Rhine Gorge and other things
One of the highlights of this trip is the section of the Rhine for about 50 km beyond its confluence with the River Moselle at Koblenz. Along this stretch of the river the banks narrow in and the hills rise around us. It’s not like a gorge we think of in Australia; not as steep, rugged or deep. It is also clothed in vineyards. Most of which run in rows vertically up the hills, not horizontally as you would think. Why is this so? Well it’s because the sun shines down on them longer and more directly because of the orientation of the gorge. This pattern hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. There is no mechanical harvesting. The pickers carry big baskets up and down the rows. They prefer to walk down rather than up.
Anyway, along the river there are numerous little towns and over looking them is the old ruler’s castle. These rulers taxed the boats as they travelled up and down the river. A lot of these castles were built in the 11th and 12 th centuries. In subsequent periods various marauders ransacked the region and destroyed the castles, including Louis XIV in 1689 and then Napoleon in the late 18th century. The French are not overly popular here. During the 1800s a good number of the castles were refurbished. Today they are used as youth hostels, museums, wedding venues etc.
Our weather was a bit overcast but later in the morning the sun appeared. The sun brightened the countryside up and the castles stood out against the sky.
Another interesting thing along this river section is The Loreley. This is the German version of the old Greek tale about the Sirens luring the Greeks to their death on the rocks. Well Lore is the daughter of Old Father Rhine and she does the same thing to boatmen going up and down the Rhine, near a rather big rock sticking out into the Rhine. They have put up a nice statue of her on the bank and Mark Twain translated the German tale into English, I wont tire you with it on this occasion. But it is a nice tale…………
Later in the day we pull into Rudesheim for the afternoon. There are two main attractions here beside the beer. One is a mechanical musical instruments museum, with all sorts of musical gadgets. Homealone finds this far more approachable than the cable car ride to the top of escarpment. This is where Allthego went.Up here one overlooks the town and the surrounding areas, with the Rhine stretching away in both directions. When Germany was unified in the late 19 th century they put a big monument up here to celebrate the event.
After 415 km we now leave the Rhine and join the Main (pronounced ‘Mine’ ) River and head for our next stop at Miltenberg.