Koblenz literally means “merging of the rivers” and is located at the convergence of the Moselle and Rhine Rivers. The city is over 2000 years old and it seemed like a good place to see something interesting and historical and recover from our setbacks. It was also where we would celebrate Scott and Ashley’s birthdays.
A few notable things happened during the time we spent in Koblenz and when I say notable I think I actually mean that I learned some more lessons. I had to let go of going overboard for Scott and Ashley’s birthday. I had brought a small gift for Ashley from home and I had a little something for Scott that I had found in Oberammergau. I had planned on finding a few decorations (since Ashley’s favorite tradition is birthday decorations) in Wiesbaden and I wanted to get Ashley and Scott Swiss army knives. Ashley had requested homemade chocolate chip cookies for her birthday cake and I was planning on making that happen in our apartment in Wiesbaden. By the time we made it to Koblenz on Saturday there was no hope of shopping, we just went for a long walk to stretch our legs and find dinner. It’s a beautiful, clean city. There are many river cruises that stop in Koblenz and so many people were out and about enjoying dinner in the cafes and the nice summer evening. We ate a quiet dinner and walked back to the hotel and went to bed; the next day was “the birthdays”.
August 23rd dawned, a day for me that is usually nonstop and filled with my own need to make it special and meaningful and memorable. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t get up early to put up decorations or make a cake or plan a party or make sure every little thing was perfect. All I could do was to be present (no pun intended). I gave them the gifts I had. Ashley had brought a SLO sticker and key chain from home for Scott’s birthday. She had thoughtfully planned a little bit of home as Scott’s gift. She had even wrapped it before we left. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then the kids had to do some schoolwork because the week had been so unpredictable and they had had little time to be students.
We planned a trip to the Friebad (local swimming pool) for birthday fun. The pool was nice but it was not our pool in Oberammergau. It did have one attraction that was better than our previous swimming pool. This place had not only diving boards, but also diving platforms. Scott and Ashley jumped together from the low platform to celebrate their birthdays. That was cool, a fun way to mark 12 and 42 and not something I could give them at home. The four of us enjoyed watching people jump from the low platform. It was interesting. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of concern for safety here in Germany (A Refreshing Afternoon Dip) so it was surprising to see the preparations that took place before the platform opened. The whole end of the pool where the diving boards and platforms were was cleared and roped off. Three lifeguards appeared; one on each side of the pool and one on the platform. This seemed serious but still fun, two people could jump at a time and the line was long. This went on for about an hour and then the 10 meter platform opened and the line shortened considerably.
We watched in awe as boys and men climbed the later and jumped off of the platform. It was impressive. Ashley watched closely. Then she asked if she could jump from the platform. Impressively Scott said, “You can jump from a 10 meter platform but not today.” She seemed relieved not to have to make the decision and continued to watch the jumpers. Then she asked, “Why can’t I jump off the platform?” Scott replied, “Because I can’t handle it, it scares me to think of you jumping off of that platform.” We watched for a while longer, I was relieved that Scott was drawing the safety line today. “So, it’s your problem and not mine that I can’t jump,” our strong-willed child points out. Scott thinks about this and reconsiders. He tells her that yes, he is afraid of her jumping from that platform but it is her decision. I tell her that if she does there will be no picture because I won’t be able to watch and the camera is barely working because I dropped it and broke the lens while watching the kids swim in a lightning storm in Switzerland (Switzerland for Supper).
She gets up and slowly walks over to the ladder. The line is short and so in no time she is on the 10m platform. There are two boys in front of her and it is obvious they aren’t ready to jump, they beckon to Ashley. Scott and I watch expecting her to look over the edge and change her mind. She looks tiny up there as she walks to the edge, holds on to the railing and looks down. She hesitates a few seconds and jumps. I hear the camera malfunction. Her hair trails her into the pool and then her sweet little head breaks the surface. It happened so fast. She is out of the pool and dripping wet and shaking and laughing. She tells us her legs were shaking so hard she could barely stand. She says, “I’m never doing that again.” It is obvious that she has given herself the best and most memorable birthday present possible on her 12th birthday, she conquered the 10 meter platform. We watched the last few divers and then went back to the hotel.
The birthday people went out for a night walk to find their birthday cake. Ashley wanted a date with her dad and so Grant and I stayed in the hotel. He needed some quiet time and I was supposed to be looking for our next destination where we would hopefully find an apartment. They came back with birthday cake to share and we sang Happy Birthday and ate Black Forest cake in Germany. The kids retired to their computers for some movie watching and I showed Scott the little town I had discovered.
The little town was called Rüdescheim am Rhine and looked small and cute and beautiful. There was a swimming pool in the town and lots of walking trails through the vineyards. We found a little apartment there with Wifi and rented it through a website called Live like a German (the same place we found our Oberamergau apartment). We went to bed looking forward to a home cooked dinner the next evening in our new apartment.
The following morning we packed up and went in search of a new lens for the camera and some new shoes for Ashley before we left Koblenz. Three hours later we had our supplies and the news that the man renting our new apartment had mistakenly thought we wanted it for 2016 instead of 2015. He was very sorry but he had a friend with an apartment across the street. We should come and see it. We drove an hour to the town and this was no easy feat, it involved a car ferry and Scott saying it was going to be one expensive U-turn if we were going the wrong way. He said, “I’m making chicken and noodles tonight.” We were going the right way and we found the address and Scott called Ms. Poppet, I know, we were falling farther and farther down the rabbit hole. We called her and she came scurrying down the street five minutes later with sheets over her arm. She led us into the apartment. I asked if the apartment had Wifi. There was no Wifi but she would get the password from her neighbor and we could use his from across the street. Needless to say, the apartment didn’t work out, the U-turn was expensive, 14 Euros to be exact.
Before we jumped on the Ferry again we spent two hours in a café with Wifi. We drank a lot of coffee and searched for an apartment in a small town on the way to Cologne. It took us two hours to find an apartment that looked good through Booking.com. We just started searching for apartments on the way to Cologne with 3 beds and Wifi and a beautiful apartment popped up in a village called Alken. We booked it and then we got kicked off of the internet and our confirmation number was lost in cyber space. We just decided to get in the car and drive the hour back to Alken and hope for the best. So to wrap this saga up, we found the apartment and even though the owner didn’t get our reservation it was still free and clean and so pretty that I want the owner to decorate my own house. It has lots of space for us to spread out, two patios and a yard. It is perfect right down to the lightning fast internet that doesn’t kick you off every hour or so. To quote Hannibal from the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
This is the view from our back patio.This place is amazing. Stay here if you find yourself in Alken, Germany. www.moselschoen.de