Somewhere In Cologne, September 2008. Choosing the location for my stag weekend was not a decision I took lightly. My dream had always been Las Vegas, but when push came to shove it proved a financial commitment too great for most of my chosen ones. I then flirted with the idea of Pamplona, but for me it absolutely had to be during the running of the bulls and this time availability was the issue. In the end I made a practical decision that worked out well for everyone. I was living in Brussels at the time, so the German city of Cologne was just a two-hour train-ride away, also perfect for my fellow Brussels-dwellers Chris and Erik. For my soon to be brother-in-law meanwhile, it was a similarly stress-free trip up from Amsterdam, while my good friends Steve, Steve and Ad grabbed an inexpensive, speedy flight over from London. Only Jon, the trooper that he was, had to fly halfway across the world from Nashville, Tennessee. But then he was the best man and sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. This photo, taken late on during the first night’s festivities, is a special one in that it’s always had something of a Reservoir Dogs feel. I will refrain from suggesting who Mr. Pink is.
Cologne Cathedral, September 2008. I’m proud to say that weekend wasn’t all about drinking, junk food and um… other activities. I was insistent from the very beginning that we take in as much of the city as we could, including an essential visit to Cologne Cathedral. More than a little hung-over, the dim lighting and reflective silence inside turned out to be just what we needed. Less welcomed was the five hundred and thirty three step, one hundred meter climb up the South Tower. But of course we got on with it, trudging ever upward, past the impressive bell chamber and out onto the open-air platform.
City Views From Cologne Cathedral, September 2008. Naturally the climb was well worth it, with some fine views across the city on what was a cool, reasonably clear day. Not wanting our cultural ambitions to end there, we later took in the informative albeit grim National Socialism Documentation Centre, a somber museum in which the darkest period of German history is brought alive through personal stories, an authentic Gestapo prison cell and even a bomb shelter. By the time we were done with all that, our hangovers had long since disappeared and we were ready for another round of beers!
Unknown Pub, September 2008. I’m usually good at documenting the names of places, right down to every last pub, café and restaurant. But needless to say that weekend was a bit of a blur and I couldn’t tell you where this photo was taken. Not wanting to make a big deal out of getting a group shot, I fired off this one discreetly into the mirror that framed the back of our table. Considering three of my seven-strong stag team hadn’t met before, this picture reminds me of how fantastically well everyone got on right from the start. Good times!
Taxi Racing, September 2008. On our final evening, a barman recommended some particularly impressive nightclub situated on the outskirts of town. Bundling into two separate taxis, our respective drivers took it upon themselves to make a race out of it. Not that the driving was reckless or anything, but in our inebriated states it still felt like a thrill as we whizzed off towards our mysterious destination. In all the excitement and the passing of the years, I have no idea who won. What I do remember though is the venue itself, a huge establishment with abusively expensive drinks, table service and a number of upstairs floors that resembled The Black Lodge from Twin Peaks. Just for the record, I did not meet The Man From Another Place and I had no interest whatsoever in peeking behind the red curtains!