Day 4: A Castle and Cruising the Middle Rhine

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View of the Rhine River from Marksburg Castle.

The “Middle Rhine” winds through a valley where small  mountains (smaller even than the Smokeys back home) rise steeply from the riverbanks and where more than a dozen 13th and 14th century castles–or their remains–stand sentinel over the busiest river in Germany.  Viking River Cruises suggested it would be the most scenic and photogenic section of the cruise and the day–complete with warm temperatures and blue skies–did not disappoint.

NOTE:  You may click on any photograph for an enlarged view.

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But first, last night’s “Beer Culture Tour.”  In the states we would refer to this cultural tour as pub crawling or bar hopping, but “Beer Culture Tour” sounds more refined.  It was great fun.  Nine of us from the ship joined our German guide for a quick bus ride to town, then dinner at the first bauhaus–“Brauhaus Fruh am Dom” we enjoyed a dinner of traditional German appetizers, sauerbraten and potato dumplings, and desert.  We also enjoyed several small glasses of Fruh Kölsch.  Kölsch is a particular type of beer than can only be called kölsch if it’s brewed in Cologne.  It is served in small glasses that get replaced frequently by the waiters known as “Köbes.” If you no longer want your glass replaced, you simply put your coaster over the top of the glass.  See, the “cultural tour” was educational.  Following dinner we toured the Fruh am Dom, the second largest restaurant in Germany with seating, we were told, for 1,600 patrons.

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Our cultural tour continued with a stop at the next pub, which served another brand of kölsch.  Fruh was better, but the atmosphere of the second brauhaus was interesting, including hundreds of pictures 1920s “art” photographs of ladies in various states of undress and several hundred year old self-playing musical machines, one of which our guide jumped over a barrier to operate.  Finally, we headed to our third brauhaus where we tried yet another brand of kölsch and learned about the annual “carnival” in Cologne where one lucky man will pay as much as 100,000 euros to dress up like a virgin princess, complete with blonde pigtails.  Would love to go back for that.  The entire night of bar hopping only involved about 6-8 beers (fewer for Marilyn) but it was a great time.

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Back at the ship by 10:30 because the lines were cast off at 10:45 and we were underway again up the Rhine.  The sight of the cathedral and other buildings and bridges lit up at night was worth staying awake for a little while longer.

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Marilyn and Wilhelm

When we woke this morning, we had docked in Koblentz, the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers.  All of the Miata owners aboard ship gathered for a group picture in the foot of a massive statue of a horseback Emperor Wilhelm, the first emperor of Germany in 1880.

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Marksburg Castle

Less than half an hour later we headed to Marksburg Castle, the only castle in Germany that has never been destroyed, rebuilt or restored.  Sitting high on a hill near Koblentz, the castle dominates the skyline, and our young history-student guide, led his tourist flock through the narrow passages, steep stairs, dark rooms and uneven floors that residents of the castle endured for more than 800 years.  The castle even included a room of knightly armor and the tools of the torture trade.  Another valuable experience that, along with a beer culture tour, enhances my understanding of my German ancestors.

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The “Mouse” castle on the Middle Rhine

By noon, we were underway again for the five hour trip down the Middle Rhine and spent a delightful afternoon on the ship’s sundeck relaxing and taking pictures of the ancient castles, the quaint half-timbered houses, and miles of grape vineyards famous for their Reisling grapes and other white grape vintages.  In addition, we passed by Loreley Rock, important in German mythic history and song as the site of a mermaid who lured sailors on the river to their watery demise as they crashed their ships on the rock while entranced by her song.  The area remains a dangerous part of the river, even without a mermaid, and our captain had to carefully navigate the narrow channel to keep us from meeting the fate of countless watermen of the past.

Late this evening, we left the Rhine and entered the Main (pronounced “mine”) River.  We are no longer flanked by mountains, but we are told that tomorrow will include tours of historic and unchanged river towns.

Apparently everyone is trying to write home with emails of pictures of castles and I’m unable to post any pictures tonight.  I will rise early in the morning and hope the WiFi signal is stronger then.  Sorry for the problems, but please check back.

(EDIT Friday July 14)  The WiFi is better this morning so I’m adding new pictures.

NOTE:  You may click on any photograph for an enlarged view.

Beer Culture Tour

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Marksburg Castle

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Our historian guide Stephen

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Confluence of Moselle and Rhine Rivers

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Cruising the Middle Rhine

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Grape vines line the steep hills adjacent to a medieval castle.

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Loreley Rock

 

3 responses to “Day 4: A Castle and Cruising the Middle Rhine”

  1. nuke53 says :

    The cultural tour sounded like a great experience! Looking forward to the additional pictures!

  2. Steve and Denise Brooker says :

    Hey There Travelers . . . . . . Denise and I are really enjoying your posts. Great photos and even greater write ups. The Koln Middle Rhine section is cool to see. We lived in Wiesbaden for three years and spent lots of time in these areas. I use to rock climb on many of the cliffs overlooking the Rhine upstream from Bingen. I would sit high up on the cliffs and look at the castles and watch the Viking Tour boats go by. How bout that Koln Cathedral, massive ! Yea. We had no idea there were such cool Roman mosaic and structures under the town. You two are have such a great time, keep enjoying and keep up the posts, we love them. Steve and Denise

  3. 6331jim says :

    Beer culture tour sounded like lots of fun….Jim especially thought he would enjoy this…..summer has definitely arrived in Maggie, 90*…and above

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