Not to confuse you, of course, but each is important, especially if you like old ruins and castles! But I'll get to that in a minute.
It was time to make our way home from our 3-day, 2-night trip to Koblenz, Germany, the weekend after Thanksgiving. I've already told you about Koblenz, the Maria Laach abbey and the Stolzenfels castle.
Astrid did the research and chose Königswinter as the perfect place for a stop on the way home, an hour west of Koblenz. It would make a full day...one last day, squeezing everything in.
So, we started winding our way on the back roads along the Rhine towards Königswinter, stopping
at anything and everything that caught our eye...with the above ruin as our goal, seen from afar.
Some things were brand new even to Astrid, like these stacked bales of hay.
But the fly-by shots of the castles, churches and ruins took the cake,
even though we didn't stop to check them out.
Besides, there are more castles in this area than you can shake a stick at.
As we entered Königswinter, we started paying attention.
It's a summer resort area in a small range of mountains, known for it's half-timbered houses,
the Drachenfels (dragon's rock) and the Drachenburg castle.
Because it wasn't raining yet, we decided to go to the Drachenfels (dragon's rock) first.
Lucky for us, Germany's oldest mountain Drachenfels railway, built in 1883,
was in holiday operation that day.
The train took us to the castle, from which we then hiked up to the dragon's rock/ruin.
But see the donkey mural on the way? Astrid's mom rode them instead of the train in her day.
The Drachenfels is actually a hill rising 321 meters (1,053 ft) above the Rhine.
The now ruined castle at the top was built in 1138 by Archbishop Arnold I of Cologne.
As we climbed higher and higher, we saw the Drachenburg castle below,
which we would visit later up close and personal.
If you like ruins, it doesn't get much better than this, even if you don't hang around for long.
Maybe it's the views from the top that are the bigger reward, but that, my friends,
is the mighty Rhine river below. The same one from our Viking River Cruise in 2013.
Going back down the mountain was so gezellig...a good Dutch word: cozy.
Did I mention that I LOVE the woods!
Back down to the train stop, we saw the Drachenburg castle from outside the gate,
before entering the castle grounds through the lovely gate house.
The castle was constructed in palace style in two years, 1882-84, which is young as castles go.
But it does not disappoint!
See what I mean!
And unbeknownst to us, Christmas festivities were taking place that weekend.
Dicken's-type characters were everywhere to be found, inside and out.
Inside, the great hall was a-bustle with Christmas goodies for purchase or viewing.
You can see the palace distinction as opposed to a castle, right?
Posh. Elegant. Eye candy.
Back outside, as the afternoon grew late, we walked around the grounds.
And of course, we ate the goodies available. We're not dumb.
Back through the gate house, as we left, we were reminded of the dragon Fafnir from a nearby cave
who was killed by Siegfried, who then bathed in the dragon's blood to become invulnerable.
And thus the hill became Drachenfels = dragon's rock.
That's what legends are made of, giving names to the places we visit.
And there you have it!