The Rhine & Mosel Rivers

Trip Start Jan 07, 2004
Trip End Jan 27, 2004

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Flag of Germany  , Rhineland-Palatinate,
Monday, January 26, 2004

Greetings from the Rhine.

A local told me Germans don’t drive fast.  They fly low.  An apt description of the famed autobahn.  With no speed limit, I was doing 140 kpm in my VW Passat.  And still being passed by smaller Golfs and larger trucks.

German law requires that all drivers in a vehicular accident be tested for alcohol.  Anyone found intoxicated is ticketed, regardless of fault.  Now I understand why.  Driving the autobahn is mentally exhausting, even when fully alert.  Impairing one’s self here would be insane.

The end of the day is a different story.  I enjoyed some wonderful Rieslings in Bacharach.  The Romans introduced vineyards to the region 2,000 years ago.  The white grapes responded well to the climate.

A few centuries ago, Bacharach was the capital of the region.  Today, it's just a quiet little town on the Rhine.  And a great place to relax.  I saw more traffic on the river than on the roads.  Most shops were closed for winter.  My clue - hand-written notes in the windows listing some date in March.

Every few miles along the Rhine is a new castle.  Germany as a country is the unification of numerous city-states ruled by nobles.  Feudalism thrived here.  One of the most unique sights is Pfalz Castle, literally on the Rhine.  It raised cables over the river in order to collect taxes from passing barges.

Marksburg is one of the best-preserved castles on the Rhine.  It has one of the top three collections of personal armory in Europe.  Twelve different displays illustrate the development of armor from 600BC to 1500AD.  Also notable is the invention of a flush toilet through the use of stored rainwater.  It was so impressive the restroom was situated in the center of the Great Banqueting Hall.

Before leaving, I took a day trip over to the Mosel River.  Even more peaceful than the Rhine.  I had to hunt for open restaurants.  In one town, a bunch of geese camped on the main road.  They wouldn’t budge, even as I drove within inches.

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