Thursday, June 8, 2017

Rhine River Valley

So today I am grateful for a van that seats EIGHT!  Yep I have an extra seat that goes right in the middle.  It's a four-hour drive out to the Rhine and we made it in one car as a family.  Of course our affection for each other has been seriously depleted!!!  
We left early in the morning and drove, drove, drove to Bacharach -- a really pretty little city along the Rhine.  We checked into our Pension haus (not the hostel in the castle because it was all booked) and immediately walked down to the river to buy boat tickets and go!

When we got on the boat, it was pretty full.  We ended up standing for a while until some seats were vacated.  It was also pretty hot on the top level of the boat (I did remember the sunscreen though) but the boat was fast enough we had a great little wind as we cruised up the river.

I thought it was really beautiful to cruise up the river and have the castles pop up.  A long time ago the commerce along the river was so frequent that people built castles for defense but also really for taxing all those boats carrying goods.  The stretch of river we were on had quite a few!

The kids enjoyed it (our cruise was fairly short though - maybe an hour and a half) but I was glad I brought water and snacks for all that sunshine!

This is the Loreley rock -- apparently the currents and a waterfall in the area create a murmuring sound around the rock that is enhanced by a echo that it also has.  We didn't hear anything but it's led to many legends over the year including ones that are very Siren-like.  A few German writers in the 1800s made 2 stories very popular.  One that a woman was betrayed by her lover who told lies about her.  She was "sentenced" to a nunnery and on the way there asked to climb the rock to see the Rhine one last time.  She thought she saw her love in the water and fell to her death.  The other is that a beautiful woman would sit up there and comb her golden hair and sing which would distract the sailors and they would crash on the rocks.  We didn't get off the boat to hike up there but if you do there's a statue of a woman (naked) to mark the spot.

 The kids started getting bored about the time we were done so Abby and I posted a few Facebook Live updates about our trip that turned out really cute because Abby is fantastic.
With the parents!

We got off the boat at Boppard and went to get something to eat and then to see this church called St. Severus.  These paintings are from 1407 and depict the live of St. Alexius -- I have to include his story here because it's kind've funny actually:

"Alexius, a noble of Rom, leaves his wife to live as a hermit in the Holy Land where he soon is venerated a saint and he wants to take refuge in the desert, but driven out of his course he comes back to his home, where he lived unknown in his father's house under s staircase until he died."

Perhaps Harry Potter inspiration?  The church had been damaged by fire in the modern day but the fire department saved it thank goodness because it had some beautiful work!

We then took the train down to St. Goar and walked from that station up to the Rheinfels castle ruins -- the largest in the area.  No one believed me that we were going the right way though.  They all thought I was leading them on a wild ramble in the woods.

From the top there were absolutely amazing views of the Rhine though!

There are quite a few places to explore in the ruins including this very large cellar.  And apparently there are tunnels as well which I knew about but thought you needed a tour and found out after the fact that you don't - you just find them on your own.  Another time I guess!  We still really enjoyed it.

There's a great picture of my dad in the stocks somewhere.  I need to find it and add it!

Then we took the train again back to Bacharach.  Uncle Jeff bought the kids little animals as souvenir presents and William wanted his squirrel to sit by him on the train.

The town of Bacharach is a lot like Rothenburg ob der Tauber in style but not as pristine or pretty.  Much more lived in I think.  It was gorgeous though.  

Yes we continue our tradition of Eis everywhere we go and have indoctrinated Jeff and my parents as well.  The girls got a rose flavor that was really good and I got waldmeister which I really like.  Chopper didn't want any.

This ruined chapel is in Bacharach and has a pretty gruesome, interesting story associated with it.  

The next day we got up and left Bacharach to drive an hour out to Burg Eltz.  It's a wonderful castle that was built and occupied by 3 Eltz families together.  It is still owned by a branch of the family that originally built and owned the place in the 12th century -- 33 generations ago!!!

They give the kids cookies when you buy a family ticket.

The inside courtyard.

That's as much inside as we could take pictures of.  No pictures on the tour of course.  They actually had a flushing toilet system with quite a few private toilet rooms.  The rooms themselves weren't as grandiose as those of Ludwig's castles in southern Bavaria but still interesting.  And you don't see the whole castle, partly because the family still resides in part of the castle at some times and visit at least once a week!!

More great views.  This is a tributary of the Moselle river that curls around the castle.

It was a pretty hot day and by the time we were done at the castle and walked back to the car we were done for the day so we squished back into the car and drove the 4 hours home.

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