Coburg is a town in north Bavaria, not too far from where I'm currently residing, Bayreuth. Yesterday was a German national holiday - I'll give you a VERY brief background lesson for the German history lovers among you (I know you're out there): Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit, or German Unity Day, celebrates the anniversary of German Reunification after it was divided into East and West Germany for 40 years following the end of WW2.
The Berlin Wall actually fell on November 9th 1989, but as that day also marks the anniversary of Hitler's horrendous Kristallnacht (google it, this blog post really isn't a history lesson, honest!), 3rd October was chosen as the formal celebration day of German reunification.
Right, so now you know all that info which may or may not be irrelevant to your life, I'm going to tell you all you really needed to know: we had a day off work.
One of the things I love most about Germany (along with the food and the train network) is that there are so many castles, palaces and generally beautiful buildings. If you're a sucker for some pretty architecture too, you'd definitely like Coburg.
Accompanied by my wonderful friend and fellow Germany-lover, Emma, we set off to Coburg on one of the most beautiful autumn days I've ever experienced. Fresh but not too cold, sunny but not too hot, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. To be fair, everything looks better set to a backdrop of sunshine and blue sky, so we were very lucky. Armed with our new snazzy cameras, Emma and I spent the day exploring, soaking up the sunshine, marveling at, well, everything, and pretending to be profesh photographers. Slash we probably just looked like major tourists but hey. YOIBO*.
We arrived at Coburg station, grabbed some sustenance (hey, on a national holiday who knows when you're going to be able to get food? It turns out there was more open than we'd been expecting, but STILL... We weren't taking any chances on going hungry), and moseyed our way into the town centre.
|Imagine if this was your local bank...|
|Our very own Prince Albert overlooking the main square|
Not too shabby, is it? Bearing in mind the above pictures, I want you to take a moment to think of your own local high street. There's no comparison, is there?
After taking far too many pictures of, well, everything - seriously, every building was picture-worthy - Emma and I went to find the famous Ehrenburg Palace. OK, it's not as famous as, say, Buckingham Palace, but it's just as beautiful. Take a peek:
|The German and Bavarian flags were proudly flying in the breeze|
If I have correctly understood, it was here in Ehrenburg Palace that Queen Victoria first met her husband, Prince Albert. After marrying him, she visited Coburg on numerous occasions, and reportedly said of the town, 'If I were not who I am, this would have been my real home, but I shall always consider it my second one.' And I can see why! Well, if it's good enough for Queen Victoria...
Surrounded by pretty rose gardens and a beautiful green hill up to a statue of Prince Albert's brother, Duke Ernst II, it really is stunning. Have some more pictures, and hopefully you'll see what I mean...
|A beautiful view into the town.|
|Tee hee it's as if Ernsty is riding over the hill towards us|
Emma and I took a break on a bench in the sunshine and just absorbed the view of the palace. To quote my lovely friend, 'I would honestly recommend to anyone depressed that all you need in life is sunshine, a good friend and a bench.' Was a truer word ever spoken? Maybe, but I still like it.
|The philosopher herself.|
The Palace is now home to a museum and a library, but to be honest, Emma and I were keener to explore more of the town and make our way to Coburg's biggest attraction, Veste Coburg.
We had seen Veste Coburg (or Coburg Fortress) from afar, and being the medieval castle lover that I am, I couldn't wait to climb up the hill to discover it.
Up the hill and through the early autumnal trees we strolled, all the time being guided by numerous signposts, each one giving options of different paths of varying gradients and the according walking times (gotta love German efficiency.)
We stopped to eat our sandwiches on yet another sunny bench, and admired the view, once again. What can I say? Emma was right about benches in the sunshine.
Considering the same thing happens every year, I'm not sure why I find autumn leaves so amazing, but I really do. Are these not just absolutely beautiful!? I LOVE AUTUMN!
So, fully energised from our picnic (the walk up to the fortress really isn't that long, we're just lazy), we finished the climb and arrived at Veste Coburg. It was AMAZING!
The architecture is just beautiful. I adore the style, and it's all amazingly clean. Veste Coburg is actually known as 'The Crown of Franconia', so that's fun. (Oh, Franconia is this region of Bavaria, in case you didn't know.)
Somewhat excitingly for my inner German student, Martin Luther - yes, he of Bible-translating fame - actually lived in Veste Coburg for a while, along with various Dukes and other VIPs. MARTIN LUTHER! (Please share my excitement...)
Now, however, Veste Coburg is home to various museums, collections and galleries. As one of the biggest castles in Germany, I'm sure there must be plenty of visitors over the year, but I really liked the fact that Veste Coburg didn't seem touristy or tacky at all. There's a gift shop and a little café, but that's about it.
Emma and I wandered round, jaws dropped in awe, and soon found the most amazing viewpoint. Behold:
On a clear day, it was just gorgeous.
Dayum, it was all so charming.
But strolling down cobbled streets and exploring secret stairways doesn't half take it out of you, so Emma and I decided a sit-down in the fortress' restaurant was very much in order.
There was a little band playing German ditties we'd never heard (there was yodelling, people!), waitresses in Dirndls, and many-a-happy-guest sitting outside in the sunshine enjoying beers and ice creams. We were absolutely loving life.
Exhausted from our strenuous day of looking at pretty buildings and sitting on sunny benches, we ambled back to the train station and made our way back to Bayreuth. Somewhat tragically, we managed to get on the wrong train, end up miles away, resort to eating some emergency Wurst and thus get home a good two hours later than we should have done, but that is A-okay as we had nowhere to be apart from our beds that evening.
It was honestly one of the most blissful days of my life. I feel so lucky to have the time and opportunity to be able to visit and explore such beautiful places, and I can't wait to do more. Germany is awesome. Trust.
If anyone has any suggestions of places I should visit or things I should do, please, hit me up with a comment!