Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cologne Part 3: Around Downtown

Cologne is by far one of the most beautiful cities I've visited.  Everything is bright and colorful, and from what I saw, very clean and well kept.  Above and below are some vibrant facades overlooking the square that accommodates an open air market in the warmer months.

During our walking tour our guide pointed out the tower of Cologne's Rathaus (like a Courthouse/public records building).  Most of the original tower was destroyed by bombings, but some of the original stones were used in the reconstruction, and some of the statues that adorn it were salvaged as well.  The statues represent important figures of the city.

Fun fact:  every hour on the hour, the carved face beneath the clock sticks its tongue out at onlookers, extending once for each hour that has passed.  Adorable!

Another point of interest on our tour was the building below -- since most of the city was destroyed by bombings (and time) it's rare to find a place that's in its original state.  This building boasts the oldest standing facade in the city, the bottom level having been constructed in 1643.

Below is the Hohenzollernbrücke, stretching over the Rhine River.

Still to come:
another impressive cathedral
and a fountain with an interesting story.
{Part 4}

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mondays with Brinks

Brinks the Door Guard:
Monitoring stairway traffic since 2011

{Angie the Pug Pup @ Harbor Cottage}

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cologne Part 2: Kölner Dom (Interior)

The interior of Cologne's cathedral is every bit as beautiful as it's exterior.  The many, massive stained glass windows and hundreds of candles leave the whole place awash with soft, glowing color.  There are no words to describe the sheer height of the ceilings and columns, and ornate statues are affixed to nearly every available surface.

(Note that the bottom edges of the windows are well above the sightseers' heads.)

The sunlight through the windows was an incredible sight.  I couldn't quite capture the way the colors reflected upon the stones, but believe me when I say it was glorious.

Up next in this series,  photos of the downtown area.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cologne Part 1: Kölner Dom (Exterior)

Nearly two weeks ago I finally made my way to Cologne, via a USO Express tour.  A friend and I boarded a bus before sunrise, and rolled into the city around 10am.  We had a ton of fun, but one day was hardly enough time to see everything this incredible place has to offer.  Already I can't wait to go back and explore again.

The most impressive landmark by far is Kölner Dom, the Cathedral of Cologne. It is massive, and every inch of the outside is covered in beautiful, ornate carvings.  I have so many photos of the cathedral that I'm splitting them into two posts of their own, and I'll cover the rest of my amazing day trip later.

This cathedral made Notre Dame look like a playhouse.  This is as much of the front facade as I could manage to fit in one photograph, and to take this I was reclining backward, practically lying down, only a few feet from the street.  Thank heaven the cathedral rests a few steps higher than the street level, or I never would have managed this shot.

It probably wouldn't hurt to mention that the temperature was well below freezing when we arrived.  Hence my Eskimo-appropriate attire in the photo above.  (Believe it or not, I was still shivering violently for most of the day, and despite wearing two pair of super-thick fuzzy socks, my toes were numb until it began to warm slightly around midday.)  Still, the experience was well worth the cold.  And at least there were blue skies for the photos!

Our tour guide pointed out that much of the cathedral (and the entire city, for that matter) was partially destroyed by bombings in the Second World War.  In the above photo, you can see a clear difference between the original stonework and the reconstruction.  The older stones are lighter in color, and appear rougher from age.

Above is right side view.  Again, this was taken from quite a distance, and from about six feet below the cathedral's level.  Notice the snowy rooftop!  Below are a few photos taken of the back of the cathedral.

This last photo I snapped in the evening, just before we left.  The way the setting sunlight warms the stonework is incredibly beautiful.  I adored everything about Cologne, but the cathedral at sunset especially captured my heart.

Stay tuned!  Up next, a glimpse into the cathedral's interior...
{Part 2, Part 3, Part 4}

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Italian Buttercream, Mastered (Kinda)

2012's New Year's Un-resolution number five was to "Master Italian Buttercream."  Check.

This was my second attempt at Italian Buttercream.  My first attempt failed miserably, and this one almost followed suit.  While attempting to halve a recipe, I forgot to halve the sugar. Thankfully a little extra butter made this come together alright, and a little orange extract helped tone down the crazy sweetness.  In the end, it wasn't too shabby.

Making these could have went more smoothly, but I'm pretty sure I could whip up the frosting without even bothering with the recipe next time.  And that's close enough to "mastered" for me.

Do these look good enough to eat?  
Grab the cupcake recipe here,
and the buttercream recipe (+1 tbsp orange extract) here

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mondays with Brinks

Last week was busy.  So I have extra Brinkle photos to share today, and a boat load of posts headed your way over the next few days.

When You Take a Brinks for a Walk in the Mud

When a Brinks Goes Bad

{Angie the Pug Pup @ Harbor Cottage}

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mondays with Brinks

In this edition, Brinks discovers windows!  Until we moved the couch to a more convenient location, he was too short to see out of them.  So obviously, he's fascinated now.

{Angie the pug-pup @ Harbor Cottage}

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Strahlenburg: The Castle of Schrieshiem

Over the weekend I discovered that there are at least three sets of castle ruins within 20 minutes of our apartment. How we'd overlooked them, I'm not sure, but we visited the first of these nearby beauties Monday: Strahlenburg, castle of Schriesheim.

The Strahlenburg sits high on a hilltop in adorable Schriesheim. Ten months of the year it functions as a restaurant and tourist destination, but in January and February the ruins' interior is closed to visitors. Thankfully there is ample parking, and the pathways in the surrounding vineyard are accessible year round (at your own risk of falling on ice, of course).  An outlook in front of the castle provides a beautiful view of the town below, which is much more impressive when it's not blocked by pre-snowstorm fog.

We had a lot of fun wandering around the outside of Strahlenburg, but we can't wait to go back in warmer months to explore inside and climb the tower.  (And maybe walk around the town to photograph the gorgeous, colorful little houses.)