Cruising from Koblenz to Rudesheim, Germany

Arriving in Koblenz I walked right to the tourist information to find out how to get to my hostel which is located in Festung Ehrenbreistein (a mountain fortress which looks over the connection of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Picturesque to say the least). I had to take a bus to the bottom of the mountain which is on the opposite side of the river with respect to the city center. From the bus stop I had to hike through a very dark yet pleasantly cold tunnel which crosses under the mountain to the other side where you can find an old school German chairlift. I paid for a return ticket, hoisted my bag onto the passenger char and ran after my lift before it headed straight up the cliff. Once arriving at the top of the mountain I walked around to get a good view from the Fortress walls. A one minute walk from the chair lift is my little fortress hostel (not so little, I felt more like it had the lay out of a prison). I unloaded my things and took the lift back down to the base of the mountain, crossed the street and got on the ferry which crosses every 10 minutes to the main town of Koblenz.

Iwalked to the point located at the intersection of the rivers which has a huge statue of an angel and soldiers on horseback. I was getting very hungry at this point so decided to find a supermarket before they all closed. I bought the most wonderful lunch for my Rhine River Cruise the following morning! The supermarket was fantastic! It had 3 long aisles dedicated to chocolate and sweets alone! The cold cut, sausage and cheese area was the size of a football field and I tried several samples of cheese that were being offered. I bought a one euro slender baguette, a tub of German soft herb cream cheese, German salami and Black Forest Ham (straight from the Black Forest). On the top floor my jaw dropped. The entire top floor is dedicated to booze. Ten aisles of specialty wines (3 rows of German varietals, a row dedicated to Organically grown wine grapes, French expensive bottles and rows upon rows of beer and spirits. PS they had huge bottles of Jagermeister on sale for 10 euros!). I purchased a nicely priced Organic bottle of Riesling Rhine Troken.

I walked my groceries to the famous local Ultes Brauhaus which has been open since 1689. This was the local brew pub way back when and brews the famed Konigsbacher beer. I was so excited to finally enjoy my first traditional German meal. I ordered a huge plate of Tresterflisch which is pork with kloben (huge round potato dumplings). I started my dinner off with a bottle of Konigsbacher Pils which is their high end Lager as it only has the four main ingredients and is not filtered or treated (it is a bit hazy and wonderful tasting). I loved reading through the menu as there are so many items you won’t find back at home. For instance, in Canada you will never find Slaughter Platter on a menu (grilled steaks, bacon, trester meat, sauerkraut, potato balls, curry sausage, blood sausage, liver, cheese soaked in wine, dark German bread). My favorite part of the meal was when the large (30 something) table of retired folks broke out into a huge German Folka Polka song and dance. Apparently all 30 of them were retiring today and it was a BIG reason to celebrate. One rather chubby lady grabbed my fork out of my hand and heaved me up into the air like a little rag doll. She taught me the polka in 3 minutes. Note to self: don’t sit by yourself in a German bar, easy dance target. I finished the second half of my meal with a glass of Zischke the darker lager made by the same brewer. The dinner was wonderful and on my walk through the square I ran into a group of guys who were getting people to sign a petition. He asked me if I loved whales and I said, surely do. He asked me if I had heard of Vancouver Island Canada and said, surely have. He then went on to tell me that hundreds upon thousands of whales are dying there every year. I informed him that I lived there for four months last year and never heard of such horrible slaughter. He blushed and said, “Oh, um could you still sign this to save the whales.” I signed and said they didn’t really need much saving and waved ta ta. So weird that in a small little German town they are trying to save whales back in Canada!

I made sure to get to bed early in order to wake up at 7am for free breakfast and my taxi ride down to the KD Ferry Station on the other side of the river (there was no way I was walking down, or swimming across). For the 8 euros I paid my taxi driver I think I should get half of that back because I literally almost died. This guy drove down the steep winding mountain and over the bridge like a bat out of hell. I was actually grabbing onto the little bars above the Mercedes car door in order to brace myself in case me crashed. I paid a little bit extra for the ferry to Rudesheim because the ship is an antique steam boat (those old ones with paddles on both sides and that constantly toot). The boat is actually UNESCO declared and it only travels through the Koblenz to Rudesheim stretch which is also a UNESCO World Heritage local. I sat on the back of the ship for those lovely 6 hours. The day started off with many clouds and half way through it actually rained for about 20 minutes. The last 2 hours of the trip were blue sky and scorching hot. A nice little change in weather I’d say. I stared down at my organic bottle of Riesling and read the funny quote on the bottle. “This delicately fruity white wine can be enjoyed together with white meats, seafood, mild cheese OR with good friends.” Laughed at that for 10 minutes. Translations never really seem to get the message across. In short the trip allows the passenger to lazy back and relax the amazing castle top vistas, steep vineyard groves and sweeping landscape. I most enjoyed myself after 2 hours as that is when I prepared my lunch. I ate the longest baguette filled sandwich and over a period of 1 1/2 hours consumed my entire bottle of wine. The best part of the entire meal is when my feet went numb and I couldn’t feel my legs. What wonderful scenery for a bit of a tips!

Arriving in Rudesheim I took a taxi to the hostel once I realized it was a 1 1/2 hour hike straight up a mountain (why on earth do these little villages always put their hostels at the top of everything). Rudesheim is a famous touristy spot and is referred to as a Wine Resort in travel books and magazines. The entire city sits bellow a towering hill side landscape which has millions upon millions of vineyards. After dumping my luggage in my 10 person dorm room (which I ended up being the sole inhabitant of the entire evening) I made my way across the hill top on a dirt path. The rain started to pour down so I found temporary cover under a tree until the worst of it passed. I started to laugh when my ipod mixed album started to play “Soft and Wet” by MC Hammer as I sat soaking under a tree. About a 30 minute walk west is a famous monument which you can get to easily with the help of another chair lift (the Germans love their lifts apparently!) The monument is a women in a large robe holding up a torch, a gift from the French…remind you of the Lady Liberty in NYC? From the statue you get an amazing view of the city of Bingen which is on the other side of the Rhine as well as a great panoramic of the city and surrounding valley. So much wine growing in this part of the world! I took many pictures of myself analyzing wine grape clusters, lots of fun! Descending the hill/cliff/mountain from the statue is somewhat of a workout which requires you to lean back as far as humanly possible. As I got halfway to the bottom of the hill I noticed a beautiful rainbow spanning across the river and valley. The rain had stopped about 30 minutes before I headed down hill and now the sun shot out from behind the clouds. The sun danced on the wet wine leaves and steam rose from the pavement of the streets. Rain provides such magical moments as these.

I danced down the hill blaring Franz Ferdinand through my ears and came to the famous street called Drosselgstrasser. This street is the perfect picture of a cute German village. The street is very thin and barely 3 people can walk up and down at one time. The street was very busy when I arrived as all the tourists were looking for a nice spot to enjoy dinner. The restaurants here are hilarious indeed! Each restaurant had its own live performer and some were just brutal! One of the restaurants was packed busy with many locals and tourists. The menu looked expensive and lovely and in the center of the floor were several dancing couples, jumping up and down to the live 5 man polka band. On the other side of the street was the polar opposite. Three glum looking tourists were sitting at an open air restaurant listening to the worst live music I have ever heard. The band consisted of two German vocalists singing in English, “I love you baby” sad enough to kill a cat! Perhaps bad music = bad food here? I wasn’t going to chance it.

I found the BEST restaurant ever. All of the waitresses wear authentic little German dresses and sit you down at your seat with huge smiles. The band was amazing and funny as hell! It was a one man band on an electric keyboard playing polka and flute assisted dance beats. As I drank from my local Prasidenstein Pils I felt as I was part of everything German, the sounds, the smells and the smiles! I ordered a lovely dish from Rhineland called Rahmschnityel mit Spatyele (Schnitzel with cream sauce and German noodles). I enjoyed my huge plate of food while tapping my foot and laughing at Yani the one man band as he played “Do you really want to make me cry.” Hilarious. After dinner I had to boot it up the mountain back to my hostel before it got dark and I lost myself in a hill top maze of wine grapes. The hike was incredible as I took the short cut which goes straight up the mountain rather than taking the main road which is about 3 times the distance. I was huffing and puffing, and at one point actually felt as though I was rock climbing, grabbing onto wine roots and branches. Desperate to get to my bed (and my inflated stomach was churning at this point) I finally got back to my room and enjoyed a quiet sleep alone in my private 10 bed dorm. Note to self. Never ever stay at a hostel on the top of a mountain ever again, ever.

The next morning I took the 5 1/2 hour train trip via Frankfurt to the heart of Bavaria. Jolly old Munchen!

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