On Sunday, 20th May eight members of NNBC with 2 supporters travelled to Koblenz by plane and 3 trains, a travel plan excellently organised by Peter Gaskin. May was not sure she enjoyed the full body massage at Norwich Airport but she was probably wearing the wrong sort of shoes. As we managed to get an earlier train from Schiphol to Amsterdam we had plenty of time for coffee and to find the right platform for the train to Dusseldorf (the original plan only allowed 16 minutes). Fortunately nobody visited the wrong sort of cafe as the sniffer dog on the train selected a couple in our carriage who were thoroughly searched (“the dog is never wrong”) without anything being found. Another change at Dusseldorf and on to Koblenz where we were met at the station by Hubert and Theda who helped us to get our luggage to the hotel. The hotel did not do evening meals so we quickly repaired to the recommended Weindorf where they quickly pushed 3 tables together in the courtyard and we enjoyed a most convivial evening.
Next day was free so we all took the cable car across the Rhine to enjoy the views of the fortress and the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine, returning for lunch and sightseeing before our walk to Koblenz Bridge Club for a bridge match. At half-time we had an excellent supper including white sausage which apparently the expert gourmets suck from the skin but none of us was able to achieve this.
On Tuesday we were up early for a tour of the city with Verner and Rainer from the Bridge Club as our guides. Despite having been knocked about quite a bit over the years, mostly by the French our hosts insisted, the old part of the city is a fascinating mix of old buildings, fountains, shops and cafes. Our tour ended with a civic reception where we were welcomed by the Deputy Mayor. In the afternoon we were back to the Bridge Club for a regular duplicate event. Everyone made us most welcome and helped us to find the next table which are numbered in an apparently haphazard manner throughout the 4 playing rooms. We were then entertained to a wine tasting evening at the club, with excellent wines and food, and in a very relaxed and convivial atmosphere, though I am not sure that the suggestion that the English should sing German songs and vice versa was a total success.
On our last day we took a boat ride up the Rhine, in a thunderstorm, to visit Marksburg, the castle at Braubach. We had been assured that a little train would take us up the hill but found that the driver only turned out on demand for a minimum fee. A nice lady in the cake shop rang him and we arranged the return trip, getting back down in time for lunch in the sunshine in a delightful square in the village. We rounded off our stay with dinner back at the Weindorf.
And the bridge match? I was hoping you would not ask. We were asked to play as two teams of 4, but neither the Chairman's team nor the President's team could manage to win more than one of their 4 mini-matches and the final result was a win by Koblenz by 171 imps to 83.