Koblenz sits at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers at the top of the Rhine Gorge, the section of the Rhine Valley that we had wanted to visit. We stayed partway down the river for four nights, but our hotel was booked up after that, so we managed to reserve an extra three nights in Koblenz to make sure we had enough time to see the valley and its castles.
As it turned out, Koblenz had a lot to offer on its own, as well as easy access to the Rhine Valley should we need it.
A temporary exhibit of sculptures called Alltagsmenschen (Everyday People) entertained us as we walked throughout the city. As well as the ones pictured here, there was a man with two dogs on the lawn of the Electoral Palace, several perched up on private balconies watching the world below, and snorkelers getting ready to dive off of high brick walls into the river. We didn’t see all 40 of the sculptures, but the ones we did come across put a smile on our faces.
After we had booked our accommodation and started researching what to do in Koblenz, we discovered that we would be there for the weekend of the annual beer festival (Bierbörse, early June). Ken, of course, was thrilled with the prospect of so many beers to taste all in one place. Thankfully, it was located near where we would be wandering all three days, so we could take advantage of it as a break after (or partway through) a long day of exploring. As a non-beer-drinker, I was impressed to find another one (see Brussels) that I was actually able to drink–a strawberry porter. I suspect it would not be considered beer by true aficionados since it came filled with fresh strawberries, a straw, and a skewer to eat all the berries with, but it tasted good (i.e., un-beer-like) to me.
In 1891, a triangle at the confluence of the two rivers was filled in to provide a location for a memorial for Kaiser Wilhelm I, credited with unifying Germany following three years of war. Deutsches Eck (German Corner) juts out into the river and is anchored by a massive pedestal topped with a statue of the man atop a horse. Destroyed by shelling in 1945, the pedestal (sans horse and rider) was dedicated to German unity in 1953. In 1993, the current reconstructed form was installed. The horse and rider alone are 14 metres high and the overall structure pushes the statue to a total height of 37 metres.
Not far from Deutsches Eck is the gondola base where you catch a ride across the river and up to the fortress on the other side. Representing 5,000 years of history, the buildings are now used for many purposes. At one end, there is a youth hostel. You can wander through several museums, though what might have been the largest one was closed when we were there. Some buildings are set up for special events. One large open area was prepped for what would be an evening outdoor concert. We enjoyed the viticulture (wine-making) museum, which talked about the history of wine in the area, and we learned how white asparagus (very popular and in season in early June) is cultivated.
There are, of course, many beautiful buildings like palaces and cathedrals and plazas where people gather throughout and at the edges of the Altstadt (Old Town), and just wandering around or stopping for a coffee or beer provided hours of entertainment for us.
And, finally, we managed to knock one more castle off our very shortened list (see Rhine Valley). It turned out to be a very good choice to leave Stolzenfels until we were in Koblenz since it was just a 10-minute bus ride away. The climb up was through beautiful forest on wide and reasonably well-maintained pathways or old roads (there were several folks on electric bikes handling the trip just fine, and the odd person without an electric bike showing us what they were capable of).
This castle has indoor sections that you can view, though visits are carefully monitored and you must put on gargantuan over-the-shoe slippers before entering the various rooms. Outside there are pretty gardens and lovely views.
Bread culture in Germany, or at least the part that we’ve been visiting, has been interesting. We first encountered it at our hotel-supplied breakfast, where a basket filled with various rolls was placed on our table each day. Toast, which we are more used to, was not offered. Deli meats and cheeses were. Later, when stopping for a coffee and treat, we noticed bakeries were filled with the same types of rolls–crusty and white, seeded and whole grain, crescent or round–and people would come in and buy a bag filled with fresh rolls. Grocery stores are similar, with only a few loaves of bread on offer but plenty of rolls. The same rolls are used by the bakeries to make sandwiches–a fairly inexpensive way we found to have lunch on many days.
- Entry fees
- Ehrenbreitstein Fortress: €11.80 per adult (gondola and entry combined ticket). Includes a number of museums, though some were closed while we were there.
- Palace Stolzenfels: €5 per adult, €4 per senior.
- Trains and buses: All included in our 9 Euro Ticket (see TripBits in Trier).