Coburg, Prince Albert’s hometown

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The town square at Coburg

We were still stuck in Frankfurt and Alex was still coming up with places we could visit on a day trip by coach. Today, 27th December, it would be Coburg. It was over two hours in the coach each way, but we were assured there would be a toilet stop.

The autobahns in Germany make our highways look second rate. The roads are smooth and wide, often with three or more lanes. Coaches are speed limited but there are rarely speed limits on cars. Quite a few shot past us in the outside lane despite our 100kph. German kids are taught to drive on these roads.

As promised, we stopped at a service station, 1 Euro coins in hand. Toilets are not free in Germany. We bought some cough lollies and stood in the queue at the till to pay. A young German couple asked where we were from and were suitably impressed when we said Australia. I told them it was a lot colder here than it was there. The girl stared at me. “This isn’t cold. It’s usually ten, twenty degrees colder, with snow.” It was about 10C, quite mild for winter in Germany.

Coburg is a lovely town, with most of the buildings dating to the 17th or 18th century. Alex had arranged a guide who would conduct a walking tour, which we followed for a short time. We learned the history of St Maurice, patron saint of the city. He was an Egyptian Christian who rose through the Roman ranks to command a legion. He and his men were all executed for refusing to make sacrifices to the Roman gods. Read the story here. We’d come across the story before, when we visited Bonn’s cathedral, apparently built over the burial site of Maurice’s legionaries, Cassius and Florentius, who became patrons of Bonn.

I’m sure the rest of the tour would have been interesting but we were keeping an eye on the town square where workers were dismantling the Christmas markets – and a food stall was setting up for business. Alex had told us all about Coburg’s famous bratwurst, cooked directly over the flames. In fact, he’d come with us on the coach and made a beeline for the stall as soon as we arrived. A queue was already forming. Folks, sausage-in-a-bun is my favourite German food. We joined the end of the queue.

The bratwurst was, indeed, very nice. It’s a long sausage, presented in a short piece of bread roll, rather like a handle. The Germans eat it with mustard, but the proprietor offers ketchup for Philistines.

Coburg is the birthplace of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg who married the British Queen Victoria. They’re very proud of Bert. You’ll see his image in many places.

After lunch (bratwurst inna bun) the coach took us up to the Veste Coburg, the fortress on the hill above the town. Needless to say, there’s been a fortification up there since Roman times. These days, it’s an amazing museum, filled with all manner of artefacts ranging from weapons and armour to glassware, beautiful furniture, paintings, costumes, pottery, and jewellery. Have a look at the website to get a feeling for the depth of the collection. Our photos are the merest glimpse. As part of the entry fee you’re given a unit that provides a self-guided tour. Scan the number of the exhibit and you’ll be told all about it in English.

A small selection of armour
Amazing, intricately inlaid furniture
Room after room of stunning pieces
The view from the fortress

This visit was the highlight of the cruise for us, well worth the ten-hour round trip.

By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.

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