31 October 2018

We left Frankfurt and my funky red phone somewhere within it behind. At the train station we were having difficulty locating a train and finally braved the queue to Information. Our train to Cologne had been cancelled but we were given a piece of paper and three minutes to board an alternative train, 25 minutes earlier than the original one. However, this train came with a change of trains and platforms one station before our destination which involved a lot of stairs with heavy luggage. But made it, we did.

We are in a very spacious room in an 150 year old hotel next to the railway station but it is quiet. It reminds me of the old hotels featured in Australian WWI and WWII dramas with its old furniture and tall ceilings.

After recovering from heaving our bags around we walked to the Chocolate Museum, sped through the history and other educational components to get to sampling the chocolate fountain. It was a bit overrun with school children from English speaking countries such as Ireland and gave me the heebie jeebies about taking students on excursions. So glad not to have the stress of organising and conducting excursions the last couple of years.

Next stop was the Apple store where we were involved in a discussion of language oddities with a German Apple retail assistant who was doing his best to improve his English and an English Apple retail assistant who was doing his best to improve his German. Everyone was having a good laugh except me, since the cost of replacing my phone was weighing heavily on me.

Back at the hotel we decided a small sample of chocolate was an insufficient lunch so we booked into the hotel’s high tea. The ‘tea’ commenced with a glass of champagne and creme brûlée, followed by our tea of choice, scones, sandwiches, cakes and chocolates. I couldn’t eat all of my share.  The rest of the afternoon was spent updating my laptop so I could set-up my new phone and download the old phone’s backup.

I skipped dinner and joined the pre-conference drinks at the bar next door.  Football (soccer) was on the TV with FC Köln (Cologne) playing. We had noted in the souvenir shop windows that this team’s mascot was a goat. I like goats but it still felt strange as a team mascot. I could only see the match in a window reflection but the cheers were deafening during the penalty shootout. It went quiet though when FC Köln lost the shootout 5-6. I had two small harmless beers delivered by a man in lederhosen. He marked people’s coasters with the number of drinks they’d had. One coaster further up the table had 14 marks scratched on it but it was covering 3-4 people. Each beer was 1.80 Euro, which seems like a fairly good deal to me. In Germany cash is preferred and general practice is to round up (not tip) so I paid 4 Euro when I left.

When I returned to the hotel, my new phone had finally been made in the image of Big Red, except it isn’t red but silver with a red cover. Still trying to think of a name for it. Bleedin’ Agnes, or Hi Ho, have come to mind. I’ll sleep on it.


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