Today, I am doing something incredibly crazy. I am taking a train across a country that speaks a language I don't know to seek out my great uncle's grave in a WWII Cemetary. Not only do I really have no idea where I'm going, I have a sneaking suspician that many Germans will not either.
However, I do have a game plan, which is more than I could say for 2 days ago, or yesterday even. I was going a little mad, thinking I was going to step off the train onto a platform in the middle of a field, no people, taxis, or hotels in sight. Since my ticket was not refundable or changeable, I have decided to jump the train early in Cologne (Koln) and explore the city. From there I will travel to Rheinberg.Have I mentioned how many beautiful castle are along this the Rhein River? It's incredible the scenery you get to see by taking this route on the train!
So for today, I am looking forward to a relaxing day on the train and sight-seeing, which will hopefully include the cathedral. I have heard from numerous people it is amazing. With the wine-ache I have currently though, I am also looking forward to going to bed. Last night, we had dinner at Zumstein, a winery that was initially constructed 600 years ago! Dirk, the owner is a charmer and an entertainer, and he uses humour and the odd sexual comment to keep his customers coming back. A real host as well, we were not sent home emptyhanded, and I am delighted to add some Zumstein wine to my collection once again.
When we left, it was not only the wine that has us full. The incredible dinner commenced with Cream of Mushroom and Cranberry soup. Odd combination, yet it was so delicious, I could have ate another 3 bowls and called that dinner alone. The main course included a ham steak, which I was very happy to see was actually a pork chop, not a thick slice of ham as I was imagining. The pototoes honestly looked like tater-tots, but they were so yummy, I could hold it against them! I have been looking forward to dessert all week - apple strudel, picked off the menu for our group by yours truly. It did not dissappoint, and even one of the managers who has been weaned from desserts for 6 years gave in to a few bites.
Drunken with great conversation and good wine, we headed for the hotel and a few beers later, I was ready for bed. Though just a little anxious about the trip ahead, I think my anxiety is being surpressed by the hangover. Sleep would be welcome, but my train route is taking me along the Rhine River, and it is absolutely breathtaking. Vineyards line the valley walls, interspaced with small towns with wonderful, old stone churches that sit up on the hills.