Another great two days of visiting and learning. Tod and Britta met us at Siegburg stop to get us to their house about 10 kilometers away. Stopped at ticket station as had to get train tickets to Andermatt a minimum of 24 hours ahead of time and with bicycles cannot do online. There was a great schedule leaving at 8am getting into Andermatt at 5 pm but alas no room for bicycles, which require a reservation also, as bicycle space is limited. Have to take the regional as the high speed (ICE) does not take bikes. Thus we are leaving at 6 minutes after midnight arriving Basel, Switzerland at 6:47, changing trains to Göschenen and depart at 7:03 arriving 10:47, changing again to depart at 10:53, arriving at Andermatt at 11:06. So we are earlier and can explore Andermatt, or if we miss the last train, just ride our bikes there. And the ticket was 50€ cheaper than the day train, although it is at night.
As noted earlier, I think, we met Tod and Britta in Anchorage many years ago. He works as a FedEx pilot and is based out of Anchorage, they and their two boys Hatcher and Everet took a four year assignment here in Germany. They return to Anchorage next summer, so if we wanted someone to visit this was the year. We met via biking and they are loaning us their very sweet bikes for this trip, hence our travels north to here then return south to begin the ride.
But our visit here has been brief Todd showing us the bikes and general greetings then he departed via train for Basel and work for some days before returning home.
There home is great and I am enjoying the energy efficiency of German homes. The windows seem good 3-4 panes thick and open easily and efficiently. Both houses we have seen have ceiling windows and open for ventilation without leaking rain. And it has rained past two days. The toilets are water saving sometimes so much one must always flush as there is not enough water to dilute the urine and it quickly begins to smell. Some toilets you push to start the push to stop the flow the task is complete. None of this 4-6 liters to flush 200 mil liters. And like Alaska no air conditioning. Although I guess it was hot earlier this summer. But good ventilation if needed.
Then yesterday the boys left about 7 riding bikes to school and Jeanne, Britta, and I took train into Köln, a trip of 1o minutes for the 15 kilometers. The train station is next to the cathedral which is just as impressive as when we were here 10 years ago. The cathedral is huge being approximately 80 meters in height and covers a large space. As I have said before I am amazed people spend so much time and money building these artifacts of religion, but then Günter says that is or was the culture. This cathedral took nearly two hundred years to build.
And walking about Köln I learned there are little Star of David’s on the sidewalks to mark where someone was removed during WWII. We found three marking their removal in August of 1943 and deaths on August 7 of 1943. Sobering.
But the point of our trip was to visit Jeanne’s cousins daughter Rachel. She Took German in high school near St. Louis and came to Germany for one year to complete her German education. During that year she fell in love with Germany and fell in love with her futures husband. She now has two children here in Köln. Her mother MaryAnn is visiting her from the states so it was a treat to visit. We met for brunch at a great little restaurant spending nearly three hours there.
A delightful walk back to train station passin by the corner where the first perfumes were made in the 1700’s. I learned when one is walking in a crowd with an umbrella one must not only watch oneself but match the height of the umbrella to others as they cannot all fit at the same level. Little things one learns through life.
Today a walk back from town after Britta dropped us off at grocery story where we perused the various German foods, and got some snacks for the night train. Back at the house and got the bikes ready having one of the tires spring a leak an hour after pumping it up, and another with a slow leak at the valve. Both easily fixed.
A nap as still finding ourselves jet lagged. Every day we think that is it, but we seem to be exhausted more easily than usual. Has been 5 days now.
But tomorrow we begin although theoretically no riding except practice. Jeanne worried about the pass, a climb of 800 meters. You can read her blog for comparison at Riding the Rhine with Jeanne. Perhaps an interesting contrast to my writing.
Off we go