Fortunately the fog of the day before had cleared…
Our riverboat SS Antoinette stayed in Koblenz through the night so that we would be sailing down the scenic Middle Rhine the next morning. In these mountainous and untamed regions during the late Middle ages, the Rhine was the main trade route between the Netherlands and what is now Switzerland. Faster and safer than land routes, the Rhine was the lifeblood of commerce. And the rulers of the tiny duchys along the river charged tariffs for passage along their shores. And they built castles to display their strength and wealth. You could call them pirates or robber barons, but in that time it was simply business as usual. The castles were built during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. They have been bombed and fallen into ruin. The German Castle Association has long tried to restore and maintain them. Many are hotels or youth hostels or restaurants.
I was up on the deck around 730am that morning to see small towns and the yellowing vineyards on the steep slope of the river.
A little later dozens of stone castles with classic crenelated towers and walls started appearing atop the cliffs, many above pretty river towns and small cities. Our Cruise Director Chad narrated the passage, explaining the history and condition of each major castle. That particulars were interesting, but the vistas were most memorable. It was also at this point that Donna and I decided that this was a great time of year to travel the Rhine.
My castle pictures…
Donna’s castle pictures…
Near midday we reached the scenic town of Ruedesheim which was very touristy, but almost empty.
Rain was threatening so we immediately took the seilbahn (gondola) up the slope to a German monument and incredible views of the town and the river.
There were sections along the Rhine which were once dangerous including the section that gives us the story of the Lorelei. One interesting features a Bar-Church combination where you have to enter the church by going through the bar.
I took about 600 pictures that day. (FYI…many of the best pictures here are Donna’s.)