Trip Taken: 2005
The Rhein river area is probably my favorite area in Germany. It is vastly different from the new restoration boom of Berlin and the bustling metropolis of Munich. The calm and relaxed energy of this wine area is what I think of when I think Germany. Germans have a reputation of punctuality and strict adherence to rules, but you don’t know the people of Germany until you see them on vacation.
We arrived by train in one of the train stations near Rüdesheim. It was an event organized by the internship program I was a part of in Germany. There were half a dozen of us there joining about a dozen or so more people that have already arrived. First thing we did was drop off our luggage in a van that was going to be taking it to our hostel. We had the whole day to relax without worrying about checking-in.
Wine Tasting in Rüdesheim
We took a boat from the van to Rüdesheim for our wine tasting. Passing rows and rows of green grapevines indicated to me that it was going to be a good afternoon. We arrived at the town center and wound our way through alleys filled with bustling restaurants, wine shops, and cafes all with people enjoying themselves. Almost every wine shop sold a different variety of Riesling. I almost never see German wines in the US and now I know why. The majority of them are consumed in the country.
We stopped at our wine shop and were lead down into the cellar for our wine tasting. Our guide spoke excellent English and we tasted about five different wines. With the wines were some awesome deli meats, which I was knew the names to. It would make trying to buy them that much easier. We also had grapes, cheese, and bread to go with our wine.
The varieties of wines were mostly Rieslings save for one red wine and one dessert wine I couldn’t remember the name to. The dessert wine might have been an Eiswein and it was rose in color. The very first wine we were presented was a Riesling. My friends and I all thought we had to finish the wines. As the guide was going through the motions of how to enjoy the wine: swirling, sniffing, gargling, and then drinking, we were just trying to get through the first glass. We were told after the presentation that we could just dump the excess wine into the jug in front of us. It’s wine tasting not wine binging.
Wine after wine we talked, ate, and sat through five different wines. I think one person bought a bottle but most of us didn’t. In retrospect, I would have bought a bottle of the Eiswein we had at the end. It was really nice. Tangy with a sweet finish.
Chair Lift to Germania Statue
By the time we were on our way to the chair lift, I was already flushed with red all over my face. Yes. My name is John and I am a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. The chair lift to the Germania statue was about six euros if I remembered correctly. There is a hiking trail for those who don’t want to pay the fee, but I think it’s worth it even if you just take one trip. Either up or down.
Up at the statue we were treated to a great view of the Rhein Valley. You can see the turn from Bingen and rushing brown waters of the Rhein. Yes, the waters of the Rhein are brown. It is kind of a detriment to the scenery but it’s natural. The Rhein is a fast river and it’s not wise to try to swim in it unless you are planning a horrible death, to which I say, DON’T DO IT!
The Hostel by the Castle
After coming down the chair lift again, we headed for the train station for our ride to Bachrach, where our lodgings for the weekend are going to be. From the train station, we had to climb a large hill to get to the castle at the top. There was a road but no buses ran up the hill and we had too many people to fit into one van. The climb up wasn’t too bad and there were even some berry bushes on our way up.
Dinner was a big barbecue, German style. That means lots of salads, sausages, pork steaks, and chicken. It’s not American barbecue but I could eat either one and be equally satisfied. We ate at the patio area of the hostel and were illuminated by torches. We ate from dusk until it was quite dark that it was hard to see our food. It was actually fun to rummage for the plates of food. After dinner, we did a night time hike. I was one of the torchbearers. The kerosene ran down from the torch to my hands. Not exactly the safest torch. The night time view of the Valley was breathtaking. The tiny lights of the sparsely populated banks shone against the rushing waters of the river. A perfect summer night in Germany.