Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

fast cars, fast city

This past weekend, I dragged great guy to the German Formula 1 Grand Prix taking place at the Nürburgring. I was very excited. I wanted to experience the crazy noise of the race cars and the throngs of people and I wanted us to just have fun doing something we’ve never done before.

The weekend did not disappoint.

Great guy got into the spirit of the race, beginning already on Saturday afternoon with the qualifying round. He had his binoculars hanging around his neck, he picked out a great place for us to stand so that we could see the straightaway and the shikane (tight curve), creating max opportunity for excitement.

After the qualifying round ended, we fought the crowds to get to our car and headed to Köln (Cologne) for the night. Our navi frau, Ms. Tom Tom, guided us away from the autobahn along landstraßen (smaller, secondary roads) for most of the way, assuring us that it was the fastest route, through the beautiful, dense, woods of the Eifel region.

The city of Köln has a reputation. It is known for some hard-core partying during carnival time. At Christmas, my cousin told me that you cannot visit Köln during carnival with your significant other because traditionally everyone’s morals are a bit looser during this time. I didn’t quite believe him, and assured him that great guy and I could handle Köln during carnival without sleeping with random strangers. Nevertheless, there are many stories about carnival craziness…I’m guessing it’s a little bit like Stampede time in Calgary…but thankfully carnival happens only in February!

We cruised into the altstadt (old city) of Köln around 5 pm, found the hotel which I had booked online and were pleasantly surprised at how cool it was. One entire outer wall of the hotel was made of thick, glass cubes in a bright shade of blue which let the sunlight stream through in bluey goodness. We went down to the sauna and swimming pool where great guy shocked a few American guests by lying in the sauna buck-naked, while I swam in the pool and saw their horrified expressions as thez quickly came running out. Funny.

Then, we headed outside to experience this incredible old part of Köln, an area new to both of us. The Dom is a massive structure and one of the only things in the city to miraculously survive WWII bombing raids. I can’t even begin to describe how huge it is. We went inside the dom and then walked around the outside, just staring at its impressiveness.

Afterwards, we walked the uneven, cobble-stoned streets which were packed with Saturday evening Kölsch drinkers…soon including us. Kölsch is a pale ale, brewed in Kölner breweries and served in short, narrow glasses. In any locale, waiters come round with trays of kölsch, continuously replenishing your supply until you put a coaster over your glass signifying that you’ve had enough.

Great guy and I dined on schnitzel and kölsch, in an historic building, packed full of young and old. There was singing and laughter and we thoroughly enjoyed the gemütlichkeit (comforting atmosphere) of this altstadt. A great night.

Sunday. Race day. Pouring rain.

Great guy and I found another perfect place to see the race. He ‘built’ me a silly rain cap out of a plastic bag, laughing every time he looked at me. Miraculously though, the rain stopped almost exactly at race time.

I wish I could describe how great the race atmosphere was. The speed, the super-sleek cars, the noise and the cool fans…somewhat schicker (more elegant) than, say, monster truck fans. Seeing the ‘fighting’ of the three leaders, Hamilton, Webber and Alonso, over 60 laps was totally spannend (exciting). We encouraged Vettel, who seemed off his game right from the first round, and were shocked when Heidveld spun out off the track, right in front of us.

Great guy was an awesome sport, taking an interest in the event and making it as fun for me as possible. One of the best things about him is his ability and interest in making me laugh. And, he did that a lot over the course of the weekend. Good times. Good race. Good guy.
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