streets of this old city — this city that was famous not only for its pilgrims that came to the cathedral, it’s fragrantly famous as the city that invented the celebrated 4711 brand of perfumed toilet water, and one that has stood the test of time, too.
But first, I had to satisfy my curiosity – there was one other cycle tourer in the campsite that I had to meet. What was fascinating wasn’t his tent, which was rather biggish for a cycle-tourer, but an aluminum trailer box outside the tent.
It turned out to be an Italian who had been on the road for quite while and who, according to him, will continue to be for as long as he can possibly hack it. In his unmistakably Italian accent, he told his story. He used to travel around in a mobile home but later gave it up for 2 wheels (still 4, if you count the trailer). And how does he finance his travels?
‘Let me show you’ he said and, despite my protestations that his breakfast was all laid out on the trailer box top, began to move his breakfast to the side and opened it up to show me a beautiful hand-made candle chandelier made out of wire. It was an artistic sculpture, of course, and this guy was pretty good. In fact, he told me he would be here in Cologne for a month because he had been commissioned to produce his wire sculptures for a Christmas shop in the city (believe me, there are such establishments, I had already seen a few).
I had nothing but admiration for this man. ‘When I need more money, I just make my sculptures and sell them,’ he explained very matter-of-factly. Well, if that’s not living your dream, I don’t know what is. More power to you, cycle-dude-with-a-trailer-box traveling the world.
Next — to the bridge of locks and across to the city of Cologne.
- While I was riding along the promenade next to the river, one of the coolest things on wheels whizzed past me with the unmistakable sound of spinning cranks, accompanied by raucous laughter. The BierBike! When you get on, you must pedal for your beer. There’s a driver and beer is served while you burn away calories. Who needs exercise bikes when you can go for a spin on a Bierbike without feeling guilty? Can’t say much for the guy in seat no. 1 though. I’ll bet he’s just freewheeling.
I had been looking at my schedule and I’ve just realized that I have too ambitious an itinerary. Only one thing to do — take a train to the Dutch border at Emmerich and from there, to Arnhem and Amsterdam. To the train station then, which was just next door to the cathedral.
At the station, there was a girl near the machines and her job seemed to be providing assistance where needed. I obviously needed help so she very kindly and patiently worked it out on the screen where I wanted to go and how much it would cost. ‘What about my bicycle?’ I asked. ‘You have to buy a ticket for that, too’ she replied and proceeded to compute the total cost which came up to 20 Euros – 16 for me and 4 for my Surly. ‘Ok, Thank you very much. Now I need to decide which train I should take.’
7am? Too early and too cold at that hour to be packing up. 8am? Still too rush. 9.30 seemed to be the best bet so I went back to where the ticket-machine-challenged humans queued to buy my ticket.
Tomorrow, I head for Netherlands!