Friday, 20 September 2013

From Heidelberg to Koblenz

Yesterday morning, we spent a few more hours strolling around Heidelberg.  Fortunately, the rain had subsided.  We walked along the river Neckar down to the Alte Brücke (old bridge).  There was much information there about when the river has flooded in the past.  I think it was in 1784 that the waters rose nearly all the way to the top of the bridge.  But that's not all.  Flooding is a regular event, with the water levels rising high at various times in the 20th century, and as recent as 20 years ago.

We caught the 13.55 train to Koblenz, where we arrived at a quarter to four.  Fifteen minutes after leaving Heidelberg, we stopped in Mannheim, and it was not too long after that that the scenery became more interesting.  Between Stuttgart and Heidelberg, the scenery had been very green, with rolling hills.  The landscape had reminded me of the very best kept golf courses I've ever seen.  But now, after Mannheim, the Rhine river soon came into view.  The Rhine seems to flow along a narrow valley, with hills on both sides.  Quite often, you would see a castle on the hill, beckoning foreign passengers to put down their books and newspapers and peer out the window.

Once we arrived in Koblenz, we followed the ridiculously long trail to the Tourist Information office, and accidentally found our hotel.  We never went to the Tourist Info office.  After checking in, we walked down to the Rhine, and headed along to a boat ticket office, where we purchased tickets along the river to Bad Honnef.  We then took the cable car over the Rhine and up the hill on the left bank.  There is an elaborately built lookout tower there, offering sweeping views up and down the river.  Not only the Rhine.  Koblenz is where the river Mosel drains into the Rhine.  We witnessed much commercial traffic as well as river cruises on the two rivers.

There is also a fortress on top of the hill here, and I never got round to finding out what prisoners were kept here, but it's at least a few hundred years old.  We toured the fortress quickly, and flew back over the river in the cable car.  We then walked around the large statue of William I, and walked along the Mosel a little, stopping momentarily to inspect the pear trees with plenty of fruit on them.  Shortly, we took a left turn, and eventually found a very nice restaurant in which to have dinner.  The waitress accidentally brought lamb cutlets instead of filets.  But I didn't mind.

On the river Neckar in Heidelberg, approaching the Alte Brücke
On the Alte Brücke, the Gates to the city of Heidelberg
At Heidelberg: passengers stepping off a boat
At Koblenz, we caught a cable car across the Rhine...
...and climbed the hill to an old fortress...
Near the old fortress, this elaborate lookout offers sweeping views up and down the Rhine as well as over the city of Koblenz.
From the lookout, one can see the river Mosel draining into the Rhine.  A barge carries coal in the foreground.
The old fortress at the top of the hill on the Rhine's left bank

The walls were roughly 45-50 feet high.
  Not much chance of prisoners escaping.
A statue of William I watches the Mosel drain into the Rhine.
This is a memorial to the victims of the division of Germany.  The middle block shows the date 17 June 1953 - when demonstrations against conditions in the former East Germany were crushed by the East German government.  The right-hand  block shows the date 9 November 1989 - when East German leader Egon Krenz allowed East Germans to cross freely into the West for the first time.  The Berlin Wall began to be dismantled shortly afterwards, leading to the Reunification of Germany in 1990.
The reverse of the memorial shows the blocks are an L-shape, indicating these are probably pieces of the Berlin Wall.
Charming Koblenz

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