The layover in Amsterdam was 3 hours - Cologne is such a small airport that they do not get direct flights. So, hung out in the Amsterdam airport for a bit. Customs was quick - she just asked where I was going and then stamped the passport. Found an ATM, got some Euros, bought a bottled water that ended up being a bottle of fizzy water...then just waited trying my best not to fall asleep.
Took a bus to the airplane which was a first for me...then took another bus from the plane to the Cologne terminal...got my checked bag and no customs - just walked past a very shrewd German woman who eyed me and my large suitcase, maybe reading my mind to see if I had anything worth checking more closely. Just 10 pounds of American candy lady - nothing to see!.
Got a cab to the hotel; 35 Euros for that, but got my receipt. Then I had the long wait for the hotel room to be ready. I had booked for the night before so I would have no problem checking in at 11am (normal check in is at 3pm), but that did not happen. I was dead on my feet at this point. I walked around the city a bit being the hotel is literally in the center of the business district, but did not want to stray too far. The awesome valet that I had talked to knew I was up for about 24 hours at this point and credit to him, he kept checking with the front desk to see if my room was ready. Eventually, he grabbed all my bags I had in storage and told me I had a room; I checked in and he took my stuff to the room and gave me more information about trains and such. I will get his name tomorrow; wonderful guy!
I then set my alarm and had the most peaceful 3.5 hour nap ever...woke up at 6:30 to get ready to meet a co-worker (Stephen) who is currently living in Cologne. Met him in the lobby at 7pm after cleaning off the travel funk. We then walked around rainy Cologne a bit and then found a restaurant to get a beer (Kölsch in Cologne) and some dinner. The Dom Cathedral was having a mass when we got there, so just external shots of that.
Got a steak kebab with a baked potato, followed by apple strudel for dessert.
Another of the many older churches in the city...
And my TV watching this week will be quite limited, unless I begin to pick up some German...