On an un­for­get­table morn­ing in Cologne

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence Praising The Titanic In Belfas - STEPHANIE EDGER­TON

EV­ERY so of­ten I’ll look back through the pho­tos.

While many years have now passed it seems like only yes­ter­day that we scanned Europe, that most se­duc­tive of con­ti­nents, in search of en­ter­tain­ment, en­light­en­ment and our­selves.

Ev­ery­one looks slightly dif­fer­ent in the pho­tos. Hair shorter, skin tanned, waist­lines smaller. Each time I ask my­self: Was it re­ally that long ago? Why does time change us so quickly and so no­tice­ably?

We have aged but the mem­o­ries re­main un­sul­lied. All it takes is the tin­kling Ice­landic melody of a Sigur Ros song to dance past my ears and I am trans­ported back to a mo­ment in my 21st year. I am in Cologne, walk­ing down to the banks of the Rhine at the most mag­i­cal of early hours; there’s dewy grass un­der foot and the world is a frosty pur­ple in which hardly a thing moves. I can hear Sigur Ros mu­sic play­ing some­where. The city is wait­ing to arise and breathe.

With each step my heart be­gins to rise and my feet steadily quicken as the mu­si­cal sounds grow. I smile un­con­trol­lably be­cause I know this is where I want to be, this is where I be­long. I’m all alone, a brand new day is dawn­ing and any­thing feels pos­si­ble in those mo­ments I spend down by the river watch­ing Cologne stir­ring.

I know it has to end. The dawn is fleet­ing and with each sec­ond it is trans­form­ing grace­fully from night to day with the same fragility as a but­ter­fly un­fold­ing from its moth’s co­coon. Even though I turn my back on the glis­ten­ing wa­ter and make my way to­wards the ho­tel, the daybreak holds me still.

That awak­en­ing sky may have evap­o­rated be­fore my eyes but the mem­ory still lingers all these years later.

All I need is these pho­tos and the Ice­landic tin­kle in my ears and I am there. I cease to ex­ist in Mel­bourne. I’m in Ger­many on that mag­i­cal morn­ing when I awoke be­fore Cologne did and was blessed to watch it emerge from slum­ber. RANT OR RAVE Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn. Pub­lished colum­nists will re­ceive a Cor­ban & Blair Duet travel jour­nal in pink/red and Duet travel wal­let in blue/red (pic­tured; to­tal value $84). The Duet range is made from gen­uine split leather and fea­tures con­trast­ing leather de­tail with a metal but­ton en­clo­sure. More: (02) 9560 0122; cor­ban­blair.com.au. Send your con­tri­bu­tion to: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au.

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