We left Wetzlar on Tuesday, April 12th. On the final night there, we slept for our first night in the RV, parked in the beautiful river area next to old town Wetzlar. We were only footsteps from our third story flat above the old town jewelry store. We had grown to love the area. It was very peaceful.
We drove north west to Cologne, or Koln in German. It was less than two hours drive. I had researched the music and violin stores in the area and one came up in particular that seemed to have promise, as it seemed large and I felt they might have some fine and rare violins for sale. It was Sonatina Music.
This workshop specializes in bow making and well as bow and string instrument restoration. We arrived there during the lunch hours (most European businesses close between 12-2:39), so we walked nearby to what happened to be the train station and had lunch. The train station was right next to the magnificent cathedral of Koln.
The cathedral is a World Heritage Site, one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany, and Cologne's most famous landmark, described by UNESCO as an "exceptional work of human creative genius". It is Germany's most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day.
Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, until 1880 to complete. It is 144.5 metres long, 86.5 m wide and its towers are approximately 157 m tall. The cathedral is one of the world's largest churches and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. For four years, 1880-84, it was the tallest structure in the world, until the completion of the Washington Monument. It has the second-tallest church spires, only surpassed by the single spire of Ulm Minster, completed 10 years later in 1890. Because of its enormous twin spires, it also presents the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir of the cathedral, measured between the piers, also holds the distinction of having the largest height to width ratio of any Medieval church, 3.6:1, exceeding even Beauvais Cathedral which has a slightly higher vault.
Cologne's medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship of the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral eventually became unified as "a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value" and "a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe".
We ate at McDonalds – not exactly adventurous, but sometimes food that is familiar (not to mention faster service and cheaper) is needed on a long trip like this. There was a large model train display running in the train station which Siobhan really liked.
Sonatina's shop was just 5 blocks from all this magnificence!
We walked back and rang the bell on the huge wood doorway. The owner himself came to great us. We explained who we were. He thought a moment, then invited us in. We climbed the cold stairway into his second story complex and we were in the shop. His English was pretty good and we managed to communicate. Siobhan watched a movie on the IPad. Alex and I stepped into the adjoining room and Alfredo started bringing violins out. It was funny, because at first he thought he wouldn’t have anything for us, but then he kept finding things. There were two luthiers working in the next room adjacent to us. He brought out 20 in total. We bought 17 of those. They were all very beautiful! One of the interesting pieces was one we call the Red Violin, as its finish was a rich dark red. There was also a beautiful ¾ violin. We ended up coming back the next day to finalize the purchase and pick up the instruments as we had an appointment that evening that we were late to.