Noilly Prattle: The Rhein

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Rhein

      I've seemingly always heard about the "castles on the Rhine".

at the Globe
leaning towers of Amsterdam?
      After several months of intensive rehab for a broken femur I felt the irresistible urge to get away and test out the resilience and endurance of my broken leg of recent memory. Our son was living in London and we wanted to see the start of the new season of opera at the Zurich Opernhaus. I wanted to visit Amsterdam and see the castles (called "Burg" in German) on the Rhine. Road buddy and I worked out a one-month's itinerary to cover the things we wanted to do. We decided to stop off first in London to meet our son for a few days, do some sightseeing (around London and Canterbury) and attend a Shakespeare performance at the Globe Theater.

        Unfortunately, our son was transferred back to Tokyo shortly before we were scheduled to leave Japan and we were not able to meet up, but we stayed a few nights in The City, visited Canterbury and did attend a performance of Henry IV at the Globe Theater. Flew to The Netherlands and spent a relaxing couple weeks in a great rented apartment in laid-back Amsterdam and sampled some of its delights. Since we were so close to the Middle Rhein (that's how the Germans spell it) we took a train to Cologne, rented a car there and drove down to Zurich to attend three operas on three consecutive nights before returning to Japan.

Kölner Dom (Cathedral of Cologne, Germany)

Burg Shoenburg - wall shot
from parking lot
Rhein view from
room window
      We spent the second night of our four-day drive in Oberwesel at the Burg Shoenburg, a restored castle now used as a hotel. Parking is a big problem in the small towns along the Rhein. We wanted to leave our car parked somewhere, take a train upriver to Bingen and board a Rhine River boat there and sail back downriver, view the castles on the Rhein and disembark at Oberwesel. Accordingly, we drove up to the castle around 10 o'clock in the morning and parked in their on-site parking lot and asked if we could leave the car there until check in time, to which they graciously replied "of course". The hitch was that we had to climb down to the town on a mountainous foot path and climb back up the same path on our return. I wondered if my bum leg could handle it but thought: What the hell, nothing ventured nothing gained.

footpath from the castle to the town of Oberwesel
great views from our seat
       We took the train to Bingen and had to wait around for about an hour and a half to board the boat. Got a great seat one deck up from the bow of the boat on a warm almost cloudless day. The boat, going downriver with the current, took about an hour to arrive at Oberwesel. My pictorial impressions follow below. Regarding the path to the castle, coming down was relatively easy on my leg; going back up was more difficult, but proved to be reasonably doable. I felt reassured that my leg was mending well and I would be able to keep on traveling well into my 80s--in shallah.

Ehrenfels Castle Ruin


Burg Rheinstein


Burg Reichenstein

Burg Sooneck

Burg Stahleck

Hotel Kronen - 15th Century
one of the oldest restaurants in the region

Burg Gutenfels

last but not least Burg Shoenburg - our castle hotel 

      We were pretty worn out (me especially) when we finally climbed back up to the castle and checked in. Burg Shoenburg is a really top class hotel and, although we looked a little worse for the wear and tear and I had only a backpack, we were treated like visiting royalty with the utmost courtesy and personally escorted to a lovely room with a view of the Rhein through real leaded glass windows. The windows are in a small alcove which has two narrow window seats and a small table. There was a carafe of sherry and two glasses on the table--complementary. There were real bound volumes of books (not a paperback in sight) in a bookcase in the room and in the beautifully restored castle library. They were all, however, in German...but the carafe of sherry was glinting redly in the setting sun and beckoning us to partake.

the castle library which can be used
      The rest, as they say, is history. 

 the complimentary sherry--about halfway through

window seat and table w/ wine carafe in background

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