Thursday 15th December – Five Museums, Two Sore Feet

The alarms were set, they went off, but there was no action. We both got out of bed around 9am. Sabrina had missed her class and I had missed being at my first museum for the opening time of 10am. We had a slow start but thankfully the hangovers weren’t too bad. I left the house first for the train station, now perfectly competent at navigating the public transport system independently. Though the weather was still dreary, I enjoyed walking the streets with my headphones in, feeling less and less like a tourist. Half an hour later I was in the city.

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I started at the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum where I wanted to buy a family pass that gets two adults and two kids access to all the city museums for two days for EUR30. With Sabrina joining me tomorrow, this worked out cheaper than buying an individual ticket. When the lady behind the counter (in English thankfully) told me they only accepted German debit cards, I went across the road to get some cash out, then returned and had no issues.

This museum was brilliant, not really because of the exhibits, though some of them did blow me away, but because of the way they’d presented the exhibits. They had multiple projectors that were triggered by touch or light sensors and in the exhibit that focussed on historic and cultural fashion, they used strings of fabric hanging from the ceiling to form walls and corridors. It was so creative, not just another walk around and look at stuff deal, I admired it. The exhibits focussed on the history and development of cultures from all over the world. Everything was written in German and English so I wasn’t left out. I spent a good two hours here.

Next I was hungry so I went to the next museum via the shopping strip where I got a Currywurst from “Currywurst”. I ordered so well in German that my server responded to my request in German (of course) so I had to ask for English. She was asking if I wanted ketchup or mayo with my fries, as if that was a question that needed asking (mayo, really?). It was delicious, kind of like the sausage curry Mum and Dad used to make, but I think I’m going to have a meat-free day tomorrow. I sat in a courtyard while I ate, people watching which is one of my all time favourites.

After having some trouble finding the entrance and receiving help from a local, I found the Praetorium. This is an underground museum that houses the foundations of the Praetorium, a building in the centre of Roman Cologne where the governor Germania lived in the fourth century. It was cool that they’d built a building around an archaeological site and the artefacts that went with it were very old school. There weren’t many English descriptions so I couldn’t understand where the artefacts had come from, but I could learn about the building itself, who used it and how it was destroyed because of earthquakes and further damaged during WWII bombings.

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After an hour underground, my next stop was the Kolumba. This place was fancy with its own doorman! So fancy in fact that my family card did not get me in! When I presented the card to a lady behind the reception desk, she rattled off a bunch of German with a shaking head which I interpreted as, “I’m sorry, but we don’t accept that card”, so back out the door I went with a thank you to the doorman. Snobs.

Next! Having learnt so much history, I thought I’d try out some art next at the MAKK museum. I got a bunch of German with a nodding head this time when I presented my family card so in I went. The museum was in between special exhibits so there was only one floor to explore. They had a huge collection of “art” from the middle ages, but it was functional art. Things like pottery and glassware and jewellery and furniture from ancient times. It interested me because of the intricacies people worked into every day things and knowing that they had only hand tools to do it. I would have loved to be there to see how technology developed, like blowing glass with heat and chiselling ivory into perfectly carved statues.

After these museums, I was getting weary, but some were still open at 4pm so I carried on. After an ice cream from Maccas as a pick-me-up, I went to Museum Ludwig. This probably needed a bit more than two hours, which was all I had before closing time, because it is so big. They had three main exhibitions. Contemporary art I didn’t understand because it really doesn’t mean much to me, the Picasso collection was massive with over a hundred drawings paintings and sculptures and the Ludwig exhibition that celebrated forty years of the museum was just as weird as the Picasso contortions, but had some gems. The best was a feature made from at least forty bikes, all identical and all connected through their frames, it was genius! Useless, but genius!

At 5:45, I had one exhibit still to explore when the announcement of closing time in fifteen minutes came over the PA system. As I made my way down the stairs to the last exhibit, a security lady told me the exit was the other way. I pointed to the exhibit I was heading to, but it was useless trying to argue in English so I gave up and started walking away. Another security guy came over, had a heated conversation in German with his colleague, then he allowed me through. I thanked him and the lady and went down the stairs. As I did so, they continued their heated conversation. For the last fifteen minutes of opening time, I pretty much had a security escort making sure I wasn’t going to linger too long. It wasn’t a problem, I rushed the last few things, but I was out by 6pm, the last to collect my coat from the cloak room. The German efficiency didn’t stop there though. I was sitting out in the foyer trying to decide my next move and as soon as the clock struck, they were onto me to get out of there.

Outside, there was a man painting and I wondered why the art he was creating was not worthy of a museum. It looked pretty good to me!

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Sabrina finished university at the same time so she came into the city to pick me up and we drove home, stopping on the way to get some throat lozenges for her disappearing voice and some food for dinner. Happy to have a quiet night in, I did some washing and Sabrina cooked up some falafels for wraps. We had a delicious candle-lit dinner with a glass of white wine. We both went to bed happy.

German fact #6: When getting cash out, you are provided with a variety of different notes for your convenience.

 

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