Posted by: Shanna Germain | 07/08/2009

Pg. 99: Koln Koolness


The night view in Edinburgh on my last evening there. Goodbye, Scotland. It’s off to the land of Germany!



  • Weather: Windy and sunny.
  • Mileage: Hell if I know. A bunch. Mostly on cobblestones. Which are beautiful, but not the easiest things to hoof on for long distances.
  • Food: Fresh Italian bread in olive oil and vinegar. Spaghetti Bolognese. Soy mocha.
  • Discovery: The Cologne airport might be the most gorgeous, clean, windowed structure I’ve seen in a long time.
  • Media: German-language signs that I can only have read. And, in case you want to hear what I’m listening to around me at the moment, check out the basic “listen to” version of German language phrases.
  • Worst Thing: I always feel like a “stupid American” when I can’t fully speak the language of the country I’m in.
  • Best Thing: The apartment in Cologne is gorgeous and secluded. And it has a bath tub/shower combo!
  • Word of the Day: Küln. Kueln. Cologne. All the various ways I’ve seen Cologne spelled. It’s mostly pronounced like a combination of colon and kohln.


I am easily amused, and just as easily engaged. I wander the world like a child most days, mouth hanging open at the simplest things. A certain color of flower in a city garden pleases me just as much as the tallest, most architecturally perfect building. A million church bells pealing unexpectedly in the middle of the afternoon makes me stop and tilt my head and listen with glee. The spread of bikes around the Cologne cathedral makes me laugh. Things that are often taken for granted by others — glass elevators, the tick-tick of a see-through watch, the way ice cracks inside hot liquid — can capture my attention for far too long. (By the way, I full blame this on being a 5 on the anneagram. The observer must know everything, after all.)

So you can imagine my joy to discover this incredible luggage contraption inside the Cologne train station. You put in a couple of Euros (yes, I’ve switched money systems as well as languages, although now I’m mostly just confused about whether I’m paying in pounds or euros and whether I’m saying “See ya laterrrr!” or “Einen schönen Tag noch!” Or, oddly, a combination of both).

But I digress. So you put in a couple of Euros and then this little metal door opens and you put your luggage inside it. The door closes and it takes your luggage away and in place of it, it gives you a ticket. Yes, it’s a luggage locker, right? But. Here’s the rub: You can now use your little ticket to get your luggage out of any of the luggage lockers anywhere in the train station. So it’s not really a locker — it’s a contraption that takes your bag away to … I can’t even imagine where … and somehow remembers which one is yours, and, much to my surprise and pleasant shock, returned my bag to me hours later, at a different locker, and in less than a minute (or, in “about 40 seconds” as the sign reads).

How, exactly, does this work? Of course, I imagine this Willy Wonka-esque configuration of underground tunnels and alleyways, of pulleys and levers, and some unworldly creatures singing high-pitched songs as they throw the bags and parcels to each other, sending them up to the surface at the mere insertion of a ticket. I wanted to slip myself into those metal doors and ride along, just to see where it went…

Of course, I’m sure the process is much less interesting than that, but it was fun to imagine. And, truthfully, it’s a bloody brilliant way to store luggage. I wish I had one of those in my house. Can you imagine? Just insert the tag that says, “Sexy little red outfit” and out would come just that. In less than forty seconds even.

The bad news is the bathroom in the train station costs more than the amazing luggage contraption, and isn’t anywhere near as cool or as exciting. Still, the wind was blowing, the rain was falling, and I’d had a rather large bottle of water on the plane and train. So, I paid a Euro for the restroom (or WC, as you say here in polite company — not that I know any polite company) and waited, a lot more than forty seconds, to get into a stall. Now, if they could just send us women off like that, down into some underground space where we could pee, wash our hands and watch the more vain among us apply their makeup. It sure would be a great way to take care of the eternal line that always seems to happen outside the women’s room.

Far and fast, s.


“Russia, France, Germany and China. They revere their writers. America is still a frontier country that almost shudders at the idea of creative expression.” ~James A. Michener



  1. ha..miss shanna..welcome canape..hehe*

    you are in cool is that..not cologne but that you are there i mean..:-)

    isnt the lugguage thingie very harry potter???:-)

    • Danke!
      Yes, Harry Potter. Exactly. When do I get my spells?! 🙂

  2. I personally would check my underwear, I’m sure that locker thing involved gnomes and as you know from South Park, gnomes have a penchant for underwear.

    Speaking of underwear, someone told me about some gentleman who stole over 100 pairs of underwear from his neighbors washline. He was able to return 88 pairs to her once he was caught (ew? anyone.. EEWWW!!) but what I want to know is HOW anyone can lose more than perhaps a dozen and NOT go W T F.

    Like literally, if that happened to me, after pair eight those letters would appear over my head and I’d start plotting devoius ways to catch the thief.

    So make sure to count your unders (unless of course you go commando and I could guarantee there are some unhappy gnomes).

    Otherwise, keep on having a smashing time and I agree on the long wait for a restroom ( WC, head, crapper, outhouse, pisser, bathroom, toilet, whatever…) for women stinks. Forget building a better mousetrap, we need more bathrooms for women!


    • Hahaha! OMG, Annie… that made me laugh so hard!

      I did notice a bra gone missing. So now i have this imagine of some short, stocky gnome parading around in my red lace bra!

      Also, I lived at an apartment complex once with a shared laundry place. And yes, my underwear kept going missing. I put a huge sign up, saying, “Stop stealing my underwear, you biatches! Its expensive!” Only not that nice. Because I figured it was some chick who was taking it for her own. I finally had to start washing my underwear in the kitchen sink. Which didn’t do wonders for any dinner parties I was hoping to hold…

  3. That is the coolest thing. This locker system. That would be so awesome at airports here when you have a long layover. I hate lugging my bag around.

    Some things are best left a mystery. I rather imagine gnomes keeping things organized that something more technical.

    Sounds like Germany is going to be a whole new adventure…:-)

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