The following morning was grey and cold with a wind to ensure we stayed in the lounge bar. Only those with a nicotine addiction braved the cold. We were awoken by the sound of the crew casting off at 6.00am and pushed out of bed by the shudder of the diesels rumbling to life. We are returning to Cologne and our trip back to the UK this time aided by the river flowing towards the sea. After breakfast we settle into a sunny spot in the lounge. The mist stayed in Rudeschimer and now in Koblenz the sun is shining but the wind remains cold and the sun deck the haunt of those unfortunate addicts. I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture of the Koblenz Brewery and hoped to see some more things to record but I am pretty weary of this boat travel by now and turn to my book regarding theology and a university in Toronto.
When in Cologne previously Kerry had developed the plan of walking to the cable car across the river and visiting the zoo. We docked in Cologne about 2.00pm. Straight away we set about walking to the cable car and the zoo. Great plan but the walk proved very challenging. We walked along the river with the old city watching our progress.
After 45 minutes we encountered a park which seemed oddly located in the industrial end of Cologne (Kholn to the Germans) whilst reasonably maintained seemed to be a bit forgotten. Another 15 minutes walking negotiating the park we found the cable car terminus. It too looked somewhat decayed. We did not have to wait too long before we were high above the freeway and bridge crossing the Rhine with magnificent views of the city and up the river towards Koblenz. We even discovered that the park was more alive than we thought. Beside the terminus was a building so covered with vine we thought it abandoned but once we were in the air we could this was an indoor pool and aquatic area. Dozens of people were sunning themselves on banana lounges and splashing about in the pool. Outside the pool a miniature train was chugging around the park with joyous Kholners riding its miniature carriages.
Our ride ended opposite the Cologne Zoo – set on the outskirts of the city in the suburbia of the city. The zoo did not appear any different to other zoos from the outside but inside the first animals were domestic pigs, sheep, goats and rabbits. Kerry did not see this as she was headed in the opposite direction – so I popped over to look at the Persian Onagers grazing beside the ablution block. Kerry re-joined me and we moved in an anticlockwise direction through the zoo’s exhibits. We had limited time so we pushed on determined to see as much of a difference as the zoo had to show. What followed? The meerkats, the raccoons, the sun bear, the cheetah, the grizzly bear, the red panda (the poor thing was curious to talk to Kerry and got zapped by the electric fence containing it causing it to rush up a tree), tapir and capybara, giant anteater, the tiger, the leopard (he seemed obsessed with the snow leopard in the opposite cage but when we looked for it, the snow leopard was not there – maybe he knew something about its whereabouts), the gibbon ( the zoo has a number of enclosed environments to suit various animals and this created a dramatic cave like atmosphere or jungle path for the visitor to feel like an explorer), elephants (we had to skip the great apes because of time), oh some homo sapiens dwellings but they weren’t coming out for pictures today, Californian seals, Przewalski’s horses, bison, rhino, giraffe, hippos (but they too were camera shy so I pictured the enclosure) and crocodiles (Africans not the big saltys from Australia so I did not bother with a picture) and Kerry’s favourite the Flamingos.
We finished in the zoo about 5.30pm and with sore feet contemplated the walk home. We had passed the light rail on the way so after some enquiries we tried our hand at negotiating the Cologne trams. Without any trouble we made our way to the centre of the old city leaving us only a 45 minute walk back to the boat. We crossed the main railway bridge (now called the Lock Bridge because of all the Love Locks now hanging from the railings – thousands of them). We got back to ship to shower and go to dinner. Pretty good effort but we fell asleep very quickly that night.