31 May 2010

Cruise on the Romantic Rhine

Looks like I've got a lot of catching up to do. There have been many a trips taken that remain uncovered here, spanning over multiple months. To try to bring things up-to-date, for this post and the next several ones I'll keep my words to a minimum and mostly let the photographs do the talking. I'll start with my most recent trip and work backwards.

Last weekend I headed the Rhine River in western Germany. About 40 miles of the middle portion of the river are famous for there romantic scenery of steep, terraced vineyards, slate-roofed villages, and crumbling castles. For these reasons this section of the river has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ferries and tourist boats ply the waters of this section as often as Medieval ruins appear around the river bend here. I traveled by train to the small city of Bingen and from there switched to a boat sailing upriver. Here are some views of the route until I disembarked in the small town of Bacharach.

On Saturday night I slept in Bacharach, a scenic small town of only 2,000 people. More specifically said, I rested my head that night in a castle-turned-hostel that overlooks the river from a perch above the town. Bacharach offers several attractive example of cross-timbered architecture and cobblestone lanes. The last image below provides a view of my Medieval lodging.

With Sunday morning I boarded another northbound boat. For this segment of the trip castles crowned seemingly every major bluff along the river, and even one on an island in the middle of the waterway. I rode the boat until the village of St. Goarshausen, where I paid a visit to the Loreley.

Accoding to local lore, the Loreley was a beautiful siren who sat on the banks of the river at its narrowest point and lured sailors to the rocky shallows and thereby their death with her sweet singing. The legend actually originates from a poem written in the 1800s but in its relatively brief existence has gained the allure of a much older story. The precipitous river bank pictured above is named the Loreley and is the spot where the femme fatale would, following the legend, sing to the passing ships. A, shall we say, well-proportioned statue depicting the Loreley rests at the base of the rocky bluff today. After viewing the statue I hiked up the Loreley rock for a panoramic view of the river.

From St. Goarshausen my last section of the river cruise took me to the city of Koblenz, where the Mosel River converges with the Rhine. Below is a last shot from the river and also one of the so-called Deutsches Eck (German Corner) in Koblenz, which celebrates the unification of the German states under Kaiser Wilhelm I, and, unfortunately, was under renovation at the time of my visit. At the Eck a flag flies for each of the 16 contemporary German federal states.

From Koblenz I decided to cut my trip short, mostly because the local hostel was closed due to remodeling, and took a train back to Eichstätt.

One trip covered, only a handful more to go.

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