I recently went to Germany for my first time to visit my new friend Michal, who I had met the month before.
I had gotten in to Koblenz late the night before and was now waking up in Michal’s home to coffee in bed, windows open, and the warm sunlight and brisk cool breeze on my skin.
Michal had work every morning of my visit. So the first morning, as we rode our bikes to her work, she took me the scenic route to bike the river and Deutsches Eck (German Corner).
After dropping her off at work, I rode around and happened upon the Altstadt (downtown). I saw an old couple drinking coffee at this shop, so I stopped for a cappuccino too.
I returned back to Michal and we rode around the bridge at sunset. The architecture and weather and all was so beautiful and was a great first impression of Germany.
The next morning I found my way from Michal’s house to the hotel coffee shop that she recommended. I sat outside in the warmth of the morning light, but it was difficult finding a good cappuccino in town.
Afterward I spent the morning discovering the Altstadt. Loved biking around finding palazzos of German architecture and secret gartens (gardens).
When Michal was off work, she took me to one of her favorite local roasters Kaffeerösterei Nero and we grabbed cappuccinos to go.
We spent the afternoon walking through the Altstadt, stopping in and out of shops, and finally ending at the Schlossgarten (castle garden) at sunset.
I asked a few Germans for their coffee shop recommendations and from that got Wartesälchen and Kaffeejunge so I went on a coffee crawl the next morning.
I loved Wartesälchen for its space, friendly staff, great wifi and location. Like really loved the location: on an island in the intersection overlooking this basilica.
But Kaffeejunge came highly recommended for a reason. The cappuccino was the best I found in town. The seating was limited, but I liked that. There were a couple spots at the bar, four at the window, and four outside right on the busy road. I definitely sat outside for an hour of car and people watching.
I was also told a very German thing to try was Schnitzdl. So I found a spot that served it with potatoes. It reminded me of chicken fried steak by the crispy outside and meat inside, so comfort food and basically as delicious as I had been told.
The next morning, before Michal went to work, we biked along the Rhein to Kaffejunge so I could introduce her. We had had a late start to the morning, and then spent a couple hours people watching and talking over cappuccinos, so it was pretty much the perfect start to a day.
When Michal was done with work and I with biking around the city, I met her at her studio for a shoot. Michal is well known for her moon paintings and weavings, and seeing her studio alone was an excitement for my trip, but getting to collaborate and shoot her at her studio was a favorite moment for sure.
We then met up with Robby for a sunset bike ride along the Rhein. We crossed over to the other shore to a beach.
While on the beach, I photographed Robby, to him saying, “I’ve never had someone take so many pictures of me before.” And somehow that shortly turned into some history on his life, which I was grateful for. He shared how he was from East Germany and that his parents had lived behind the wall in communism and the details of what that meant for daily life. It hit me in that moment that this wasn’t textbook history, but real life, and even just a couple years short of being Robby’s life.
Travel is all about the people you meet and the experiences you have with them in the short time your life paths have crossed. That night after the sun had set on the beach, we biked over and along the Rhein, and the lights from the home windows on the dark waters while we rode through the night breeze was beautiful.
The next day being Saturday, Michal, her friends, and parents were off work and we all got to spend the day together. It was such a beautiful day and beautiful experience getting to know those in Michal’s daily life and learn their culture.
After hiking through the woods and along the Rhein, Robby introduced us to his favorite coffee shop Café am Kapuzinerplatz where there were plenty of ice coffees (affogatos) and tiramisus at our table.
To end the day, we took a boat back across the Rhein (which was apparently a first for everyone and not just myself) to Michal’s house where her mother made a traditional German dinner: veal with potatoes and a homemade garlic basil butter, and the German fizziest water ever.
Germany was not only beatiful in architecture and land, but also in the hospitable and genuine and friendly kind culture. I loved my experience here and am so glad it happened and for those I met.