(Belated) WEBMU - Expats across Germany unite!

November 09, 2011

Sunset over Köln

Admittedly, I was a little nervous about joining up with the WEBMU crowd. The name, after all, stands for Whiny Expat Bloggers Meet Up - and whining about things in Germany is the last thing I wanted to do. Whenever I meet expats who have been here longer than I have, I am eager to hear about their feelings and experiences making a new life here, as I hope to be here for the long haul myself. When said expats only have whining to do about Germany, it raises a flag for me and chips away at the naive hopefulness I still feel about how perfect life is here (OK, not entirely perfect, but perfect for me, for now). So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover these expats weren't whiny at all - in fact, they all seemed to be integrated into German life beautifully. Not to mention that they were just awesome people.

St. Ursula's Church, one of the afternoon's excursions

So a few weeks back (yes, I'm grossly behind on this post!), we packed up some snacks and one Frau Dietz in the car and headed up to Cologne for the once-a-year meet-up of fellow English-speaking bloggers around Germany. I had only met Resident on Earth in person before, but most of the others I had had interactions with via their blogs, Twitter or other online networking channels (what would we expats do without the internet?!). It was beyond great to not only put a face with a name, but also learn more about the people behind the blogs. 

St. Ursula's is all about the bones...

Yup, there's a skull inside her head too

I'd been to Cologne twice already, but only to visit the Dom on brief day-trips, so it was great to be able to walk the city with local Resident on Earth and see more of it. The afternoon was quite productive with stops at the Bone Church (St. Ursula's - more great photos via Frau Dietz here), a little cafe/cake shop, a walk along the Hohenzollern bridge with the amazing locks lining the tracks and a trip up the 28-storied KölnTriangle for a panoramic view of the city.
Just one of the amazing 360° views from the KölnTriangle's Panorama Platform, which notes all the city's sights on the glass

After touring around the city, we settled in for a very traditional beer hall meal, where we took up nearly half the room and solicited questioning glaces - and actual questions about who we all were - from neighboring tables. It was my first traditional Cologne experience with Kölsch, where they don't stop bringing the tiny, cold glasses of delicious beer until you cover your glass with your tally-marked coaster and make them stop. Quite the opposite of the usual leisurely European meal service!

Not even to a liter yet - a meager start by German standards

The waiter making the rounds in keeping everyone well on their way to drunkeness

The day chock full of excursions and getting-to-know-you chatter came to a close over the annual That Queer Expatriate's Queer Expedition, in which we all hung out at a gay bar in what is known as the Bermuda Triangle - Cologne's gay 'hood. If it weren't for our hour-and-a-half car ride back home (for most of which I was passed out in the front seat), that would have been the perfect way to conclude a great day meeting new friends. 

For a group I was a little unsure of joining in the first place, I now find I'm looking forward to next year's meet-up and hoping for the chance to tour through some of the other blogger's towns to see them again before a whole year is up. Big thanks to the local hosts for all their planning and to everyone who made the trek all the way there - bis nächsten Jahr!

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische