Birthday Train to Köln

The conductor’s whistle split the chilled, early morning air like the first rays of dawn as we ran down the platform toward our train, tickets in one hand and coffee in the other. It had taken longer than expected to find the correct train, but finally we jumped aboard right as the doors whooshed shut behind us. We found two seats by the window and prepared ourselves for the two and a half hour journey to Köln, otherwise known as Cologne, Germany. The train lurched forward down the darkened track, carrying us into the unknown.

“Happy birthday,” Kurt said to me with a smile. We had caught the very first train of the day with the intention of spending the entirety of it in Germany. I tapped my foot in anticipation as time slowly passed. We discussed our plans for the day, dreaming of all the possibilities ahead of us.

Riders on the Train. Germany, October 2016

Pale sunshine flickered just beyond the horizon, illuminating the countryside as we approached our destination. Finally, the train began to slow its pace, eventually easing itself into the station and letting out a sigh as it came to a halt. 

We excitedly stepped from the train, the cold October wind and gunmetal sky forewarning us of a nearby storm.

Arriving at the Köln train station. October 2016


“I hope we can find the Dom Cathedral,” I said, studying our map to determine the best exit from the station. 

“Let’s just start walking,” Kurt replied, heading for a random exit. 

No sooner had we left the station than the massive, gothic structure of the Dom Cathedral filled our entire field of vision, looming ahead and beckoning for us to come closer. “And I worried we wouldn’t find it!” I said, laughing as we walked forward. 

We approached the bottom of the stairs that led up to the entryway of the massive structure.


We climbed upward, entering not the Cathedral once we reached the top, but its gift shop. After looking at and purchasing a few souvenirs, we decided to get breakfast before exploring the Cathedral at a restaurant recommended to us by the gift shop cashier.