Winding along the River Rhine
Last weekend I was lucky enough to have another visitor and this time it was the lovely Miss Jones. We spent Friday exploring the city and seeing the sights, as well as living like the locals, lunch was enjoyed, as we sat by the Rhine, and our evening meal was taken in the popular Brauerei ‘Fuchsjagd’ in Gerresheim. This was made even more German as we found ourselves sat in the bar area where there was coverage of a Bundesliga match– our table was right under the screen which left us in the firing line!! As always the food was good and hearty, although we did have a few issues trying to pay the bill – a combination of ignored requests and forgetful waiters.
Anyway, Saturday was a different day and we were up early, ready to set off and explore. Once at the Hbf (main station) we boarded the Regio Bahn in the direction of Koblenz and settled in for an hour and a half journey. With each others entertaining company, the time flew by and we were soon pulling into the station, with just enough time to make the tight connection to our destination, Boppard.
The next leg of our journey was rather eventful as just before the train was ready to leave, a rather odd looking character jumped aboard with his many bags and a canvas shopping trolley. He asked around to find out if the train was going to a place called Sinzig, to which I shook my head and informed him that the train was travelling south to Mainz, whereas Sinzig was back up the line in the other direction. For some reason or other he accepted that this was fine and stayed on board, though still kept asking if the train was going to Sinzig. Just seconds after pulling out of the station, some awful crackly music began playing, and no surprises, it originated from him. A fair amount of grumbling came from the seat behind Bryony and I, along with the request for the man to turn off the music. He wasn’t going to have any of that and started getting a bit bolshie – firing insults here, there and everywhere and challenging the man behind us to a fight (despite the fact that there was about a five stone weight difference (!). Eventually after a handful of additional comments and repetition of the phrase ‘Leise Maus’ (quiet mouse) the music was eventually turned off. Thank goodness for that! However unfortunately the excitement did not stop there, as we then had a rendition of colourful swear words when he realised he was indeed travelling in the wrong direction, along with a number of complaints that no one had told him. Thankfully, the trip to Boppard was only short one and after 15 minutes we pulled into the station and alighted the train, leaving our strange travelling companion behind.
So there we were in Boppard am Rhein, a sweet and rather sleepy town situated on the banks of the river Rhine in the German equivalent of the Loire Valley. The Rhine Gorge has recently been named as a Unesco World Heritage site and I tell you what, I’m not at all surprised. This area of German is truly beautiful, with steep hills on either sides of the river, acres of vineyards and a generous scattering of medieval fortresses, castles and stately homes perched proudly on the peaks of the rolling hills. A great number of these small towns, which line the river, have become popular tourist destinations in the summer, offering a selection of activities for visitors. Boat cruises are particularly popular along this stretch of the river, and despite plans to do this ourselves, the train times did not allow for any water-based excursions.
Boppard, once the location of a Roman fort is the heart and soul of this atmospheric holiday region and lovers of a certain grape-based beverage will be in their element with the selection from nearby Bopparder Hamm. On this particular occasion we did not stop to sample the local delicacies but instead explored what the little town had to offer.
From the Hbf it was only a short walk until we reached the river itself and we soon found ourselves walking along the Rheinpromenade. A few restaurants had already set up the outdoor eating areas, but I suppose with it still being March, they weren’t fully expecting the summer-like weather that Germany is experiencing at present.
After a little walk along the water’s edge, we veered off the promenade and made our way back towards the town where we wandered along the narrow streets with their tall, almost higgledy piggledy assortment of timbered houses.
Eventually we reached the main square, Marktplatz, on which the mighty Severuskirche stands.
A selection of cafes and restaurants had set out the perfect place to stop for lunch, though after our typically filling and meaty German meal relatively late the previous night, we settled for a panini and glass of coke in cafe Chocobar. What with the beautiful weather and charming atmosphere, we ended up staying in our seats for quite some time, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the ambiance. We even provided some entertainment for our waiter who tried to speak some English with us.
After lunch and another session of seemingly aimless wanderings around the small streets, we made our way back to the river and began a walk through the small park which ran alongside the promenade in a southerly direction.
Realising we shouldn’t go too far and risk missing our train, we eventually turned round, headed back into the town and made a bee-line to the ice-cream parlour to pick up a scoop or two of ice-cream before the next part of our journey.
Sadly, we missed out on the rather thrilling looking Sesselbahn, a chair lift that takes you on a 20 minute journey in an open ski lift up to the top of the Gedeonseck which boasts the best known lookout point over the largest bow in the Rhine, i.e. Vierseenblick or ‘Four lake view’. The panoramic viewpoint gets this name from the way in which the river and its bends create an illusion of four separate patches of water, or lakes. These are however all part of the river itself.
Once back at Boppard Hbf, we indulged in another short train ride to nearby Oberwesel, another small and even sleepier seeming town – though this may have been due to the fact it was already 1730 on a Saturday afternoon. We spent about half an hour exploring the streets of the town, finding the impressive Rathaus (town hall) and more sweet timbered houses before turning back towards the station, with the imposing Schönburg castle (now a hotel) high upon the hill in front of us.
Eventually our train arrived and we began the journey back to Düsseldorf. After 2 hours, we were back in the city and settled in for the evening, along with a tasty Asian take-away ready to face another day of exploring after a good nights sleep!