1 January 2012

Kicked Out of the Apartment

Well, ok, not exactly, but it's an eye-catcher of a title, isn't it?

I actually knew that I'd be "kicked out the apartment" when I rented it.  There were two prior bookings on the "Ferienwohunung" (Vacation Apartment) that I'm renting.  Thus, between December 27 and 30th I needed to be out of the apartment.  I figured I wanted to travel a bit, and I went to see "West Germany," the part I've actually never been to yet.  I had spent plenty of time in Bavaria (Bayern to those who speak the lingo), seeing Munich and Nuremberg, and the "East" in Weimar, which is in the state/province of Thuringia (Thüringen).  I hadn't seen the "West," particularly the Ruhr Valley (Ruhrgebiet), which seems to be the most densely populated part of Germany, and home to many well known cities like Cologne (Köln), Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Bonn, and Dortmund. 

I accepted an invitation to stay with a friend in Wuppertal, a mostly industrial city about 50 km from Cologne in the heart of this area, and used this as a hub for my travels.  After relaxing a bit in Wuppertal (and riding the famed Schwebebahn, or hanging train), I spent my second day in Cologne, visiting the Kölner Dom, or the cathedral, which survived multiple Allied bombings.

Climbing the 533 stairs to the viewing area of the Dom, passing the cathedral's bells along the way, I got a great view of the city.

After walking through the city to try to get to the Synagogue, only to find out that it was closed, I hit a traditional "Kölsch" (Cologner) Kneipe (pub) for a dinner of local beer and Grünkohl and Bratwurst.

The next day, I was off to Bruges, Belgium.  How close everything is in this part of Europe really astounds a Canadian boy, where 250km to go to Kingston, Ontario and back in a single day is not such a big deal!

Bruges (or Brugge in Flemish) has been called a "fairy tale" city, being one of the most well preserved medieval cities in Europe.  With astounding churches, a beautiful main square with clock tower, charming parks, canals, and LOTS of chocolate shops (and tourists), Bruges actually lives up to its reputation.  Allow the pictures to tell the story.

I've been interested in visiting Bruges since seeing the film (funnily enough) called "In Bruges."  The film is a very black comedy about 2 hitmen from the UK who are sent by their boss to Bruges to lay low after a hit goes very wrong.  This very funny (yet also very sad) film features outstanding performances by Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleason, and Ralph Fiennes, and was one of my favourite films of 2008.  If you haven't seen it, go see it. 

I'll be writing about seeing in the New Year (or Silvester to the Germans) in Hamburg in my next blog entry.


  1. Too bad the synagogue was closed. BUt there are many things to do in Germany. I remember that when I booked the apartments in Buenos Aires to stay there for a month, another guy had to be out like you and he also decided to take a trip to West Germany!