Kirk & Tess' Big Break travel blog

The town of Bingen across the river from our balcony.

Bingen in the morning.

An old tower at the end of the main road

St Rochus Chapel

Burg Klopp \ Klopp Castle in Bingen

We stayed in the Hotel Germania. Our room was on the left...

The Niederwald Monument from the Rhine

Low hanging clouds in the Rhine valley.

Burg Ehrenfels. Destroyed by the French in 1689 when they sieged Mainz

The "Mouse Tower" - an old customs tower\toll house. First structure here...

Burg Rheinstein

The town of Assmannshausen

The low clouds continued well into the morning, giving it a mystical...

Front on view of Burg Rheinstein

Burg Reichenstein

From front on - it's a lot bigger than it looks.

Burg Sooneck - detroyed and rebuilt several times. Last by King Louis...

Sooneck was rebuilt by Crown Prince of Prussia Frederick William IV and...

Ruins of Castle Nollig

Burg Stahleck - which means "impregnable castle on a crag"

The town of Bacharach

Ruins of the towns defensive walls.

Enjoying our morning "medicine", two caraffes of riesling.

Enjoying some beautiful Riesling on our cruise

The "Pfalzgrafenstein Castle" was a customs tower near the town of Kaub.

Burg Gutenfels - this area used to be owned by the Holy...

The Pfalz and Gutenfels Castle in distance. The Pfalz was heavily armed...

Burghotel auf Schoenburg - where we stayed the night. Our room in...

The rail tunnels are dressed up to look like a castle.

Church of our Lady - Oberwesel

Towers in the town of Oberwesel

The mighty Rhine.

the Ox Tower and St Martin's church on right in background. St...

The Loreley rock

Turning the loreley corner - Burg Katz in the distance.

Burg Katzenelnbogen or Cat's Elbow Castle. Built to watch Mouse Castle.

The Loreley mermaid statue.

Burg Maus in the distance.

The Loreleyblick camping and spa retreat.

Burg Rheinfels - now a hotel

Burg Sterrenberg and Burg Liebenstein

The town of Kamp Bornhofen

Boppard - one of the major stops on the Rhine

Leaving Boppard behind.

Rhineland vineyards.

A nice little cottage overlooking the Rhine.

This wasp would have been nearly 2" in length.

Marksburg castle

From the town of Braubach

Gardens alongside the Rhine in Braubach

An old tower peaking through the trees.

Simple fountain in the middle of the garden.

A wine house.

Small church in Braubach

Arriving back in Rudesheim-am-Rhine.

The "Drosselgasse". This tiny lane is where 90% of the restaurants are.

Romanesque style Monastery beyond the vineyards

Going up the gondola

Germania - the mother of modern Germany

The towns of Bingen and Bingerbruck

Looking eastwards (upstream) to Rudesheim-am-Rhine

The monument is huge, as can be seen from this picture

Selfie at the Niederwald monument

This bug was about an inch long.

Rotunda looking out over the river.

Taking the Gondola back down

Oh yeah, I'm not freaking out at all

The bathroom in our room.

Library picture 1

Library picture 2

The courtyard terrace

We could sit and relax here

Looking out the bedroom window

The riverside terrace. Much prettier than the courtyard, very relaxing.

Our 4 poster bed, free sherry and fruit platter.

We are taking a ferry today from Rudesheim to another destination yet to be determined, to make the most of being on the river. We had to hustle, as there were so many tour groups in the city making their way to the boat, we knew if we didn't get near the front, we'd not have a chance to sit upstairs on the top deck. It was a beautiful sunny day, luckily for us as it rained only two days beforehand, and was due to rain again soon after we leave.

The boat has a large deck on the roof, and Tess had strategically positioned herself near the front of the queue whilst I went and got us a bite to eat for breakfast. I came back and the queue for the boat had at least tripled in size. I found Tess and not long after we were boarding the boat. We got on fairly quickly, and made a line straight for the stairs and up to the top. Many people were heading into the restaurant area, and there was a Subway take away in the front of the boat which some others went to.

We were first on the top, and only had to make a choice – left or right on the boat. We picked what would become the right hand side, when the boat turned around from its moorings. We also had a great from of the Neiderland monument, which is a huge monument to represent the birth of Germany as one country. It's one of the few sites on the Rhine I had not seen yet.

The boat left, and before too long, others decided they wanted to sit on our side of the boat and we were cornered against the railings. Tess had one person so close to her, we wondered if they wanted to share the same air Tess was breathing. The first group of castles were on the right hand side, including the “Mouse tower” which was a customs tower\toll tower when it was still functional. There were some ruins as well, from Castle Ehrenfels.

After this was a group of castles on the left hand side. Tess was reluctant to get up and take pictures, but I told her there'd be violence if anyone tried to take her seat – I'd stay and watch it. With that extra confidence she was up and walking about. When she returned, we went and got our morning tea – a small pitcher of Riesling each. There was enough for two glasses each. I know in Germany, they call the morning consumption of alcohol “medicine”, and both of us needed a pick me up after such a long day of driving yesterday.

The boat continued motoring along, and even though there were people swarming around us, it was still quite relaxing and peaceful. The section we had gotten on board the boat, was probably the most beautiful section I had seen. We had strategically picked to go just a bit further than the Lorelai rock, to catch a few extra castles that most wouldn't see. As expected, when we got to Sankt Goar, which is just past Lorelai, about 80% of the boat got off.

We had originally planned to go all the way to Koblenz, however it was an extra hour of boat travel. The extra hour would allow us to see one more castle and then we'd need to cross the river somehow, so we could catch a train back. We got off at the town which sits underneath Marksburg castle. The town is pretty small, and we'd walked around most of it in 3 minutes. Most people would actually go and walk to the castle itself, but we didn't have the time, as we were staying the night in a castle of our own and we wanted to enjoy that.

We found that there was no where really to eat (1 tavern, which didn't look that appealing) so we went and caught a train back to Rudesheim, which had a much larger selection there. The really nice thing about Rudesheim, is the restaurants all try to compete with each other, so they have live entertainment. Last night there was a duet singing mainly English songs, such as Kay cera cera (or however that's spelt!) For lunch, we chose the pub across the road, which had a rather jolly looking fellow playing piano accordion. He had a very deep baritone voice, but only sang parts of the songs in English, but all of the German folks songs. He played along with the crowd and was quite amusing.

After lunch we went around the corner to take the little cable car up to the Neiderland monument. The journey takes 15 minutes, and goes up the hill over the Riesling fields to the top. It has a wonderful view of the Rhine, and the town on the opposite side of the river. I don't enjoy heights though, especially ones which go bump each time they get to a supporting pole structure. There was nothing to worry about of course, but rational thinking in these moments don't go hand in hand.

The view from the top where the monument is is spectacular. You can see the bend in the river, and the town opposite. It's really pretty, getting to look down over the water, and over the vineyards.

We didn't spend a lot of time at the monument, as there are only so many different ways you can look at it. Whilst it is enormous, and weighs something like 30 tons, you can only see so much. So we went back to the chair lift\cable car, and caught it back down the hill. We got some ice cream when we got back down as it was still a bit warm. We also got a couple of bottles of Spatlese Riesling (Tess likes the sweeter ones) to enjoy as we continued on our trip.

The car ride from Rudesheim to Oberwesel, where our “Castle-hotel” was located, was estimated at 40 minutes, going by car ferry. We elected to avoid the car ferry, and drive back out of town and cross the bridge. This meant we had to do quite a lot of back-tracking, and the drive became nearly 2 hours. Ooops! Still, it was a pretty drive and of course most of it we had seen a little earlier that day. Someone took a nanna nap, which was probably handy, as the drive up to the castle was a winding road, which can make their tummy ill. :-)

The staff at the castle were very good. The road up was quite steep from the car park, and they encouraged us by saying it was “only 100m to go!” Awesome. We got to the courtyard, and there were various buildings off that, so I asked Tess to wait down the bottom, so she didn't waste her energy bringing the bag up if it wasn't needed. The gent at reception was happy to help. He got Tess's bag, and I brought up my own. He said to leave them at reception though, as they had a porter who would bring them to our room from there.

When we got to our room, it had a very big wow factor. The first room – the hall, had 3 doors. A walk in robe with our mini bar on the left, our bathroom directly ahead, and the bedroom to the right. The bed was quite large, and it was a 4 posted bed. The pillows had tapestry covers on them, and there was a couch, a desk, windows with seats to look out, and on the opposite side of the bedroom, a door that lead to a little courtyard with a Rhine view. Going through the bathroom, was a small room with the towels and a basin which was like a giant clam shell coming out of the wall. This room had a door as well, which lead to a small library\study. The library had a door which led to a garden area, which also had a table and chairs. This overlooked the hotel courtyard.

In the room itself, they had provided a bottle of sherry, some fresh fruit and a bottle of sparkling Riesling chilled in a silver bucket with ice. They also had a plastic bucket of ice to top up the silver bucket. They welcomed us with a scroll, which had information about the hotel done in calligraphy. We also had a four course dinner awaiting us, provided we went to the kitchen before 9pm.

We freshened up after our day, had some sherry, and then went down to dinner. It was some of the best food we had eaten on the trip. They even managed to substitute the mushroom soup for a chicken curry soup which was beautiful. Tess was very happy with her mushroom soup as well.

The entree was a veal carpaccio, the main was chicken (we were very happy with this, as chicken was impossible to order in regional France, it just didn't exist on the menu).

When we got back to the room, we opened our Riesling “Sekt” and watched the lights over the river. This place is like a fairytale, and we're living it. What a perfect day.

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