Published: August 20th 2008August 19th 2008
Next to an EU Commission office.
Well, I am officially in my last city on my 2 week Europe adventure. It has been a blast; tiring, but awesome! I said my final farewells to Bethany and Jan in Brussels, and now I'm chilling in Cologne where Erin and Stephen will meet up with me tomorrow. Our last day in Brussels was fun (yes, Jan actually made it!). We did indeed find th EU Parliament, after getting directions from a nice American business man in a Belgium deli. We ended up going on a free audio tour (very high tech), and it was pretty awesome to see...its like when people come to D.C. and see all the big government buildings for the first time (yes, I know, I make fun of them too, but that doesn't mean I can't be touristy in foreign countries!). We got a ton of free brochures from the info center, so I fell asleep last night after reading my Economist (I splurged and bought an Economist AND a Newsweek
) and perusing the E.U. materials. Its always interesting to see what the official words of an organization are, as opposed to what you hear in the news or learn in class.
Old train station in front of the EU Parliament.
I went to sleep last night, I really, really wanted an apple, so Jan and I went exploring in search of one (yes, we were in a foreign country, whose language we don't speak, searching for an apple at 11:15 at night).The only thing that was open was a fast food place called Quick, where we got a kids 'menu'--as they call meals here in Europe--that came with applesauce, which I had to make do with. The cashier looked like she should be on American's Next Top Model (think tall and skinny with a light complexion) and spoke some of the best English we've heard on this trip...then again, she also looked about 17, which might have something to do with that. The only other person we've met here with an equally impressive grasp of English (inculding slang) was a guy in Berlin who was in his early twenties (23 or 24ish?) and ate dinner with us on our last night. He was originally from Bulgaria and moved to Berlin when he was younger.
I'm sitting in the lobby of my hostel in Cologne now, which is a very nice hostel. I ended up in a 5 bed dorm,
I walked out of the train station in Cologne and BAM! the cathedral is quite literally right there.
which only has 2 other girls in it (maybe Stephen and Erin will get the other two beds?? then again, that may be hoping for too much!). The beds are comfy, and its right around the corner from the train station. Again, I forget to get a map, or look up directions to this place before I left Brussels (I got too used to being able to follow around my slightly better prepared friends!) so it was very nice to just have to wander a few steps and end up on the right street. The cathedral is visible as soon as you walk out of the train station (no joke, its right there!) and the steeple can be seen all around the city.
I went exploring for a while earlier...the hostel has free maps that have walking tours outlined, with information on important buildings. My camera battery ended up dying, so I only went on about a quarter of one of the walks, but the architecture here is awesome. Oh, and I have to correct an earlier post...when I said Berlin=construction I actually meant Germany=construction! Its not surprising, considering how much damage was done during WWII and the fact
Its actually a really nice hostel. Free wi-fi, nice (comfy!) beds, really, really close to the train station...and there's a place to do laundry close by, yay clean clothes!
that the German only reunified very recently, but really there is a ton of construction. One of the areas I went to had been free bombed during the war, and they have actually finished reconstructing it to look like it did before.
I found a really cool postcard that shows pictures of the city in 1945, and its amazing to see how much damage was done! The big bridge that goes over the Rhine was completely destroyed, and the cathedral had chunks missing out of it. The bridge is now repaired, though the cathedral is still undergoing restoration.
Tomorrow I'm going to take a tour of the cathedral and explore it to my heart's content (expect lots and lots of Cathedral pictures!). You have no idea how hard I had to resist the temptation to go in it today! I figured this way, I could actually spend the entire day in it if I really wanted to. For now, I'm going to schlep down to the street to do my laundry (living out of a backpack, even for just 2 weeks, gets very, very smelly!). I hope wherever you're reading this from, you're doing well!
There are more photos below