Two reasons for this post: I'm off to Cologne on Saturday and Stonch said he enjoyed my travel reports. No numbers today, just a series of crap jokes. I hope you enjoy it. Tomorrow it's back to numbers.
On my last trip to Cologne, I took my son Andrew to the Römisch-Germanische Museum. When we came out, there was still an hour and a quarter before our appointment with the rest of the family. It's not hard to guess my opinion of the best way to use that time. Occasionally, I can be very organised. I had a map, marked with pubs I needed to visit, as well as the map I carry around in my head at all times. How could I persuade Andrew to traipse around them all?
"How many pubs do you think I can get around in 75 minutes, Andrew?" "Four or Five."
It's a happy day for the parents when a child learns the value of money. Then they can be bribed. And often with laughably small amounts of cash. It's embarrassing, really, how little you need to offer. But not quite enough to stop me doing it.
The list of pubs in my head was getting no shorter.
"Pah! I bet I can do eight, no trouble. Five euros says I can."
Andrew is surprisingly knowledgeable about pubs and beer for his tender years. He's seen me knocking back pints in England, liters in Bavaria, 33 cls of Trappist in Belgium. He has a pretty good idea of how long it takes me to drink a beer. It's no wonder he thought that he was onto a winner. Whereas I, for the first time I could see an advantage in the irritatingly minute glasses they serve Kölsch in.
He wasn't looking so cocky after I knocked off Alter Markt Treff and Kulisse in five minutes. That was three more than they deserved. In Pfaffen, Andrew insisted I photograph the statue tables - no easy feat, in the gloomiest corner of the pub, with my camera. It wasted valuable drinking time. He isn't daft.
His optimism was brief. When I cheekily ordered a second in Bierhaus en d'r Salzgass (it is Päffgen Kölsch, straight from a wooden cask, after all), he knew the game was up. A quick exit from Sünner im Walfisch, thanks to a friendly, efficient waitress, took away his last hope. Four down, loads of time left. Confidently, I chose Biermuseum, where all draughts are 40 cl , as our next stop. A couple of minutes were enough to dispatch a Doppelbock (I was in too much of a rush to ask which).
Not even the 10 minutes we hung around in Haxenhaus zum Rheingarten before a surly waiter threw a menu at us, could perk Andrew up. Especially when, pissed off at being made to sit at the bar in a half-empty pub, I downed my expensive Kölsch (1.70, 20 cents more than the most I paid anywhere else) in one. By the time we hit Im Martinswinkel, he had lost interest in our bet. Like me, he's fascinated by history. He was soon drawn to the "look what carpet bombing does to an historic city" photos. You see them a lot in Cologne. I can understand why.
I made it with five minutes to spare. Even after doubling up in en d'r Salzgass and being ignored in Haxenhaus. One of the most pleasurable five euros I've ever earned. I got to drink my favourite Kölsch, visit two places I had never been inside before and find a new pub to add to my guide.
So the next time I begin to burst with frustration at being continually in need of a fresh beer because of those stupid, tiny Kölsch glasses, I'll remember that they can, if only very occasionally, be quite useful.
Bamford Beer Festival -
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