We sailed from port bright and early in the morning and began our trip down the Rhine River. This is the portion of the trip where we can see the most castle ruins. Some of the castles are truly just in ruins while others have been restored and are open as youth hostels, hotels, and/or restaurants.

The Rhine River is one of the most traveled rivers and has a bustling trade in both the industrial and the tourist sectors. The river is not only in use, but along both shores are railroad tracks with frequent movement of trains along both shores. Some of the trains are transporting goods while others are transporting commuters.

The most amazing part of the scenery is the vineyards. Of course, this is where Rhine wine comes from. There are grapes growing on the hillside regardless of the pitch of the slope. The grapes are grown in vertical stripes up and down the side of the mountains so as to maximize their exposure to sunlight. These vineyards are old and have been in existence for hundreds of years. They were always tended by hand, but today in some of them – those without steep pitches – there can be some tractors used. However, in the vineyards with the steeper pitches, they must still harvest the grapes by hand. They carry large baskets on their backs and pluck the ripe grapes from the vines and place them in their baskets.

The Rhine is wide and navigable, however it isn’t really navigable across its width. The lane to use is marked on one side by a green buoy and on the other there is a red buoy. We must travel between them. Outside these buoys are more water and often there are shallow islands of sand and stone with trees growing. After large storms, there are shifting sandbars along the edges of the river that must be taken into account while sailing.

Fortunately, modern ships have wonderful navigation instrumentation including an enhanced GPS system as well as infrared systems for sailing at night. These wonderful instruments were not available to early sailors.

There is a stretch of the river where there are several switchbacks. The S curves are dangerous for a variety of reasons, the most obvious would be the inability to see oncoming traffic. Because this is a narrow stretch of the river, this is doubly troubling. This is where Lorelei has lured many sailors to their deaths.

It is where there have actually been the most deaths on the river. The legend states that young Lorelei was distressed by her cheating lover and killed herself here. However, to gain some sense of retribution, she has ever since lured the unsuspecting sailors (cads all) to their deaths by singing a siren song while combing her luxurious blond hair. The distracted sailors would wreck on the rocks and she would gain some sense of revenge.

We were treated to an appearance of Lorelei with a blond tressed woman came swirling through the ship in her swirling white dress. It looked suspiciously like Eva, but she later said she had no idea of what had happened.

Once upon a time there were two brothers, both in love with the same woman. Conrad, the younger brother, was bold enough to declare his love for Angela and the two were engaged to be married. Henry, the older brother, was too shy to declare his affection for the lovely young woman.

It was the time for a Crusade to begin and Conrad stated he was going to defend the Holy Lands or pillage or something. When Henry heard this, he decided the only way to man up would be to go along on the Crusade as well. However, the king was not getting any younger and he demanded that Henry remain behind in order to run the family business of kinging.

Conrad left Angela behind and we off to Crusade and seek his fortune. Along the way, the Crusaders passed through Greece. While there in Greece, the more bold Conrad met another woman and was smitten. He didn’t worry about his betrothed back home and married this Greek goddess.

Conrad was successful in his Crusade not by actually winning anything but in managing to stay alive. He was able to return to Germany with his Greek bride. The two came home and poor Henry, still smitten with Angela but unable to proclaim his undying love, was outraged. He challenged his brother to a duel – to the death – in order to avenge Angela.

Conrad, of course accepted the challenge. Angela was not amused by all this testosterone and in order to halt the duel, she joined a cloistered nunnery and removed herself from the situation.

The two brothers did not duel, but Conrad and Henry could not tolerate each other. So Henry took over the family castle and Conrad built an even larger castle slightly above his brother’s castle. There was a wall between the castles which remain standing in ruins next to each other. The Castles of the Warring Brothers.

Further along the river we came to another group of castles. This time one was position on the south bank of the river and the other was on the north bank. The castle on the south side of the river was owned by the Katz family while the one on the south side was owned by the Mouse family. It is said that they were enemies simply because of their names and the Katz were highly interested in eating the Mouse folks.

After cruising through the Rhine valley we came to the confluence of the Rhine and the Mosel River and we pulled into the Mosel in order to dock for the day. We were now in Koblenz, Germany for the day.

The area was settled long ago. By at least 1000 BC the region was of interest to the locals. The town was established in 8 BC by the Romans. The old walls still in existence did not date from that time and not much of them were left. Because the town was an important stop between two rivers, it was important enough to bomb during World War II. As a result, 87% of the town was destroyed in the bombing.

When they were rebuilding, some were restored to their medieval look but many others were built in a more modern day style. The streets remained, at least in the old part of town, cobblestone. It is the third largest city in the federal state of Rhineland-Palitinate.

As we approached the city, we could see high on a hill a beautiful white castle. Stolzenfels Castle was finished in the 1200s and remains a beautiful structure gleaming in the gray skies. It wasn’t always so. It was falling into ruin when a king of Prussia found it and began to restore the building back in the 1800s. Today, it has been returned to the city and has both a youth hostel and a hotel included.

Pieces of the Berlin Wall were brought to the city and are placed by the confluence of the two rivers. So we were never near Berlin, but were still able to see some of the old wall.

I was too sick to go on the walk so my information is quite limited. There is a town hall with an odd clock. On the half hour and the hour, there is a man who rolls his eyes and sticks out his tongue, but the story behind it is a complete mystery, at least to me.

There is a woman with a bathing suit and swim fins statue located somewhere in the town as well. I’m sure there is a story, but I don’t know what it is.

There is a statue in the center of town that is part of a fountain. His German name would translate into The Rascal and every minute he spit a stream of water.

 

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