17-Mar-2017 -- As I had been in Germany for three days, and as the focus of my visit was to promote spatial thinking and the use of geotechnologies, and as this would be my fourth and final day here, and as I had been so busy with meetings, teaching, and conducting workshops that this was the only day in which I could conduct a confluence visit, I found myself on a bicycle rented from under the bridge near the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral). I was already very cold from my climb to the top of the steeple, as the weather was snowy today, and the last 200 steps were encased in ice. But not to be thwarted, I made my way across the parking lots, up the steps to the bridge, and over the Rhine, heading west. The bridge was one of those where pedestrians over the years have been placing locks on the structure, and I paused to take a few photographs. I then turned north and followed a combination of river trails, city streets, and busy highways through Mülheim and Stammheim on my journey to the fields and trails where I knew the confluence lay. I knew the cold would drain my phone battery but I relied heavily on turn-by-turn directions. Fortunately I brought my spare charger, which I began using not far from the confluence point. Periodically blowing into my hands to ward off the cold, which were covered by thin mittens, after about an hour I came to the fields bordered by cycling and walking paths. Some people were jogging and bicycling here. I stopped at the south end of the confluence field, gathered my supplies, and set out on foot to the northwest.
After about five minutes walk, I found the confluence point near the west end of the field, not far from the railroad. As the field was covered in with about 1/4 meter deep of what looked to be swiss chard plants, which is sort of like a broccoli, I took great care not to damage anything. A few cyclists passed on the path, gazing curiously at me standing in the field. But, nobody bothered me. Interestingly, I found this same crop planted in England years ago at 52 North 0.
This was only my second confluence point in Germany and my first in nearly 10 years. I had stood on 51 North a few times before in England and Belgium, but never on 7 East. I As I had worn my map man t-shirt, I quickly took off my outer layers, though it was very cold, to make sure this shirt was visible in my photographs. The area where the confluence lies is covered with fields, largely flat with a few small hills, very pleasant bicycle and pedestrian paths, woods, and a golf course. I would love to return someday in warmer weather. The point is not far from the city of Köln but gives the impression of the lovely countryside of Nordrhein-Westfalen in western Germany. The temperature stood at about 4 °C (39 °F) and a light snow was falling under cloudy skies. Due to the cold, I only remained on the spot a short time, which would have been even shorter had it not been for my numb fingers slowing everything down. It was only a few days before the Vernal Equinox but felt like the middle of winter. But I did enjoy every moment.
In fact, I did not want my adventure to end here, so decided to cycle north to the next town, Wiesdorf, across the Rhine at Merkenich back to the west, and then south through Longerich and Nippes back to Köln. The first part of the journey was a confirmation that Google directions via bicycle is still not a perfect science. It led me along the east side of the fence along the railroad track along what was not even a trail, and then on the wrong side from the station, where I was faced with a steep walk down the embankment. Emerging unscathed, I then had a very enjoyable but cold ride through residential, rural, and heavy industry (Ford plant) back to the bicycle rental shop near the Köln Cathedral and Train Station. I saw some amazing architecture. There were very few cyclists today due to the weather.
The total round trip bicycle distance came to 18.5 miles, or 29.77 kilometers, requiring about 2.75 hours total time including 30 minutes at the confluence site. Right when I turned in the bicycle, my hands began to thaw and I was in some pain for about 15 minutes. Afterwards, I walked through the city one more time and got some work done before my next stop on my European work trip. It was great to be in the eastern hemisphere. I was very glad to have seen this point and to experience some of the landscapes of Deutschland. Get out there and explore the Earth!