The drive to Oberwesel and our "Burghotel" was fairly straight forward. We drove basically parallel to the Main (pronounced mine)River. The trip was fairly quick, and there wasn't too much traffic, until we got close to Frankfurt. There was a criss-cross of lanes, particularly near the airport, but we continued on in the far right lanes, as we were travelling westwards, past Frankfurt until we crossed over the Rhine. Alison slept pretty much the entire way and woke up basically when we were on the bridge heading inland a little towards Mainz.
From Mainz we went a little north to Ingelheim and then a bit further west to Budesheim.
From there we turned off northwards, towards the Rhein again. We joined the Rhine at Bingerbruck-Bingen, on the west side of the Nahe river, which is a tributary to the Rhine.
Unfortunately for us, we'd missed seeing the Niederwald, or the "Germania" monument, which sits high atop a hill on the other side of the Rhine - next time. Neiderwald was built when Kaiser Wilhelm united the then German states into one country, at the end of the Franco-Prussian war.
From Bingerbruck we started seeing our first Rhine castles. The first castle, or ruins of one, was called Schloss Ehrenfels. It was built in the 13th Century, but was destroyed in 1689. In the middle of the river, just in front of Ehrenfels was a very small island, with a fortification called the "Mouse Tower". Unfortunately we couldn't get any good pictures of that one (can just the see top of it in one picture)!
From there we headed north along the left\west bank of the river. Not long after we saw a couple of castles, which I think were called Burg Rheinstein and Burg Reichenstein. Then not long after that, another called Burg Sooneck. Then we saw the ruins of Nollig (eastern side) and Furstenberg Castle (western side). We then drove through Bacharach, which has the castle Stahleck as it's backdrop. Stahleck used to be owned by Emperor Barbarossa.
Not long after Bacharach on the opposite side of the river is the hotel castle - Burg Gutenfels. Gutenfels means "solid rock", and obtained the name after an unsuccessful siege said that is what it must have been made from. Shortly after is the imposing fortress in the middle of the Rhine, which looks like a stone ship. It's called Kaub. I took pictures of Kaub last time from the opposite bank, as Trafalgar lets us out of the bus for 5 minutes to appreciate it.
Shortly afterwards, we started to approach the town of Oberwesel, and our home for the night. I spotted the castle well before the town, and pointed it out to Ali. Burghotel Auf Schonburg. It is one of the largest fortified castles on the Rhine, and is over 1100 years old. Like almost every castle on the Rhine, it was destroyed in 1689, and has been subsequently rebuilt. I couldn't wait to get there. I'd handpicked the room we had, as you pay a different rate depending on where you are and how much of the Rhine views you want. We were on the 3rd floor, and in the building with the lift (clever!). I figured if we were going for 4 weeks, we'd have heavy bags, and wouldn't want stairs. I'm glad I booked the room I did....
We took the turn through Oberwesel and went over the railway line, to the turnoff for the castle. The road up was basically steep and had hairpin turns, so I couldn't go too quickly. Thank god for the auto. Eventually we got near the top, and took the turn off into the hotel grounds. We passed a youth hostel, and I wanted to park there, as the only place further forward was a wooden bridge over the moat. We crossed the bridge, very slowly, and there was a car park on the left. It looked fairly full, so Ali suggested I turn right, and go up the hill a bit. She thought there'd have to be a closer car park.
She was kinda right. There was a closer car park, which belonged to the owners.
Unfortunately there was no where to turn around up there, so I had to reverse down the steep hill back into the other car park.
It took me a while to get down and park properly, as the car park was basically a stone wall against the edge of the drop into the moat. We also had to take a moment to get the bags out of the car. The owners of the car next to us (who had so graciously given me so much room to maneuvor) came to "get something out of the car". Once all that was mastered, we had to walk the suitcases back up the hill, and through the courtyard, to reception.
It was a lovely steep walk, and with 30kgs of luggage each, all the more fun. Not to mention the sundry bags we had (camera and backpack with laptop etc).
We got to reception and checked in, and the woman said it was a shame we had brought the bags up, as they had a man with a truck a bit bigger than a golf buggy who would have gone down to pick them up for us. Gah! Oh well, he did bring them from reception up to the room.
The key to the room was amazing. It was like a little steel knight, about 4 inches tall. You wouldn't take it anywhere outside the grounds of the hotel with you as it weighed a ton. The room was amazing. We were on the 3rd floor of the red brick part of the complex, with a balcony looking over the Rhine. It was quite a long way down from there. They also had a decanter of sherry for us to have as an aperitif for dinner (which was included in the room).
At dinner time we went downstairs to the restaurant, and found luckily for us we were in the smaller section which was a bit more casual. The other side looked like everyone was in a suit. I had packed clothes for the occasion, but didn't really feel like getting changed into them! The dinner we had was amazing. There was about 7 courses, plus a palate cleanser. We, of course, had the matching wines (all Rhine palatinate produced) to go with it.
After dinner, we stumbled and rolled back to the room, completely stuffed from too much food. They spaced out the wine sparingly, so I certainly wasn't pickled to match. We sat on the balcony for a bit and watched the river disappear into the darkness, before we decided to go inside and away from the single failing we had with the place - the trains along the river making noise.