I'd hate to give the impression that my trip to the Rhineland last week was just an extended pub crawl. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, it was more of an educational and cultural tour with a few pubs thrown in. The highlight was visiting the house in Wuppertal that Friedrich Engels lived in as a child.
I didn't realise until recently that Barmen where Engels was born merged with Elberfeld in 1929 to become Wuppertal. As well as the house itself, you can also go in the wonderfully named Historisches Zentrum und Museum für Frühindustrialisierung next door where I not only had a chat to the guys running it about Engels, Manchester and the textile industry but also a go on a power-loom.
Wuppertal's other attraction is the Schwebebahn monorail that runs over the River Wupper. Opened in 1901, it's based on a industrial railway designed by English engineer Henry Robinson Palmer for a steel mill in Elberfeld.