You book a cheap hostel in advance knowing the clubs and Kölsch won’t keep you in the room for much more than sleeping in Cologne, Germany. On day one you’ll do exactly the opposite of that, sleeping off your jet lag exactly the way you’ve been told not to. Groggy, you’ll wake up and spend five minutes adding figures on your fingers to figure out what the hell time it is if your clock reads 21:07. When you realize it’s 9 o’clock (pm) you’ll head to the nearest corner store for some dry salami, something that looks like goat cheese (but that turns out to be cream cheese), baguette and, of course, a tall Kölsch–the cheapest, biggest money can buy.
You’ll return to your hostel to beer and dine where you’ll meet three girls from Spain, a doddering Canadian who, unlike your sorry self, speaks impeccable Spanish. You curse yourself for taking French in college until the Canadian, who also speaks French turns to you and asks, Fumez-vous? Oui, you say in your most casual French accent, but he’s already rolling a spliff (it’s illegal to possess or consume marijuana, but carrying small amounts isn’t criminal). You hate the Canadian but will love his bud and his generosity (that far exceeds your own).
In an hour the two of you will leave the hostel, the girls from Spain having long since grown bored of you and your new best friend, and head to Päffgen for the oldest Kölsch in the city. Here you’ll finally befriend some real Germans who offer their own bud only to gasp in horror when you try to roll a joint sans tobacco. Nevermind, you’ve gained their respect by your hardcore ways, and they invite you to Alter Wartesaal for KitKatClub night. The prospect sounds suspiciously like far too many seedy strip clubs in your Midwestern hometown, but your new friends assure you the place is of the highest class. You and your Canadian, who you begin to tell people is an extra in Trailer Park Boys, agree to the misadventure and pile into a Escalade-esque vehicle with the Germans.
Much to the disappointment of the Germans (whom you begin to suspect are less knowledgeable than their European swag might have you seem), tomorrow night is KitKatClub, and tonight is Soulnight. You lip-sync to a few bassed-up Stevie Wonder hits then, after a few shots of Jägermeister (which you would never drink at home because you graduated college four years ago), sing your heart out to The Jackson 5, hitting all the same notes as little Michael. At four AM you’re half asleep on your feet and at six you’re all but snoring on a padded booth cushion while the Germans dance around with an energy only available to five-year-olds and cokeheads. And Germans.
The next few days are more or less the same as your first, and you never get over your jet lag. On your last day you visit the Dom (forgetting it’s Sunday), and uncharacteristic tears come to your eyes as the chanting voices ricochet from the high stone walls. This same day you visit the Lindt chocolate museum on the Rhine, skipping (you’re a bit high) through the exhibits until you reach the free chocolate samples (a wafer dipped in melted milk chocolate), which you go back for two, three, four times.
You nap on one of the various grassy areas along the river and share a joint with an expat you meet there. He tells you the best place to find döner kebab but you get lost on the way and settle instead for some of the best gelato you’ll ever taste. You eat your melty fare on the steps of the Dom and watch as a young Italian couple (preceded by an offensive amount of cologne) snaps photos of their tiny fat baby. You go back for seconds only to find the gelateria has closed early (because it’s Sunday–which you’ve already forgotten) so you head back to your hostel stopping on the way for some dry salami, cream cheese, baguette and Kölsch.