Thursday, April 20, 2017

Easter in Germany

Usually on Easter, we dress up, go to church and spend the day with family or friends. 

It was 45 degrees on Easter Sunday, so we skipped the dresses. We were invited to join our friend Ben at the cathedral in Cologne for Easter services. Now, this is a Catholic service and we of course are not Catholic, but we decided that since the service would be in a language we only nominally understand, that making the trip to spend Easter in a beautiful cathedral couldn't hurt. 

We left at 6:15am to ensure that we made our 7am train. It was windy and chilly with a few rain drops as we walked to the train station. Our train change in Duisburg was delayed by 45 minutes, so we made it to Cologne only 10 minutes before the 10am service began. There weren't seats by the time we arrived for the service, so we stood in the back. We arrived for the choral service, which we expected to be a service with mostly singing by the youth choir and maybe some readings, but it turned out to be a 2 hour mass! 

After the service, we walked to Ben's favorite burger place (The Bird), which was absolutely delicious. Not a typical Easter dinner at all, but it was tasty, and we really enjoyed the time with our friends!

After we'd eaten lunch, we decided that since we had the Schӧnes Wochenende ticket ("Happy Weekend" an all day weekend ticket for anywhere in Germany on regional trains, we should go somewhere else. We decided to get on the train to Drachenburg Castle in Kӧnigswinter, near Bonn. I think it was about an hour by train from Cologne. 

 Right before our train was due to arrive, we spotted a wrapped chocolate bunny on the tracks. We joked about getting it off the tracks, and if you know Carson at all, you know that he was ALL EARS for that idea. There was a train employee not ten feet away, but Carson waited until he glanced away and hopped down to grab this chocolate bunny. At that moment, our train began to pull in. I didn't document the actual bunny retrieval because I was just a little nervous about the fate of my free-food loving husband, but he and the bunny emerged from the tracks unscathed before the train finished pulling in, and everyone enjoyed a piece of the bunny later in the day (it was Lindt chocolate!).

Drachenburg Castle
You can take a funicular up to the castle, but we didn't know that at the time, and I think we would have chosen to walk up to it anyway. The walk from the train station in Königswinter was very steep, and by the time we were near the top, we'd shed our jackets for the most part because we'd warmed up so much. 

We got to the entrance of the castle and discovered that it was 7 Euro to go inside or even go up to the castle, and we didn't really want to pay (nobody would be paid by the grant program for a few days, so we were on major budget plan), so we walked around the gift shop instead. We saw these cute fuzzy bat magnets that were cheaper than admission so we tossed around the idea of getting one of those instead in honor of our friend Jenna (who studies bats), but opted to take pictures instead.

We also captured what we could see of the castle from the outside.

I think that's probably the city of Bonn as seen from near the castle.

We walked opposite the castle on the hill and got as much as we could of the view, before heading down that way.

Our Easter 2017 picture. I tried to go with my springiest scarf and green sweater - you do what you can here.

Once we got back to the apartment, we changed into comfy clothes and got to work on our Easter potluck meal for the next evening. We prepped potatoes for mashed potatoes, Jordyn's pasta salad, and boiled eggs to dye and to later turn into deviled eggs. Jenna arrived a little after midnight, and Carson went out to meet her train while we finished the prep, dyed eggs, and did the scariest looking face masks (they're supposed to be black jaguars!).

This was probably the busiest Easter Sunday we've ever experienced. We had a fun time with our friends. I really wish we could have attended church in a language we understood, with like minded fellowship, but experiencing a service in the huge Cologne Cathedral was beautiful too. Life just looks so different this year!

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