The drive from Berlin to the Rhine was long long long. By the time we reached Burg Eltz we were both ready to stretch our legs. We walked down the hill to the castle Burg Eltz, described by Rick Steves as the Best Castle in Europe. It is
untouched by the ravages of this century's military conflicts and is still in the hands of the family that built it. We took a tour through one wing of the castle (with the help of our English-translation guide sheet) and walked back up the hill to our car.
We found our pension in the town of Saint Goar and were greeted once again with enthusiasm and warmth, though this time completely in German! We muddled through and got some advice on a good restaurant for dinner. After dinner, we strolled down to the river and enjoyed the quietness of a small town.
In the morning, we hiked up the hill to Rheinfels Castle. The castle is largely in ruins, but it
was fun to pick out some of the distinguishing features that I teach my Grade 8's about (murder holes, arrow loops, the oubliette...). We tramped about, again with the help of my English-translation tour guide and Rick Steves book and imagined the castle in its glory. I have to admit, of all the castles we visited I enjoyed the castle ruins the most. There is more mystery to a castle in ruins than one that is pristine.
We took the Tschu-Tschu train down the hill to the boat launch where we boarded a paddle-wheeler to take us on a cruise of the Rhine. We saw the Loreley (just a big rock if you ask me... what's all the fuss about?) and stopped in the slightly larger town of Bacharach for some dinner and last-minute souvenir shopping.
Loaded up with our German Steinf teddy bears and Rhine wine, we boarded the boat back to Saint Goar. Our last night in Europe, we packed our bags, cleaned out our lease car, and hit the sack with the promise of a early morning and long day ahead.