Thursday, July 18, 2013

Germany Rhine River Cruise

We didn't have much free time in Germany. Our purpose for being there was so that Geoffrey could take an ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) re-cert course.  He has to do this every 5 years and its a pretty intense class. BTW - don't browse through the ATLS manual unless you are prepared to see photos of steak knives protruding from chests and guts spilling out of stomachs. Bottom line is that Geoffrey spent a lot of the first two days studying for the class and the second two days at the class.

But we did take Saturday afternoon for some sight seeing. We rented a car at Ramstein and drove up to Bingen where we caught a river cruise boat.
The weather was gorgeous. Warm in the sunshine with a cool breeze. We sat on the top deck and watched the castles go by on either side. Lots of them.

Ready for a pictorial run down?

 Okay technically this one (above) isn't a castle. Its the ruins of a church. But its gorgeous!

Did you keep count? Me neither. And that didn't even include all the other cool churches and hotels and such along the river.  Having toured and climbed around a fair number of castles both here in Germany and Turkey, I have to say that I really enjoyed just sitting in a deck chair and watching them glide by.  Seeing so many in such a short time was awesome.

Apparently in the Middle Ages (Do you always have to capitalize that? And am I the only one who visualizes Monty Python Knights with coconut halves in their hands?) the owner of each of these castles would stretch a large chain across the river and collect tolls from anyone who wanted to pass by. So while its a great stretch of river for the tourists of today, it was a rather pricey stretch of river for anyone in the Middle Ages.

We ended our cruise at a town called St. Goar.  As we disembarked we walked past huge crowds of the retiree set, all waiting to take evening cruises. Rhine in Flame was that night and there would be fireworks from river barges and from the castles.  We walked along the lovely water front for a while and even got our toes wet a bit. See?
It was chilly refreshing. After a bit we took the train back to Bingen and drove back to the base so Geoffrey could get some more study time in.  We kept the car overnight and in the morning drove to Idar-Oberstein to attend church with Frank and Crystal, our dear friends. Once again we surprised them with our visit and they were still kind enough to have us over for Sunday dinner. Geoffrey studied, Krystal cooked and Frank and I walked around their beautiful hill top neighborhood. The whole weekend was slow and relaxing which was just what I needed.

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