When it comes to traveling Europe, some people argue that there’s not much thing to see in Germany. Maybe relatively true.Not far from Germany, there are France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Greece and UK. Plus, the German stereotypes that they are obsessed with order, having no sense of humour might not be intriguing. Might not sound like the most attractive country in Europe. But I would like to say there are a lot of hidden charms. If you are a big fan of medieval castles and towns, Germany might be your favourite country in Europe.
If you are traveling the west part of Germany in Spring &Summer& Fall and have enough time, I strongly recommend to take a cruise along Rhein River(English: Rhine River).
There are several companies that operate Rhein River cruise and I took KD Line as it’s the most economical option. Depending on your departure and destination, the ticket price is around 20 Euro to 40 Euro.
It goes both direction; from north to south, from south to north. Rhein river flows quite fast so it is much better to follow the current than against the current. Rhein River flows from south to north so it’s much more time efficient to take the cruise from south to north. So if you are staying north of the river like around Cologne, it’s better to take a train to the south and take the cruise.
When I travelled to Germany in 2014, I was staying in Cologne so I took the train to Bingen and joined the cruise in Bingen. I took off at St. Goar to explore Burg Rheinfels but you can hop on and off the cruise on the way.
Before exploring Rhein, I saw on the internet that the most scenic part is from Bingen to Koblenz and the scenery is forgettable from Koblenz to Cologne. That’s true but I still regret that I didn’t get to see Rüdesheim which is famous for having the best wine farm in Germany.
This is the picture of Rüdesheim along Rhein river. Doesn’t it look so lovely? And you can take a cable car to top of the hill in the town and it’s a nice spot to view the scenery of Rhein river.
I stopped at Bingen instead and it was still good. It’s much less touristy so it’s a good town to enjoy serendipity.
It took about half an hour to get to the top of Bingen and I found Burg Klopp with wine farm. Built in 13th century and along with castle Ehrenfels and Mouse Tower, Burg Klopp was a toll collecting station on the river trade. Soon the castle was destroyed and the ruin was sold and rebuilt partially. In 1875 a new Gothic style castle was built. When I got here, there was no one else so I enjoyed walking around vineyard freely. I love living in a big city but this place made me so relaxed and think I want to stay here for a few days to escape hustle and bustle for a while.
This is the panorama view picture when I went down from the castle.
After that, I bought a ticket near the riverside and waited for the cruise for 20 minutes. There were quite many people waiting for the cruise at Bingen. I wanted to sit outdoor area in the cruise but it was so full already with people who took the cruise in prior departures. I guess everybody thinks the same.
The ride from Bingen to St. Goar takes about one and a half hour. During the ride, you can listen the audio guide from the cruise for castles along the river.
It’s so called “the Pfalz”. It is a toll castle on an island middle of the river. This is the smallest castle I’ve ever seen! It was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. Unlike the vast majority of Rhine castles, “the Pfalz” was never conquered or destroyed, withstanding not only wars, but also the natural onslaughts of ice and floods by the river. Its Spartan quarters held about twenty men.
This is Burg Stahleck in Bacharach. Bacharach is also a popular stop along the river. Stahleck Castle is a 12th-century fortified castle. It was once a castle but now it’s a youth hostel. If I have a chance to go to the river again, I would wanna stay here.
Guess what? This is the loreley(English: lorelei). Disappointed? That’s ok. It’s actually voted for one of the most disappointing tourism spots. The hill was fantasized mainly because of the literature. Especially the poem by Heinrich Heine.
I know not if there is a reason
Why I am so sad at heart.
A legend of bygone ages
Haunts me and will not depart.
The air is cool under nightfall.
The calm Rhine courses its way.
The peak of the mountain is sparkling
With evening’s final ray.
The fairest of maidens is sitting
So marvelous up there,
Her golden jewels are shining,
She’s combing her golden hair.
She combs with a comb also golden,
And sings a song as well
Whose melody binds a wondrous
And overpowering spell.
In his little boat, the boatman
Is seized with a savage woe,
He’d rather look up at the mountain
Than down at the rocks below.
I think that the waves will devour
The boatman and boat as one;
And this by her song’s sheer power
Fair Lorelei has done.
Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
Daß ich so traurig bin;
Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten,
Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
Die Luft ist kühl, und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt
Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
Dort oben wunderbar,
Ihr goldenes Geschmeide blitzet,
Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.
Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme
Und singt ein Lied dabei;
Das hat eine wundersame,
Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe
Ergreift es mit wildem Weh;
Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh’.
Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen
Die Lorelei getan.
The poem is very romantic as you can see. Heinrich wrote this poem when he was late 20s and one of romanticism poets in his era. I assume he must have been terribly romantic guy.
This is Burg Schoenburg in Oberwesel and now it’s a hotel. Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate wars. Schönburg castle remained in ruins for 200 years until it was acquired by the German-American Rhinelander family who bought the castle from the town of Oberwesel in the late 19th century, and restored it. I really admire their effort to put it back the old castle that many people get to visit and stay.
After one and a half hour of watching scenary along the river, I arrived St. Goar and climbed up to the hill to explore Burg Rheinfels. Here I come to explore the old castle ruin!
[To be continued]