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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rhine Time

 Yesterday, we set out on a river cruise on the Rhine river from Bacharach.  The kids were pretty excited to get on the boat.:)
 A little known fact about my kids: They LOVE rocks...they pick them up from everywhere and fill up their pockets and then tell me their jackets are too heavy.:)  Love of rocks + water to throw them in= pure happiness.:)  It's funny to see my kids' view of our vacation.  Guy and I are so thrilled and excited to be along the Rhine River...but to the kids, it is a really cool place to throw rocks.:)  The "rocks" are all actually very thin smooth pieces of slate which people used centuries ago (when there were bigger pieces) to build their roofs on houses.
Boarding the boat

 Wouldn't you know it?  There was even a playground on the boat for the kids:)
 They LOVED it!:)
View from back of boat as we left Bacharach

Pfalz Castle
 The Pfalz castle was actuallt built in the middle of the river in the 1300's along the town of Kaub.  It helped the town become very rich because it would pull up the chains in the middle of the river to collect tolls from merchants traveling on the Rhine.
Gutenfels Castle
 Gutenfels Castle worked with Pfalz castle to collect tolls from the merchants.  It is also located near the town of Kaub.
 Along the Rhine River, there are thousands of vineyards and areas which were once cultivated as vineyards. These vineyards have been worked for centuries.  They are on such high and steep terrain that many cannot be reached by machines.  The areas too hard to be reached by machines have been left to be overgrown.  I have to say, though, they are so beautiful to look at along the river.:)
Schonburg Castle
Schonburg Castle stands over the the town of Oberwesel.
 This tower in Oberwesel dates back to Medieval times.
Church in Oberwesel

Even the train tunnels look like castles

Katz Castle
Katz Castle was built in 1371.  It had a very clear view of the Rhine River to see any merchant coming by that needed to pay a toll. It was actually destroyed in 1806 by Napoleon's army and then rebuilt again in 1900.
Another view of Katz Castle

 Just some FYI about Katz castle: It was purchased by someone who had plans for a Japanese resort in 1995. However, the town did not approve the plans and now it sits empty.
Rheinfels Castle

Rheinfels castle sits across the Rhine from Katz Castle in the town of St. Goar (named after a monk), and it also has a great view of the river to catch each and evry merchant who came down the river.  Can you imagine how many tolls a person would have to pay when each castle had its own toll and there are probably hundreds of castles up and down the Rhine?
Arriving in St. Goar

Streets of St. Goar

 So, we have discovered two all time hits with food in Germany for the kids.  One is the kartoffelpuffers
(potato pancakes) and apfelmus (applesauce) and schnitzel ( thin fried pork) and pommes (fries).  Jeremy LOVES the applesause and Elizabeth loves the potato pancakes and the schnitzel and they both love the fries...score for mommy and daddy!!!:)

Picture of a town from the other side of the river

 After walking around St. Goar, it was time to head back on the train. ( We are coming back on Saturday to tour the is too much for the kids if we try to do more than one big thing a day).
Loreley Cliff

(I missed snapping a picture of this on the way to St. Goar). This cliff has a German legend to go with it.  It was said by sailors in the middle ages that a beautiful maiden would distract sailors going down the Rhine. They would be so distracted by her beauty, they would run their ship aground or drown.  The story says that a count sent his men out to find this woman who caused his son to drown. When they went to find her, she called her father, Father Rhine, and he made waves so huge that they carried her to safety.  the legend says that if you listen carefully at night you can hear her.  Of course, none of the sailors wanted to blame their wrecks or drownings on the reefs near that location.:)
Flags mark the spot where Loreley would call to the sailors

The Seven Maidens
 Here is another piece of German folklore.  The rocks you see in this picture are in the Rhine River (sorry, I don't think I got them all in the picture...there should be seven, and I missed them when we were on the way to St. Goar) are said to be the remains of seven daughters of a king who would not marry any men he presented to them.  It is said that they left in a boat and never seen again.  It is believed they were turned into the seven rocks in the middle of the Rhine River.
Kids enjoying the train ride back to Bacharach

 After a nap, we took the kids back to the playground.  I had to snap this picture...can you imagine a playground in the U.S. that would let kids play right next to a front end loader???
 Guy found a great restaurant for us last night. It is actually right next to the railroad tracks which got the kids very excited.:)
 About every 15 minutes a train would go by and the kids loved didn't matter how loud they screamed because no one could hear them when the train went by.:)
Getting ready to scream for the train.:)
We had a great time going on the boat and seeing all the castles on the Rhine River.  Guy is our personal family travel guide and he does such a good job of combining things that he and I will appreciate with things the kids will love, too.:)  Until next time, tschuss!

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