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.
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.
I had been looking at my schedule and I’ve just realized that I have too ambitious an itinerary. Only one thing to do now — 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!