Happy birthday to me!
Today is my 37th birthday and what better way to celebrate a birthday in Germany than with beer and schnitzel, right?
It’s a terrible cliche, I know, but I can’t believe I’m 37! I certainly don’t feel any older than I did 5 or 10 years ago, and goodness knows I’m no wiser than I was 10 years ago either; in fact, I would venture to say I’m actually more immature now than I was back then! Not that I put a lot of standing on how many years people (including myself) have been alive for. I staunchly believe the number of years you’ve been on the planet has nothing to do with your age – physical, mental, emotional or otherwise. That’s my story anyway and I’m sticking to it….
The day of my birth started mundanely enough, and continued on in that vein as we boarded a train for Koblenz. We travelled from Berlin to Rhineland today, right over the other side of Germany. It was a 6.5 hour train journey all up; a journey that took us through hundreds of kilometres of farmlands of golden wheat and past postcard-perfect villages. We met up with the River Rhine in Koln (Cologne) and followed it down through the Rhine Valley to Koblenz, our home for the next few days.
Koblenz is a relatively small town (population 100,000) built along both banks of the Rhine, right at the point where the Rhine meets the Moselle (the name Koblenz, or Coblenz, comes from the Latin confluentes, meaning “where rivers meet”). It is an important transport hub for goods going up and down these two rivers and was an important military out-post for many centuries. The Romans were the first to recognise the value of Koblenz’s strategic position and built a fort on Mt Ehrenbreitstein, overlooking the town. Over the centuries (as Koblenz was first a part of the Holy Roman Empire, then a Frankan colony, and finally, part of Prussia), that first fortress was rebuilt and expanded. Today there is a 19th century Prussian fortress atop that hill, built over the top of the previous, older defensive edifices.
Koblenz is a popular holiday destination for German families and sees a fair number of international tourists as well, mainly thanks to the fleet of river cruise ships that stop in here every year. Tourism is, in fact, one of its main industries; along with wine (Koblenz is at the centre of both the Moisel and Rhinish wine regions). We walked all along the riverfront area, enjoying the wide, grassy promenade and admiring the handsome waterfront mansions.
Right at the point where the Rhine and the Moselle meet is the Deutsche Eck (translation = the German Corner), where there is a colossal statue there of Emperor William I. Erected in 1898 the monument commemorates King William I’s coronation as Emperor. Under the leadership of William I and his Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck, Germany was united and the Prussian Empire formed, a grand moment in Germany’s history that is commemorated in Koblenz by a rather grand monument!
We arrived in Koblenz fairly late in the afternoon and so didn’t spend much time getting to know the city before heading off for a celebratory birthday dinner. We stopped our walking tour at the Deutsch Eck and then wandered into the altstadt to find dinner. In the old town we quickly managed to find the Königsbacher brewery, Koblenz’s oldest brewery (established in 1689). There is a restaurant just nearby that serves schnitzel and Königsbacher beer, which seemed like the perfect place to stop, celebrate my birthday and enjoy sunset. A lovely end to a great birthday!