We had planned the schedule carefully as we wanted to have another chance to ride on the flagship of the KD fleet, the SS Goethe, the oldest and last remaining paddle steamer plying the River Rhine. The SS Goethe only travels from Koblenz as far as Ruedesheim so we hadn’t been able to take her earlier in the day en route up from Mainz, which is further south. However we remembered her fondly from our trip in 2011 when we took her all the way from Koblenz to Bacharach and back. There is something so special about paddle steamers – you feel you’re being transported back to a bygone era and we thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely ride down to Bingen, another enchanting town on the banks of the river.
Bingen is beautifully preserved like most of the towns along the Rhine. Rich in history (settlements grew up round here prior to Roman times) it was closely associated with Saint Hildegard of Bingen, an abbess, medieval mystic and musical composer. There are many historical buildings of interest such as the nearby Maeuseturm (Mouse Tower) so called because allegedly Bishop Hatto of Mainz was eaten alive by mice here in the late 10th century arggghhhh!!!
Undaunted we set off to walk along the river and wend our way back round into the town. It was bitterly cold especially with the wind whipping up from the water! If you look closely at the photos of Monsieur and myself down by the Rhine you can just make out the Mouse Tower in the background (it is actually situated on a small island just outside Bingen).
There were plenty of information signs to give you an idea of the history and local culture.
We found the town centre pleasantly laid out and with pots of spring flowers in abundance. We also noticed the religious iconography on some of the buildings though it is worth noting that Bingen, like many towns along the Rhine, also had relatively large Jewish settlements from the middle ages onwards though they were often subjected to discrimination and persecution.
After an hour or so of wandering round we needed warming up so we made our way back down to the river and found a cafe near the quay. We had a very pleasant afternoon tea whilst waiting for the ferry to take us back to Mainz. It would have been a shame to sit indoors and not take advantage of the superb view so we braved the elements and huddled up on the outside terrace!
Our return ferry (the same one we had taken earlier in the day up from Mainz) duly arrived right on schedule and we spent a pleasant few hours watching the scenery go by before the lights of Mainz came into view in the early evening twilight.
A long day out but well worth it!
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