THE HISTORIC RHINE & MOSEL.....
Trip Start May 13, 2010
25Trip End Jul 05, 2010
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Once again, what a difference a day makes! I went for breakfast a bit earlier this morning as I had to allow time to get my Packs loaded before check-out time at 11:00. There was a place set for me this time (the only single place setting in the room, so I assumed it was mine), with a basket containing two rolls and a croissant. Within about 10 minutes, the Server brought my Coffee and this time a glass of orange juice (without my asking). I finished the first small pot of coffee fairly quickly and there was quite a wait before anyone came to ask about a refill, but it was provided promptly. However it took at least 35 minutes before the cold meats and cheese appeared, along with an additional couple of small Baguettes.
While I was having breakfast, I was watching a young lady paint murals in the small square structures surrounding the lamp fixtures
I got my Packs loaded and organized, something which is becoming quite a routine task by now. I didn't have too much trouble at all getting the main pack closed. At precisely 11:00, I locked the door for the last time and headed down to the desk to pay the bill.
As usual there was no one at the front desk. In the three days I've been in Baden-Baden, the only time someone attended the desk was when I checked in, which took all of about ten minutes. As an "experiment" I decided to sit down and see how long it would take before someone attended. Finally after 40 minutes, the woman that I believed was the boss walked by the desk and saw me sitting there. She had my bill ready and brought a wireless credit card terminal out of the back room. She asked me in somewhat broken English if I was happy with the service and I tried to be somewhat "diplomatic". I sensed that she was genuinely concerned with providing exceptional service, but just wasn’t aware that her efforts were "falling short" in a couple of areas. I asked if she would be able to store my luggage for a short time and she helped me put it in the back room
After checking out I did a quick walkabout around town, something that is starting to seem quite familiar by now. At about noon I figured I’d better get some lunch before heading to the station, so went back to the Hotel as I haven’t really tried their food yet (aside from the Black Forest Cake and the erratic breakfasts). The food was great and in this case so was the service. When I finished lunch, I asked the Waiter (who was the same person that checked me into the Hotel) to call a Taxi and retrieve my Bags from the back room.
The Taxi arrived in a surprisingly short time (a black Mercedes with very effective air conditioning) and the driver expertly navigated through the warren of narrow streets and alleys, some barely wide enough for a car. The ride to the station took a bit longer than I expected and the fare was Eu$17.30.
As I had a few minutes before my train departed and lots of time to get to Gleis (track) 4, I thought I may as well take advantage of having access to a full service Deutsche Bahn office, and buy my tickets from Bacharach to Frankfurt Airport on Monday morning
When heading down to the tunnels to reach Track 4, I noticed that there was an automatic conveyor belt for luggage installed beside the stairs. I’m not sure how it’s activated, but I saw a woman awkwardly dragging a large wheelie bag up the conveyor (she seemed to be doing more work than the conveyor - I’m not sure whether it actually saved her any work?). On the stairs leading to Track 4, I noticed that the stairways on wide side were designed with a narrow stairway in the centre and ramps on either sides of the stairs. As I was standing there, I discovered what the ramps were for as I watched a young girl haul her "wheelie bag" up the ramps. The spacing was precisely right to fit the wheels.
The train arrived precisely on time and only stopped for two minutes. I had a reserved seat in Wagen #258. I boarded at Car #260 as I wanted to get on the train quickly and sort out the seating later, which proved to be a good plan as the train did leave quickly. I put my large Backpack on the seat beside me, and it was fortunate that no one had that seat reserved
The trip to Mainz was uneventful and I was able to find the connecting Track #11 fairly easily, although it was a bit of a walk from where the first train stopped. The train was a smaller regional version, and at first I wasn’t sure that I had the correct train. In this case there was an open spot for bicycles or luggage at one end of the car, so I just dropped my Packs on the deck and used one of the "jump seats" (since it was only about a one hour trip).
I tried to use the GPS to figure out where I was, but it wasn’t able to get a “lock” from inside the train. The digital display in the ceiling finally indicated “Nachster Halt Bacharach” so I disembarked. The station was fairly small and I first thought that I’d made a mistake. I found a small building that was open and assumed that must be the station so went inside to ask. It wasn’t the station but fortunately there was a young couple in there that could speak English and they pointed me in the right direction to Pension Lettie.
After a short walk along the main street, I spotted the sign for Pension Lettie down a small side street
After a short rest, I went out to do some exploring and stopped to chat with a couple from Sacramento, California. He was a Telecommunications Engineer, but currently taking a break from work. We had a nice visit for about 20 minutes, and following that we both went our separate ways to find someplace for dinner
After looking around at the various restaurants, I settled on the Rhein Hotel and Restaurant Stuber (listed in the Guidebook). It was billed as a “gourmet restaurant” with a sixth generation Chef. I ordered the beef in Reisling Sauce with homemade Pasta and Salad, along with a glass of Reisling and of course coffee. While sitting in the outdoor patio (which is right beside the tracks), I had a nice visit with a gentleman from South Africa who also has a home in Bacharach. I also spoke with two girls from the U.S. (who had torn the pages out of their RS Guidebook) and a family from California. The conversations often had to be “suspended” for 10-15 seconds while the trains blasted by, as it wasn’t possible to hear anything
I figured that a “Passegiatta” would be a really good idea after that dinner, and I discovered the Telecom Engineer at another restaurant across from the Church. I took a few photos and as darkness settled on the town, I started to walk back to the Hotel, intending to update my Blog. However on the way I stopped at a Gelato shop and started chatting with a young couple (as I recall also from California) that were on the RS “Best of Europe” 21-day flagship tour. I had seen the classic Heidebloem Bus parked on the other side of the highway when I was having dinner, so sthis confirmed my suspicion that a RS group was in town. The Guide is Daniela, and I may have spoken with her in Seattle in January, but can't recall for sure? This is the couple's first tour (RS or otherwise) and so far they’re enjoying it immensely (why doesn’t that surprise me).
After they departed, I continued on my way back to the Pension, but happened to spot a “Guinness on Tap” sign and decided that required further investigation. It was a small Pub right on the main street, and did indeed have Guinness on tap so I ordered a pint. It was even served with the traditional Shamrock symbol on top! The owner and his girlfriend both spoke English, and there was an American couple (from Seattle) at the one end of the Bar
Eventually a group came in and one of them sat on the other side of the Bar rather than at the table with his friends. It turned out that he had been giving a presentation to the RS group earlier. I asked about Herr Jung (the retired school teacher) and he’s apparently still giving tours to Rick’s groups, but he’s almost 80 so is thinking of retiring in the near future. I had two pints and two cups of Coffee and left that Bar at about 23:45. The Pub will be having a Barbecue on Sunday to celebrate the 4th of July, and I’m invited! Should be fun!!!
10 July 01 - Thursday
My first full day in Bacharach!
The small village of Bacharach is located along the Rhine, west of Frankfurt and south of Koblenz (where the Rhine and Mosel Rivers meet)
Breakfast at Pension Lettie was from 07:30 to 09:30, which is a bit different than other places I’ve stayed at in Europe. I went for breakfast about 08:30 and found that I was alone in the breakfast room. Lettie had asked about breakfast preferences when I arrived, and I chose the “American breakfast” with coffee, waffles and eggs rather than the standard German breakfast with cold meats and breads. She provided my eggs “over medium” as requested, poured some orange juice and the waffles were on the table within a few minutes. Great service!
A few minutes after I sat down, a group of four (two women and two teenage girls) sat down. They were from the U.S. and were driving around Europe for a “girls holiday”. Eventually another couple arrived and when asked they indicated that they were from San Jose, Calif. I said somewhat jokingly to the husband, “I’ll just bet you work for Apple”, to which he replied “yes, as a matter of fact I DO work for Apple”. What a stroke of luck! I was sure to make use of the opportunity and give him some “feedback”, especially the fact that I believe it would be worthwhile for Apple to introduce a Netbook.
After breakfast I took a walk down the hill to Hotel Kranenturm to let them know that I’d be checking-in within a few minutes. I’ve noticed that the Hotel owners in Bacharach seem to have a really good network set-up, as when one place is fully booked they know who’s likely to have a vacancy. My room wasn’t ready yet, but I was given a choice of two rooms. One had a double bed and a small bathroom and a bit “cramped” but was the best for noise protection from the trains as it had thick walls. It also had the best “air conditioning”, a fan and the best Wi-Fi access. The other room had a bit more space with two single beds and a larger bathroom. Both rooms were up two flights of stairs, which I wasn’t looking forward to with my Pack!
The Room Attendant was still working in the room I chose, so I was invited to sit on the outdoor patio and have a complimentary drink. I chose orange juice, and was given the “health food” version. I decided this would be a good time to get caught up on my E-mail and other computer work (while the information was still reasonably “fresh” in my memory) so sat on the patio which also had good Wi-Fi access. While sitting there I chatted with various people that walked past, as the walkway along the old medieval wall goes between the Hotel/Restaurant entrance and the outdoor patio
It’s kind of unusual to be sitting on a restaurant patio and watching trains flash by only a few meters away. Some are passenger trains and some freight trains. I can also hear the trains on the other side of the Rhine, and of course the boats travelling up and down the river. So far I really like this town! I had thought about taking the KD Boat Cruise to St. Goar and back this afternoon, but with the delays in changing rooms and the fact that I don’t feel like doing a lot today, I might just explore Bacharach a bit more.
After I finished my Internet work it was about 13:30 and I was starting to get hungry, so I headed out to find a place to get something to eat (the restaurant in the Hotel doesn’t open for dinner until about 17:00). Most of the places were closed, including the large restaurant beside the Church where the Telecom. Engineer dined the previous night. I finally settled on Hotel Restaurant Am Markt, which had both “traditional” and pasta items on the menu. The girls working there could speak English which was a big help
After lunch I started wandering up the road that leads up the hill, as I hadn’t been there yet. I noticed a large “Sentry Tower” part way up the hill and it looked like it was open so I located the path that led to it and went to have a look. The path went through vineyards part way, which was very picturesque. There were two people on the top floor of the Tower and it turned out that they were both Firefighter/Paramedics from Chicago, and given my background it was interesting to talk with them. After getting some photos of Bacharach from the Tower (which is a great viewing spot), I walked down a path which took me outside where the old town wall had been (there was a large tower that marked the former city boundaries).
The location of the Hostel (Castle) seemed quite close from that side of town, and I noticed stairs above the ruined Church which looked like they led up the hill. I decided to have a look and it turned out that the stairs and the path did in fact lead to the Hostel
While I was sitting on the patio, a young family (Mother, Father, son and daughter) sat down across from me and we started talking. They were from the Hamburg area and the father was a TV News Reporter. We talked about a variety of topics for an hour or more and eventually another woman and her child joined us. The father also pointed out the Manager of the Hostel and I suggested to him that a Funicular from the station would be a big help, but he said the whole area was designated “world heritage”, so nothing could be changed.
At about 20:45 or so, I decided to head back down the trail as I didn’t want to be stumbling down that hill in the dark (although there were some lights along the way)
After dinner I decided once again that a Passegiata would be a really good idea so I went down the medieval wall towards the station, which was dark and deserted (except for one woman sitting there waiting for the train). The station building itself was empty, and there was a sign on the window indicating that the station closed in 2008 (if I read it correctly?). There was a ticket machine on one side of the platform. There was another smaller building next to the station and I could see lights flickering inside, so I attempted to have a look in the window. A worker came out and I told him I was just having a look at the station
I made my way back to the Hotel and decided to call it a day and get to bed early, as I want to go to Burg Eltz tomorrow as Saturday may be a far busier day at the Castle. It will be interesting to see how well the “soundproofing” works in the Hotel with the train noise.
10 July 2 - Friday
My first thought this morning was that the soundproofing in the room worked surprisingly well. I suppose it helps that the Hotel is located in a former Castle, with thick and solid stone walls and double-paned windows. Although I could hear the trains, the noise wasn’t that loud and having the fan running seemed to make the incessant noise of the trains less of a problem.
My first breakfast at Hotel Kranenturm was good and they provided a varied selection. In addition to the usual cold meats, cheese, buns (which were fresh baked and still warm), yogurt, juices, coffee, tea and cereals, there was also small scrambled egg squares and fried eggs. I noticed a place setting for “one” in the dining room, so I assumed that was my spot. Fatima was busy visiting with the guests and making sure that everyone was getting a full breakfast.
There was a family in the room, including three guys I’ve encountered a few times around town
There was another couple seated to my left. They were from Germany and were biking through the area, which is a popular activity here especially as bikes can be carried on the trains. I had a short visit with them and fortunately they spoke English. On my right there was a Father and Son from Virginia. The Son had taken several years of German classes and was now getting a good chance to put his training to use (he was fully fluent).
During breakfast I checked the DB Navigator app. on my IPod Touch for the times and connections on the trains to Moselkern and Burg Eltz. It’s fortunate that I finally remembered that I have that app., it’s proving to be very useful in planning rail journeys
After breakfast I went back to the room to get my gear organized. I’ll be taking a Daypack along today, which is my usual practice on longer day trips. By the time I was finally ready, it was about 10:30 so I made the short walk to the station and bought a Eu$13.60 ticket from the machine. While waiting for the train, I started chatting with a group of four young Backpackers from the U.S. and wasn’t paying attention to which platform I was on. Fortunately they reminded me that I was supposed to be at Platform #2 for Koblenz. The train arrived on time and the trip to Koblenz was only about 30-45 minutes. The station and city is larger so there are better facilities in the station. I took the opportunity to visit the full service DB office and buy my return ticket and also have some lunch.
The trip to Moselkern was also fairly quick, about the same time as the previous trip. There was a “layover” though, so the overall time of the trip was a bit under two hours. When I arrived in Moselkern, the station was deserted but there were signs showing the direction for the trail to Burg Eltz. Outside the station, I noticed a sign stating that there were no Taxis or Buses to the Castle, and it occurred to me that perhaps this had changed since the Guidebook was printed
I walked right through town without seeing any signs of life until I reached the far end, where there was a small Bar serving various types of drinks. A young boy that had been on the train was also heading to the Bar and it turned out that the woman working there was his Mother. Fortunately she spoke excellent English and I asked about the Taxi. She said that there was a Taxi available, but it had to come from Lof, the next town. She offered to phone and arrange it for me, an offer which I gladly accepted. With such good service, I figured I should at least buy something, so I bought an drink and chatted with her while waiting for the Taxi.
The Taxi arrived in 15-20 minutes but unfortunately the driver didn’t speak any English. The woman from the Café asked me what kind of arrangements I wanted and conveyed this to the driver. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to visit the Castle, but figured five hours or so would be more than enough, so arranged to be picked up at 18:00. My train departure to Bacharach was at 18:41 – I had also chosen my return time somewhat randomly when I bought the ticket as I wasn’t sure how much time I would need
The ride to the Castle took about 20 minutes and the fare was Eu$25. I decided to take the Minivan Shuttle to the Castle for Eu$1.50, which seemed like a bargain since the road down to the Castle was very steep in places. The ride only took about two minutes. When I bought my ticket, the girl in the ticket office said that I should hurry to the Courtyard as an English language tour would be starting in about 10 minutes (how’s that for timing!).
There were a few people sitting waiting for the tour, including the Swedish woman and her brother that I had spoken with in Bacharach several times. A gentleman came over to talk to me, since he’d heard me speaking English to the Swedish woman. It turned out that he was from Texas, was a Minister at a non-denominational Church and his wife was a Travel Agent who arranged tours (including their tour on this occasion).
Burg Eltz is one of the best preserved Castles in Europe and was never destroyed or damaged in battle due to good diplomacy and some fortuitous marriages. It was built in approximately 1100 and is constructed on a 70-metre elliptical pinnacle of rock, surrounded on three sides by the Eltz River (which is a tributary of the Mosel)
The Castle Tour Guide provided a fact-filled and interesting tour on the origins and history of Burg Eltz which lasted about an hour. He seemed a bit on the “serious” side at first, but “lightened up” as the tour progressed and seemed a bit embarrassed when the group applauded his presentation. He made it very clear right at the beginning that NO photos, videos or recordings of any kind were allowed during the tour, as several of the tour members had been snapping photos as soon as we entered the Castle.
After the tour, the group moved on to “The Treasury” as that was included in the admission price as well. It was opened to the public in 1981, and contains a lot of interesting items including a display of medieval weapons, gold statues and other artifacts and was housed in a secure area just off to one side of the entry desk
I didn’t realize it at first, but the valley on that side of the Castle is where the trail from Moselkern terminates. As I hiked across the small concrete bridge and along the trail into the forest a short distance, I found signs for the trails that led to various towns. Some people passed me heading back to Moselkern, and I didn’t envy them the hike on this warm afternoon. By this time it was late afternoon and after walking back up the hill to the Castel, I didn’t really want any souvenirs (although I thought about a T-Shirt) so I figured I’d go back to the parking lot and wait for the Taxi. As on the way down, I was the only one in the Van. On the ride up the hill, I noticed a “lookout point” that I hadn’t seen on the way down. It was only a short distance from the top, so I walked back down to have a look. It provided a perfect view of the Castle, and it was unfortunate that there was scaffolding and a large yellow construction Crane obstructing the view on this occasion
The Taxi arrived at about 17:50 and it was a different vehicle and different driver this time. The vehicle was a yellow Mercedes station wagon with great air conditioning. The driver could speak a bit more English, but not enough to carry on any kind of conversation so the ride back to the station was “quiet” for the most part. She drove into a parking lot and then into a narrow tunnel that was barely wide enough for the car. There was a set of stairs in the tunnel leading up to the very basic station in Lof. The fare was again Eu$25 (I thought it might be a bit cheaper to Lof, as that’s where the Taxi was based and it was a shorter distance to Burg Eltz – perhaps trips to and from the Castle are priced as a “flat fee”?).
I had a wait of about 45 minutes for the train to arrive and it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps the train wouldn’t stop in Lof (not all trains stop in every station – some are “express” trains). I briefly thought about calling the Taxi and having them take me back to Moselkern, but after reading the schedule posted in the small building it appeared that the train would be stopping there
On arrival at the station in Koblenz, I went into the tunnels and the main part of the station to check out the dinner possibilities and to buy some more water. My train didn’t depart until 19:54 and I thought I’d have time for a longer dinner but the time seemed to be passing quickly so I just “gave in” and went to McDonald’s. I had hoped to have a leisurely dinner on the platform, but when I got up to Platform 5 Nord the Trans Regio train was just arriving. I boarded right away and hurriedly ate my dinner standing at a small bench inside the car. The train departed right on time and I was fortunate to be in a car that had great air conditioning! I double-checked the chart on the wall which showed all the stops and when the train reached the first stop I verified that I was heading in the right direction
I took some photos of Castles and scenery along the Rhine (which isn’t ideal through the windows of a train), and upon arrival in Bacharach the walk back to the Hotel seemed quick. When I arrived at the dining room, Fatima mentioned something about a “Street Festival” taking place downtown but I was hot and tired so went back to the room to clean up, get organized and have a short rest.
I fully intended to have a look at the street festival later, but my “short rest” lasted about 90 minutes and it was getting dark so I figured it would be winding down. I want to make sure I get to bed early, as I want to get an early start to Remagen in the morning. I watched a bit of TV (nothing but “junk” on the tube, as usual). Especially in the mornings, there seems to be a lot of infomercials (in many cases these are promoting the same products as at home) as well as cartoons. The only English-language channel is CNN, which isn’t my favorite as the same stories are aired over and over, to the point of annoyance. I was wishing they had BBC and will have to suggest that.
10 July 3 - Saturday
Breakfast this morning was about the same as yesterday but there were some new guests present
It was a brisk two minute or so walk to the station and I was a bit concerned when I saw a large group in front of the ticket machine. Even though they were German, they seemed a bit confused by the process and they took a while to get their tickets. I was next in line and bought a ticket for Remagen (Eu$15.50 – the machine would only accept correct change on this occasion and no credit cards).
The train was departing from Track 2 and there was one girl sitting on the bench waiting. We started talking and it turns out that she’s from Nelson and staying up in the Hostel. What a coincidence, someone from so close to home! When the train arrived, there appeared to be a lot of high school age students already on board, and they were well supplied with Beer, Wine and other drinks. There was one attractive blond girl that was having an especially good time, likely due to the fact that she was well into a bottle of red wine. I first thought that perhaps they were celebrating the last day of school, but then clued-in that Germany was playing another Soccer game in the World Cup today and they were all going to Cologne to attend some kind of an event there with a big screen TV
The train was picking up more revelers at each station and by the time the train got to Koblenz, it was rocking! After the train left Koblenz they really got worked up, singing and chanting, jumping up and down in the aisles and banging the ceiling tiles and also smoking (which is normally strictly forbidden in the trains). No Conductor ever did show up to check tickets, and even if he had, I doubt whether he would have been able to get through the “crush” of people. After Koblenz the middle aged woman had moved further forward in the car, probably to get away from the noise. She eventually came to my seat and motioned for me to follow her. She said it would be a more pleasant ride in that part of the car. The ride to Remagen only took 30-40 minutes from Koblenz, and I was sure glad to get off the train and have some peace and quiet (although it was a lot of fun to be on the trains today)!
When I got to the front steps of the station building in Remagen, I checked the GPS and it showed that the Bridge at Remagen Museum was 1.1 kM
The Museum is located on several floors of both towers on the west side of the Rhine. The matching Towers were visible on the far shore, along with a slight view of the railway tunnel behind them. That was the location defended by the German troops in the movie.
The railway bridge at Remagan was planned in 1912 and built during WW-I from 1916 to 1918, in order to transport supplies to troops on the western front. Kaiser Wilhelm II named the bridge I honor of General Erich Ludendorff. The bridge was finished too late in the war to be of much use, but was used by retreating troops in 1918. Towards the end of WW-II, this was one of few bridges that hadn’t been destroyed and was therefore an extremely valuable route for allied soldiers to cross the Rhine
Many of the displays were in German, but some of the videos had both English and German options. There were various displays, including “war junk” and photos of the suffering that the civilian population in that area endured. One photo showed a restaurant that had been bombed, collapsing on the residents and the only one to escape was the daughter who wasn’t home at the time
I walked up and down through both towers and took photos of many of the displays. On my way past the ticket booth, I stopped for another look at the booklets and bought one. I went outside to get more exterior photos and hiked up a small trail to a viewpoint that looked back through the towers to the other side of the river. It was originally the part of the bridge that the traffic would have passed over. I tried to find a way to get onto the small metal bridge, but there was no way to reach it through the thick tangle of vines and thorns (it would have been painful to go any further without a Machete!).
While I was inside the Museum, I had heard “rumbling noises” and assumed it was just one of the videos describing bombings of the bridge (the casing of an uexploded 1000 lb. bomb was in one of the display areas). When I got outside I found that the rumbling was in fact caused by thunder. So much for checking the weather report this morning, which indicated the day would be hot and sunny. Thick grey and black clouds had rolled in while I was touring the Museum, and flashes of lightning were visible in the distance
During the first part of the walk, I continued to see lightning flashing in the distance, and they appeared to be getting closer. About half way back to the station, a severe wind started. Anything that wasn’t nailed down was being blown across the streets, including flower pots and trash cans. Large wooden gates were pushed open and any kind of debris in the streets was becoming airborne.
As I got close to the station, I could feel a few drops of rain and I tried to stay close to the shelter of buildings to keep my Camera dry. I went inside the station to buy my return ticket and just about that time a heavy rain started to come down in “sheets”, blown sideways by the strong winds. The canopies on the railway platforms provided little protection, as the rain was so heavy that it came under the canopies, and the rain gutters overflowed causing the water to come down the support posts. I bought a small Bun with Salami and a drink at the small Café in the station as I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, and tried to find a place where I could eat and stay dry at the same time
When the rain finally subsided, I went outside on the platform to finish my Coffee, as it was warm and muggy inside the building. While standing there, I noticed emergency vehicles passing by on the road across from the station one after the other for quite a period of time. In addition to Police, Fire and Ambulance there were also dark blue trucks which I was told were a volunteer organization that had special skills for moving large rocks or whatever. At least 16 vehicles went by at varying intervals. It was difficult to get any information on what was happening, as the railway officials didn’t seem to know.
I had been chatting with a couple from the U.S. and the husband had been stationed in Germany with Army Counter Intelligence, so spoke some German. From what he could determine and from the brief bits of information I could get from other passengers (including a couple from Ottawa), a huge landslide had come down between Remagen and Cologne, so all trains from the north were blocked. A large red “double decker” train with more Soccer partiers was waiting for departure to Cologne for a long time, but eventually the rail officials emptied the car as there was no way it was getting there tonight!
After a delay of about half an hour, things started to happen. They moved the large red train onto the track we were waiting on, and at last we were on the way to Koblenz. The train was lightly loaded and it was quiet so I had a nice visit with the couple from the U.S. (who were heading to Oberwesel, which was one stop from Bacharach). When the train reached Koblenz there was further confusion as the Trans Regio train we were supposed to take was stopped on the other side of the rock slide. There were two or three empty trains in the station and after another short delay the rail officials came to the same conclusion as the passengers had, and they “pressed” one of the spare trains into service just to get things moving.
The U.S. couple got off at Oberwesel and myself and the girl from Nelson disembarked at Bacharach. As we stepped off the train, we found that Bacharach was also being hit by a severe rain storm. It was raining so hard that “chunks” of vegetation that had been washed off the hillsides was now all over the streets, and there was a small “river” running downhill on the road that led past the rail station. The Fire department was attending and there were several Fire Trucks driving around town with their blue lights flashing. Someone on the train had told us that the storm was so severe in St
I took a few quick photos on the way back to the Hotel, and was slightly “damp” by the time I got to my room. This would have to be the one day I didn’t pack either an Umbrella or my official RS Rain Poncho! When I first arrived at reception, I had a brief visit with a young couple from Colorado who were just sitting down to dinner. They were pleased to find someone else that spoke English. I told them I’d get cleaned up and come down and join them for dinner. I also had a quick look inside the adjacent dining room, where a TV had been set up for the Soccer game. There were a group of older local residents there, and I thought they told me that Germany was ahead 4-0. However, as it turned out Germany had in fact won their game with Argentina. There wasn’t much of a procession of cars in Bacharach to celebrate, but there were a few.
I ordered the Schnitzel, which came with fries and a Salad. I sure wish the restaurants here wouldn’t serve fries with everything. Some small seasoned roasted potatoes would have gone better with the Schnitzel. As I was dining, the group from the soccer game came into the restaurant and would have to sit right next to me as they were talking very loudly and I couldn’t really carry on a conversation with the young couple
On the way back to the room I got talking to another couple from the U.S. that are living in the Stuttgart area. The wife is teaching English, and she also speaks German fairly well. They were biking so were in the official Spandex suits. After visiting with them for a while, I went back to the room for a rest, which lasted until about 22:00. I decided I should really go for a walk to wear off some of the large dinner.
On the way through town, I first passed by the Guinness bar and the owner was outside having a cigarette. I mentioned that the Internet was out and he said that he has Wi-Fi so I could go there if necessary. I then went to the ATM machine I had used previously as I figured I’d better top-up my cash supply. Unfortunately, the reader that opens the doors wouldn’t activate with any of my cards, so I’m “locked out”. I wandered up the street to the other bank and found the door to the ATM unlocked
It’s been a very unusual and interesting day, and one that I’ll remember for a long time! Travelling in Europe this year has been a very interesting experience due to the World Cup Soccer game. The Europeans love Soccer and take it very seriously, I suppose in the same way that Canadians feel about hockey. I chuckled a few times when I thought about the Vinnie Jones English soccer hooligan character from the movie Eurotrip (kind of a goofy movie, but there were a few good parts)
10 July 4 - Sunday
Breakfast this morning was a bit more elaborate, with a better selection of cakes and fresh fruits. The crowd this morning was mostly German so I had no one to visit with. When I was finished breakfast, Fatima presented me with a small painting to commemorate the fact that I was the longest staying single guest in July, a gesture which I really appreciated. She also wanted me to see the rating on Trip Advisor for Hotel Kranenturm, which is currently No. 1 in Bacharach (Pension Lettie is No. 2).
When I finally got moving after breakfast, I took a walk across the street towards the river and made a decision then to take the short boat trip to St. Goar. I bought a ticket (Eu$12.80 return) for the 15:15 sailing, which would be back at 18:30 (hopefully still enough time to get to the 4th of July Barbecue).
I checked the two ATM’s but they’re still both out of commission
After the souvenir shop, I went to find some lunch and finally settled on the Kebab place on the main street, which I had looked at before. I ordered a dish that was shown on a picture outside and that turned out to be a “Donair plate”, which came with shaved meat, lettuce, onions and the usual French fries (which I’m getting tired of). The photo had shown rice and I was a disappointed to be served fries once again.
After lunch I went back to the room for a short rest and fortunately woke up just in time to catch the boat. I walked down to the dock through the beautiful river front park, and within a few minutes the boat arrived. I was really pleased to see that it was the Goethe, which is an elegant old Paddle Wheeler. The boat stopped at Oberwesel and arrived at St. Goar in about an hour and a half.
There were a lot of people disembarking in St
On my way back towards the dock, I was looking for a Café that wasn’t too busy so I could get a Beer. I went first to a smaller Café on a back street above the Church. The Waitress told me to wait while she took care of the two other people that were sitting there, but she disappeared and I never saw her again so I went back to the main street. I decided to stop at Hotel Am Markt, as they seemed to be providing the best service. I had a quick Beer and then got a picture of the bright yellow UniMog that was towing the tourist trailers that take visitors to Rheinfells Castle.
Back at the dock I only had about a ten minute wait until the Lorely arrived
The boat arrived in Bacharach right on schedule at 18:30. When I arrived at the Guinness Bar, I was met by Joanne, the Australian Guide listed in the Guidebook. There was already a group of a dozen or more in the patio area, and Joanne asked me to join the group at her table which had about six people seated including Lettie from the B&B. One of the ladies was from Toronto (but working in Germany) and I was happy to have another Canadian in the group. One couple was from Montana, with the husband working in Germany and the wife serving in the Air Force.
I ordered a Guinness and after a short time the owner asked me what I wanted for dinner. Unfortunately they were out of Burgers so I had to settle for steak (what a difficult choice), accompanied by mashed potatoes and either coleslaw or salad. About the time I started eating, the two couples I’d been talking to earlier in the souvenir shop showed up and joined the celebration
Just after nine, a local musician named Paul showed up with his Guitar and started with some well known rock tunes. The girl from Toronto and I asked for some Gordon Lightfoot in order to celebrate Canada Day, and he agreed to play a few tunes later. At about 22:00, we all had to move inside as apparently the neighbors complain about the noise in the patio, and one of them has been known to throw water on anyone sitting there.
While we were sitting in the Bar, a young Chinese couple came in. Someone had told them they could find Lettie there as they were looking for a room. They were given the small room that I’d been staying in and while it’s not luxurious, at that time of night I’m sure they were happy to get a room anywhere on short notice. Many of the group periodically went outside to smoke, and it’s nice that many countries in Europe are adopting the same smoking laws as we have at home. At about 23:30 I said goodbye to everyone and went back to the Hotel to get organized for the following day. I watched a bit of TV (Das Boot was on, but fortunately no infomercials at that time of the night).