Today was our last day in Germany, and the day we began our trip home via Istanbul.
We slept in a little this morning, before catching a 10:16am train from Frankfurt to Koln (arriving at 11:34am). The left luggage in Kohn was pretty sketchy (everyone throws their luggage in the same locker?), so we opted to carry our luggage around Koln with us. Once in Koln we saw the large cathedral, which was in the middle of mass when we arrived. As such, we watched from the back of the cathedral, but were unable to explore. On the inside, JT said it reminded him of traditional European cathedrals. On the outside, it reminded us of Prague Castle’s cathedral, due both to the dark coloring and to the bridged towers. After seeing the cathedral, we walked down to see the river. After walking along the river for a bit, we climbed up to walk partway across the bridge that our train went by on the way in that had many locks on it. We’ve seen these locks on bridges elsewhere – apparently it is popular for couple to put locks with their names and date on bridges.
After seeing this, we bought a gift card for Matthias (as thanks for watching over our robots while we traveled) and bought some Coke Light (Diet Coke), pretzels, a chicken nuggets and fries meal, and a bratwurst and fries meal. We then went to catch 2:10 pm train (ICE #610) to Dusseldorf. We maxed out at 106 mph, which made the 24 mile trip rather quick (arrived at 2:31 pm).
This time Katie was able to see the red light ‘hotel’ next to the train tracks when entering Dusseldorf hbf. Women are in some of the windows, and each window has a number on it. It’s an interesting way to advertise to incoming (and outgoing?) passengers. JT saw this establishment from our night train to Prague originally, and couldn’t believe his eyes. It was less active today when we passed it, but it was indeed there. After connecting at the Dusseldorf hbf (main train station), we took the RE3 route (ERB train #89885) one-stop to the airport, arriving around 3pm. We met Matthias (from Nao Devils) around 3:30pm, and Katie went out to his car with him to get the bags since JT’s foot was hurting. We talked with him for a while, and thanked him many times. It was indeed a great help to us for him to agree to store our robots while we traveled and to actually drive them to the airport to meet us. Thanks Matthias!
Once Matthias left, we packed some more clothing that we had left with the robots into JT’s hiking backpack. Then he took it way to the mobile shrink-wrap machine, where he paid €7 for a guy to wrap it. This way we could check it without having to worry about the straps getting caught in anything. We then checked in and enjoyed our Koln beer before going through security. Once at our gate, we packed everything that we were carrying on but didn’t want in Istanbul in Katie’s hiking backpack (most notably, memories, souvenirs , and laptops). This way, we can leave this backpack in left luggage and just carry our smaller backpacks in Istanbul.
Our flight to Istanbul was somewhat crowded, but no one sat in the third seat in our row. Turkish Airlines delivered once again on a great in-flight meal. Dinner consisted of pinto beans, a roll, chicken, rice, vegetables, almond cake, Antolian wine, Efes beer, tea, and water. After dinner, we worked on planning out our little time in Istanbul. We’re getting excited – Turkey holds a special place in our hearts after our visit two years ago. <3