When was the last time you took a gondola ride? Did you have a pair of skis clutched in your gloved hands? Were you on the edge of your seat, excited as all get out to reach the top of the mountain?

Gondola rides get my adrenaline pumping. Know what else gets me excited? Knowing a secret.

“Gondola number 17 has a glass bottom,” whispers my cousin Britta.

“Only 17? Why not the others?” I ask.

Britta shrugs. “It’s special.”

We’re waiting in line to get on gondola number 17. But we’re not actually in line, we’re off to the side.

“Can we do this? Just jump in line to get on 17?” I ask.

“Normally they don’t like it,” says Kati, my cousin Patrick’s girlfriend. “But I work here. We’re allowed.” She grins.

We count the cars as they come around. Twelve … thirteen. They’re sooo slow … fourteen. Come on. Fifteen.

All of a sudden, a bunch of boys rush up. Sixteen goes by. They flank us. “Seventeen! We have to get on seventeen!” they say to each other. They know.

Seventeen swings around. Britta and I stride toward the door. A couple kids manage to scurry in front of us. They quickly sit down on the glass viewing platform and spread their arms out in an attempt to save seats for the rest of their cronies.

I walk around and plop myself right in between them. Britta grabs the other side. We look across at each other and smile triumphantly. Nice try, punks.

Look at the glee all over my dad’s face. And he wasn’t even looking through the glass bottom.

Gondolas are fun. Even without the skiing.

By now you’ve probably figured out that I’m not riding this gondola to the top of a snow-capped mountain. Actually, I’m on my way to look at flowers.

For 2011, the city of Koblenz received the honor of hosting the famous Budesgartenshau, Germany’s national horticulture show. Some of the exhibits were located in the city center, but the largest exhibit was located across the Rhein river on top of Ehrenbreitstein mountain.

Sure, a flower exhibition isn’t the adrenaline-pumping thrill I expect and the end of a gondola ride. But that’s not fair to the flowers. They put on a good show. There were acres of them; so colorful and gorgeous. And a handful of them actually freaked me out a little. Seriously, what the heck is this?

I didn’t even know half of these plants existed. So! Many! Flowers! The designers of the show must’ve anticipated flower fatigue. How thoughtful of them to add space-oddessy (?!) chairs to the walking paths.

Besides the flower show, the top of Ehrenbreitstein afforded a sweeping view of Koblenz and the Deutsches Eck. The “German Corner” is a pointy piece of land formed by the Mosel river joining the Rhein.

This was big. The Deutsches Eck is like Germany’s version of America’s Four Corners. Must have a photo of this. Or two. Or three.

Look at these parents of mine. I don’t know who told the joke, but finally! Non-camera smiles! (Factoid: their 29th wedding anniversary was just a few days prior to this.)

Down we go. ☼