Cruising Down the Rhine!
August 6, 2014
We all awoke to a gorgeous sunny day and were looking forward to our cruise down the Rhine. Before leaving our hotel, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast included in the stay. It was set up in a private dining room and included breads, meats, cheeses, fruit, eggs, cereals, spreads, juices, tea, and coffee.
At 10:30 a.m., we boarded our K-D line boat and headed to the top deck. We were ready to take in castle views and picturesque German towns along the waterfront. Most Rhine castles dated back to the Middle Ages. Some were built to protect settlements, and others were residences of kings. Many were “robber baron” castles built by rulers to levy tolls on passing river traffic.
When the boat pulled away from the dock, our first view was of Stahleck Castle, sitting stately on the hill above Bacharach. As we cruised down the fast moving river, the boat pulled into a different town every fifteen minutes to pick up or drop off passengers. Ships and huge barges loaded with cargo passed by.
The spires of medieval churches and historic castles appeared around every river bend. Steep vineyards climbed up lush, green hillsides. My camera was shooting nonstop to capture all of the magnificent views. It was a magical time sailing through the Rhine River Gorge.
After a two-hour ride, we arrived at our destination, the quaint town of Braubach. Here we toured the Marksburg Castle, the only medieval castle on the Rhine, which had never been destroyed or conquered. The castle, located on a hill over-looking the town, required a twenty-minute uphill hike from the town center. When we reached the 800-year-old fortress, we joined a tour.
The castle was built primarily for defense, rather than as a residence for a noble family. The interior was spartan, with Medieval Age décor. Most of the rooms were outfitted with period furniture and equipment much as they would have been when the castle was in use. The narrow hallways of the castle escorted us into the kitchen, dining hall, bed chambers, blacksmith’s workshop, cathedral, armory, wine cellar and torture chamber.
Outside we toured the gothic gardens full of herbs used for cooking, medicine and witchcraft. Before we left the castle and headed back to Braubach, we enjoyed spectacular panoramic views of the Rhine River. Back in the small town, we were on the lookout for a café. We strolled by lovely half-timbered houses dating back to the 1600’s. Window boxes planted with colorful flowers decorated the sides of buildings. The only food being served in town at 2 p.m. was dessert, so we forced ourselves to down some apple strudel and decadent cake before we caught an afternoon train back to Bacharach.