And, it was off to Germany, at 237 kilometers per hour.
An advantage to traveling on a mid-afternoon, off-peak train is that I had the entire first class car to myself.
I arrived in Cologne last in the evening, and, after dropping my bags off at the hotel, I strolled around the city. The city’s main attraction, Cologne Cathedral, was my first stop. The massive Gothic structure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is visible for miles around.
The next morning, I caught an early train south to Koblenz. I had some time to kill before catching my connecting train, so I wandered around the city, taking in the many famous buildings.
The main excursion planned for a cruise on the Rhine River. One of the advantages of having an Eurail Pass was the freebies included is a the cruise on this castle and historic rich part of the river. The place I chose to start the cruise from was the tiny, scenic town of St. Goar, a place I’d visited back in 1998.
The stretch of the Rhine I’d chosen to cruise is lined with castles and vineyards, and it made for pleasant scenery, even of the cool and overcast spring day.
We made one stop, in the cute little town of Boppard. As soon as we passed the town, we entered a portion of the river dominated by vineyards. I could see people strolling along the roads on the hillside enjoying some sort of festival.
I disembarked the cruise in Koblenz, and took the cable car up to Fortress Ehrenbreitstein, the massive 300 year old military castle across the Rhine from the city center.
Upon arriving at the top of fortress hill, I was lucky enough to catch an exhibition on the ancient art of falconry. It was another of those situations where I seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Even though the presentation was all in German, it was still fascinating.
I spent an our exploring the site, which was very interesting, but the highlight was the views provided from the top, especially of Deutsches Eck, or “The German Corner”- the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel Rivers.
Upon coming down from the hill, I spent my last hour in Koblenz exploring two sites. The first was the Catholic church of St. Kastor, set on a site where there has been a religious shrine since before the time of Christ.
The second site I visited was the actual Deutsches Eck itself- located at the junction of the two very important rivers. When I visited, there was a temporary exhibition of 800 steel sunflowers, done by Chinese artisits Xu Jiang and Shi Hui, called “It is possible for them to live together”.
After a long day, I headed south to the university town of Freiberg, where I was fortunate enough to have dinner and a few drinks with Andy & Ali- the talented bloggers behind Ali’s Adventures, Grounded Traveler & Cntl-Alt-Travel. Long having been a fan and virtual friend of both, it was a true thrill to have to opportunity to meet them in person.