Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eau de Cologne

I'm not trying to be redundant - I swear - YOU MUST NEVER spend a full seven days straight in Amsterdam. I'm not talking Holland, I'm talking Amsterdam. I think we finally hit our "wall" on day number 5, but I can't be 100% sure. All we can know for certain is that I found myself back at the Amsterdam Airport about to rent a car.
At the time we felt these screens looked like some futuristic world where society could only communicate through flashing signs and advertisements. I now look at this picture and think: "Molly, two coffees ain't gonna be enough. You are aware that you are actually going to drive the car, right?"
In typical fashion, we were given a Renault "Kangoo" as a rental car - a vehicle that you only receive if you are in National Lampoon's European Vacation, or the rental agent feels like messing with you. Liz and I weren't being followed by a film crew, so apparently we had a target on our foreheads.
Before we hop on the road, let's quickly assess the foolish mistakes that were made in the planning of this excursion:

1) One of us thought that it would be "really cool" to be able to say that we had visited both Holland and Germany.
2) Whoever DID NOT come up with the idea to go to Germany hailed the idea as true genius.
3) We had booked our hotel room for the entire week, making a day trip the only option, and destinations in Germany not overly plentiful (or at least not within the scope of our 15 minutes of planning - duh what big cities can we find on the map). I think historians of future generations may very well ponder what exactly was going through our minds that ruled out the Dutch countryside as a good option for a day-trip.

The one semi-un-foolish mistake of the trip was that we did in fact have a destination: Cologne, Germany. A city selected (again) for no particular reason other than the fact that we could pronounce the name, believed it to be where cologne originated, and appeared conveniently close on the Holland-Germany road map we had purchased the evening before. While the first two facts ended up being true, the latter, ummm, not so much....

While I am SUPER excited to be able to say that I have in fact driven 110 mph on an autobahn in Germany:
(For real - I pushed the Kangoo to its limit)

And Cologne is truly a quaint and enjoyable city with a gorgeous cathedral:
Trying to do a round trip from Amsterdam to Cologne will really stretch you too thin. The trip takes approximately 6 hours round trip without traffic and assuming you don't get lost - doable, but we got lost AND hit "rush" hour both ways. By the time we got to Cologne we really only had time to view the Cathedral, wander around the main square, look at the Rhine River, and then attempt to find some Jagermeister at a department store.

Lesson learned: If it's avoidable, don't spend your whole day on a highway in any country. Never mind the fact that in this case it is called an autobahn - it is still a highway, we have them in the States, and they look identical. I recommend at the very least sticking to side roads/scenic routes, and definitely not trying to over extend yourself. There is generally more than enough to see near your "home base". Ewww, I sound like my mom (love ya).

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