I wake up in a crappy bed, in a shitty hotel room, but I don't care: the sun drenches the thin curtains, church bells in the distance. It feels like Europe before I even remember where I am—Köln's Deutz district, away from tourist traps and roman ruins. People here go about their business, shop for groceries, chat on corners. I've settled in a routine of sorts, a way of absorbing the small rhythms around me: take a shower, get dressed, leave the room. Walk a few blocks in clear and bracing air, sit at a health/cafe spot down the street with a croissant and cappuccino; I'm an espresso guy but this lasts longer. Snap a few pictures, watch it all in a semi-daze.
I pick the same table every day, the loner lost in thoughts, an obvious stranger who smiles timidly but can't speak the language. There's a lemonade dispenser by the door, a stack of glasses...it looks free but I'm unsure. And every morning I wait to see if someone, anyone will have a drink; but no one ever does.
When I'm done I aim for Koelnmesse—fifteen, twenty minutes away.
Towards the roar and circus lights of the Big Show.