Thursday, November 14, 2013

Germany Part 2 - the Rhine Valley, Burg Rhinefels

Ok, get ready, because for the rest of the trip we were camera (or rather iphone camera) happy and we took a TON of pictures!  After Nurburg we drove down to the tiny town of St. Goar along the famous Rhine River.  This area of the Rhine is referred to as the Romantic Rhine because of the many vineyards and castles (this area has 40 something castles along a 20 mile stretch and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site), so we were sure to appropriately hit up a handful of castles and drink a lot of Riesling! 
While in St. Goar we actually stayed in an apartment rental that I'd HIGHLY recommend - the owners Gabi and Wolfgang were incredibly friendly (when we complimented the delicious scent of a dinner they were cooking, Gabi actually ran down to grab us a couple of samples to taste!) and a great source of information on the region.  All of our dinners were at restaurants they recommended and all of them were delicious!  On our first day we got a bit of a late start since S finally took the opportunity to recover from his jet lag (now that the sweet siren's song of Nurburgring wasn't keeping his adrenaline pumping...)  After a leisurely morning we got lost and then proceeded to walk down the steepest hill ever to the town's resident castle, Burg Rheinfels.

Burg Rheinfels is a castle in ruins right on a small cliff overlooking the Rhine.  It was a gorgeous view (our first of the Rhine River actually!) and the castle itself was a lot of fun because we could wander around the entire thing at our own will. 

There was no tour, just a map and signs that took you through the underground tunnels, to the "dungeon", through a cavernous hall, up to the top of a tower overlooking the river, and all around the now overgrown interior.  We felt like kids in our own secret hide out!

There were some beautiful views of the Rhine Valley from the castle too.  The leaves had just started changing colors and I was SO excited to get to experience autumn!

And this is the view from the top tower that we climbed too.  The Rhine River is still an incredibly busy waterway.  There were cruise ships and barges constantly floating by.  
Eventually we made our way down and then proceeded to ravenously consume Italian food in the castle's restaurant (we didn't want to overdo it on German food) as we'd worked up quite an appetite with all of our climbing and exploring!

After Burg Rheinfels, we headed down into the "downtown" tourist area of St. Goar to look at shops filled with cuckoo clocks, beer steins, and pretzels.  We eventually had to then make our way BACK UP the incredibly steep hill to the apartment.  It was ridiculously tough (I think the sign said it had a grade of 17) and we continuously referred to all strenuous activity after that as "not that bad compared to the hill in St. Goar".  For dinner that night we drove to the edge of town for some mushroom slathered schnitzel with spaetzel (an egg noodle that is everywhere in Germany and that I of course couldn't eat...).  S was a little less than thrilled with the proliferation of wine at every restaruant around here (he wanted some German beer!!!), but K and I were thrilled - it was delicious!

Ok, that's a pretty long post.  I'll come back tomorrow with the pictures from day 2 in the Rhine Valley!

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