Germany and the Rhine

The past week I’ve been living the German life. Residing in a not-so-small apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany, I’ve been hanging out with my sister, Patty who’s on her three week time off from the mines in Africa. Having an apartment as a base has been really nice, it’s given us a home away from home, having a kitchen to cook meals has saved a lot of money as well. We used to find and book the flat. It’s been a pleasure, I’m glad a site like this exists.

We, of course, did some exploring of the local and no so local area. The overall itinerary involved exploring Dusseldorf, adventuring Cologne and sight-seeing the castles of the Rhine outside of Koblenz. Here is a bullet point list Patty and I put together of our trip thus far followed by photos:

  • Sunday
    • Flight to Copenhagen on a 787 Dreamliner – Norweigan Air, a low cost carrier (everything costs extra) – no service not even water or trash pickup. but the ticket was sure cheap!
  • Monday
    • Arrive Copenhagen. Meet Patty in baggage claim. Easiest customs ever.
    • Train, walk to hotel. Super cold outside. Tiny bunk bed room, the hotel reminded us of an Ikea. Made sandwiches for dinner in room.
  • Tuesday
    • 4:30 am departure to airport for flight to Dusseldorf
    • Air Berlin: Best airline flight ever. Served coffee, hot pretzel, chocolate on leaving plane
    • Train to apartment, check in, big apartment, money exchange, grocery shopping, Went for a run
    • Ate at Leo’s, very good chicken medallions w mushrooms
  • Wednesday
    • AM train to old town Dusseldorf, walked around, cold and foggy.  Was Ash Wednesday, end of Carnival. Church services and celebration endings. Older folks got really into the celebration by dressing up in somewhat extravagant funeral clothing.  One man even wore a couple of giant bird feathers in his hat
    • Visited museum, showed the history of Dusseldorf. Fun fact: 90% of Dusseldorf was destroyed during World War 2.
    • Went for a run in Zoo Park, which used to be a zoo.  Lot’s of people out!
    • Patty made spaghetti. Yeah!
    • Watched the Academy Awards. 3 days late but still fun 🙂
  • Thursday
    • Took train to Cologne
    • Giant Dom Cathedral! Walked around it, walked inside it, Holy cow this this is enormous!
    • Climbed the 511 steps to the top of one of the spires, whew!
    • Walked around a bit, saw one other rebuilt church, very pretty
    • Dude playing techno on his didgeridoo was impressive
    • When in Germany must have strudel: apricot & rhubarb
  • Friday
    • Rented a car for cheap 45e and drove a few hours south to Koblenz to see castles in and around the area
    • Stopped for coffee and pastries. Super nice lady gave us free samples and free food. Overall we’ve found the Germans to be very friendly and always willing to speak English and smile.
    • 1st castle: <enter name here>. Super foggy, lots of castle walls, felt like a fortress more than a castle. Had a feeling we got there way earlier than they opened and we got to walk around for free. On the way out, turn stiles were activated, etc.
    • 2nd & 3rd castle: <enter name here>. These castles were side by side. One was more of a fairy tale with coned spires & guard towers, outside looks newer. Other castle was older, more typical castle, Patty’s favorite. Roads/trails to castles were nice with arched bridges and almost no tourists
    • 4th castle, Eltz we were the only car in the parking lot. Took the 15 min trail walk to the castle, the whole time were saying, where’s the castle. After about 14 min of walking turned the corner and Boom there it was. I said Oh! And two people sitting on a bench next to us started laughing. Castle was very fairytale-ish. Lots of tower spires sticking out from the sides of the top, on the top of the hill in the center of a valley.
    • Road trip home was very nice through tiny villages. Interesting story about running out of battery on my phone (using GPS) and Patty having to McGyver her phone with my sim card to restore navigation.
    • Had a traditional German dinner with sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes 5 ways!
    • Very clean
    • All of the buildings (and trees) in Dusseldorf were approximately the same height. Streets all looked the same.
    • Everyone was VERY nice, which I think was so surprising because we weren’t expecting them to be
      • When we asked people if they spoke English, they responded one of two ways: “yes, of course”, or “a little bit”
      • Drove wrong way down a 1 way street and even the lady who flashed us warning wrong way was very nice and smiled.
    • Dark stairway
    • Very efficient, doesn’t seem to be much waste in Germany as a whole. Lights are often out, energy conscience.
    • Really really good pastries. Will need a personal trainer J
    • Aside from the language barrier, walking down the street you wouldn’t really know you were outside the US.

Patty’s got top bunk in our “roomy” Copenhagen hotel

Old Town Dusseldorf

Why so serious?

Patty and I kicking it in the Dusseldorf apartment

Our backyard…

Thanks to German engineering, everything is clearly explained

Arriving in Cologne, we get off the train and find this standing in front of us!

This is the Dom in Cologne, Germany. It’s enormous to help you remember you place…

It looks like Patty’s sporting a Pope’s hat

Once a geologist, always a geologist

Inside the Dom. The lights from the stained glass played with the colors of the church

The ceiling of the Dom. Pretty cool.

Climbed 511 of these…

…for this view!

…and to earn this treat 🙂

Checking out Fortress Ehrenbreitstein on a super foggy morning outside of Koblenz, Germandy

There’s just something cool about looking up and seeing a castle

Doesn’t look like anyone is home

Talk about roomy, I get 50 mpg in this hog…

Got to Castle Eltz, we could barely find a parking spot. It pays to visit in the off season.

Castle Eltz

Ended our German adventures with a traditional German meal. Sausages, sauerkraut, green cabbage and potatoes!

Full album click here


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