Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cologne Crazy!

I'm proud to say that I've accomplished a few feats since reaching my 6th decade of life. It hasn't been anything as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest, but I have, among other things, kayaked in the Pacific, hiked through a rainforest, rock climbed and rollerbladed on a moving ship, and participated in a 5 km run. I can now add something new to my list.

We recently visited the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral), a fabulous edifice to be sure. I have been there before and have always marvelled at the magnificent gothic architecture of this world heritage site. The spires are the second tallest in the world. This cathedral is said to attract over three times more tourists daily than the castle Neuschwanstein (see blog August 24, 2012).

As always, there were the familiar buskers outside the cathedral doors. The temperature hovered around 20C when we arrived, so I wore a light cover up. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It was a clear morning and I was feeling particularly energetic so I decided to climb, at a cost of 3.50 Euros to the top of one of the spires. It too seemed like a good idea at the time. Then the ticket seller announced, "It will take approximately half an hour to the top." 
."Hmmm" I thought. "How difficult can it be to climb just under 600 steps for a scenic view?"
The stairs were very narrow and looked like this.
  Toes inside my giant size ten shoes desperately curled and gripped the tiny edge of the steps as the onslaught of downward climbers claimed the wider handrailed side of the stairs. The centre pole provided some, albeit not much security as I gave it a gentle hug from time to time allowing people to pass. Beads of perspiration formed on my face and I realized that I had only counted two hundred stairs thus far. I definitely was not used to walking en pointe. I edged on.
 Finally, finally, with clothing soaked through, eyes stinging, face red and hair looking as though I had just had a swim in the Rhine River below, I saw light and felt moving air. I had made it! Or so I thought. Indeed, I had conquered 509 stone steps. But wait, what did I see ahead? A few steps with sturdy looking railings were beckoning, calling the brave to yet another several flights of stairs, now of the rickety fire escape type.
Could I, would I go on? Well, I wasn't turning back now!

The steps were scary. I eased my way up the tiny bits of perforated metal. As I made my way toward the top, I pretended to be winded, let a few young people pass and stopped to snap some photos. "Don't look down," I repeated over and over to myself as I completed my final approach.

I made it.

What a fabulous view.
The trip down the stairs was considerably easier and faster. This time, I had the advantage of the wider side of the step and the handrail. Besides that, I looked forward to the beer reward which I'd promised myself when reaching the bottom. And of course, it was always a chuckle announcing that there were only a few hundred steps to go to those individuals headed up and carrying the burden of massive backpacks. What were they thinking?
A few days later, we went to Ulm. This is the Munster church, the tallest in the world.
It has 768 steps to the top. I did not go. After all, I have to save some things to do when I'm in my seventies don't I?

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