For once, a trip that doesn’t start with trailing out to Schiphol. Because we’re travelling the civilised way: by train.
It does mean taking a tram through the city centre. Luckily it isn’t too crowded. Before going to our platform, we pick up a copy of the Radio Times. Though finding the newsagent is fun. It’s in one of the new tunnels under the platforms. But they all look the same. Which is the right one?
“Look, there’s an AKO there, Dolores.”
“Do they sell the Radio Times?”
“Pretty sure they do.”
I’m right. As always. Though we have to go through the ticket barrier to get there. Amsterdam Centraal is now a closed station. It’s slightly tricky for us because we’re both on one ticket. I have to shuffle quickly through behind Dolores.
Platform 2, we need. And our carriage is right down the end of the platform. Or at least will be when it arrives. There’s a loud mob waiting at that spot. Great.
“I hope they’re not in our carriage.” Dolores remarks.
They are. Despite being a quiet carriage, it’s like sitting in a pub, as they shout at each other across the seats. It’s a works outing that has reserved most of the seats in the carriage. Annoyingly, they’re going as far as we are.
Luckily I’ve some train beer to distract me. Three bottles of Guinness Special Export. A lovely drop it is, too.
You may have wondered why I wasn’t at the Borefts Festival. It’s because I’m off to Cologne instead. I would have gone for a Saturday of geeking out in Bodegraven. Except we’re going to Cologne to meet Dolores’s sister, whose birthday it is tomorrow.
Reading the paper is doing a great job of zoning out the annoying chatter. As does the roastiness of the Guinness.
The journey takes 2 hours 45 minutes. Which isn’t too bad. And it’s on time.
It’s too early to check into our hotel. Instead we check Früh out. Which is handily close to our hotel. And not too far from the station. That’s important, because Dolores has to go back there to pick up her sister and partner.
While we’re waiting for the hour or so before their train arrives, I get stuck into some food. A Boockwurst and potato salad. Nice, but a bit pricey.
While she’s gone, I shovel down multiple thimbles of Kölsch. The waiter keeps me well supplied, but the glasses remain frustratingly small. One good gulp and they’re all but empty. II do like Früh Kölsch when it’s served Bayerischer Anstich. Delicate, subtle, refreshing and eminently drinkable.
Cologne is much more expensive than 10 years ago. And seems to be getting worse. Way more expensive than Berlin, surprisingly. I suppose that I’ve been spoilt by all my time in rural Franconia. Where a half litre is under 2 euros and no meal costs more than ten.
Fed and watered (well, beered) we adjourn to our hotel to check in. It’s right at the start of Hohestrasse, literally 50 metres from Früh. Not the fanciest of places. But we do have a balcony with a view of the Dom.
After a little rest, we head off to Rewe. That’s supermarket. Dolores wants to pick up a few things. While we’re there, I buy a six pack of Malzmühle Kölsch. And a couple of bottles of impulse schnapps. Just for old times’ sake. Dolores gives me look, but doesn’t make me put them back. It’s proper impulse schnapps as they are displayed just before the till. Don’t you just love Germany?
We eat tea in a Czech restaurant. I have a pleasant, if rather salty goulash. And some Czech beer, obviously: Budvar. It’s a pleasant relief to have a half litre. A beer that takes more than two minutes to demolish.
We plan sitting on our balcony. Dolores and her sister have bottle of wine to suck on. And I’ve got my Malzmühle. But I’m so utterly and totally knacked, I go to bed at eight.
What a lightweight I’ve become.
Früh am Dom
Am Hof 12-18,
Tel: +49 221 2613215
An Groß St. Martin 2,
Tel: +49 221 2580634
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