Jet Lagged Fun in Koblenz

Lufthansa air was a class act. Also my seat mate and one of the stewards helped us practice our German. I didn’t manage to sleep on the plane, but despite that, we managed to successfully use the ticket machine and get the first train to Koblenz. It literally arrived as we walked to the platform.

Me looking silly on flight

Using the rail ticket machine. Google pay didn’t work there.

The rail machine had flags representing about 8 different languages so we really didn’t have to use the German screens but we did anyway.

One complication: the departure board didn’t show Koblenz. Fortunately, Google navigate did and with Google fi coverage we were able to find the correct train at the correct platform, and more importantly, get off at the correct station. On the train ride, it was still dark, as our plane arrived at 5 am, so we were able to see the Christmas lights in passing towns and reflected on the Rhein river.

It was still dark when we arrived in Koblenz but we bumbled our way to our lovely hotel, Hotel Brenner. This lovely family owned hotel showed us the best of European hospitality. If we had shown up early to an American hotel, they would check our bags and tell us to come back much later. Instead, this hotel graciously rushed to get our room cleaned, and allowed us to check in early.

After out tight quarters in Boston, we were thrilled to have this lovely, large room. The beds had little packets of Haribo gummy bear candies on them. I swore I was not going to sleep but I took a nap. Later, the manager offered us an even larger room since we were going to be here so long, but we said we were happy with this one.

A cute little dressing table and coffee service
The shower room. There’s a separate toilet room.
View from our room

After my nap, we went for a walk. It had rained earlier but was warm and cloudy this afternoon. Very pleasant. A pedestrian/bike underpass had these cute murals.

The Rhein
Fortress at Ehrenbreitstein
Schloss Koblenz (Koblenz castle)
The Rhein river area in Koblenz is a UNESCO site
Preussisches Regierunggebaude (Prussian Government building)
Cute restaurants and apartments with Riverside views
Cable cars only run on weekends off season
Cable car trestle
Doggy bag station
Beautiful out of season blooming tree
The Viking ship we saw was much bigger than I had imagined. It looked like the cabins had great views.
A strange lion image at the Ecke

Koblenz Eck with statue of Wilhem I.

Pieces of Berlin Wall
Deutche Kaiser, our restaurant for the afternoon.
The local beer, Koblenzer, is quite good
Ray had schnitzel with mushrooms
I had a vegetarian dish with apples, potatoes, and greens

We did quite a bit more but jet lag is claiming me again so I’ll tell you about zinterclaus tomorrow.

Final Boston thoughts

We had a great time but are now heading on to Germany. This is the Lufthansa gate, blessedly heavy with charging ports. I picked up some euros at the exchange here. Always good to have a few when we hit the ground.

We took the train/shuttle to the airport. A whole $5 for both of us and very easy. The transit ambassadors at main stations are extremely helpful.

One thing I found especially pretty in Boston was all the churches. I understand they have some beautiful synagogues and mosques as well. So here are some pics of a few that I walked by.

Happy holidays to all.

Project Fi coverage is travel heaven

The Google project fi network makes finding maps for foreign locations, subway train schedules, and other minutia of travel a breeze. Because the network works in 170 countries without additional fees, a happy traveler doesn’t need to search out Wi-Fi hot spots, buy sim cards, or rent a mobile phone to stay connected.

Seriously, if you’re a frequent international traveler, switching to the go network may be the smartest move you could make. Going to Japan and don’t speak Japanese? Google translate and google navigate to the rescue.

While most countries are open to Google, China is the notable exception. Also, a few countries have restricted access to some Google services (YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, Maps). Those countries include: Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria. In those rare cases, you’ll want to use these travel tips.

Also, although the excellent Google pixl phones are the best known equipment that can be used on the project fi network, there are a host of other unlocked phones that work. And right now, Google is offering deals on it’s latest pixl models.

The project fi pricing scheme is great for either heavy data users like me or lighter users like my husband. Plus, the coverage is great. Ray almost always has better coverage with project fi than my t-mobile phone, and t-mobile has good coverage.

So are you ready to make the switch? As we’re anticipating more foreign travel, I’m making the changeover.

It’s ok. Drink the water

After years of traveling to destinations where drinking tap water was unsafe, it was a luxury to be in Japan where the tap water is safe to drink, use to brush your teeth, and wash your fruits and vegetables. Even the water in park fountains was considered safe to drink. Amazing!

Now that I’m heading to Germany, I was pleased to see that many European destinations also have safe tap water for tourists. Since a few still don’t, check this infographic to be sure.

Surprisingly, even though German water is safe for residents and tourists alike, most Germans drink bottled water. But it is nice to not worry when I brush my teeth that I’ll need the Imodium in my emergency travel pharmacy.

As more countries improve their water infrastructure, bottled water may eventually become a travel story from history. But until then, always check, as many tourist destinations like China, Mexico, Morocco, and Thailand, still recommend bottled water for tourists. And remember. If tap water is unsafe, use bottled water to brush your teeth, don’t eat salads or street food, and avoid fruits that can’t be peeled.

Procuring German Railway Passes Was A Breeze

To simplify the logistics of our upcoming trip to Germany, we decided to stay in one hotel for the week that we’ll be there and make day trips to other locales. We selected Koblenz as our base because it was at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine Rivers. Link

The German Corner, view from Ehrenbreitstein fortress - Foto: Koblenz Touristik

The German Railroad (Deutsches Bahn or DB hereafter) posts its schedules online. Link We found that the DB  provides direct service from the station at the Frankfurt Airport to the main station in Koblenz. The ride takes a little more than an hour and was much more convenient than renting a car.

Examining the schedules for Koblenz, we learned that DB provides morning departure and afternoon return times to the cities and towns that we wanted to visit. We decided to use DB for our day trips as far as Koeln and Luxembourg and as nearby as the Moselle and  Rhine country wineries.

DB offers several types of railway passes for tourists on its website. We opted for a pass designed for non-Europeans  that provided seven consecutive days of train travel. Moreover, DB was offering a autumn season discount! We  ordered our tickets on the DB website and printed them out at home. When we board the train in Germany, we merely show the passes and our passports to the attendant.

Getting ready for a trip to Germany

Lobster is what I think of first when planning a trip to Boston.

We were planning a trip to Boston for a business meeting and said, “Hey! We’re well along the way to Europe. Let’s go!” We settled upon Germany, because Brenda wanted to finally put her German language minor in college to good use.

Lufthansa offered flights from Boston/Logan to Frankfort, so we opted to visit that area. Once there, we considered our options: travel hither and thither, staying in various places, or establish a base of operations in one place and explore the environs. We opted for the latter, eschewing the multiple unpack/pack cycle. We also travel light, so readily finding a laundry with time to use it is a must. (At least, our seatmates on the flights home would prefer it.)

The next decision was where to establish our home away from home. There’s where the DK travel guides for Germany came in handy. The Rhineland offers an abundance of pleasant towns to choose from, so we felt we couldn’t make a wrong decision. We opted for Koblenz because it was convenient to both the Rhine and Moselle attractions, and was large enough to provide lots of different fun things to do and enjoy over our stay.

What about touring the countryside? Car or train? We opted for the convenience of the German railway system. We will use their affordable and convenient rail pass to avoid dealing with auto insurance, parking, and foreign language highway signage. The train system offers direct service from the Frankfort airport to Koblenz and convenient service from Koblenz to other towns and cities that we wanted to visit. And we won’t have to worry about driving after Wine tasting our way through the countryside.

Just a few more details to take care of and we’ll be ready for our trip. What about you? Where in Germany would you like to go?