Living a summer in Europe is the best thing that could happen to a travel-addict. Really, it’s bright and beautiful this time of the year. A trip that was supposed to happen in the peak of winters got super delayed, but sometimes, a delay isn’t a step back but a beautiful way of things falling into their right place. A co-incidence – or destiny’s way of giving me more than what I wished for? Well, whatever it might be, it’s the best time to be in Europe 🙂 Koblenz
Unfulfilled travel dreams from three years ago came rushing back to me, as I boarded a flight to Germany last week. The agenda this time is travel – what kind of travel (solo, backpacking, budget, luxury, groups, comfort, bucket-list, slow, touristy, offbeat or whatever categories people might create) does not matter. For once, I am beyond these categories we have created to pretend that we’re better travelers than others. I am one and all for the next few months – Bring it on, Europe!
My European Diaries began with a weekend trip to Koblenz, which is one of the oldest town in Germany, dating back to 8 BC and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This historic city derives it’s name from the word confluence, celebrating the fact that the rivers Rhine and Moselle merge here. As in India, a confluence of rivers was considered sacred in Europe too, particularly because of the Roman influence that’s evident in this old town even today. The rivers merging into each other while low lying mountain ranges overlook from all four sides make for a picture perfect sight. The magic of Koblenz engulfs you as soon as step out of the railway station. Cobbled lanes, old churches with stained-glass windows, a happy vibe, mountains in distance and not one but two rivers to keep you company – I couldn’t have asked for more!
Exploring Koblenz began with a visit to Christuskirche which is a relatively new church in this old city. An asymmetric building which looks older than it is, perhaps because of the major damage it endured during the World War -2, this one was worth walking the extra mile. Legend goes that from the original construction, only the Gothic baptismal front and the brass chandeliers remain today. Nevertheless, it is remarkable how some places stand the test of time and win wars to survive the impossible.
Just across the street is Herz Jesu Kirche, which seems like yet another beautiful church, but a closer look reveals it is much more than just a pretty building. Built in the early 1900 s, this one impresses you on the architectural front as soon as you set eyes on it.
Walking inside, I realized that the beautiful exterior was only a beginning of an artistic journey that was waiting for me inside. Huge walls, wooden benches, prettiest stained glass windows, high ceilings with magical paintings all over them is not an exaggeration. I decided to spend some time here, admiring these masterpieces of art by unknown artists. So much thought has gone into each one of them that it transports you to an era in the past, disorienting you from the world and time that’s outside those beautiful windows and pretty brown doors.
Walking through the cobbled lanes of old town, I stumbled across many an interesting sights. This was literally like walking through history, where each and every mile I crossed had a character and a story of it’s own, most of these stories dating back to a long time ago. Even the busy streets with modern buildings seemed to be in harmony with the old – age hardly made a difference.
Walking further, history lead me to nature and the river Rhine greeted me with open arms. A sunny day meant great pictures, and I just couldn’t stop clicking. I spent a considerable time by the river side, walking along the banks of Rhine towards the point where it merged with Moselle. I almost thanked my stars for this trip not happening during the cold, dark, depressing January.
Next stop was Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, A UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the Eastern Bank of Rhine. Occupying the position of an earlier fortress destroyed by the French in 1801, this one was built as the backbone of the regional fortification system by Prussia between 1817 and 1828 and guarded the middle Rhine region, an area that had been invaded by French troops repeatedly before. Overlooking the confluence of the rivers, the location is strategic for the views it provides, both in terms of defense and beauty. Taking a cable car to reach Ehrenbreitstein Fortress was a great decision, and the pictures only do partial justice to what the eyes saw.
With it’s lush green laws, huge stone walls, long tunnels and strategic view-points, this one impresses a traveler from the point one enters through it’s large gates. There’s an in-house museum here as well, depicting Germany’s history through artifacts, but the texts are all in German which comes as a disappointment. Nevertheless, the fort is much worth a visit, for it offers the best views of Koblenz.
Koblenz from up above looks even prettier. Confluence of the two rivers makes a beautiful view, with these love-locks adding a distinct European charm to it all. As the rivers meet, so do the lovers hope! I nursed a hope too, not letting the moment slip away like mercury from my hands.