One highlight from that holiday, that I’ve not blogged about before, was our day trip on the River Rhine when we took the KD line’s flagship, the paddle steamer the SS Goethe, down to Bacharach. She is still plying the river to and from Koblenz to Ruedesheim. In last week’s post I talked about how we took the Goethe again this May, going from Bacharach to Bingen as part of our return journey back to our base in Mainz.
So it seems fitting to finish my series of Rhine posts (I’ll link all of them at the bottom of this post) by going full circle from Koblenz down to Bacharach. The weather back in spring 2011 was glorious and unseasonably warm so rather a contrast with the somewhat gloomy and rainy weather we had in May this year. Spring can be such an unpredictable season in Europe – we even had snow on our trip to the UK in 2018!
The 65 km stretch of river between Koblenz and Ruedesheim (including Bacharach and Bingen) is known as the Upper Rhine UNESCO World Heritage Area. It is not hard to see why the region has been given this status as you enjoy the stunning journey through the Rhine Gorge area (another name for the Upper Rhine Valley). Sailing by leisurely on the boat you pass numerous castles and fortifications perched precariously on hillsides. Neatly planted rows of vines cascade down the slopes. Even on a rainy day it is idyllic and on this glorious sunny late April day simply breathtaking!
We must have been hungry or maybe skipped breakfast because it appears we spent a lot of the journey eating! It was also warm enough to sit out on the deck most of the time enjoying the fresh air.
The route also braves the narrow channel that goes by the infamous Lorelei Rock (or Loreley in German). One legend has it that a beautiful mermaid would sit upon the rock and so distracted the sailors that many a ship was wrecked on the rocks below. In reality our captain explained that this is one of the most treacherous parts of the river and you have to skilfully navigate the boat through the strong currents. Unfortunately whilst researching this post I read that a barge carrying 2,400 tons of sulphuric acid capsized on 13 January 2011, near the Lorelei rock. All river traffic was blocked for some time (see here for the news report).
Fortunately all had been cleared by the time of our trip in April 2011! Today the Lorelei still sits on the rock in the form of a beautiful statue.
We carried on our journey upstream towards Bacharach and decided to stop off there rather than head down to the far more touristy Ruedesheim (where all the river cruise boats stop off).
I won’t go into great detail here about Bacharach since I’ve already covered it in recent posts, which I’ll link below. We enjoyed lunch on the terrace of one of the little restaurants that nestle beneath the town walls, right by the railway line. Although trains frequently sped by it was not as disruptive as it sounds!
After lunch we wandered through the cobbled streets and lane-ways of the pretty medieval town enjoying the warmth of the spring sunshine.
We also had time to head up to Stahleck Castle. From memory it was about a 25 minute walk up the hill from the town centre though we stopped to take photos of what appeared to be an old ruined abbey and the increasingly wonderful views of the Rhine below us in the valley.
Now converted to a youth hostel, Stahleck Castle also houses a cafe. We enjoyed ice creams and the superb views from the courtyard grounds before heading back downhill to catch the SS Goethe again en route back to Koblenz.
There are plenty of other delightful towns, castles and wineries in this beautiful region that we hope to explore some day on future visits. Meanwhile here are the links to the other three parts of my “Exploring the Rhine” series (here, here, and here)
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