Not only are we in Germany for the Christmas markets, as these pictures attest, but we were here for a very important holiday recognizing Sinter Klass, a German version of Santa Clauss who arrives on December 6 and puts treats in the freshly polished shoes of little children. I’m not sure how the popularity of athletic shoes affects the custom, and my seat mate couldn’t tell me.
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
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.
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.
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.
Almost anytime someone goes to Boston, they do the same things. And those are great things: the Freedom Trail, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the JFK library. There are good reasons that these are popular Boston activities and if you haven’t already done them, I highly recommend them. But, if you’ve been to Boston before and are looking for some fun, different activities, here are some to try.
For a different breakfast experience, we went to Clover, a plant based restaurant. Their cranberry, apple, maple oatmeal is awesome, as is their hibiscus iced tea. Ray also liked his veggie sandwich and coffee.
For a free museum that’s slightly on the geeky side, go to Massachusetts General Hospital. Their Museum of Medical History and Innovation will make you extremely grateful to be living in modern times. Here are a few highlights.
One of my favorite exhibits (not shown, sorry) allows one to try and diagnose three patients using results from modern screening tests.
Surgical tools from the 1800s. They would not have been this clean, either. The relationship between sterile surgery and survival had not yet been established.
Another fun but unexpected destination is the main library. The library has two buildings, the McKim building, a classical building with notable murals, including some by John Singer Sargeant.
The newer building, the Johnson building, is thoroughly modern, and boasts the latest in library services innovations for Boston residents.
Walking back, we were able to enjoy the Christmas lights in the Commons.
Finally, make a quick visit to see the adorable burro statue in front of the old city hall (now Ruth Chris). Believe it or not, placing this staue here was controversial as it was Italian and had nothing to do with the American Revolution to justify it being on the Freedom Trail. But finally, it found its place there, delighting all the children who visit. The bright spots on the statue testify to the many children who have petted the little burro.
What would a stay at the Omni Parker House be like without trying their famous Parker House Boston cream pie? So we tried it! By the way, don’t get your taste buds set for a pie; that is definitely a misnomer. This is a fluffy light sponge cake filled with a thin layer of a light custard rather than the heavy custard associated with eclairs and donuts. There is also no crust, but there is a lovely chocolate topping.
For those who are interested in savoring this treat without traveling to Boston, you can have a 10-12 serving pie/cake shipped to you through Goldbelly for $89. We can verify that these are the original Boston cream pie from the Parker house as we saw crates of them being loaded onto a truck outside the restaurant. Hotel staff also confirmed that Goldbelly only uses their pies.
Have you ever wondered what happens to seeing eye dogs when they have to retire?
We met a sweet retired seeing eye dog in the park near our Boston hotel so we discovered the answer. The puppy breeder gets first dibs on adopting the retired dog. Many breeders do adopt retired dogs as it’s hard not to get attached in the 14 to 28 months before the dogs start training. And of course, these dogs are exceptionally well trained so they make great pets.
I got to pet Maxie but only after giving her the signal that it was ok to come over. What a wonderful dog!
If you’re interested in adopting a retired guide dog or a dog that couldn’t complete the grueling training (but would still make a great pet), you can apply here.