*there are a alternate spellings for everything. it seems that English speakers like to re-name every German town, as well as the name of Deutschland itself (english speakers call it "germany", spanish speakers call it "alemania", german speakers call it "deutschland"....I don't know what other languages call it, but I'm sure it's all different.
The train ride was very pretty- especially when we crossed into France and got our first glimpse of snow-covered countryside:
A winter wonderland! who wouldn't want to sing Christmas carols enthusiastically with this landscape in sight? I have missed proper snow and proper Christmas snow. aah Northern Hemisphere, some things you do so right.
We arrived in Bruxelles, had a brief 2 hour layover which mostly involved us walking about inside the train station. we tried to exit the station, but ended up in a tunnel filled with car exhaust fumes and the smell of pee. back into the station.
We then caught the German high speed train Thallys onwards to Koln, through more ice crusted villages. When we finally left the train, this was the first thing we saw:
Koln cathedral! not too shabby. in fact, one of the most fantastic cathedrals I've seen.