Thursday, September 27, 2012

Koblenz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Marksburg castle
Marksburg Castle is the best preserved.

Mark rented a Harley in the 1980’s and toured Germany. He fell in love with the wine country along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers, and came home with a taste for the German regional wines, which are what he describes as “apple-y spritz-y.” We have a nice little tradition of drinking a German “breakfast wine” on special occasions. It’s a nice change from a mimosa or Bloody Mary.

Rapunzel's Tower?

“There are castles every half mile,” Mark told me. “You don’t believe me. You’ll see.” Once we found our way to the road along the Rhine River, I did see. One of the first sights, and still a favorite, was a tower which reminded me of Rapunzel, the heroine of the Disney movie “Tangled.” My granddaughter Kailyn would love it.

The Kleiner-Riesen is a sweet hotel
with friendly staff and a great breakfast.

Arriving in Koblenz, and we were a bit surprised to see such a large city. Our hotel, the Kleiner Riesen,is near the city center, the only hotel right on the water – perfect. We could watch ferries and barges plying the waters. The current in the Rhine is swift – you wouldn’t want to swim, and a lazy kayak or canoe trip is out of the question.

Scenic Rhine River, Germany
The next morning we walked along the river past the Electoral Palace to the ferry dock and boarded the Goethe, a paddle wheeler. Since it was a cloudy Monday, threatening to rain, the boat was nearly empty – which suited us just fine. I didn’t have a lot of time to do background research ahead of time, but it didn’t matter. Each town we passed, each castle, was unique and yet they blend to make a perfect Reineland-Pfalz landscape.

During the trip, one of the paddle wheels broke, delaying us for about 30 minutes. It was chilly out on the deck, so we wandered inside to the dining room and ordered a bottle of wine (what else?) If you order the trocken or dry wine, you will find it sweeter than a California dry, but very nice.

Two American couples sat down at a table behind us. They were from the states of Washington and Illinois, but met living in Arizona – snowbirds, as they are called. They were very nice but I had to smile when one of the women asked for “tap water.” Everywhere in the UAE bottled water is the norm, and you must order it and pay for a few dirhams for it. In Europe, it is usually the same, especially at finer restaurants. But more to the point … we were on a BOAT. Everyone who knows boats knows that there really is no such thing as “tap water” on boats. Unless, maybe, you drink river water.

Sorry, but I just had to pick on the American Snowbirds a little.
View from above Castle Katz in St. Goarshausen

We disembarked at St. Goarshausen and walked up the path behind the castle for a view of the river.

Lorelei the Siren

We also visited the sculpture of Lorelei. The legend is that she lured sailors away from the deep waters and onto the rocks.

This monument was built after my relatives left Germany.

The next morning, we went to the huge monument to Emperor Wilhelm I at the Deutsches Eck, and then it was time to hit the road for our next stop – Colmar, France.

Our time in Koblenz was too short. When we come back, we need to take a walking tour of the city, ride bicycles, see the sights, and, of course, visit Pomster and Trierscheidt.

Why these two towns?

My German ancestors, the Youngbloods, were born in Pomster and Trierscheidt, about 80km west of Koblenz. Great-great grandfather Bernard Youngblood immigrated to Detroit in the 1860’s.

Is this where my roots lie?

Looking at a satellite map, Pomster and Trierscheidt today appear to be typical small German villages surrounded by agricultural fields. Koblenz, by comparison, is a large city. I wonder how they compared 150 years ago? Certainly Koblenz was an important city, situated on the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel. But, Pomster and Trierscheidt? Were they much different than they are today?

And is there anyone still there who is related to me?

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