Because of my loyalist nature, I tend to fly British Airways. I am B.A girl. Unfortunately, there are some countries I haven't flown using B.A for whatever reasons.
My flight path with BA should tell me how many miles I have spent on air.
I think it's over a 100k equating to nearly around 1 week on air.
Actually if you add up other airlines flown, may be slightly more.
So with around God-knows-how-many air miles I have acquired having travelled to around 30 countries in my adult life, I thought I could use some of the mileage to fly to Germany.
I was broke in October after lots of shopping for my brother's wedding. You would think?
BA was utterly ridiculous with the cost of flights to Cologne costing £400 return.
The distance was also unspeakable as one had to fly via Berlin to Cologne. So a flight of around 70 minutes was going for 4hrs. What's the sense in all of that, please?
So I settle for German Wings (£100 return) and I have to admit this was one of the smoothest flights I had ever flown. The pilot was a smooth operator! It was the 'German experience' for me...
Anyway enough of all that crap...
We touched down 9.50am, few mins earlier than scheduled.
As I walked passed border control in Koln/Bonn, Aunty Franca was there waiting for me. I ran to give her a gratitude hug for picking me up (and just having me) as she reciprocated with an almost maternal, befitting welcome hug.
She asked me if all I had was a rock sac and I said yes and she shook her head and smiled.
We walked to the parking lot and Melissa (Aunty Franca's daughter) was waiting in the car.
Aunty Franca is mum's childhood friend. They went to school together. I enjoyed seeing them together when she visited mum in London. It was mere satisfaction seeing the pair of them have so much girly time and fun. From going to a dinner party at the Houses of Parliament, to dressing up and making up, to making pizza, laughing and reminiscing about the good old times. They had a great time.
I actually left my flat to them for Neil's for the weekend. Mum tends to let her guard down with Aunty Franca and mum rarely lets her guard down.
As we drove on the 59 and the A61 motorway via Cologne, and then via Bonn and into a very green Bad Neuanahr Ahrweiler, where the Gielers' reside, I realized the rat race in London City needed to be re-evaluated.
I love the city but I am indeed a country girl. I am my happiest in the country.
Bad Neuanahr, home to vineyards on hills stretching miles across this country-side-town was refreshing to visit.
You could smell the fresh air. This beautiful, quiet village known for its world renowned spa services and annual wine festivals attracting international wine enthusiasts and business people from all over the world. I had missed the wine festival by 3 weeks. But I got to see the homes of the village kings and queens who won the awards for 'best wines' 2016.
How I love these sort of little unique wealth of local-specific discoveries in small towns in Europe. They fascinate me.
We got home and I had some breakfast and fresh coffee and subsequently, a little snooze. Their home was perfect. The living room was like having sofas and a tele in a library.
It was great, books from ceiling to floor. A section written by Melli's dad, Wolfgang, the University Professor. It was all about books and shoes! Aunty Franca and her great looking son, design shoes. Did I mention, I fancy him (wink)
After my snooze, Melli and I head off for a drive to Cologne.
In Cologne, Melli took me to see the Grand Gothic Cologne Cathedral with the twin spires, the one I have been dying to see forever. I have 'a thing' for European cathedrals. Spectacular church, one of the biggest in Europe. 13th C edifice and considered one of the most ambitious building projects of the Middle Ages.
We went in to see the Ludwig Museum, it was predominantly an extension of Picasso's works. I thought I had seen enough of Picasso this summer seeing as I dedicated a day to do the Musee de Picasso in Juan Les Pins. But I constantly realise I can't have enough of Pablo anyway. He was and still is a legendary art icon. He is art, personified. The artist whom my kids must study.
We also saw the Roman German Museum. Almost unnoticed, I realise Melli and I tend to love the same things.
Of course I had to see the top top Cologne attraction which reminded me of Paris's Pont des Arts. The Hohenzollern Bridge, otherwise known as The Padlock Bridge. This was symbolic to Melli and I's newly formed relationship of being sisters for life! 💗 The view overlooking the River Rhine and the sun set was beautiful, so I sneak in a picture, typical!
Mellisa framed that picture as a Christmas present to me. I loved it, it has a home now in my flat.
After experiencing the picturesque settings of the central city, we head to the mall for some delicious currywurst and hot chocolate. Just to point out that those two were not had as a combination. We had some lovely white hot cocoa and Nutella peanut butter muffins in MacCafe before heading home.
Cologne was freezing. It was October. I didn't think I would like to visit in the winter.
My next full day in Bad Neuanahr was my highlight. For the culture-enthusiasts Melli and I are, we agreed to spice it up.
We drove up to Bonn after breakfast. Melli being an ex-basketball player had hinted to me the day I arrived that we were going to see the games between Baskets Bonn (her local team) vs Walter Tigers Tubigen, another local team. The game would start at 6pm.
But not until she takes me to the Haus der Geschichte museum. It's the House of History of Germany Museum.
This museum (in my interpretation) is a university of studies of pre and post world war events. A modern and contemporary museum, almost a precise reflection of German's history and one of the most popular museums in Western Europe. It's a study of the history of former East Germany, the divide of Germany, the reign and death of Hitler and the history of its socio-economical and political landscapes. It's a study of the Cold War, the Blitz, the effects on the left wing and the impact of history on modern Germany.
The museum takes you through the effects of the WWs into modern state of affairs. From trade, immigration, (pop) culture, international relations, health and social welfare, and the country's defense and military. It was epic.
I gave Melli a massive hug for bringing me here as the knowledge gained couldn't ever be measured to doing something else in Bonn that day. Interestingly, she told me her dad lectures his students in this museum. I could see why.
We watched the live games in Bonn not after having 2 portions of hot spicy Bratwursts and a coke! We cheered for Bonn (obviously!) The first half was a joke of a game and then in the 2nd half, the team upped their game and they smashed it. Bonn won! 💃🏿
We explored Bad Neuanahr on my last day in Germany. Melli took me into the old town to see the historic war towers, the grace associated with this quiet, chilled out spa town.
We walked through the vineyards up the hills via the farmers' vines and the grapes were just hanging out there, bursting in color, juicy and ripe and purple and I wondered what they tasted like before being turned into wine.
But I had some locally made white wine with home made pizza that evening for dinner and it gave a sort of hinted taste to what the grapes' flavors were.
As we walked from the vineyards to Ahrtor -near the lake, through to the towns, we had some locally baked pastries and fresh coffee for breakfast in a the local cafe, before climbing through the towers where I learned, had a lot of war history.
I left Germany, saying goodbye to Melli and Aunty Franca for having me for the weekend. I most certainly missed them.
Fast forward 7 weeks later, my German sister visits me in London. The way I adored her country, town and cities was precisely how she did mine.
Melli loved London city. Though quite truly, she thinks it's almost unnecessarily expensive and life here can be beautiful if you are a high earner and have a great quality of life and I totally agreed.
She met some of my friends, my brother and Neil. She talked about potentially getting a job in Canary Wharf after her Masters. I told her to go for it.
She is a smart intelligent young woman who is ambitious, cultured and well travelled. I think she will go places!!! Love her...
I took her to see some of the beautiful things that make London City great and historical.
We saw The Wallace collection
Walked in Hyde Park
Walked through Green Park
To Buckingham Palace
Spent a day at the Victoria and Albert Museum and saw the 1950s fashion exhibition.
Rode the Emirates Cable Car
Walked through Westminster Bridge (at night)
& Houses of Parliament/ Big Ben Tower
Spent an afternoon in Serpentine Gallery and had afternoon tea at the gallery's cafe called The Magazine.
Walked through St Christopher's Place
Shopped in Selfridges
Walked via Oxford street
Shopped and ate in Westfield Stratford
Walked through Tower Bridge
Shopped in Portobello Market
The Little Yellow Door (cafe) in Notting Hill
Saw the Shard
St Paul's cathedral
And she went into her first British Pub in Blackfriars. But I knew she couldn't avoid this, seeing that my partner is Scottish and we were out with him on Sunday. She also tried some mulled red wine which I suggested she would like. Melli was baptised!
Next up, summer trip back to Cologne to see Melli and then a drive to Berlin.
And that was when Koln/Bonn met London... 💗💗