Derya keeps telling me how lucky I am with the weather. I truly am. If day two was great, day three was even more stunning, with clear blue skies and temperatures warm enough that I didn’t need a long-sleeved top or jacket while running down the Rhein in the late morning.
Packing a puffy jacket, windbreaker, base layer, extra hat and a couple of snacks in my running bag, I set off for a run along the river towards downtown Cologne. For about half the way it was a soft mud/grass trail by the river bank, which was really nice.
This is how I like to explore a new city. I always have my running bag with me so that I can run commute to somewhere, explore the destination, and then usually take public transport for the return leg. You not only kill two birds with one stone, but you also get to see some things you would’ve missed if you didn’t go by foot. The only tricky bit is if the weather is biting cold – thankfully yesterday was warm enough that the extra clothing I brought wasn’t too heavy and also did just enough to keep me warm post-run as I strolled the city.
As the twin towers of the Cologne Cathedral slowly came into sharper view, the crowds thickened too – not a surprise given the stunning weather. I ran past the Cathedral and the Altstadt, over the Deutzer Brucke to the other side of the river, and turned back to run over the Hohenzollernbrucke towards the Cathedral. Along the way, I got my quintessential Cologne tourist shots.
The Hohenzollernbrucke is reportedly the most heavily used bridge in Germany, carrying both trains and pedestrians across the Rhein. Being much longer than the Pont de l’Archeveche in Paris, there were many more love locks along the bridge. It made for a colourful sight, though some call this vandalism. For me, I never got the point of love locks…
Picking up a salad and some roast chicken at the food hall at the city’s main train station, the Koln Haupbahnhof, I sat by some benches outside the Cathedral and had a picnic. I’m glad I got the whole tourist thing in the Cathedral out of the way on Friday, because now it was jam packed with a weekend crowd. There was also a big random bunch of demonstrators right in front of the Cathedral, and in between a woman yelling over a loudhailer and cheers from the crowd, I people watched and savoured my lunch.
Belly full, I walked through the shopping district again – felt like Causeway Bay on a Saturday – towards Bruseller Platz, an quieter, much less touristy area with standalone stores and hipsters hanging out on the sidewalks. I tried on a couple of dresses in one store but realised it was useless trying to buy non-maternity clothing during maternity – and also realised how bloody big I’ve become in just two weeks! Shopping during pregnancy really sucks, the only upside being you usually come away empty handed and therefore save money and never make an impulse purchase.
So after about three hours of walking, the only thing I bought was some chocolate truffles as gifts. I boarded the metro for home at about 4pm because in the evening I would tag along to Kerem and Derya’s friend’s wedding.
Yup, I’m officially a wedding crasher. I was invited along, but it’s kinda weird when you don’t know the bridge and groom. It was a traditional Turkish wedding at a very very random place in the middle of nowhere, a big event hall called Ezgisaray – meaning Ezgi Palace. Size-wise and layout-wise it was very much like a Chinese wedding, but in terms of noise this topped even the Smashing Pumpkins concert I once went to. There was a band on stage that belted out traditional Turkish songs non-stop, which to me sounded all pretty similar. I think I got my fill for the rest of my life.
Dancing began right from the couple’s march in and didn’t stop for the entire night, save for about 15 to 20 minutes or so during the chicken main course. Man, these Turkish people sure can dance – the same moves, again and again and again and again. Pregnant women – at least this one – can’t dance. So I sat and watched and observed. If you asked me to organise a Turkish wedding dinner right now, I think I may do a pretty good job. And I can surely find you a band (they had an electronic scrolling banner in front of the drummer that gave out the band’s contact number).
By 9.30pm my ear drums were gone and I was getting very tired, so I politely excused myself and Derya’s father very kindly gave me a lift back home. The Turkish songs were still ringing in my head during the drive back and as I fell into a deep slumber. Little M is able to hear sounds already, and I wonder what she was thinking throughout the entire evening.