Being American, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November. Our Thanksgiving’s have been varied and far from consistent through the years. Some times it has just been our family, others have been with extended family, other still, have been celebrated with friends and acquaintances, all bonding through military ties. Almost all of our past Thanksgiving’s have involved a lot of cooking (sometimes two days of prep in addition to the day of), up to an hour of gluttony (really, the whole day), then the rest of the holiday (and typically the next day) cleaning up after the carnage.
However, this year, we did something completely different. Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and since we’re not in the The States, we chose to embrace some new European traditions. On the 28th we traveled to Köln (Cologne), to see the cathedral and some Christmas markets. I have a list full of things I want to do there, so we will definitely return. For our maiden trip though, we took it nice and easy.
A good thing we did so too, it took us much longer to arrive there due to crummy weather conditions, and Charlie had come down with a cold and wasn’t feeling 100%. We eventually arrived (we took some GoPro video of the drive, if I can get a condensed video I’ll work on getting that posted). We found a parking garage and parked Stella (yup, our car’s name is Stella). We didn’t realize just how good of a spot we found until we came out of the garage, walked down a small side street, turned the corner and saw this sight.
You can see from the picture, it was a very foggy day, so much so we never saw the top of the cathedral. Everything was damp and cold, but the setting was so fantastic, it still seems a bit unbelievable. We don’t have events like this in America.
(I’m pining for a new lens. I’ve had this beauty sitting in my cart for a while, now just to save up the money for it )
We walked around the outside of the cathedral, before venturing in. What an amazing sight. I really couldn’t do it justice and didn’t try to take too many photos. As overcast as it was, it was very dark inside. Without a tripod photography would have been incredibly difficult. So instead, I just took it in. (I’m sure you can do a quick internet search and find photos if you’re interested. I also linked to a website that gives some of the building’s history.) In the end, I really only attempted one photo. Not the best, but a good memento for the day.
If you travel here, or to these types of places, dress for the weather. There’s no heating (or air conditioning in the summer). We planned ahead and wore layers and stayed bundled up while inside.
Outside was one of several Christmas markets in the city. It was the only one we went to this day. The weather was getting worse, the kids were getting miserable and we wanted to leave with everyone in somewhat of a good mood (and not in the middle of a melt-down). So, we roamed the market for a bit, ate spätzle with cheese (pasta), fresh pommes (french fries), and Glühwein (hot spiced wine w/ amaretto schnapps).
I don’t like taking photos in the thick of the crowds. For one reason, it’s hard to concentrate on my brood while photographing. I try not to stick out too much like an American while we’re out, I’m still not too sure on what/when it’s acceptable. And lastly, for me at least, it’s all still a bit overwhelming/exciting/new that it takes a lot of concentration navigating these festivals and markets. I’m sure it will get better and with time I’ll have more and more photos to share.
This scene in particular I found interesting. Lining the cathedral square are these very high-end shops, Louis Vuitton, Chopard, and just to the left (out of frame) was Hermes, then the market. I thought it ironic, spiritual and earthly god’s, all just within a few meters of each other. People coming a going. Some with arms full of shopping bags, some lighting candles and saying prayers in the cathedral. And then there was us, just observing it all.