My first night in Koblenz I stayed with Alexia in Immendorf, a village just outside of the city.  Alexia was a lovely host, and took me out to the park on top of the hill near the fortress where we could walk up the most complicated viewing platforms I’ve ever seen, to look out over the city.  The platform and the surrounding park were built as part of the national garden show when Koblenz won the honour to host it.  Even now though the flowerbeds are gone it is still a lovely space.  On this day there happened to be a bunch of vintage car enthusiasts with their vehicles in the car park. Alexia pointed out how the number plates work and how you can tell what region a car is from, and Dad, I took a bunch of photos for you. :)    

I’m guessing Koblenz was historically important as the meeting point of the Rhine and the Mosel rivers, and from the hill you can see out over them both. The place where they meet is called Deutches Ecke (German Corner) and is the site of an insanely huge monument to William the Great.  We visited the monument later that afternoon and it is possible to climb up the base of the statue and.  It is a bit disconcerting to find yourself looking into the manic eyes of a six storey high rampaging war horse.

Deutches Ecke
Alexia also took me into town to see the modern side of Koblenz.  We went to the newly built Forum Confluentes building which houses a library, the tourist information centre, a museum (too expensive), and a viewing platform on the roof (only 1 Euro).  We took the lift to the top and again looked out over the city, then decided to take a different route back down and ended up in the stairwell that lead to the library.  The library was closed, but the stairwell was not.  We ended in on the library at the ground floor waving through the glass walls to get the attention of the tourist information staff in the hopes that they might come and let us out through the door.  The only person we managed to attract was a customer who obviously failed to rouse enough interest from the staff to free us, so we headed back to the stairwell prepared to walk all the way back to the top.  Just in case we tried the external door, and fortunately for us (unfortunately for the security staff) it opened on to the street and we were out!

At Deutches Ecke I met with my next host, Andy, the brother of my friend Markus.  I stayed with Andy two nights and he was another fantastic host.  Unbeknownst to me he had researched some touristy activities for the following morning, and we headed out relatively early to catch the ferry down the Rhine.  It was a neat feeling to be served a cup of tea onboard a nearly empty ferry while sailing down one of the most famous rivers in the world.  The ferry took us to the town of Braubach where Marksburg crowns the top of the hill in the centre.  The castle has a panoramic view over the Rhine (and the battery factory hidden from view by the hill) and has acted as protector since it was built in the early 10th century.  It is famous for being the only castle along the Rhine that has never been destroyed.  We took a tour through the castle led by an English speaking German guide who spoke with an amusingly stereotypical German accent, along with an overly excited American tourist and her less interested husband, and a couple of others with no memorable personal traits.  Part of the castle is cut into the rock and so the way leading up through the main gate was not so much paved as carved.  
After the castle we caught a train to a village back towards Koblenz in search of a certain brewery pub, which unfortunately turned out to be closed, so we headed for home via the old town which was very beautiful.  We stopped at a cafe and feeling under the weather I asked if they did hot lemon honey and ginger drinks.  With a confused look the waitress said she'd ask, and came back some minutes later with this.
All the ingredients needed to make a hot lemon honey and ginger drink.
Oddly it almost worked, though it was a little messy trying to squeeze the juice from slices of lemon, and you did have to chew the ginger...

That night I cooked a curry for Andy and I and was surprised to discover that curries are not very common in Germany.  Fortunately Andy enjoyed it, though the whole flat still smelt of curry the next working.  Sorry!

Andy was also extremely helpful in taking me to his local bike shop.  I had noticed that one of my brakes was worn through because it wasn’t aligned properly, and needed replacing.  So I took the bike in and was very thankful that Andy was there to translate as one of the staff spoke English.  On our way back home Andy got a call to say that my back wheel needed replacing.  Assuming it was due to the weight I’ve piled on the back I gave to okay to replace it with a stronger one at a higher price.  When we picked up the bikes the next morning it turned out that it was only the tyre, and not the rim that had required replacing.  I was glad of that but a little put out that I’d ended up paying so much for a tyre, but on the plus side it is supposed to be puncture proof, which is no little matter!  The shop had also taken a look at the gears and chain, though I’m not sure I asked them to, but again it was probably a good thing because the bike now ran a little smoother and I could rest comfortably knowing that it wasn’t going to fall apart any minute.  I have been worried whether this bike could handle the task I have given it, but so far the answer seems to be yes.  Whew!

By lunch time I was on my way and headed south.


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