Friday, September 20, 2013

The Romantic Rhine

Last year, about this time Kyle and I took an amazing trip to the Moselle River Valley.  It was such a nice, relaxing trip in a gorgeous location, so I was anxious to relive that trip!  This time, we decided to head to the Romantic Rhine since we had not seen it yet.  We just did a quick overnight trip, but it was pretty awesome!

We started our trip at Koblenz, a pretty big town at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers.  The town suffered a lot of damage during the war, so not a lot of the historic town survives although it's been inhabited since about 8 BC.  It's a beautiful setting, and was a great place to start our trip.  The main site to see in Koblenz is the Deutsches Eck (German Corner).  It's a piece of land right at the confluence of the two rivers where there stands a huge monument of Emperor William I.

After a lunch in the Weindorf (wine village) and a brief walk around the town, we headed back to the car to drive along the Rhine.  The Rhine is in a very steep valley.  As you drive along the river, you see quaint small towns, and amazing terraced vineyards.  It seems like you pass a castle overlooking the river about every 5 minutes!  It's absolutely gorgeous!

We stopped for a coffee in the quaint little town of Boppard.  There is a very nice riverside promenade where we stopped to caffeinate.   We enjoyed watching the slow moving ships, although there were a few too many bees for comfort!

We continued along the riverside until we reached our stopping point for the evening.  We were staying in the picture perfect town of Bacharach.  We checked into our hotel, then headed out to see the town.  I don't think a town could be any cuter!  There's a beautiful church in the town center, and all of the streets are lined with crooked old half timbered houses.  It's surrounded by terraced vineyards and is overlooked by a castle.  Wow.

The Rhine River Valley vineyards are known for their dry Rieslings. There are no shortages of wine tasting rooms to try them out!  We stopped at a tasting room for dinner in a secluded little courtyard.  We had a white wine sampler and had a wonderful little evening.  After dinner, back at the hotel, we checked out the pool and sauna.  As it turns out, I'm not a sauna person.  I can't take the heat!  I felt like I was suffocating in there, not to mention the burn coming from my lips and hands!  I'll take the pool or hot tub any old day over the sauna!

Tired boys!

The next morning we walked up to the cathedral ruins that hovered above the town.  I have to say, in the morning light it was pretty majestic!

We headed south along the river and decided to stop at one of the beautiful castles.  Since we had passed about 20 of them, how could we not stop to see one??  We stopped at the 13th-century Burg Rheinstein.  We parked and hiked up the steep hill towards the castle, and were very grateful when we found out that they allow dogs!  We had some wine and coffee overlooking the river before touring the castle.

Gizmo refused to go up the last stairs to the top!

After touring the castle, our plan was to head towards home by a leisurely drive down the German Wine Route.  (When in doubt, always take the scenic way!)  We drove though Germany's wine country, passing through tiny towns with more than their fair share of tasting rooms.  Lucky for us, one of the towns we were passing through, Bad Dürkheim, was celebrating opening night of the world's biggest wine fest!  We had a couple of hours to kill before the festivities began.  We had lunch in a quiet town square.  As we were eating, it became pretty obvious that a parade would be passing through!  ( I was much more excited about this than Kyle.)  We thought the parade would be starting at 5:00 pm, so we walked around the town and found a good spot along the sidewalk right at 5:00.  It was actually pretty hot, and we waited and waited, and the parade still hadn't started.  It finally started a half hour later, and it was well worth it!  This parade was definitely for adults instead of children.  Instead of throwing candy, the floats and people in the parade poured glasses of wine for the crowd!  Best parade ever!!  (Gizmo, however, was not very fond of the marching bands.  Add parades to the list of things that he's scared of!)

After the parade, of course we had to go check out the fest!  It was huge and a lot of fun!  They had a lot of rides and food like a state fair, but the difference was all of the wine booths and tents!  They actually served wine by the pint glass!  We thought that drinking wine by the pint could lead to a bad drive home, and a bad morning, so we each had a weisswein schorle ,which is white wein mixed with sparkling water.  It's very refreshing!

We headed home after hanging out at the fest for a few hours.  Gizmo was very happy to be home. As it turns out, fests aren't his thing.  Kyle and I had a wonderful time.  I guess the river valleys have become an annual September trip for us!  Not a bad tradition to have!

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