Update from Koblenz…

I was holed up in Cologne for a good three days due to really bad weather. Fortunately, it was with Silke, who was a great host, so it all worked out rather well. She introduced me to a lot of German food like blood pudding and currywurst and her favorite beer Fruh. She also took me a to a pub to get absinthe, which tasted a lot like aniseed water and made me very sleepy. :P

I also took the opportunity to take the bike to BMW Cologne where they replaced the gas tank cover. It cost an arm and a leg and I had to say goodbye to my desire to go to the spa and get a sauna and massage. Ah well.

By Wednesday, Silke was ready to kick me out though. :P We made a last minute impulsive plan to go to Koblenz, a city about 60km southwest of Cologne. We decided that I’d ride there after visiting the Nurburgring, and she would take the train, and we would meet up at a hotel we booked over the phone.

It was a good plan in theory except that the “light rain” they predicted for the afternoon was anything but. About 10km on the autobahn, it started pouring down. I changed my mind about going to the Ring pretty quickly and decided to focus on just getting to Koblenz in one piece. Heavy rain, wind and noisy helmet combined to make this the least fun ride I’ve had in a while.

I was relieved to make it to Koblenz. The hotel turned out to be a bit of a disaster. It was way more expensive than the crappy room we got warranted. The bathrooms were disgusting. The customer service was non-existing. We found out later that it was a 2-star hotel, although it cost about the same as a Motel 6 room.

Koblenz itself was interesting. The architecture was old and I especially liked the roofs and how it looked like it had waves going through it. Apparently most of Cologne had to be rebuilt after being bombed in WW2, but cities like Koblenz survived the bombings and still retained the old buildings.

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After Silke arrived, we found a bus to take us to the city center, from where we walked to Deutsche Eck – the spot where the north-south flowing Rhine met with the east-west flowing Mosel river. It had a very cool statue and columns for every German province pre-WW1. The weather was now pleasant and it was lovely to walk by the river.

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P1060478   The Stars and Stripes! :)

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We had a late dinner and took a taxi back to the hotel. The next morning we said goodbye. I don’t know when we’ll be able to meet again, but I hope it’s within the next ten years. :) It’s the curse of our times that although the internet has enabled us to connect with like-minded people in a way that was impossible a mere 20 years ago, they are so far away that meeting as frequently as you want to is not very realistic.


In other news, I also appear to have really fucked up my left knee and I spent most of my time in Cologne hobbling around. We went to an apotheke (pharmacy) where I got a neoprene brace and some painkillers and ointment. I don’t think they’ve made the least difference though. I’m mostly okay walking short distances on level ground, but walking downhill, especially on cobblestone streets is really difficult. I guess it will have to wait until I get home though. Even though my insurance covers me at 80% cost for out of network providers, I can’t afford to waste time waiting for an appointment or to pay 20% of the bill to go to an ER. :|

Arrival in Cologne…

You know what’s really nice? What’s really nice is curling up with your girlfriend in jammies with cups of tea and talking and laughing and giggling without a care in the world. :) I’ve been craving female company for so long that spending a couple of days with Eva in Stockholm and now Silke in Cologne have been exactly what I needed.

Yesterday was another “mindless riding” day on the A7, A2 and A1 autobahns to get from Hamburg to Cologne. The riding itself was fine, and a lot easier now that I’m used to it. There were a few construction zones where the four lane highway narrowed to two lanes and the speed limit went from 130 to 60. It sprinkled a little in the beginning, but nothing too alarming. And then I did something completely stupid. I stopped to refuel at the 200km mark and as I lifted my saddlebag to put the hose in, the gas tank cap *broke off*. WTF!!! After I got over my initial shock, I refueled, moved the bike over to a side and tried to lock the cover back in place. No luck with that though. I had to take the seat off and wrap tape around the cap and the body of the bike to keep it in place. I was worried that it wouldn’t be watertight, but the saddlebags went over it and would cover  the cap until I got to the next city. I got Silke to look up the address for BMW Motorrad in Cologne so I could stop there on the way. They were closed on Sunday though, so that would have to wait until Monday. I wondered gloomily if I was doomed to visit a BMW shop in every city I went to. It seemed like a bit of a cosmic joke.

100 km later, I turned onto the A1 and the skies opened up. All of a sudden I was in a deluge. Visibility reduced to two car lengths in front of me. There was standing water on the freeway and I started getting sprayed with water from cars going past me. I had neglected to put the liners into my pants and I paid for it by getting completely soaked in minutes. There was nothing to do but keep going though. I was so close to Cologne that there was no sense in stopping.

After a very long, wet hour, I rolled into Cologne Zentrum. It was a relief to be on city streets going much slower, although I did completely blow one right turn, felt the bike slipping on some rail road tracks and had to slow down and stop. Luckily there was no traffic behind me so I was able to gingerly ease my way back to the street. I made it to Silke’s street, called her and parked on the sidewalk in front of her building.

We carried my gear up  to her fifth floor flat where I proceeded to get out of my wet things. Ick! I thought fondly of having done laundry the day before and all the clean, bone dry clothes I had packed away.

She took me to a local pub – Unkelbach – where she got me some blood pudding – a Cologne specialty. It was some sort of meat with mashed potatoes mixed with apples and some cabbage on top. It was tasty! We spent a good long time eating and catching up. :) Then we took a train to the city center to go see the Rhine. I was going to see the Rhine! Honest to goodness with my own eyes! :D


It was still pouring down and the Rhine looked gray, but it was still thrilling. :) We walked away from it and towards the Cologne Cathedral. I had been of the mind of “see one church, seen ’em all” but I caught my breath at the beauty of this gothic church. I don’t know if it was the effect of the gray skies, fog and rain, but it was quite simply the most marvelous building I have seen. I couldn’t stop gazing up at it and wanting to take in every single square inch. Water spouted out of the mouths of the gargoyles high up above, adding to the dramatic effect even further.

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After stopping for coffee at a cafe, we went inside the cathedral. We had to wait for the service to get over before we could wander around. The organ music was lovely and made me want to come back to hear a proper concert within those walls. It was nearing the end of the day and the crypt and the sarcophagi (containing the bodies of the Three Kings, reportedly the magi who visited Jesus after his birth) were cordoned off. I’d just have to come to see it again.

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We got an early night with dinner and watching Season Five of Doctor Who. For some reason, my left knee was very sore and appeared to be bruised and inflamed. I cannot imagine why but I hope it subsides. Some ice and Tylenol will hopefully do the trick.

This morning I called BMW Cologne and talked to Andreas, the service manager, who was fantastic. He said he would special order the part and get it installed for me. I got off the phone feeling relieved and thinking of how much I loved strong, confident men who just Knew What To Do. :P

Today we will wander the city some more, possibly stopping at the Modern Art Museum. They predict more rain until Wednesday, which is depressing. I was hoping to leave tomorrow morning, but that might not happen. It impedes my progress a bit, but there’s just no sense in riding in such miserable weather. For now, I will enjoy this beautiful city with one of my best friends. :)