DüKö

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Shop window in Cologne: “Carpe Diem! (Just kidding)”

This past week has been crazy. When I was cleaning today, I was surprised at how my apartment had not really gotten messy and I realized that is because I hardly have been here.

I was in Cologne a lot, two days for work, one day for not-work. Cologne is the size of Stockholm, roughly, and in some ways my trips there remind me of my frequent travels from Uppsala to Stockholm some years ago. The difference is just that a) Uppsala-Stockholm is 80 kilometres and cost 10 euros while Dizzel-Cologne is 30 kilometres and costs 12 euros b) my cool friends all seem to live in Cologne c) Dizzel does not at all have the charms Uppsala enchanted me with. Actually, it is a with a bit of bitterness that I spend time in Cologne because things there just seem to much more, hm, alive. But living in Cologne and commuting to Dizzel is completely out of the question for me. Many people do that but I am unwilling to spend that time in a crowded train.

Actually, I would not be surprised if Düsseldorf and Cologne in 150 years would be one city. Of course it has to do with how demographics develop but already today the borders in this region become blurred – where does Düsseldorf end and Duisburg start? It seems to be a matter of a few metres. At work, we already call our region DüKö (Cologne is Köln in Germany) which I would find a proper silly name for a Carnival Mega Town. We are clearly ahead of our times. (Natives of Dü and Kö would protest heavily against that idea, though.)

I got a delicious yoghurt at the car headquarters where they also had beautiful pillows and our Business Breakfast came with very Swedish catering

Anyway, what did I do there then? For work, I had a meeting with a large Swedish car manufacturer, I tried to figure out some Google Analytics related stuff, helped to hold a Business Breakfast with a Swedish office furniture company where we learned interesting facts about colors in the workplace (did you know you should have orange in your welcoming area?) and gathered my young professional group.

“Kvinnor kan!” is a phrase my co-worker exclaims semi-ironically when we get something done that old-fashioned people believe only male humans can do. [“Women are capable”] In Cologne, they have the only Handwerkerinnenhaus in Germany which translates to Craftswomen’s House. You guessed it, it is only women teaching women/girls there. And they teach everything you could possibly want to be able to do – I attended the basic do it yourself course though.

I now have a better idea of how electric stuff works and I can drill into tiles! The most fascinating part of this course was probably how strongly I reacted to the teachers being women. It is one thing if a man tells you a woman can do this just as well but it is, strangely, something else to see a trained carpenter before you. As a bonus, they had some hilarious info material with funny slogans, see photographic evidence below.

At night, my friend Maike took me to the Cologne Belgian Quarter where they have seriously awesome shops and where the people I’ve been trying to find seem to hang out: the post-25-year-old work entrants who don’t yet have kids and spend every evening at home. Something which was particularily striking was that a lot of men we saw were very tall. And by very tall I mean 195 cm and taller.

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These lights outside the bars of the Belgian Quarter kept changing color

 

 

 

Welcome to the Nineties!

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One should travel more in one’s own country. Because there are amazing things to discover. Like yesterday, when I made my long, expensive way far out west to Bonn and Cologne. I thought I was only travelling to a different part of Germany but it turned out I travelled in time as well.

My friend Maike recently moved to Bonn and this weekend, was throwing her first party. Since it is my New Year’s resolution to party more, I promised to come. They told me,Bonn was only some twenty minutes away from Cologne (not true, it takes forever to get there) and Bonn used to be the German capital. Now you are all like, “What do you mean, capital, isn’t Berlin the capital?!” Well, it is now and was then but when Germany was divided, someone decided that Bonn should be where the German government should have its seat. So from 1949 to the Nineties, Bonn was the center of power.

When I stepped off the train in Bonn, I truly felt like I had been catapulted back into just that time. It is like Bonn tries to conserve its time of importance by leaving everything as it was then. The signs in the metro – and the metro itself – look exactly like when I was 5. The logos on the signs are not even in use anymore. It is very fascinating. It is just like time travelling!

These signs show the way to all the federal institutions which remind the visitor that this used to be the capital.

These signs show the way to all the federal institutions which remind the visitor that this used to be the capital.

1992, I'd say.

1992, I’d say.

Speaking of time travelling, the first thing I thought about when I heard Bonn was of course the Haus der Geschichte, History’s House, a museum located in Bonn. I have always wanted to go there and so I rushed in there 90 minutes before they closed (I also took a major detour to go see it). Let me tell you, this museum is an excellent use of tax money. The museum is free (read: tax-financed) and there is countless museum staff everywhere. And they are even friendly when you approach them.

The museum itself is paradise for any person that cares about Germany, the past, the present or generally the world. Luckily, the Haus der Geschichte is a part of Bonn that has arrived in the 2000s which is clearly reflected in the museums forms of display. You are walked through 1945 to 2013ish and I can tell you, until 1960 I constantly had goose bumps. The original films of little children saying their names and “I am looking for my parents” from the end of the war when so many families were separated are just as touching as the posters the American allies put up, saying, “People of Berlin, the world looks to you and you are not alone, we Americans stand with you and will defend your freedom”. (During the time of the Luftbrücke when the US allies transported food into West Berlin by plane because the Russians decided to, with a blockade, try and starve West Berlin into joining socialism.) I also learned, by the way, that Sweden sent care packages with toys and food for the German children.

Haus der Geschichte

Haus der Geschichte

I had the pleasure of being hosted by #mydanishintern in her lovely new apartment in Cologne. The photo shows Cologne's most famous landmark, the impressiv cathedral

I had the pleasure of being hosted by #mydanishintern in her lovely new apartment in Cologne. The photo shows Cologne’s most famous landmark, the impressiv cathedral

Reunited with #mydanishintern, an excellent host

Reunited with #mydanishintern, an excellent host

I think all countries’ history is interesting, but Germany’s history lies closer to my heart for patriotic reasons and because it is more intriguing as so much happened – both absolutely shocking and terrifying things and unprecedented success. The spectrum is just very large.

If you ever go to Cologne or Bonn, make sure to pay History’s House a visit. Everything in there is just so interesting!

To put it with the great German poet Schiller’s words (in my mediocre translation),

“Every day, history becomes dearer to me. I wish I had studied nothing but history for ten years, I believe I would be a whole different person”.

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Train on the way to Bonnn, writing an article.

On the way from Bonn, carpooling in a very dirty 1990s car with 9 people.

On the way from Bonn, carpooling in a very dirty 1990s car with 9 people.

P.S.: I also realized on my journey that I am so much more of a train person than a car person. I am close to saying that I would rather stay home than go by car, but that might be putting a bit too drastically.