The group quickly polished off the remaining bottle of tequila and we were off to the races. Yannick was determined to find some sort of party to celebrate the occasion, but without any plans, we had difficulties locating one. It hardly mattered though because in Germany it is legal to drink in public, so we made our own entertainment along the sidewalks of Cologne. We wandered the streets hopping from convenience store to convenience store, beers in hand, chatting, joking, and telling stories all the while. It was a fantastic way to spend the evening and was the whole reason why I wanted to come to Cologne in the first place - it’s not the attractions that make a city great, it's the people! We were out the entire night and didn’t return to the apartment until after 6:00am.
We even got to watch the sun rise on our walk back.
As the days progressed, the weather in Cologne progressively became more rainy which can ruin a travelers plans, but thankfully Yannick and his friends were not deterred by the inclement weather. After a complete washout of a day, Yannick invited me to join him and his friends to the park for a few beers, but within an hour after we arrived a horrendous storm swept over the area. We sprinted through downpour to one of Yannick’s friend’s apartments and spent the evening talking over beers. I learned an incredibly valuable lesson that night - never mistake a Kiwi (New Zealander) for an Australian. For those of you back in Texas, it is the equivalent of thinking someone from A&M attended UT - it usually causes offense.
Strangely, mistaking people the other way is not a problem. People from Australia (or UT for that matter) are comfortable with themselves and don’t really care... perhaps it's an inferiority complex.
Muaha, take that! *makes jabbing motion*
After an unnecessarily long debate over who's better, Australians or New Zealanders, I bid farewell to my new friends and headed home, but even with all the excitement, the highlight of my evening goes to a stranger we met back at the park before the storm hit. He was a man of average height with weathered skin and scraggly, unkept gray hair down to his shoulders. It appeared Yannick knew the man as the park’s local “crazy guy," but he was surprisingly intelligent. I honestly couldn't tell if he was borderline insane or wielded deductive reasoning skills that could rival Sherlock Holmes, but as we talked the man somehow knew the age and degree of one of Yannick's friend, the field of work of an other friend, and knew I studied finance and economic in school. His accuracy startled me and even creeped out one of Yannick’s friends who refused to let him see her hand out of fear of what else he would say about her.
When the storm hit, we all raced home, but as I bid the man farewell he paused for a seemingly long handshake. Curious about what was running through his head, I inquired. He stared at me for a moment and responded that there was an aura of happiness that surrounded me, that I was relaxed and at peace, and that I had wise eyes like Yoda. Chuckling, I smiled and said goodbye to my strange friend as he turned and sprinted through the rain, but I was rather flattered. I've always admired Yoda even though he is a fictional character, but what surprised me was that I know the design of Yoda's eyes were based off Albert Einstein's, a childhood hero mine. I'll never know if the man was completely full of crap or not, but he did get one thing right that evening.
I really am happy.
Farewell Cologne, I’m so glad I visited. Special thanks to Stephan, Yannick and Katrina for making this part of my trip so enjoyable. I can’t thank you all enough!
I’m off to go hitchhiking! Wish me luck!