From there, Kim, Fabian, Jo, Trey, Meezy and I split into two cars and drove towards the Nurburgring. It was cool to experience driving a car in Germany. I know not every car will have this, but our Volvo had the head up display so I could always see in my line of sight what speed I was going, what the speed limit of the road was, and if there were any road restrictions (like a no passing area, for instance). Of course not having a speed limit on the Autobahn is cool, too! My sister and I thought it was amusing that many of the road signs included a large picture of an upcoming attraction or city, instead of just the name of it.
I've been to the Nurburgring before, but I was excited to visit again, especially because 3 of the people in our group had never been. We grabbed lunch at the diner on-site, which is right by the entrance to the track. The parking lot was full of ridiculous cars and we got to see some pretty sweet ones driving by the restaurant windows, heading towards the entry. After we finished eating, we drove a couple miles away to get a good viewing spot for the racing. If you aren't aware, the Nurburgring is a public track where anyone and everyone can bring their car and skills out to see what they're made of. That means you'll go from seeing a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with a Sunday driver behind the wheel, to a fifty-thousand-ish dollar car that's had the passenger seats removed and roll cage added with a "professional" wearing a helmet behind the wheel, all the way down to a young kid with a Passat, with no business driving fast and taking corners. There's really no telling what you'll see on any given day.
It's so entertaining to not know what or who is going to come around the corner next, and not know whether they'll handle the turn correctly! After we watched for more than an hour, we piled back in our cars and headed towards our next destination - the Haribo store in Bonn. This is another place we've been to before, but I figured it was worth an additional visit so my sister and her husband could see it. We're used to seeing a few bags of Haribo gummy bears for sale in our stores in America, so this store is eye-opening! It has every known variation of gummy candy available, including some non-gummy items. It's certainly a good destination for parents needing to buy souvenirs for their small children back home!
Only like 1 color of gummy bear? You're in luck!
I mean, I'm guessing something to do with coconut and marshmallow, but there's no telling.
From the Haribo store, we drove into Cologne and found our hotel - Hilton Cologne. Being a Hilton, it was definitely nice, but the shower was much smaller than I would've liked! I know things in Europe aren't built for us obese Americans, but being able to move my arms while showering is usually helpful.
We dropped off our luggage and headed out into the city to do some exploring. The hotel is very close to the famous Koln Cathedral, so we certainly needed to drop by and give it another look. We also walked across the famous Hohenzollern Bridge, above the Rhein River, which is filled with tens of thousands of love locks (including one for me and Meezy that was placed there by Kim years ago. No clue how to find it now!).
After our sightseeing, we decided on a dinner location - Si, Claro. Eating Mexican food in Europe can be an adventure in itself, but this place wasn't too bad! They had guacamole and hot sauce, but no queso. (WHY IS THAT A THING). We got a laugh when both Kim and Meezy ordered cabrito taquitos, with totally different things in mind. Being from Texas, Meezy assumed they'd have goat meat in them, but Kim knew they were goat cheese taquitos. When the confusion was cleared up, Meezy was fine with accepting the goat cheese, but Fabian was shocked that we really thought goat meat was coming. jajaja!
Since Kim and Fabian live in Cologne, we went back to their apartment to hang out for the rest of the night. They were the most wonderful hosts and had gotten some of our favorite snacks and drinks beforehand to have ready for us. It was another great night of relaxing and catching up with our friends!