Köln, Frankfurt and Darmstadt Crossroads

When travelling just does not mean going and visiting the place, but simply being awestruck by every little thing you learn and see, you do not mind even short hand destinations that are visited for the first time, to see little charms and hear about the anecdotes prevailing in these large and big towns. Life has surprised me, each time with something generous, rewarding and at times put me into so much of thought, as to why I came to a certain place, was it destined? I dreamt of many things in my childhood, in my sleep and daydreaming too, saw and learnt so much from books, teachers and neighbours who travelled but it never struck to me that calibre and belief can create wonders.

One such thing was with my sister and closest neighbour Shruti, she moved to Germany after marriage with her husband Bhushan who worked here and was happy reinventing her new life and setting up the routine, I spoke to her sometimes on Skype and then Facebook, but we were in touch. Now two months in Germany I planned a visit to her place in the quiet city of Darmstadt, near Frankfurt where she resided. It was like a dream come true for both of us, staying together for more than 10 years in the same society and then crossing the oceans and again meeting in a foreign country with the same zeal and enthusiasm was a worthy thing for both of us. One more long weekend in Germany and something exciting lay ahead. The day I was about to leave adventure started, I lost my house keys and was on the verge of missing my train to Darmstadt, but the Germans have too many back up plans, and I received my key on time after a few phone calls and left for Darmstadt on Friday night. I reached her place and the first surprise I get was that the next day we would be heading to Cologne, lo and behold!.. I was on cloud nine.

Well on Saturday we were at Cologne, the drive with Bhushan was fantastic. He drove like a pro in his brand new Passat at 180 kmph on the Autobahn, sheer thrill. We halted on the way for some snacks and I gorged on some German delicacies along the way. As we reached Cologne, we were greeted with the fascinating lock bridge passing through the river Rhein one of the biggest and also the largest rivers in Germany. It is also credited with being one of the largest inland waterways not only in Germany, but Europe. A fascinating tourist attraction where lovers throng in to lock their love on the bridge and throw away the key maybe in the Rhein. It was windy and serene at the time, hair flowing gently with the breeze that crossed our paths, not much crowd on the way, the walk was calm, we spotted a train on the way from over the bridge, an old and classic one with vintage designs. After our stroll at the bridge we went off to the cathedral where we had to climb 533 steps to reach the top of the tower and enjoy the breathtaking view of the city of Köln and the river Rhein, with its tiny bridges across the city. It was a task to be conducted, as if the day was meant to be in a gym climbing up and down 533 spiral steps. But again it was worth it, the view mesmerizing, the air soothing and the experience at the cathedral thankful. I loved it. We had a brief shopping tour in Cologne after having our food and ended the day with the famous Kölsch beer  and Kinder Schnitzel, a pork speciality in Germany. We ate our dinner at a traditional German restaurant, where we also tried various types of Pfannkuchen or pancakes, both spicy and sweet, and it became a food affair in a while. Well the day ended and we were back home in Darmstadt.

The night was still young and we topped up with  a nice Spanish wine after our dinner and watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The next day was relaxed, no rush, we woke up lazily, gorged our breakfast and whiling away our time made a sudden decision to go to Frankfurt, just half an hour drive from Darmstadt, well dusted and done, decision made and we were off. Frankfurt was one of my dream cities that I wanted to see, it is a perfect cosmopolitan city and indeed the financial capital of Germany, each bank has their headquarters here including the European Commission Bank, where the Euro holds strong. Frankfurt also has a world class Oper, an opera, which hosts classy concerts for the really privileged, you need a dress code to enter these Opers, not just sneakers and jeans. There are small and big cathedrals in Frankfurt with a famous street market area decorated with traditional German architecture, adorned with squared wooden roofs and walls, and yes not to forget the squared wooden designs on the roof as seen in Heidelberg too. Each house reminds me of Grimm Fairy tales. They are idyllic houses. The Rathaus or the town hall building in Frankfurt is another attraction with those gorgeous pillars holding their grandeur. I visited a Protestant church, well visible from the design and its architecture and prayed for some time, after which it was time to tap our feet to some rock music on the streets. It is a general phenomenon to hear street music on Sundays in all the parts of Germany. The evening was cherry on the cake with Saravanna Bhavan dinner, my my the way we attacked the food, it was purely Indian, dosa, idli, sambar, the big thali, rava kesari, mango lassi and kheer, but in Germany, that speaks for itself. I was eating like a born hogger and it ended on a relaxed note, back home to bed.

The next day I had a brief tour of the Darmstadt city where I was residing, saw the Mathildenhöhe, an old Gothic Russian church built during the World War and some world famous technical universities in this city which are ranked in the Top 5 around the world. This is one of the reasons for the presence of so many Indian students and families in this region and well expats too, since Merck, Evonik Industries etc. have their headquarters here.

Well that´s about three German cities, not bad!

Rucha S Khot.

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