(Monday) Our next day in Köln seemed short but very full. We went for a stoll in the Altermarket, an old area of the city that has been built up since Roman times. Found a pharmacy for some good quality german essentials, then went on into a busy pedestrain mall. A Lego outlet store beconed us all quite strongly -- Elwyn especially so. A perfect Lego Death Star greeted us at the door )with a 549€ tag!) The boys got their fill of Lego play and shopping and we headd to the Dom Cathedral than I had photographed the night before, looking for an inside view.
Here, the remains of the Three Wise Men (yes THE ACTUAL three kings of Jesus fame) are kept in a gold box, housed in a spectacular gothic chapel, which had been built on an old Roman holy site for that purpose. 12 stunning churches surround this wonder, all of which were bombed in the war, and which are still partially going reconstruction, one church at at time. It takes decades of work, as these are pretty amazing places. Rain pounded on us in brief torrents throughout the day, but we managed to stay quite dry.
then our 19-hour-long train ride began between Köln and Stockholm. We boarded a German ICE train, which took us across Germany to Berlin in about 4 hours, travelling at speeds up to 250kmh. German trains seem socially colder, with less well-stocked cafeterias, terrible coffee, leather seats, glass doors, and so on. Comfortable, nonetheless.
We arrived at 10:30pm and waited in Berlin Central Station for an hour before bording our old Swedish sleeper train for the overnight journey across the Baltic Sea. The boys managed to stay awake right until their heads hit the Swedish train's little pillows at 11:30pm, and all things considered, were remarkably civilized. We had two cabins with two narrow bunk beds in each, the boys claiming the top (netted) bunks. I had a rough sleep, waking frequently with the violent motions of the old train, though the 3-hour ferry crossing was peaceful enough.
We arrived in Malmö at 8:30am and waited another hour in the station for the X2000 bullet train to Stockholm, chatting pleasently with a PhD (geography) student from the University of Washington, embarking on her year of field research in Sweden, studying the geography of swedish prostitution laws. Elwyn, groggy but civilized, charmed her with stories about his new Lego inventions.