Rhine River Cruise
July 2001

We didn't have much time in Germany, so we hoped we chose the right day trip. We sure did! A scenic cruise along the Rhine River showed us much of what Germany has to offer - castles, vineyards (and of course wine), luscious landscapes, and rich history.

The tour started with a tour of the castle Rheinstein. The castle's owner gave us a run down on the history - the princes and their families who lived there, the significance of the rooms, the castle's purpose throughout time. Then, we were allowed to walk the grounds on our own. The pictures we took will tell a spectacular story in our photo album! Here are just a few:

A bus took us down the river a bit to the medieval town of Bacharach, fortified with 16 watchtowers. We shopped at the famous Jost Beer Stein Factory Outlet. Prices are high for tourists, but they make great souvenirs. Instead of lunch, we opted for some of the sensational pastries available in the local bakery.

Next, we boarded one of the many river cruise lines and went downstream. Along the way, the camera never left our hands - the multitude of ancient castles, villas, and watchtowers along and in the river were intriguing. The ship's captain pointed out the main attractions and gave a bit of history about each. Some of these sites were: 13th Century Gutenfels Castle, towering above the turreted town of Kaub; the Pfalz, a former island toll castle; the 10th Century Schönburg Castle; the mythical Loreley Cliff; the more than 1000 year old Reichenstein Castle, destroyed in 1282 by Rudolf von Habsburg and now the home of valuable art treasures; and the Mäuseturm ("Mice Tower"), once an island toll and customs tower.

Shortly, we docked at Rüdesheim, the most popular wine center on the Rhine River. We had the opportunity to taste the most wonderful Ice Wine and purchase it at a small fraction of the cost we would pay in the US. I also purchased some medieval weapons at a low price to add to my collection at home. The souvenir selection is overwhelming!

We boarded the ship again and headed back upstream for 2 1/2 hours. Along the way, we were served drinks and ice cream (it was very hot outside). There were many more noteworthy landmarks and castles to entertain us along the way.

Our final destination was Drosselgasse, where we had dinner (Schnitzel is my favorite) and attended a wine tasting.

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