Ok, this is totally random, but as you can see from the picture above, it was my first time riding on an EC (EuroCity) train, it was a Swiss train, SBB CFF FFS. When you saw the name of the railway company for the first time, you might wonder why the name is so long, compared to, for instance, DB (Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company), or SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, the French railway company). SBB CFF FFS, according to Wikipedia, stands for Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (German), Chemins de fer fédéraux suisses (French), Ferrovie federali svizzere (Italian), which are in three out of four official languages in Switzerland. The other language is Romansh, but for some reason they don't use it on the name.
Your next question might be, why are you in a Swiss train? The train actually goes between Hamburg-Altona (in the northern area of Germany), and goes all the way to Zürich. A long, long way, right? The good thing was, the train was empty until we reached Dortmund and Düsseldorf, so it was really nice.
|I love empty train!|
|Too bad, some parts are being renovated and the sky is really cloudy, so it doesn't look that pretty.|
|It's always interesting to see what the stained glass explains about ritual/ history.|
After looking at the Dom, I walked to Rhine River, which is the most romantic river in Europe, well at least that's what people said. Maybe because it was cloudy and raining, I thought that Charles River in Boston is still my favorite river ever!
Of course, there are 'love locks' along the bridge on this river. If you don't know why people put locks on the bridge, I will tell you the story behind it. Couples who want to make sure their love last forever, may 'lock' their love on the bridge, and throw away the key to the river; so, they cannot 'unlock' their love, and their love will last forever.
|Overrated Rhine bridge, packed with people. If you see the left part, that's actually a railway that goes to the central station.|
|Full of locks. I wonder how much all the locks weigh.|
|Anti-mainstream: bike lock.|
After that, I walked to the Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum), which was about 20-30 minute walk. When I arrived there, the museum was not open yet, so I needed to wait for 20 minutes. So many people wanted to go to this museum, and the line was really long before the doors were opened.
After that, I indulged myself in the world of chocolate... The God's food.
|Schokoladenmuseum, sponsored by Lindt!|
|I found Dij Sam Soe in the museum! Hidup rokok Indonesia!|
|They even have mini size chocolate factory inside the museum.|
|How they made the chocolate wrapper.|
And the robot does the tedious job!
|How the chocolate candies evolve (including how the drug store looked like in 1930s -where the chocolates were sold). They were also some old chocolate ads, including the TV commercials, in black and white!|
|And the real sized purple cow from my favorite chocolate, Milka!|
Apparently, Indonesia is also the third biggest producer of cacao, after Ivory Coast and Ghana, but why don't we have a decent chocolate brand in Indonesia?
Enough with the chocolate knowledge and sample, I went to the museum store, and I got really excited. It was full of all different kinds of chocolate! Unfortunately, most of them contains alcohol, so I cannot eat it. But I got a really good one, a mango milk chocolate (and I Google Translated the ingredients -no alcohol/ gelatine!). Yum...
My next stop was Farina, Cologne's Fragrance Museum, the oldest perfume store in the town, where I got a 'perfume tour' with a man dressed in 1700 attire. When I walked there, though, it was pouring...
I couldn't take pictures during the tour, but it was a great tour! I recommend it if you come to Cologne, but you have to book it in advance.
|Farina 1709. The website is: http://farina.eu/.|
So, here is the history you've been waiting for...
Farina family originally came from Italy, and they settled down in Cologne in 1700. However, for out-of-towners, their job options were limited, so they decided to open a perfume business in 1709. Everything went well, and they had famous customers, like Princess and Princes from all over Europe, also Napoleon! Farina also invented a lighter perfume, because in the past, people tended to use heavy perfume and not showering for months -which made the smell became unbearable. Because of that, Farina's lighter perfume became a big hit. So, some people tried to take advantage and sold perfumes, with much lower quality, for cheap price using Farina's name. This was bad for Farina family, because the luxury image of Farina slowly decreased. After 80 year of legal battle, Farina could finally clean its name and be the only one to use 'Farina' name.
What did other perfume makers do? The light perfume was since known as Eau de Cologne, instead of Farina, and it still contains 2%-5% of main ingredients until now.
In the tour, we also saw how the perfume bottles evolve, what the stories behind extracting a certain ingredient, and how Farina had an absolute sense of smell. We even got to see the old machines used to process the perfume, and tried different extracts: from bergamot, sandalwood, mandarin, rose, to jasmine. FYI, jasmine is the hardest one to extract; it can only be extracted before the sunset and only the petal can be used, and you only get 1 kg of jasmine extract from 700 kg of jasmine petals!
Here is the quick recap of my visit in Farina!
Imagining how much a bottle of perfume could cost, I decided to just look around. I still need to survive the next few weeks in Europe before heading home, right? Haha. Luckily, I got a free tester from the man in 18th century attire. Thanks, Farina!
I went back to Hauptbahnhof after that. I was unlucky, my high speed train ICE 1026 was cancelled, so I need to use IC instead, even though it was the first class. At least, I still arrived on time in Bremen and got to go to the market and bought groceries.
Next week, I am going to Heidelberg for my DAAD-RISE Scholars meeting/ DAAD-RISE, again, is the program that I am doing now, which basically sends students from the US, the UK, and Canada, to do a research internship in Science and Engineering in Germany. Hopefully you are as excited as I am to hear my next story.
On a side note, Ramadan has started, and I have to fast for about 20 hours, the longest one I've ever had in my life. Insha Allah, it's going to be fine and I can divide my time wisely. Ramadan Kareem everyone! :)