We left Cologne after dinner and continued upstream. By 6.00 am this morning, we were entering the beautiful Rhine Gorge with over 80 kilometres of pretty villages, vineyards and twenty or more castles. Many of us weeon the top sundeck as it became light to make sure that we saw this complete stretch of river.
Some of the castles were defensive fortresses and others were built as bases from which to collect taxes and tolls from boats passing along the river. Some are now in ruins, but many others have been renovated and now operate as hotels, restaurants or wealthy residences, They must cost an enormous amount of money to renovate and still a lot more money to maintain. This area is certainly ‘castle central’.
We had a brief introduction to this area about six years ago when we took a day tour from Frankfurt. I was certainly reminded of its attractive scenery today.
By lunchtime, we had docked at the little village of Rudesheim. This is a quaint little village and even though it is overrun by tourists, it still has a lot of charm. Its narrow cobble stoned streets are lined with quaint hotels and shops. Most of the window boxes are planted with bright red geraniums and they provide a spectacular sight.
Our tour included a visit to a very interesting mechanical music museum. It had rooms of all sorts of fully working devices that included merry go round organs, Bell Phonographs, music boxes and juust about any other music making machine that you could think of. One even played half a dozen violins symphonically. I would have loved to have spent more time there.
Above the town, high on the northern bank is a giant statue of Germania. This can be reached by a little chairlift that crosses the vineyards with their criss-crossed patches of vineyards. This statue commemorates the unification of Germany under Ksaiser Bill and also to remember the foundation of the Second Reich after the end of the Franco-Prussian War.
This is the home of the Riesling grape and a little way out of town is a world famous school for wine makers. It would be interesting to attend a few courses at that school, although I think that I have the second part of the job (drinking wine) pretty well developed as a skill.