My friend, Richard Joseph, a foreign correspondent and overall great guy sent me some notes from his recent trip to Europe—..sounds like a lovely way to spend a summer day. I thought I would share this day with you- and if you’re interested in making this day trip, you can find a similar tour here-
A day on a KD riverboat and Castle Hunting in Germany
Hope you will enjoy my diary of a day’s excursions on the river. A little about our transportation: K├Âln-D├╝sseldorfer (KD) and other riverboat cruise lines operate day trips on the Rhine River in the UNESCO-listed Loreley Valley between R├╝desheim, St Goar, and Koblenz. Several riverboat companies offer day cruises on the Rhine River (Rhein). K├Âln-D├╝sseldorfer (KD) has the largest number of sailing but many other lines cruise through the romantic Loreley Valley.
Boats differ in size in and between cruise lines but it is often sensible to simply take the next boat to depart. Most boats have restaurants on board but consuming own food and drink is acceptable on the open decks.
The first ship we enjoyed was the MS Boppard which had covered and uncovered on-deck seating on the upper level rear. On the lower level it had a restaurant with booths with large windows for viewing. There was no VIP seating. It was perfect for a day trip. The cost of the round trip was only about $30 US. Food was typical German fare. For example, I dined on sausages and potato salad. Wine of course.
The trip back to Rudesheim was on the MS Stolzenfels which was pretty much the same except that I was able to sit at the front of the boat outside. The food on this boat consisted (sadly) of a Subway restaurant.
The KD line also features a “nostalgia” ship the MS Goethe which I did not take, but did see. Here is a description I found (not my words): Built in 1913 the Goethe brings back the good old days of steam transport. The elegant atmosphere of the Golden Twenties and the roomy and comfortable saloons, decorated and furnished in original art deco style, form a perfect backdrop for celebrations with a touch of romance.
On to the Castle Hunting in Germany
While the U.S. might be lacking in castles, there is certainly no shortage of them in the Rhine Gorge: 40 fortresses in a 36 mile stretch. What better way to see them than floating by on the river. KD Line Mainz-Koblenz Germany
11:15am Boarded the ship at Rudesheim, a village of imbered buildings with music drifting from the Drosselgasse, a narrow lane that’s almost too cute.
11:20am Right away there’s the first castle, Burg Klopp presiding over the town of Bingen. Built in 1100 and later restored. It looks as a castle should be, complete with a chilling tale, Emperor Henry IV was imprisoned here by his son.
11:40am This is amazing, on the left bank one castle after another appears. With names like Burg Rheinstein, Reichenstein and Sooneck.
12:15pm Bacharach-If there is one village not to miss, this is it. It’s a walk into the past through streets filled with flower-covered buildings. A stroll along the city wall overlooks ancient towers, churches and the Rhine.
2:30pm Oberwesel- It’s just five minutes away from Bacharach. To save time I took a train to reach this village with a dark anti-Semitic history, but well-preserved sites. A walk along the town’s walls takes you through medieval towers for a view of Castle Schonburg, now a luxury hotel.
3:45pm Loreley Rock-The narrowest point of the Rhine between Switzerland and the North Sea. More than just a 300 foot high rock, it too has a story. In 1800 a ballad was written about an enchanting woman who bewitched men causing their deaths. Of course this song is played on the boat as we pass by.
3:55pm St. Goar-another beautiful village on the left bank with Burg Rheinfels looming above it. The castle was built in 1287 and, like so many others, is now a combination of ruins, a hotel, and museum.
5:20pm Braubach-this time on the right bank. It’s the best preserved of the Rhine Gorge fortresses, perfect for exploration. Built in 1117, it has never been destroyed.
8:15pm Rudeshem-the trip back by boat takes a lot longer due to the opposite current. The Rhine flows northward from Switzerland through Germany. This gorge is part of a UN World Heritage Site (UNESCO). Sitting on a ship’s deck sipping a glass of Riesling while passing the vineyards where they were grown is an experience you might find to be even sweeter than wine.