A Day Away From The Track

13 05 2010

May 6th Thursday

Track closed today.

Day trip to Cologne, about 90kms north of here.

Weather is very cold and raining and didn’t change all day.

Sat Nav takes us through the Eifel mountains through classic German alpine villages with immaculate houses with high pitched roofs and beautiful churches on the high point of the village. Initially the roads are very narrow but widen gradually until we eventually end up on the autobahn.

Our main goal is to go to the Koln Dom – the Cologne Cathedral. A magnificent testament to the domination of church the Middle Ages, and a hugely significant historical building which houses amazing antiquities. It is so significant that the Allies made great efforts to spare it during the bombing of Cologne.

We found a park, deep underground and headed for a big cathedral nearby, but it was closed. Head for the river and look back and there was the cathedral further back and massively dwarfing our first selection!

The sheer size of the cathedral is overwhelming. And once entered every turn exposes a new amazing view of the interior.

Construction began in the 12th century and took over 300 years to complete – mind boggling stuff! The arching fan vault ceilings high above with decorated columns descending to the flor, all interspaced with incredible stained glass windows. Windows? Hardly seems the right word for these intricately portrayed biblical scenes.

Many crypts in the alcoves with body’s of significant mediaeval figures, all surrounded by intricate stonework. Incredibly detailed mosaics cover the floor which don’t seem to have suffered from centuries of feet walking all over them. Exquisite tapestries hang from the columns in the main chamber. Heaven knows what they are worth?

We then descend to the Cathedral Treasury which houses relics and antiquities on a breath-taking scale (no photographs allowed).

The only downside was we were shadowed by a large group of ditzy French adolescent school pupils. I’d forgotton how silly this age group can be J. Including one idiot who had rap blaring at full volume from his cellphone while descending from the belfry tower!

The belfry tower: 509 steps up a very narrow spiral stone staircase barely 2 people wide firstly the bell tower (the largest working bells in the world allegedly), and then a top platform that has an open metal staircase that ends in a single spiral going up into the peak. My fear of heights really hit me just before the last spiral and I couldn’t proceed – I gingerly came down and Jon went ahead. The relief when I stepped onto the hard platform was immense! Get me in a race car at over 200kph is fine, but don’t ask me to go anywhere high

Next stop was the Cologne Museum of Roman antiquities. They have a banquet floor of mosaic tiles from the 3rd century with highly detailed scenes which was excavated and sits exactly where it was first made on a floor of the museum! The history in this part of the world is so accessible and interesting.

Cruised around Cologne for an  hour or so after this and then set TomTom for home (installed on my iPod Touch and using TomTom cradle with built-in GPS – works a treat).

More team members arrived now – Brian McGovern and Ali Taylor and Matt Noonan. The Kiwi footprint grows!

Forecast tomorrow – rain and possibly snow!




One response

13 05 2010

That’s an amazing stained glass window!

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