"" Writer's Wanderings: 18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Rhine River, Germany

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Rhine River, Germany

[Summer, 2004]

We arrived in Sindelfingen just outside of Stuttgart in time for dinner and found an Italian restaurant (no wiener schnitzel this night) open in the older section of town. While it was Saturday night and didn't seem that late, the area was not brimming with tourists. We felt a little uneasy and decided not to do a lot of exploring after dinner. Our Best Western this time turned out to be in an industrial area--car factories surrounded us. We had planned on three nights here but decided we would move on to Heidelberg after our Rhine River tour the next day. The hotel graciously made reservations for us. It turned out to be a good decision.

The day began chilly and looking a bit gray and cloudy as we drove north to Ruedesheim near Mainz in Germany. At Bingen, we took the ferry across the Rhine to Ruedesheim not realizing that there was a stop in Bingen for the river cruise as well. There are a couple of large boats that do day trips along the Rhine. We had originally found K-D Cruises on the web but when we arrived in Ruedesheim, we saw a very nice ship with two indoor decks and one open observation deck on top that was about to leave shortly and covered the area of the Rhine we wished to see. The name of the company was Bingen-Rudesheimer Fahrgastschiffahrt . Tables were set with glasses and cups and restaurant service was available. The trip started at Ruedesheim and went to St. Goarshausen where we had about an hour for lunch and a short walk through the little town before our return trip to Ruedesheim.

Along this area between the two towns are more than two dozen castles and fortresses that can be seen from the river. Remember "mad King Ludwig"? He built a lot of castles in Germany, the most famous being the one at Neuschwanstein. There is a little castle that sits right in the middle of the Rhine that was built by him. If I understood correctly it had something to do with being able to tax those who crossed the river--a little income for all that castle building. Some of the castles have been renovated and turned into B&Bs.

About midway through our two hour cruise to St. Goarshausen, the clouds gave way to sunshine and the air began to warm. Bob and Dick ventured out onto the observation deck from time to time to take pictures. Polly and I enjoyed sipping our warm coffees and watching the castles slip by through the huge glassed walls of the ship. The scenery looked like pages out of a fairy tale book.

Just before St. Goarshausen a large wall of rock juts out from the shore. Below it on a small outcropping sits the statue of a woman combing her long hair. It commemorates the legend of the Lorelei. It is said that she had long golden hair and sat on the rock singing while she combed her tresses. Of course this was in the area where the fast moving river narrows and the distracted boatsmen were doomed when they hit the shallow reefs.

Upon our return to Rudesheim, we spent some time exploring. The split timbered architecture of the old German towns are delightful to see and often are painted with symbols or scenes that are works of art.

We drove out of Rudesheim and crossed the river by bridge bypassing the large industrial city of Mainz on our way to the university town of Heidelberg.

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