The last time I was in Germany was in 2006. Berlin’s bushes were sculpted into soccer balls, the World Cup was playing on big screens outdoors, and Italy’s win didn’t go over well. (It didn’t go over well at all.)
I thought it might be nice to return to Berlin now that I’m not 19 anymore, or to visit Munich because people are always raving about it. But I don’t speak German, I can’t drink beer, and I run to Mediterranean every chance I get, so no plans to return to Germany were in the works.
But in May I found myself cruising down the Rhine and Duolingoing in German (“Die Frau isst ein apfel. Der Hund trinkt Wasser”) and it was pretty great! Here’s a look at six German towns we visited along the way.
We started and ended in Cologne, and I was pleasantly surprised. This city has its own personality – cool, down to earth, a little grungy, with a good measure of hipster thrown in. The highlights were dinner at Ludwig im Museum, visiting the artsy hipster neighborhood around Brüssler Platz, and the gargantuan gothic cathedral.
At first I thought it was weird that we only had a few hours to explore Boppard, but then I saw it and I understood. It’s adorable and tiny. The path along the Rhine is lovely!
Kehl (sounds like the trendy leafy green) is probably not somewhere you’d go on purpose. But it’s right across the Rhine from Strasbourg, so it’s a prime docking point. I walked across the bridge just to go to a French pharmacy (because I need Actifed!) and I was so excited to be able to communicate again.
Breisach seems like an ordinary charming little fairytale German town. I might have found it boring, but I got to stroll around and peek into little gardens with my mom. Then we bought a red cow and sorbet, which I successfully ordered in German (that kind of makes it sound like I have German skills, which is mostly a lie, but hey, we got the sorbet didn’t we?)
My favorite thing in Mainz was hands down the market that spilled out of the main square. Produce, gorgeous fresh flowers, wine, liquor, jam, coffee, gifts, cheese, fish, fresh prepared foods, and it wasn’t even Sunday. I also took a stroll through the cathedral, and my mom adored the Gutenburg museum. (Gutenberg Bibles omg.)
By the time we got to Koblenz, I was tired, it was chilly, and all these little towns were starting to blend together. But Koblenz still stands out in my mind (even though I sometimes forget its name) because of the Deutsches Eck, the corner (Eck) where the Rhine and the Moselle meet. It has a big statue with a horse and oh so many flags. We also visited Schlossgarten and Schlossvorplatz, which Wikipedia tells me are the grounds of the electoral palace. All I noticed at the time was pretty flowers and crunchy gravel. No, but seriously, Koblenz was nice. If I ever go back, which I probably won’t, I would take the gondola up the hill and watch the sunset.
Vielen Dank to my parents for some classy bonding time on the Rhine!
What’s your favorite city in Germany?