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I swore that I never, ever write a daylog. Well, I was wrong, as the weird policy of nodermeet aftermath nodes to be noded as daylogs forces me to. All part of raising the bar, I guess. Anyway, here goes::

It all began back in October, when I decided to advertise the Cologne nodermeet. Many brave adventurous noders confirmed their interest, when suddenly, four weeks before the whole thing was supposed to take place, the servers started to sprout legs and make their way from California to (of all places) Michigan. Not that there's anything wrong with Ann Arbour, though. Anyway, as only two of the expected noders had my email adress and the cache at Google almost instantly wiped out, nobody had the chance to contact me, reducing the 12 person nodermeet to 3. Bummer. Not to worry I thought, as the two champions of engineering and software design, Spiregrain and Strawberryfrog would honour that favourite city of mine, so I was delighted as their emails arrived, confirming their flights (leaving at the ungodly hour of 6:30 from Stansted Airport). The night before we exchanged phonenumbers and clarified the modus operandi: I would pick the two of them up ca 9:45 from Cologne's main train station. I joined the best girlfriend ever in our communal bed, knowing that everything was taken care of.

Unfortunately we didn't include WAGN in our calculation: At 08:10 MET my mobile began to interrupt my slumber: Strawberryfrog, sounding impressively pissed off, announced that they missed the flight due to "late engineering work" on the Stansted Express route and due to lack of preparation WAGN failed to get them in time to the Airport. Taking the Ibook back to bed, I went through a couple of permutations and decided they'd never make it to Cologne before 16:00 with the available Ryanair flights and went back to my slumber. Half an hour later the mobile rang again, and the sound of a jet engine and Strawberryfrog's yells made clear that they were on their way to Cologne Airport with Germanwings. Rejoicing, I jumped out of bed and tried to make myself representable for the arrival of those two heroic noders.

Indeed, 2 hours later the two of them arrived with the shuttlebus at that most beautiful of German trainstations and so we exchanged greetings and started off to see that self declared "heart of the world". An initial walk through the dome failed due to a starting mass, but we manged to conjure up brillant weather and walk along the rhine, see the medieval city hall and get some food, impressions of the local women and initial beers at the Cafe Fleur. After that we took a cruise down the Rhine to soak up the sun (and the koelsch) before I left the two heroes to rest for an hour.

After that it was Koelsch tasting at my flat and then dinner at the Petersberger Hof, before the two of them had to get some well deserved sleep. In that time the two of them managed to convince my significant other that just because one hangs a considerable amount in front of E2 one doesn't necessarily have to be a deranged individual, which gave me (and her) some hope back. The next day we met at my flat, watched the Blackadder Christmas Carol and then hit one of the local breweries to make our transition to Niederrhein Airport easier (meeting some very pleasant locals and gaining the title "Saufziegen"). 1 hour and 42 minutes later we were in lovely Weeze and managed to admire some V Bird's before squeezing ourself in our own 747-800 to Stansted. There we entered a minicab and made it before 23:00 to our respective homes.

A great time was had and hopefully we'll do the same again next year in New Zealand!

I got up at 4:00 am on Saturday morning to meet Spiregrain at Liverpool Street Station, take a train to Stansted airport and a Ryanair flight to Köln (Cologne, in Germany) via Niederrhein-Dusseldorf airport. The WAGN train stopped short at the little town of Bishops Fucking Stortford instead, leaving a lot of angry and upset people. By the time we got to Stanstead our flight had left. A substitute flight to Köln-Hahn airport via germanwings was purchased, so we got there ahead of time due to a closer airport. Attempts to extract money from WAGN (may they go out of business swiftly) and travel insurance are ongoing. This was Heisenberg's E2-less German international nodermeet.

The weekend was great - our host Heisenberg gave a guided tour, translated, and bought the local beer, Kölsch, which is brewed only in Köln, is around 5% alcohol, and comes in little 200ml glasses. This may sound inadequate, but the temptation is to down it, and the efficient waiter will replace the glass unless you put the beermat on top of it. It's like beer on tap.

So they also have a big old impressive cathedral, which was once the tallest building in Europe, a placid river (The Rhine), and a smart town. All in all it seems a very pleasant place to live if you hold a EU passport and speak fluent German.

Got back home by 11pm Saturday night - avoided the accursed WAGN train by sharing a taxi this time, for a few hours sleep.

Clueless in Cologne
Verirrt und kölschbesoffen in Köln

A spectre is haunting parts of the West Bank of the Rhine River, a ghost of sorts. As is the habit of ghosts conversing with phantoms, it whispers in a decembery, blood-curlingly icysortofy tone of voice: “Heisenberg … oh Heisenberg … wherest arst thou … oh Heisenberg … ooohoo“

Thing is, I actually turned up at the Dec 6-7 Cologne Christmassy Eurotrash Nodermeet. Sure, some fat chance, you might be compelled to laugh out loud – not being able to contact Heisenberg through the only known channel -- E2 /msg, not even knowing what Heisenberg looks like (and vice versa), not having a clue where to meet whom, when or why. But well, I had already booked a most reasonable Ryanair roundtrip from Stockholm, so – what the hell – Cologne might still be worth a mass, I thought, whether I found the nodermeeting or not. (It sure was, and yes -- I sure didn’t).

Heisenberg had told me some time earlier on the catbox that the Crowne Plaza bar in central Cologne would probably be a place worth visiting. So I went to the Crowne Plaza bar (which turned out to have tripled its existence, into 3 bars instead of just one), leaving behind cryptic messages “from montecarlo to Heisenberg (complete with a mobile number)” everywhere, a habit that quickly made me the most suspicious-looking individual in town since Mohammed Atta. (By the way, none of the Crowne Plaza bars did make much of a dent on me, but a bar called Brveghel, just a block or so away, was truly impressive and as lively as they come.)

Well, the town was very nice, the weather reasonable, the Dom (= Cathedral) impressive, the Ludwig Museum interesting, the Christmas markets crowded, the natives most friendly, the kölsch most drinkable, the Rhine quite undrinkably peaceful, so – what the heck, I had a good time, for a haunting ghost!

Thanks for your nice initiative anyway, dear Heisenberg!

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