Cities / Towns Visited: 12
Countries Visited: 6
Steps Taken Today: 13,334
Steps Taken Around the World: 689,622
Once more we had come to a travel day, so I’ll keep this one short; well you know, my version of short, so still a little waffly. Our adventure involved the tram and metro train combination to reach Rotterdam Central Station, then involved taking a series of four more trains. After delays meant that we missed connections and had to wait several times, it took us around six hours, but we finally stepped off the train in Cologne.
For those of you who have never been to Cologne, as soon as you walk out from the main train station your entire sightline is filled with the impossibly tall gothic spires of Dom Cathedral. A truly awe-inspiring scene, with its slightly blackened stone walls, and detailed gargoyles reaching out for freedom. The only draw back is that the picture perfect view is obscured in places by scaffolding, as they are obviously doing some repairs and maintenance on the aging giant.
We quickly agreed that, after dumping our bags at our nearby hostel, we would go and visit the cathedral to see if the interior matched its outward beauty. As we walked back to the church with the heat of the sun beating down on us, and the mercury almost reaching thirty, it was hard not to chuckle at the fact that just over a month ago we had been stepping out into the snow of a brisk London morning. I was glad I’d chosen to wear a dress, but I would soon regret my decision. As we walked up to enter the church a man standing watch at the door stopped me and asked me if I had a jacket. See I was wearing a sleeveless dress, with tank top straps. It was honestly something I’d never even considered, and I accepted their request for a modest dress code, and hurried back to the hostel to grab a shirt to throw on over the top. Walking back I tried my best to control my internal annoyance at the somewhat ridiculous dress code, especially seeing as my dress was high cut at the top and past the knees at the bottom, but I am understanding to the request and so complied happily. As we walked through the cathedral door without issue, a great anger grew in my chest; just within the doors stood two women with singlets, and a man with a singlet cut so low at the sides you could see his chest. Twenty paces in, past the plethora of people chatting noisily and snapping photos on their Iphones, I saw a women with shorts so short I’m quite sure I have underwear longer. I can deal with the request for modest clothing if you enforce it upon all visitors equally, but when you pick and choose I struggle to deal with the double standards. I refuse to believe that the small amount of skin showing on my shoulders is more immodest than that woman’s upper thighs; not that anyone seemed capable of tearing their eyes away from their phones long enough to be offended either way. With my experience of the inner cathedral already tainted I am sad to say, that aside from a few beautiful pieces, the interior gravely lacked the wow factor that it’s exterior delivers. We left with a sour taste in our mouths, to say the least. ‘Love thy neighbour,’ calls your God, ‘What are they wearing?’ you call back.
Moving on, we meandered along the bank of the Rhine, until we reached the Chocolate Museum. We had already decided that we wouldn’t spend the money to enter, as being a pastry chef, I have already done in depth study of the origins and processes of chocolate. That being said we did allow ourselves the luxury of wandering through their massive shop, and after a long deliberation we settled on self restraint and only purchased two blocks of German made chocolate with flavoured filling; one passionfruit yoghurt, and one strawberry, basil and gin.
After returning to the hostel for a short rest, a little refuge from the sun, and a bit of research, we settled on going out for some traditional German food for dinner. We picked a restaurant along the riverside, and ordered a share board of pork knuckle, bratwurst, blood sausage, and bacon, served with sauteed potatoes and sauerkraut. We washed it all down with some local schnapps and were on our way. It was a nice meal, but I hate to admit that I’ve had better German food in Melbourne. I guess that can be the downside of having lived in a city known for its quality multicultural cuisine; if you pick an average restaurant in the foods home country, it can be hard to live up to the expectations you had.
It had been a long day and it was with a sigh of relief that I settled down into bed. As I continued to mull slightly on the ‘cathedral incident’, I couldn’t help think about all of the instances of sexism and inequality I have encountered in my life. Everytime I have been mistaken for a man on paper because I have a shortened version of a unisex name often used for men; Alex. Every email sent to Mr. Robinson, because they simply assume I am male, like women don’t make up half the population and there isn’t plenty of us women named Alex or any variation of it. The phone call I had from a potential employer who asked to speak to Alex, and on informing him he was, and him realising I was a female, trying to talk his way out of why he had called in the first place. ‘Oh you’re a girl! Oh. Um….. Yes, so I was just calling to say that we received your resumé but we don’t require another chef at this point’. It would have almost been amusing, if it hadn’t been so hurtful; they were literally actively advertising for a chef at the time. The fact I know full well that I have been paid the same as others in my past workplaces who have less responsibility and do less work than I. To every girl who has thought twice about what she wore or wondered if her drink was safe, to every woman who was looked over for a job, or treated like you couldn’t achieve your dreams because you were not blessed with a Y chromosome, I know your pain. Do not think I am a feminazi though, I will fight as fervently for the equal rights of men as much as for my own gender. Just as women should be paid equally for equal work; so too men should be allowed to cry publicly, or speak up about domestic abuse without being seen as weak; just as a woman should feel safe having a drink alone at a bar; so too men should have equal rights in custody cases during divorces, and should be entitled to longer periods of paternity leave, especially if their partner wishes to go back to work early, and have the father stay home instead. We have come so far in terms of equality, but there is still so far to go, and just like in the church today, it will only work if you apply the rules to everyone equally.