Back in Germany, we decide to end our central European adventures with a little time on the beautiful Rhine River. The Rhine serves as a border for Germany, Belgium and parts of France and Switzerland.
Our journey began near the northern German end of the river in a national Park named Eifel (just can’t seem to get past that French connection no matter where we go).
A beautiful reservoir in Eifel Park gives us a
There is plenty of pine on the Rhine
chance for a great little day-cruise. [clik the pic to see it larger]
On top of hills surrounding the reservoir, is an old Nazi training camp for the “New German Man” Ordensburg Vogelsang.
A little too soon after seeing Auschwitz, it was hard to really get into the new world order and nazi training campuses, but Vogelsang did have some interesting details; an obvious penchant for round windows.
It’s past time for the Rhine
Known for its bounty of castles, we visited one of the more popular ones, Marksburg Castle.
It’s hard to whine when you are on the Rhine
Sitting in a defensive position, there was the requisite cannons
||and equipment to be self-sufficient in case of a dreaded siege.
Dine on swine on the Rhine
Kind of reminds me of the Medieval Village People and the first rhinoplastie candidate
And the personnel adept at siege management.
Further on down the road/river, one runs into the nice little village of Boppard (which is also pretty fun to say….’bOPpard’). They run river cruises out of Boppard and for a very reasonable price you get a lovely boat ride with views like these:
You will think it sublime
cruising the Rhine
I left my heart in San Francisco, but I left my spine on the Rhine
A twist on the lower-middle Rhine, where the it meets the Main River, you will find the touristy town of Rudesheim. It is every oom-pah music lovers’ fantasy. It is also the quintessential braid brandishin’, dirndls doffing, stein slurpin’, pretzel eating, polka dancing, schnitzel gobbling German town. And if you aren’t in the mood when you show up at this center of folk culture and tacky souvenirs, you will be after strolling around the extremely picturesque town.
The shine on the Rhine is in Rudesheim
Or you can take a cable car up the hill, over the vineyards all the way to….
The wine from the vine is on the Rhine
this REALLY HUGE monument!
Hey! a shrine on the Rhine
For which we had no clue as to why it was there or how old it was or anything, until just now when trusty old Google found the Niederwald Monument Germania for me.
It was one of the few places we have run into that had no information in English. It was kind of refreshing actually. We have been wandering around Europe for the better part of a year and everywhere we go, there is an English translation – exits, street signs, tourist information, restrooms, just about everything. It has been great as an English speaker, but a little weird too as you sit down to a totally authentic meal to have the menu description written in English underneath the native language.
This place was great with a wonderful view of the river and we only heard German being spoken (and a little Japanese).
Back down the hill, we checked into the Hotel Lindenwirt. We had been playing it safe and cheap with our hotels and staying at your bland old Accors with reasoning that we wouldn’t get gypped and since we spent most of our time site seeing, we were not in the rooms that much anyway. Rudesheim didn’t have any Accor hotels, so we went for rustic. We got it!
On the internet we found a hotel with the most charming pictures and it was about half of what we had been paying. I wondered for a moment if I was spending more that I should on hotels, so we booked a double room. This sprawling, right in the middle of town, ancient establishment has apparently grown into, and nailed together several buildings over the years; centuries perhaps. So when we had requested an upper floor room on the internet site, to avoid some noise and they had an elevator, we had no idea the elevator would only take you part of the way. Here’s the route.
Up to the second floor on the elevator (that is all the further this ride went). Down the hall about 50 yards. Through the doors outside along the balcony overlooking the beergarten. Up 10 steps. Into the door and down the hall another 25 yards. Tight turn up the stairs, 20-25 or so steps, to the second and a half floor. Tight turn down the hall, oh say 30 feet and AUCHTUNG, you are at your door! But they do have an elevator.
The room was clean enough – geez we were just going to go right back outside and walk around the town anyway. There was a nice little view of the hill and the quaint open air restaurant across the street. You could also people-watch really well from the window and maybe dust off a hat or two of the throngs of tourists traipsing past just below. The town is on a hill, so even though we were on the second and a half floor, the city rose up to meet us and almost look into our room.
There also didn’t seem to be any pillows. Well I am a multiple pillow woman and NO pillows just wasn’t going to work, I don’t care how good of a deal I am getting. So I called the front desk to inform them of the oversight and as promised, someone showed up shortly with a big fluffy pillow. Only after scrunching and placing my new fat friend on the bed did I realize that I had been badly mistaken. There was indeed a pillow already on the bed. It was in a nice clean pillow case and everything. But you can imagine how I might have made such as mistake as the pillowcase actually was thicker than the pillow itself. It was the Twiggy of pillows. I have seen razor blades fluffier than that pillow. It actually came as close to being a 2 dimensional object as I have ever seen a supposed 3 dimensional object come. Let’s face it, a photograph of the thing is thicker.
Moving on, we settle into our rustic little room. We discover a brightly colored plastic case about the size of a silver dollar, but thicker (one helluva lot thicker than the pillow). What is this, a special little treat? Inside we find two brand new foam earplugs. Hmmmm, that is nice?? Ah well, time to do some exploring.
Some Rhine wine tastes
We walk down the stairs, 20 feet down the hall, yadda, yadda, yadda …… you know the route, and we are outside. This is just an adorable town. Geegaw and cornishes and clocks and bells and cobblestone and flowers everywhere you look. There was a souvenir shop about every 5 feet and they had all the things you can buy at Seaside Oregon plus cuckoo clocks.
We have a very tasty and reasonably priced dinner in a lovely outdoor restaurant with a pleasant and attentive staff. We strolled down interesting streets with very old buildings that tell a story just by looking at them. In short we have a wonderful evening.
On out way back to the Lindenwirt, we walk between the ‘Battle of the Beergartens’. Things are starting to heat up, the beer is flowing, the accordions are blazing and the patrons are having a fine old time and getting finer by the moment. However, to an on-looker it is a little disconcerting as these two establishments, facing each other on the same street seem to be having the biggest decibel contest by playing two different oom-pah songs at the same time, as loud as they can! Oh no – one of the beergartens is attached to our hotel………….. the EARPLUGS!!!
So how do you sleep through “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” done in 3/4 time by an accordion and a tuba at 3 a.m? Even my big fluffy pillow on top of my head and two ear plugs in each ear didn’t help. Needless to say, we were not at the top of our game the next morning when it was time to check out.
So when the room bill came to exactly twice of what I expected, I really didn’t take it well. Apparently the very good price on the internet is PER PERSON. Like this was a tour or a cruise. I asked them how I could book a double and not get the price of the room? They told me it was a common practice in Europe (Accor hotels don’t do that). I suggested that next time I came (like I would EVER stay there again), I would book two single rooms and therefore get closer to what I was paying for. The deskclerk informed me that singles were more expensive than doubles. She was insane. We left.
Lesson learned: Buyer Beware ~ even in the most charming of places ~ OR
Don’t ever try to play Tie a Yellow Ribbon in 3/4 time OR
Complimentary earplugs may not bode well
Taking a lesson from the Rhine, we roll out of Rudeshiem and shortly we are in Heidelberg where we found an Accor hotel and a quiet night’s rest.
When I was younger, I thought Heidelberg University was where you went to learn how to drink beer better. Imagine my surprise to find the oldest university in Germany established in 1386. And while I expect there was a certain amount of research into effects of brewed beverages upon the human body done even at that early date, this seat of higher education still thrives and enrolls over 26 thousand students today.
As we walk through the old quarter of the university, we look up and what do we see, but a castle; Heidelberg Castle actually.
Ride a boat on the Rhine and you will serpentine
Hmmm.. wonder what they brewed here?
Of course, the castle offered a nice view or two as well.
Ron holds a postcard with a picture of the picture I was taking.
(We could have saved allot of money if we had had access to post cards of Europe and just taken pictures of the card!)
Nanny Fine would like the Rhine
Keep driving south where the Rhine serves as a border with France and you will find yourself in the heart of the Black Forest. So you ask, is the Black Forest really black? Answer: Yes, parts of it.
See, on the right side of this photo in the hilly part? It is pretty black in there don’t you think?
Rather than seek out the mega-touristy as we often have, we pick a route of lesser roads and find ourselves in the beautiful little village of Oberharmersbach and then say “Auf Wiedersehen” to the Rhine.
So do you like the Rhine? Ja or Nein
Posted on September 30th, 2009 by dianagene
Filed under: Europe Trip | 382 Comments »