Underway, the Kölner Way

When many Americans talk about seeing Europe, the bulk of these people can be divided into two groups: the tour bus or backpacking crowds.  Some folks spend their hard-earned dough on a blitz-offensive of Europe like the kind seen in “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” rushing city to city in an attempt to “experience” Europe in an insanely tight time frame.  Rome, Berlin, Paris, London, fly back home.  Others try to backpack through Europe, and spend a lot of time in hostels.  This is a fine option for younger folks, but not everyone.

But our troupe doesn’t fit into those categories.  We are European veterans, having taken our time to see the on- and off-the-beaten-trail sites.  And with a baby, and no car, the list of “Crazy things we have done in life” has just gotten longer.

The baby would surely complicate any activity, just because he demands an entourage.  His stroller, diapers, food, bottled water, freshly squeezed orange juice and newspaper in the morning.  But these added items seem even heavier during a move.

Our already full suitcases needed to fit even more things, that we had shipped to ourselves.  After months in Schmargendorf, the troupe had a new place to hang its hats for a few months…

Cathedral in Köln
Home for a while.


After a frantic few days of finding an apartment, packing, cleaning (which was only half-completed..sorry Hausmeister), loading everything into a taxi, rushing to the train, heaving everything into the train, having an older woman tell me our bags were in her way, me telling older woman that I will move them as soon as possible but the welfare of my family was more important than her handbag, us finding our seats, same older woman telling me about how she likes to bake for her children and grandchildren, unloading train, loading taxi, talking about integration with aTurkish cab driver, signing a lease, and lugging bags up 2 flights of stairs….we were home.

The new digs
The neighborhood on my early morning walk to the train.

I will be posted with WDR, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, for a few months…just steps from the famous Cathedral and hundreds of tourists. It is an interesting experience seeing the differences in radio systems, and discovering what things are done better or worse in both systems.

But having endured a move across Germany, we are now being exposed to a new type of German…the Rhinelander.  Not to be confused with the Highlander, or colander.  In this part of the country everyone has a favorite type of Kölsch, a local brew served in double or triple shot glass-sized glasses.  This was one of the richest cities in West Germany, and it is still doing okay for itself.

Our neighborhood is quiet, but well-connected to the rest of the city.  It is nice to be settled, at least for a while.  And it is nice to get back to being a radio guy on a daily basis, though working in German has definitely changed my role.  Before, I could participate and contribute in everything on a moment’s notice, and now I attend meetings and offer an occasional American perspective.  Here a person is not a reporter, producer, editor, technician, etc.  Here a person has one job.

We will see what I can do.  I have another commentary in the works, and am trying to sniff out a feature or two.  It’s a different place, Cologne, but it’s proving to let us carry on business as “usual.”–whatever that means.

Stay tuned.


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