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Topic: Revisiting Childhood Haunts In The Time Of Plague - Day 2

  1. #1
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    Default Revisiting Childhood Haunts In The Time Of Plague - Day 2

    We were both awake before our alarm went off. I was awake first and checked what was happening in the world of online, but Graham was not far behind. Once he was awake, we got up and ready. It turned out that this hotel had the nicest shower of the hotels we stayed at this trip. Once we were both ready, we packed the few odds and ends that we had unpacked and then headed downstairs to check out. We then walked the short distance to the station.

    The German railway has the reputation that it is ultra-efficient and always on time. That may once have been true, but this was not our experience on this trip. Still, we were not on any strict timetable and it did not matter. When we got to the station, there was a train stopping at our destination listed about 5 minutes later. However, as the station is quite big and we had no clear idea where the platform that we needed was, we waited for the next one. The platform this departed from was pretty close, but the train ended up having a creeping delay. When it did eventually come, it was in reverse formation meaning that everyone scrambled to find their correct coach. Despite this, it did not take long after the train arrived until we were on our way.

    We were travelling in style. When we purchased our Interrail passes, we had planned to go by train all the way to Germany and as the difference between first and second class was not much, we decided to splurge. This meant that we had plenty of space. I was positively surprised that the journey was quite scenic. There are two types of train tracks in Germany. The tracks used for regional and regional express trains tend to run quite close to towns and are more scenic. The high-speed tracks tend to run further away from towns and often involve tunnels. However, the high-speed track from Cologne runs along the banks of the river Rhine and we went through all manners of towns of various sizes. One surprise was Bonn. This used the be the capital of the western part of Germany prior to the reunification. When I was in high school, we went to Bonn to visit the German parliament. This was very interesting, but the city itself did not seem anything special. However, from the train we saw a lot of Art Nouveau buildings. Bonn definitely needs a visit at some stage.



    The rain that had been forecast for the previous day caught up with us about halfway through the journey and was pretty heavy. Fortunately, we managed to outrun it for the time being. When we got to our destination, we were welcomed by blue skies.

    When we had a change plans, Graham decided that he wanted to check out Koblenz as this was on the way anyway. I just wanted to get to Mainz as quickly as possible. However, this was the only request Graham had on this trip and therefore it was only fair enough that we made this stop. I had been to Koblenz a number of times as a child as a stopping off point. There is not much in the town itself, but the area around it is jam-packed with castles. We were not going further afield but were just planning to have a look around the town. I had checked out the left luggage situation in Koblenz before we left home. I found out that there are left luggage lockers, and they are pretty good value at €3 for a small locker or €5 for a large locker for up to 24 hours. I figured that we would probably need two lockers for my suitcase and two pieces of hand luggage. As soon as we came down from the platform, the luggage lockers were right there. They also were a lot larger than I had expected. We managed to get all three pieces of luggage in one large locker and there was still room to spare. Once the luggage was stored, we headed to the exit. There was a bakery inside the main station hall, and I picked up some sweet buns with poppy seeds and a crumble topping for a late breakfast. We sat down on a bench outside the station and enjoyed our pastries.

    Once we had finished our breakfast, we headed towards the old town. This is only about 1.5 miles from the main station, but we definitely did not find the most direct route. The signposting was somewhat lacking. In the end, we found the electoral palace more or less by accident. The electoral palace overlooks the river Rhine. We knew that the Rhine promenade would lead us where we needed to be. The electoral palace was built in the late 18th century and is one of the most important examples of the early French neoclassical great house in Southwestern Germany. It is a very beautiful and impressive building. It is home to various government offices and therefore the inside of the building is off limits unless you have official business there. However, the gardens are open to the public and they are stunning. We had a wander around and then we took the stairs down to the Rhine promenade.



    Pretty much as soon as we got there, we encountered a demonstration. We had read that there had been several demonstrations against Covid restrictions all over Germany and a lot of them had gone somewhat nasty. We were not exactly overjoyed when we realised that somehow, we managed to get tangled up with one. This however was something completely different. It was the local farmers demonstrating against some EU farming regulations and was well organised and entirely peaceful. One of the ladies involved in this even gave us a couple of hardboiled eggs from her farm as we were walking past her. They ended up being breakfast a couple of days later and very tasty they were, too.





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    The walk along the Rhine promenade was very pleasant and it took not very long until we reached the first place that we wanted to visit. The Koblenz cable car was not there on my previous visits. It was built for the Federal Horticultural Show that Koblenz hosted in 2011. The cable car links the Rhine promenade near Deutsches Eck (German Corner) with the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress on top of a hill on the opposite riverbank. The cable car covers a distance of 890m length and an elevation of 112m. There were a few people at the valley station, but it took only a couple of minutes to get tickets and then about the same again to get on the cable car. On the way up, there was another couple on the cable car with us, but they are big, so distancing was not an issue. The views from the cable car are absolutely stunning. At the other end is the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the local youth hostel and an observation platform. State and federal owned museums are closed on Mondays in Germany and the views we had from the cable car would be hard to beat by any observation platform. Once we got to the top, we turned straight around and headed back down. This time we had the cabin to ourselves. I had to smile as the cabin we got in was called Mainz, which is my favourite city in Germany and also the place we were heading later than day.

















    Once we got off the cable car at the other end, we walked the short distance to Deutsches Eck. Deutsches Eck is the name of the headland where the rivers Rhine and Mosel meet. Set slightly back from this is an equestrian statue of William I, the first German Emperor. The monument is huge and there is a large number of stairs leading up to it. I was amused that there were a number of fibreglass cows on the stairs near the top. I am not sure how heavy those cows were, but I sure it needed some serious dedication to get them up there. This was linked to the demonstration we had crossed paths with earlier.



    We then followed the river Mosel to the old town. We saw some more river cruise ships during this walk. The old town has some very pretty buildings. We also found a restaurant with outside seating that had a daily special of roast pork with a beer sauce and mashed potatoes. We also had some local wine. I had a Riesling and Graham had a white burgundy. Everything was delicious and it was nice to watch the world go by while we had lunch.











    After lunch, we crossed over into the new town to do some shopping. Graham needed a new belt, and I could not resist browsing in the local Lush store. They had a bigger size of one of my favourite perfumes and I decided to treat myself. The bad weather caught up with us just as we finished shopping. I don’t think I have ever seen it rain so heavily in Germany. We sheltered under the roof of a closed shop until it eased up a little. We then headed to the local train station to catch a train back to the main station. Once we got there, we retrieved our luggage and then headed up to the platform where the regional express to Mainz was leaving from. Even though the train was not due to leave for quite some while, it arrived shortly after we got there. We got settled in and just relaxed.The train journey was very pretty. The journey took us straight through the Rhine valley and I recognized many of the landmarks. Unfortunately, it was raining heavily again and between the water on the windows and the movement of the train, it was not possible to take photos.

    Fortunately, the rain had eased off by the time we arrived in Mainz. Graham had a look at a map and then we set off. We got thrown a little by some roadworks, which meant that the road we would normally have taken was blocked off. I had no clear idea where the hotel was as the street it was on was not one, I was familiar with. The rain had eased enough at that stage that I could take out my phone and consult Google Maps. It turned out that the hotel is just off one of the main squares that I am very familiar with. Once I realised this, we got to the hotel within a couple of minutes. We got checked in and headed up to the room. We had a nice view. It was still raining so we decided to have some downtime. We had a Nespresso in the room, and I made some coffee. Graham had a nap. I read for a bit, but then my eyes started to feel really heavy. I set an alarm and then I had a nap, too.









    When the alarm went off, we got ready to go out for dinner. That proved to be a bit of a challenge. Because it was raining, all the outside seating was closed. With capacity restrictions in place, we checked three different places that were all at capacity. In the end we managed to get a table at a restaurant called Cafe Extrablatt. This turned out to be part of a national chain. It kind of felt like a bit of a student hangout, but we were glad to find somewhere that could fit us in and the menu was pretty extensive. I went with Schnitzel with a mushroom sauce and fries. This was pretty tasty. Graham had a burger with fries. He had most of it, but said it tasted a little bit soggy. We both had some white wine, which for a house wine was very nice.





    After dinner, we went back to the hotel. I checked out the nearby restaurants and made some reservations for the next two evenings. We got ready for bed and I read for a while before switching the lights out.





  3. #3
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    Love the views of Koblenz. It looks like another worthwhile place to visit for the day - and that outdoor lunch would be right up our street! The train journey sounds pretty efficient, but obviously not ideal in the rain, which is a shame, as the views sound terrific. Will be interested to hear more about Mainz as it's a city I know absolutely nothing about.

    And I hope it stops raining!

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    Simon seems to have forgotten we spend a day in Koblenz. ;) Wonderfully walkable, and we so enjoyed the Altstadt (including the statues and Augenroller).

    One thing I still don't understand is the plaque on one of the statues. We had it explained to us, and I understand the joke, but I never really "got" it, somehow. It reads: ‘Die Maatfrau sät zom Schutzmann: ‘Dät es mir jetzt zo bont! Do hat gepinkelt an mein Mann, dä Nobersch ihre Hond!'

    This day made it into my book on travels in Europe. Wonderful place.

    We ate SO much schnitzel in Germany.

    Very interesting that you got wrapped up in a protest with farmers. My stepfather's ancestors are from the Hengsbach/Eslohe/Westphalia region, and they were farmers (and many still are, both in Germany and here in the US). He's first-generation here.

    Looking forward to more about Mainz!
    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you “I’m not messing around, use the gifts you were given.”

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