When I got back, I inflated the air mattress and had a roommate for the next week. He was furiously collecting data, and inspired me to swing into my own research with new verve. I started analyzing the claws I had picked through, digitizing the outlines of the digits to see if the variability in their structure had anything to do with the way the animal moved through the environment. The looming deadline was April 20th when abstracts for next year’s Society for Vertebrate Paleontology meeting would be due.
Along with exploring the mysteries of the fossils under the microscope and on trays, Mike wanted to explore the Rhineland a bit. In his wanderings he checked out Beethoven’s house, and discovered “James Joyce” an Irish Pub down an alley near the center of town. I had no idea such a thing existed so Mike, Koen – a Belgian graduate student in Bonn who is also studying sauropod dinosaurs – and I set off for James Joyce, looking forward to pints of Guinness. They didn’t serve it. We looked around the pub at the cushy chairs and copious Guinness signage and didn’t quite know what to say. “What about Beamish?” I asked, pointing to a sign hanging over a nearby table. “Sorry.” Finally we had something that tasted like Smithicks. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t Guinness. Mike apologized for finding the one Irish pub on the planet that doesn’t serve stout. We told him not to worry. I need to check out those armchairs at some point in the near future.
He also needed to see the Dom in Cologne. Koen, Mike, and I worked furiously to justify taking half a day to go see my favorite cathedral. Mike was appropriately awed by his first glimpse of the nave. I kept my commentary to myself, leading the small group around the altar to the significant religious and artistic artifacts. When there would be a question about the relics of the three kings or the windows, I would supply the answer, as far as I could. Koen noticed I seemed to know my bible stories and started pointing to random panes, asking me to tell the story. I did. “How do you know all this?” “Well, I guess scriptures class in high school helped…” “Oh, that’s it.” I thought about it a bit, and actually, that’s not quite it.
A mosaic depicting an archbishop with the original church that stood where the current cathedral broods (maybe?).
The shrine holding the relics of the three kings. This thing is one of the largest reliquaries in Christendom. It's huge and it's gorgeous.Our next stop was the Roman History Museum in Cologne. The German name for the city is Köln, and the Romans called it Colonia, as in, The Colony (short or “Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium”). It was a large port of trade for receiving goods from Northern Europe, and was one of the largest cities in Europe for most of the last two millennia. This means archeologists get pretty busy every time someone builds a new house or parking garage.
That weekend, Mike took off for Paris while I furiously photographed and analyzed fossils while orchestrating my next trip: Prague. Czech.