Holding the line

Köln. I wasn’t sure where my first tripped weekend (that is, away from Stuttgart) would take me, but this is what we decided to do. It was pretty sweet; I never knew how much I didn’t understand lines. (Disclaimer: this has nothing to do with illegal substances, so if you think this is where this post is going, don’t. The definition of “line” is wholesome.) Anyhow. You might think that by “line,” I mean something like this.

Lots of straight lines, straight lines comprising squares, straight lines comprising triangles, lines of people, people’s curvy lines, light travels in lin–well, no. Not quite. There’s also the cathedral and the detailed sculptures around most of its doors. Here’s some proof that I do a terrible job of framing my shots, especially with an ultra-wide angle. (I honestly think my sensor might be a bit rotated, but that’s a separate story.) Not buying this line? Take a look. I had to crop this down to make it look a bit better, and still, none of the lines are natural. Quite some work to do here. :-)

To see more lines throughout the cathedral, we decided to climb up the 533 stairs… where we learned that the corridors within the cathedral are short — well, relative to TJ, anyhow. I, being about 3′ 4.5″, was okay.

A visit to Köln wouldn’t be complete without the cliché shot from across the Reine, either, where there are all sorts of lines leading into the city and lines as the rive–well, no. Not this “line”, either.

It was neat to see really happy people on a bathroom sign (at… a Pizza Hut. Yeah, I’m serious — we were there for lunch.),

and it was also incredible seeing this many doughnuts. They probably sold every single one of them, too.

But none of these really captured what absolutely defined the weekend for me. This kid gets the point. I didn’t see the lead-in, but that’s a toddler sitting in the driver’s seat.

The ‘line’ I’m talking about is the racing line, or any type of driving line. The Nürburgring (Nordschleife, more precisely) is just outside of Cologne, and getting there involves some fun driving even off the track. Apart from getting a bit lost on the way, being able to see and hear the mechanical intelligence that comes together in a 13 mile loop is incredible. I get goosebumps from certain things — some of you know what those are — but this was the first time I got goosebumps from watching cars fly around a corner, brakes aglow, tires screeching, and exhaust smoking. It all seems so crude in 2D, as it is presented here; it’s actually almost… sublime seeing it in person.

The 911 and its 2394872987 current-generation variants was probably the most common car I saw at the ‘Ring on Sunday (and lots of BMWs). It was neat to see some Caterhams and other random cars I didn’t recognize,


but the highlight of the day (and weekend) (and time in Germany so far) (and time with Bosch) was being able to drive a car around the ‘Ring (no, I didn’t take pictures when I was the driver). I rode as a passenger first, got a bit of motion sickness, and thought, “Well, crap. I’m going to have to drive around the ‘Ring like the buses go around the ‘Ring.” I can’t say I drove that much faster, but I definitely did my fair share of leaving rubber on the track, heating up the brakes, burning gasoline faster than the manufacturer’s rated consumption rate, and otherwise not being the green liberal I normally am. I didn’t time my lap, either — I have to admit that the adrenaline was flowing enough to make me forget to even glance down at my watch. Thanks to Jason for alerting me of corners, when to get on the gas and brake, and otherwise serve as a driving instructor. I didn’t follow any intelligible racing line at all during the lap (despite Jason’s best coaching), but the bottom line is this: it was undoubtably the most memorable single aspect of the trip, and for me at least worthy of a second take.

This all said, there’s one essential element missing from my description of the weekend (apart from the disclaimer that is post really isn’t the shorter post I promised last time). Köln is really well known for its beer, kölsch, and we were able to sample it throughout the two evenings we were in the city itself (obviously not on Sunday for the ‘Ring). (As an aside, the Päffgen Brewery and the kölsch they brew is awesome — probably the most enjoyable bar I’ve ever been to.)

A great weekend — I’m not sure exactly how kölsch fits into the “line” I kept on referring to earlier, but there were undoubtably two highlights. One, being able to hang out at an awesome bar with friends, and two, being able to experience the Green Hell and coming back to tell about it.

PS: Yes, I intentionally and awkwardly forced “line” into its various definitions here. There’s really no correlation at all other than the brief mention of “racing line.” I wish I had the foresight to plan a theme and take pictures around it (to the one who suggested this, you know who you are!).

PPS: Dunno what this coming weekend will be. Other parts of Europe are in the works, provided I can get a tripod here…

Holding the line

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