Koblenz was a place chosen to shorten our drive from Colmar to Den Haag, but on the way we stopped for lunch in Heidelberg.  We had last been in Heidelberg during our trip to celebrate Heidi’s 50th birthday.  It was as charming as ever and we had a passable lunch at the Lowenbrau café with wonderfully creamy and tasty Lowenbrau beer.  Feeling happy and full we did some window shopping and ventured into a products of the Black Forest shop and I fell for a nicely carved mid-sized cuckoo clock.  Probably just a hangover from my childhood fascination with my Aunt Mary’s clock given to her by an army relative stationed in Heidelberg, but it will hang on my office wall and maybe provide amusement for my grandson.

Koblenze Heidelberg

Koblenze Heidelberg

Koblenze Heidelberg

Koblenze Heidelberg

Koblenze Heidelberg

Koblenze Heidelberg

Arriving in Koblenz, I expected far more charm than it proved to hold.  Koblenz was heavily bombed during WWII and looked like so many other German and Japanese cities I have visited over the past 30 years, new construction with stark and sober architecture born out of budget and time constraints dominates the esthetics of these places.

Koblenz is known as the German corner, Deutsches Eck because it is at the intersection of the Mosel and Rhine.  This town has been important since the Roman empire and important in Christian history during the Middle Ages and it was heavily built up with monasteries and convents, many of which kept the Roman viticulture alive.

The land along the river gorge is steep and beautiful with vineyards and it looks unworkable due to the steep fall of the banks to the river.  This town is also a popular port of call for the river cruise boats, Viking etc.  I am sure the outlying areas are very much worth visiting, but we did not drive out to the small villages that were untouched by the war.

Germany lost so much of its architectural heritage out of their own calumny in creating two devasting wars within 20 years.  I morn for the loss of culture and humanity, but I feel so strongly about the evil that this people visited on our world that a sense of Old Testament retribution tinged all my feelings about being here.  I had never felt this so viscerally before, but my mind gripped on the idea that my Italian grandfather fled poverty and lack of opportunity for him in Europe in 1906 and then had to send two sons back to the old country to fight to erase the horror of Nazi savagery.

We Americans own this guilt too because between the wars we could have intervened to prevent the conditions that gave Hitler his opportunity, but for the isolationist’s movement.  We face the same retrograde politics and philosophy now among the population who support a devilish personality and I hope that we can erase the stain of Trump from our national story and its consequences in the wider world.  We live in Pax Americana, and it has a high cost in energy and treasure if we are to lead the world in keeping the general peace and prosperity.

On a sunnier note, as we approached Koblenz the road hugged the river and we enjoyed the dramatic views of the Rhine gorge.  Also, we found a quaint restaurant across the river from Koblenz not far from Ehrenbreitstein the old castle/fort defending the Rhine.  We had a wonderful traditional meal of the local cuisine featuring fish.  The hostess clearly put a lot of heart into this small and charming room with a view of the river.  Our dining neighbor, a German gentleman with his mother, struck up a conversation.  It was an interesting exchange, and his mother remembered the cold and hunger she lived through in the 1950’s as a little girl.  So I guess all was not sunshine, but the kindliness and warmth of our new friend were exceptional and a welcome addition to our sense of wellbeing.