Sunday, April 21, 2013

Viking's Grand European River Cruise: Koblenz & Middle Rhine, Germany


Viking River Cruise, Day 4:  Koblenz & Middle Rhine, Germany (Facebook collage)
(click any collage to enlarge)

SOOOOOOO, Ladies and gentlemen!  By this time in our cruise, that became a familiar refrain as Alex, our Program Director, kept us apprised of each day's comings and goings.

This day, Day 4, was  a full day of castles and lots of goodies in between as we continued the long stretch across Germany from Cologne the previous day.

Prior to arriving in Koblenz for our morning excursion, I "collected" architecture from the sun deck.
As you know by now, I eat this stuff up.

To be honest, I'm surprised we didn't see more of this industrialization.
It was few and far between.

We docked in Koblenz at 8:30 a.m. in front of Kaiser Wilhelm I on his mighty steed,
and left the ship by 9:30 for our excursion to the Marksburg Castle.
We walked in Koblenz all of about 15 minutes!  What you see is what you get.

We hopped on buses immediately, climbing the hill to the best-preserved castle on the Rhine.
In its 800 years, it was never attacked during countless wars because of its strategic location.

 Before starting our tour, we had time to get the lay of the land.
What a vantage point for anyone needing protection from marauders!

 Now....follow the leader....

 We even have cannons like this in Gorinchem, NL, where we live.  (sigh)

 Fine dining, anyone?

 How about fine frescoes!

I know someone who would give an arm and a leg for this weaving apparatus!

 Yes, they even had an inside toilet (that hung outside the wall with appropriate pipes).
Music, game and spinning alcoves, plus separate bedrooms...
what more could you possibly need on top of a fortress!

Unless it was armor...or a chastity belt?

Our tour guide carried the key to the castle with her the entire tour...
and then locked us out once we were done.
Mercedes, top right, was our Viking guide on the bus back down to the boat.
We fell in love with her...so adorable.

Instead of going back to Koblenz, from whence we had started,
we drove to Braubach, 10 km southeast, at the foot of the castle's hill, 
where we got our best view looking back up...
and to where our ship had sailed while we were gone.
Again, what you see is what you get.

By now it was time for lunch, with a Taste of Germany specialties....

When in Germany, eat and drink as the Germans do.
We even enjoyed the "Sound of the Rhineland" musicians.

With tummies full, and time to go brush our teeth, it was now time to hit the top deck to see the stretch of castles on the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, declared a UNESCO site in 2002.  This was one of the most-anticipated moments of the entire cruise for me.

Even before getting to the castles, I was awed by so many of the houses!

And churches!  You know me and spires.
All seen from the river, of course.

And as a bit of trivia...we found out that Hitler purposely made train-tunnel entrances look like castles
so no one would bomb them.  It was a gentleman's agreement to NOT bomb castles during war.

BTW, we were listening to the running commentary from Alex, our Program Director,
while trying to stay warm and not goof off too much.  Lucky for us, it was sunny!

Another BTW, this is also wine country with vineyards dotting the hills everywhere.
And yes, that's the Lorelei maiden (middle-left) who tried to woo us to our doom.

SOOOOO, Ladies and gentlemen.  Saving the best to the last...
here are some of the finest examples of castles, palaces and fortresses along the Middle Rhine!
(We even have a booklet with all their names!)

My favorite of them all?  The Pfalzgrafenstein toll castle on the Falkenau island!
It so happened a bunch of school kids were there while we passed by.
We all waved hello and good-bye....

...as I do now to Day 4 of our river cruise!  Moving right along....

12 comments:

  1. The castles are just amazing! Thanks for continuing to share you journey!

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    1. Astrid and I have just finished season 1 of Downton Abbey, Robin, so seeing the castles again has really been fitting. :) Thank you.

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  2. Short of eyes that day... It is a beautiful part of Germany, it looks fabulous from the ship. Castles are fun and so beautiful. Marksburg is a beautiful place to visit. I know it takes a lot of work to make these posts, but it is a treat to re-live the cruise again. Thank you so much for this joy!

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    1. You're my biggest Fan Club, of course, and this is for us (I keep saying that). I don't want us to forget these places...or have the images hiding in a file someplace. Thanks for sharing the "second blessing" with me!

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  3. The castles are gorgeous, and so are the houses, as you say. Don't you just love all that old gear and furniture? I think it would be fun to be a curator and help set up those old rooms. :-) A wonderful day you had!

    (You must take very good notes throughout your days to keep everything straight.)

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    1. Now that we've just finished the first season of Downton Abbey, Ruth, these castles are really on my mind. HUGE rooms that had to be kept warm during the winter months. It would be a full-time job, for sure!

      We had a daily print-out of everything we did on the cruise, with schedule, etc. plus a lot of trivia on each place, which has really helped me with these posts. I would never have remembered them otherwise! Thanks for noticing. HA!

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  4. In the first collage, the curve of the city on the river is so quaint! I love it and the view is second to none! The details and views framed by the castle archways are killing me... just beautiful!

    Fascinating trivia tidbit about the "gentlemen's agreement and castles.. Hitler was quite sneaky.

    I can see why this stretch was highly anticipated and I am glad you had a nice day for photography.

    The little castle on the hill (above what looks like a cathedral - in the collage with Lorelei - the one with the garden on the hill) what is the name of it? Of the city? It is adorable! I'd love to tour/walk that place. (maybe I will google Lorelei :)

    Amazing, amazing trip.

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    1. You are so good at isolating what you like, dear Margaret. Thank you. That means a lot.

      I agree that Hitler was sneaky...probably in more ways than one!

      And that little chapel that you like way up on the hill surely has a name but is probably the personal chapel of the vineyard owner. They were very careful to do all the right things to receive the blessing of God on their vineyards!

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  5. this is my favorite day so far. i love castles. i would have gone mad shooting incessantly.

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    1. It may have been my favorite day, too, Maria! :) Seeing the castles dotting the hillsides reminds me of all the vineyards almost side-by-side in Napa Valley. HA!

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  6. I enlarged every collage. Any one of your pictures could be a post by itself! You have so much material there, so many picturesque views. I love castles too and would have loved to be with y’all. My father loved castles also and, after the war, wanted to buy one in Normandie when they were not too expensive, but my mother refused – too much work to keep it up – sigh. I saw one castle perched like that on a hill, it was in the Ukraine last fall (need to make a post on it.) The beer you show looks good and with the food… yum! Yesterday while reading my book on WW2 I saw a picture of Cologne – it looked like only the cathedral was standing. I am pleased the castles escaped bombardments. I am enjoying this trip – virtually.

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    1. You and I are sharing each other's journeys as though they were our own, Vagabonde. Virtual travel is so satisfying, isn't it! Thank you.

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