As we greet him—Guten Tag—in the lobby’s intercom, we don’t know yet that Artur barely speaks German himself.
Our couch-surfing host is a foreign PhD student—a theoretical physicist—and he gives powerful hugs.
He obviously works out.
He shows us around.
He does not know that Gasse means Alley.
Thinks it’s some kind of goose.
The three of us drink beer in skinny glasses, eat typical food.
The next day is perfect.
Just like chocolate. We arrive at a first museum, where we create our very own candy bars—we’ll need the snacks later on.
The next museum is funny, there is a wooden lion, mustard pours out of its mouth, absurd like the English translation they print out for tourists—we have no clue what the guide is explaining.
Shopping is next—this will be important—then another museum, where we arrive JUST IN TIME for the tour in French. We learn all there is to know about perfume, buy too many samples, but it smells so good.
We climb up the stairs in the Cathedral, taking in the view, taking some pictures, playing hide and seek behind the giant bells.
Then we walk some more, get a beer and a wurst for lunch, our bespoke chocolate bars for dessert, walk some more, admire artworks in a park, arrive JUST IN TIME to the cable car. We are the last people to get in, we cross the Rhine, and then spot nakedness from above.
Who would think building a nudist spa under a cable car is a good idea? Never mind, we love water too much, we inquire, there is a family-friendly zone, and we do have bathing suits (remember the shopping?), we enjoy the hot water, the cool water, the warm water, the freezing water—our feet are loving it.
Then we walk some more, crossing a bridge back to Artur’s place. We tell him all about today’s adventures.
About the perfect balance of treats: for the eye, the mouth, the heart, the feet.
About the perfect timing of everything.
After dinner, we sleep like logs on his futon.
The next day, we take a picture, he holds us so tight it looks like a family portrait.
Then we leave him, we leave Cologne, the perfection of it powerfully hugged in our memory.
Myriam Legault-Beauregard is, above everything else, a loving mother and translator. At night, when her two young children are asleep, she pursues her literary dreams. Her translations can be found in K1N, Reunion and ellipse, and two of her original poems have been published in PØST-. While French is her first language, she also enjoys writing in English.