Along the Rhine

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Monday, August 28, 2006

MONDAY, 28th August
Koblenz was a very nice town. We nearly stayed another night but figured we would gain nothing if we wanted a Rhine cruise. The cold breakfast was not terribly palatable. I had cereal with yoghurt on top and a boiled egg with chocolate on top. [I lie. Just checking to see if you are concentrating.] We were amazed that the accommodation only cost 55 Euros. I was hoping it was to be indicative of all costs in Germany for the next few days. We caught a taxi from the square to Europcar depot across the river where once again we were treated with much respect and we took charge of an enormous 7 seater people mover called an Opel Zafiri...diesel...manual.
We drove out on route 9 along the western side of the Rhine. It was terrific. Hardly any traffic. The river was on our left and it narrowed as we headed south increasing in flow and churning up the white water. The few towns were easily identifiable on the map and we stopped at St Goar which seemed to be the prettiest. Not that they are not all pretty but St. Goar had its main cobbled street off the main road, into the hills a little.  We parked on the river bank if you will...for free...and strolled into the short main street where we found it to be not cobbles but small tiles which is a lot easier to walk on. We enjoyed a morning cuppa at a bakery on the pavement outside under a sun umbrella in the rain. Yes, there was a constant, drizzling rain but it did not put us off our enjoyment of this region, my jam doughnut and Anne's frangipan or marzipan cake. We paid a call to the post office sending some mail and tasting some wine! We bought a bottle. We stared in awe at the range of beer steins in a shop further along the street. I thought I had seen all in an earlier life in employ with a gift wholesaler in Sydney but the range now was enormous both in style and decoration. There was also a very desirable range of pewter drink ware and we were very tempted, except that always in the back of our minds was the weight issue. Living out of a suitcase saved us a lot of money in one way. 
We continued our drive south with hills on both sides, the river on our immediate left and the railway on our right. It was wonderful. Each town we passed had its own jetty where the  ferries would dock to pick up and put down although we were to only learn this later when we did our own river trip. There were now grapevines everywhere, damn it! We thought we had left them behind in Felines but they were clinging to the sides of the hills mostly on the eastern side of the Rhine reaching almost to the forested tops of those slopes. Retaining stone walls had been constructed at intervals to keep the grapes from becoming premature fodder for the fish. We had forgotten about German wines from the Rhine and Moselle regions. They are generally of a sweeter nature though but the one we bought in St. Goar was quite pleasant although to me it tasted more like a cider.
We arrived in a town called Bingen which seemed to be a good place to stay for the night. We followed the brown hotel signs and were directed to a grand looking place on the river called the Krone. Well not quite on the river. Between it and the water was a road, a parking area, a railway, another parking area, some grassland, a walking path and a jetty. But from our room we had a good view across the water to the vine covered hills on the other side. We dumped our cases, left the car parked across the road well within sight of our room and went for a stroll around town for a couple of hours.
But first we went down to the jetty. Under the rail, across some muddy construction work and along the shore to the ferry office where we booked tickets for a river cruise the next morning. The town was quite big and spread up into the hills on this the western side. Not as pretty as the lunch stop, it was more commercial and a centre for tourists. We looked at clothes, books and bread shops. Not wanting a large lunch we stopped at a doner kebab place but made the mistake of ordering our 'snacks' on plates. The doner chicken and salad was not very nice. It was a big meal because it included chips. [Why does everyone think we are Poms. I must get an Aussie flag. In retrospect I should have bought a cap with the flag on it because I do wear one a lot in this bright sun.] I think it was the first time I had had a doner meal on a plate and it is not to be recommended. You do not see what the meat looks like in a toasted rolled up version. It is not a pretty sight on a plate. Our meals were also saturated with a yoghurt dressing which did not add to its appeal. The sauerkraut was tasty. We did eat most of it but decided to bypass an evening meal unless we could find some readymade salad rolls. We failed to find any rolls that were not like half bricks. So far I have not been impressed with the breads in this country. I am hoping they will improve. [They did not!] 
We meandered through town and went back to our hotel room to watch the CNN news, read our books or newspapers and give our bellies a respite from food for a few hours.
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