Today was my free day — a post-conference breather and a chance to explore Köln, rather than lurching off on the next available plane. So I did! First thing this morning I grabbed a map and headed off on a walking tour.
First thing: after a gloriously warm and sunny weekend, it’s raining. A constant drizzle, punctuated by occasional dribbles of heavier rainfall. Not fun to walk in, and the grey skies made for terrible lighting conditions — I took a few horrible photos and gave up.
Also, today is apparently the first day of Pentecost, and Germany takes their religious holidays very seriously. At the conference, I learned about ‘silent days’ — a number of official holidays in Germany in which you are prohibited from being too danged cheerful. Theaters are closed, parties are prohibited, and there is no dancing allowed. I was told about one protest march against these policies, in which they were shadowed by police officers who were poised to arrest anyone whose walking looked a little too flamboyant, looking like a dance move.
They clearly need a dose of Kevin Bacon and Kenny Loggins.
So today almost everything was closed. The streets are dead and damp. The Chocolate Museum was closed! (Although we can’t blame religion for that one, they’re apparently closed every Monday.) I got in a few hours of walking, at least, and it was generally quiet and contemplative…a change after the drunks who were singing loudly outside my hotel room window at 2am last night. It’s a pleasant city, and I’ll have to come back some time when the Catholics are a little less authoritarian.