The city of Cologne in Germany was the next stopover point on our way to the Netherlands. Actually, we stayed in a town called Overath which is only a half hour drive away from Cologne. Our last adventure ...and misadventure was our trip to Rheinfels Castle in Germany. We had driven straight-on-through after a huge day and arrived exhausted and rather frazzled (that was me, I have no idea about my husband or kids, I was too exhausted and frazzled to notice).
We are always looking for ways for our kids to connect with animals and nature. Truly, European cities were probably not the most intelligent place for us to take our loud crazy bunch of kids. The jungle of Borneo would have been a more appropriate choice...
*note to self - seek out wild jungle next trip*
But despite us crashing the ancient grandeur and collective order prevalent in modern European civilization, Europe survived us. And happily, we were to discover a whole opportunity of close contact with our favourite fauna, reveling in childhood memories of beloved Bambi. Ok, so that was just me, I don't think my kids have any idea who Bambi is.
*note to self #2 - correct that situation and make sure that Disney adequately traumatizes their childhood.*
Our Airbnb hosts were friendly..um..very friendly, and we were staying in the house where they also reside, so there was a lot of close contact going on. I didn't particularly love this, but it was ok for just a few nights. The host's wife was African and we ate a delicious African dinner together on one evening. The husband was French, and he took us to a nature reserve full of deer! I love deer. Must be the Bambi thing. Once when I was a teenager I was riding my horse in the Australian bush in Gippsland Victoria and I saw one!! It is very rare to see a wild deer in Australia.
Well, this was a wonderful chance for my kids to touch and feed Bambi's cousins.
I had never heard the sound that deer make, it is so strange!!
This visit was pretty successful, no crying or broken bones, so we accepted an offer to meet a personal friend of our Airbnb host who owned a little deer farm.
It was exciting to us and totally normal for him. Kinda like if we had a bunch of foreigners visit us who were thrilled to see our chicken coup....boring. He was so nice about letting my kids in the yard to get a closer look. It all went along in a happy, friendly and polite kind of way...until my kids decided to chase the deer! One minute they were being lovely little foreign kids who were thrilled to get up close to this adorable creature, the next thing I knew, they had transformed into devil children intent on scaring the deer into a wild frenzy. The man freaked out (fair enough) because the deer can run into a fence and break a leg very easily if they get frightened. Needless to say, the visit ended shortly after that. We apologised profusely and left in shame.
*note to self #3 - must refrain children from transforming into raging devils, particularly when visiting foreign strangers and domestic animals.*
*note to self #4 - rethink our course of travel, perhaps find wild jungle areas sooner rather than later...*
The next morning we left the cosy (too cosy) Airbnb and headed off on our journey towards The Netherlands. Even with the difficulties of travel that we had faced, I was looking forward to seeing the huge and famous Cologne Cathedral. Construction on this amazing building began all the way back in 1248, and for 4 precious years between 1880-1884 it was the tallest building in the world!
It is big, it is dark, it is imposing.
I didn't particularly love it. I mean, I could totally imagine some poor desperate Quasimodo held captive up in that dark dreary tower, so it is definitely fuel for the imagination. But after seeing the beautiful Strasbourg Cathedral, it just couldn't compare.
We took a few photos, trying to squeeze as much as we could of that giant building into a camera frame, and then went looking for a snack. I am sad to say that we ended up in McDonalds, but this is mostly due to the fact that we all needed the loo and European countries like to make people feel a little desperate when it comes to this part of life. McDonalds is a sure toilet. Only, at this particular facility we had to show a proof of purchase receipt in order to gain the supreme privilege of peeing in such a distinguished venue, hah! Seriously, we lined up and if there was no proof of Maccas purchase, there was no peeing. My kids were happy though, familiar junk food is bound to bring a smile to their little devil faces.
We left Cologne and it's pricey peeing venues behind us. We were destined for the land of tulips and windmills and hopefully, no deer.