St. Goar, Rheinfels Castle, Bacharach, Rheinstein Castle
Up at 7:30 to a bright blue sky and cool temperature. Today it would be a perfect 74 degrees with sunny skies all day. Our boat trip to St. Goar isn't until 10:15am so we have a lot of time to have breakfast and stroll the river bank.
Breakfast was good. They even served scrambled eggs that were delicious. The usual cheese, cold meats assortment, breads and rolls, etc. Served in the hotel's dining room the tables are large, or booths, very comfortable and relaxed.
We got to the dock early and walked around the park and river bank. The morning sun lights the river and city like a picture book. There's lots of traffic on the river, both passenger type and more so cargo. Boats or barges full of containers or piles of coal and other dry goods.
Our boat arrived with German precision and we headed to the top deck, pulled up two chairs, and sat back to enjoy the cruise. We even found that many of the passengers were on another land tour (Cosmos) which included this boat ride to St. Goar. In addition, the announcements, most of which were a narrative of the major sights, were in German, English, Japanese and Chinese, and of the last two there were plenty on board.
Along the Rhine, every so often, there were giant billboard sized signs, with just three numbers on them. The numbers tell you how many kilomters from the start of the river you are but, even better, especially in Rick Steve's guide book, they tell everyone exactly where, city or site, you are.
Riding the Rhine this way exposes you to more castles than you could ever imagine and, with no effort, you can understand how the castles' owners could identify and exact a toll from all river travellers in their times.
We were at St. Goar in 50 minutes and began our climb to Rheinfels Castle. You can take a mini bus up, or walk up lots of steps, and we opted for a nature walk. You still have to climb a significant height, but the scenery is more of a quiet forest, small river and ponds, and generally cool and shadowy. The climb up takes about 25 minutes.
The castle is a ruin, though there are plenty of lookouts to climb and look out from as well as rooms to go through, including some prison areas, armories and defensive positions. It is an impressive place and does a good job, as do most of the castles, illustrating what running a castle entailed.
Lunch was small and brief at the castle - soda and ice cream.
The boat back was delayed so we checked the train and decided that insted of an hour boat ride, a 10 minute train was quicker. Buying the tickets is easy. There are only machines available, fully automated, taking credit as well a paper money, with easy to follow instructions. Just 20 minutes later the train arrived. The cars are new and the seating very comfortable. Just 10 minutes later we were back in Bacharach.
It was still early, 2:30pm, so got the car and drove along the Rhine to Rheinstein Castle. The driving here is easy. Unlike the Italian and French towns we've visited, these picturesque towns are in the valley, so not much small switchback roads to deal with. Parking so far has been a breeze too. I hope we aren't speaking too soon!
We parked off the road and then did another climb up a switchback walk until we were again a few hundred feet about the river. The walk alone ran about 1.5 kilometers.
This castle is different, as it escaped being destroyed and had a succession of owners that kept it up except for a brief period with no one watching it. It was purchased in 1975 and a renovation begun. It was not lived in since the late 1800's but a lot of the furnishings and clothing were still available for decorating the rooms as they were back then. The views from the turrets and lookout over the Rhine are amazing.
We spent about 90 minutes there and then drove back. Tonight we'll relax and eat in the hotel. Their menu looks very good as does their dining room. Then we pack for tomorrow and our drive to Heidelberg.
For dinner tonight Mike had Trout again (no camera tonight but thought one picture of trout was enough, especially for our non-fish lover friends!). We both had excellent caesar salads that included tomatoes and bacon and a balsamic drizzle. Karen had a pasta dish of tagliatelle with mushrooms and fresh tomatoes in a olive oil dressing. Both our meals were excellent and the Reisling local wine was excellent (Karen over did it . For dessert we both had apple strudel with vanilla sauce, which was tasty indeed. It's now 8:30pm and we are both exhausted. We must have climbed over 500 steps today between the wine, good meal and aching muscles, we are ready to pack in.
Bacharach Church & Tower
Bacharach Castle (now youth hostel)
Pfaltz Castle in Middle of the Rhine
One of many such Rhine Castles