Guest Post: Rhine, Castles and Vineyards

Hey everyone! I’ve got a great guest post on Germany and the Rhine from Anita, a Latvian travel blogger from www.thesanetravel.com. She’s got a lot of fantastic information, so please check her out!


 

I like nature, history and discovering new places. Also tasting some wine during a trip is nice. Some bits of relaxation feel wonderful when I am on holidays. There it was all in one trip: beautiful Rhine river landscapes, many castles around, historical Heidelberg city, vineyards and wineries in Rudeshem am Rhein and Bad Ems for the relaxation. We started this carefully planned trip from the Hahn airport, cheaply accessible from many European countries. As like most of my trips, I arrived at the trip’s starting point by the plane and did the trip using the public transport.

Hahn airport is cheaply accessible from many European countries. It is a great starting point for sightseeing Rhineland- Palatinate, Bingen- Heidelberg and Baden- Württemberg including taking a boat trip on the Rhine river. As like on the most of the trips I arrive to the trip starting point by the plane and do the trip using the public transport. It was a great week in May.

1st day. Arrival & Koblenz

We arrived in the Hahn Airport on Saturday afternoon and went to the bus station down the road to take the bus to the Koblenz. The bus departed at 15.30 and arrived at Koblenz train station at 16.40. It was a nice, quiet drive and the bus was not very busy. Arriving in Koblenz we realized that our Ghotel is located next to the bus stop which was really very convenient for travelers like us relying on the use of public transport. After checking in to the hotel we took bus number 1 to Deutsches Ek. After the short walk from there we arrived at the cable car station to go up to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. The nice surprise for us was the medieval festival there. We could watch people in medieval costumes and look at the market stalls in the fortress. The view to the Deutsches Eck from the fortress is nice. After the visit, we took a cable car back to the lower cable car station. We had a short walk around to explore Deutsches Eck and the monument there. After we had a dinner in the same are in nice national style restaurant Wacht am Rhein. Then we were getting back to hotel.

2nd day. Eltz Castle and Bad Ems.

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I planned our trip carefully to be able to visit Eltz Castle by public transport which was available only on weekends. I very much wanted to see this special castle never destroyed and owned by one family for hundreds of years. First we took the train to Hatzenport and then we were waiting for the bus to bring us to the castle. We had a very nice walk to the castle with nice scenery around. You can enter the interiors of the building only as a part of the guided tour. The tour was very nice and the castle worth visiting. Afterwards we went back to the bus stop and came back to the Koblenz the same way we went to the castle.

For the relaxing afternoon, it was planned to visit Emser Therme in Bad Ems and see the resort town. We took the train to the Bad Ems West station and a nice walk to the Emser Therme. This is a modern complex of different kind of baths and pools and also the room where you can inhale the local healing salt. There is also the outside sunbath are and the pavilion located on the river. We enjoyed our stay a lot. After a visit, we took a walk to the central Bad Ems railway station to see the town which was really nice. We also paid a visit to a magnificent Häcker’s Grand Hotel. After that we came back to the Koblenz for another night stay in Ghotel.

3rd day. The Rhine river cruise

P1410268The next day was fully devoted to Rhine river cruise. In the morning we took the 12 minutes train ride to the Boppard. After the arrival first we found the ticket office and bought the tickets for our river cruise to Rudesheim am Rhein with stop in St Goar. We were advised to buy the one ticket to the final destination which was a good deal in comparison to with buying two separate ones. We had a short walking tour in the town which was nice and charmed us with its historical feel.

After the walk we came back to the boat stop and took the KD company boat to the St Goar first. The weather was beautiful with warm sunshine and we enjoyed the views of the little towns and castles on the hilltops on the open deck. When getting off in St Goar we left our luggage in the tourist office and took the tourist train to the Fortress Rheinfels. The sight of the fortress and down to the town and river were impressive. Also the museum inside the castle was nice. We went downhill by the foot and enjoyed nice views and beautiful sunshine. Then we came back to the boat stop for another boat ride to the Rudesheim am Rhein. We enjoyed a beautiful weather and nice views of the river. After the arrival in Rudesheim we checked in the Altdeutsche Weinstube hotel, strolled around the town and had a nice dinner near the river.

4th day. Rudesheim am Rhein

P1410775In the morning we went to the cable car station to take a ride up to the Niederwald Monument. I definitely recommend this trip because of excellent views. We made our way back through vineyards watching the changing panorama of the river and town. After arrival back to the town we very much wanted to visit Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett. We were told that tour is available only for the groups and two persons are not enough for the group. Still we watched a small concert that was surrounded with lots of beautiful old instruments. Then we visited a shop that was amazing with different kind of musical toys and figurines to buy. After that we were looking for the place for the wine tasting just to learn that the sit-in wine tasting was not available for individual tourists in any of three places we checked. Finally we stopped at Vinothek Georg Breuer where, with still no seating, we were offered free of charge wine tasting with nice stories about the wines. Of course we were happy to buy few bottles. Our last visit in Rudesheim was to Asbach Visitors Center to taste a Hugo Asbach’s created Weinbrand. Although there were only two of us the helpful lady put on the film about the product including the history in English. After that we did a short self-guided tour of the distillery. Samples were available at 2 Euros and were well worth trying. After collecting our luggage from the hotel we took a ferry to Bingen for our train trip to Heidelberg. In the train station we recognised that it was unmanned and had only ticket machines. We tried to find the tickets for Heidelberg with no success. Then we decided to board the train with no tickets hoping that someone would be selling the tickets on the train which was not the case. We were lucky to leave the train at the next station without fine. We bought the tickets to the Mainz. Then in the Mainz train station only with the help of assistant we were able to buy the tickets to the Heidelberg. We lost almost the hour because of that. We found German train ticket machines not foreign-tourist-friendly at all. Finally we arrived in Heidelberg station and took the tram to our Crowne Plaza hotel.

5th day. Heidelberg

P1420032I had a great hope for Heidelberg as untouched real German city. In the morning we walked to the city centre. It was a bit raining and wet, but good enough for our travel plans. We walked through the city center by pedestrian street Hauptstrasse to the funicular railway stop to get up to the castle. For seeing the interiors of the castle we had to buy the guided tour ticket. It was interesting on one hand and a bit disappointing on the other hand because I hoped that it would have a more historical feel, yet the interiors were renovated in the end of 19th century and for me had a bit of the “kitsch” feeling. The most impressive was a huge wine barrel in the basement and story about the king who died of drinking water instead of wine. Later we walked the castle grounds and went back to the town to see the Old Bridge and visiting Heiliggeistkirche and Jesuitenkirche in the town. The interiors of churches were interesting but not very impressive. We also wanted to attend the organ music concert in the church but there was some confusing information about that and our attempt was not successful. The great experience was having a lunch in University Cafeteria on Marstallhof 3. On our way back to the hotel we did some shopping on Hauptstrasse.

We had excellent dinner in the Chinese restaurant behind the hotel. Another night stay in Crowne Plaza hotel.

6th day. From Heidelberg to Mannheim

P1420491We had a very nice morning visit to hotel spa area. The German clothing-free policy in baths and saunas is a bit embarrassing, but after a while we got used to that. As my feel for Heidelberg was a bit disappointing we decided to change our travel plans and move to the Mannheim earlier than planned. We did some more shopping and then decided to go to the Mannheim by tram, not the train as planned earlier. It was interesting to recognise that two cities are situated so close to each other. The tram track renovation made us use the bus for the part of the trip and made all trip longer than expected. We also had to change the trams in the Mannheim city centre for going to our InterCity hotel Mannheim which was located next to the train station. The pleasant surprise was the free city travel card for our stay. After checking we decided to go to the Luisenpark by tram using our travel card. It was great experience and we spent several hours there walking around watching the great landscape, birds and animals. I highly recommend visiting that. Then we went by tram to the city centre and went up to small tower café to watch a sunset over Mannheim. Later we had the dinner in the Oriental restaurant downstairs. Then we went back to our InterCity hotel Mannheim.

7th day. Mannheim

P1430127In the morning we decided to visit the Mannheim Palace going there by tram. As we were a bit early for the opening we decided to walk around and our nice found was Jesuit church nearby with a very beautiful interior. I highly recommend visiting that. Then we went back to very impressive Mannheim Palace building with 450 m long front. It is mostly used for University but has a museum in the central part. The interiors are worth visiting. We had a nice opportunity to see the cleaning of the old gobelins there. In the midday we had a nice shopping in the city centre and in the evening we went back again to the Luisenpark as we had still a big area to see. We also went up to the TV tower to see the nice view of the park and city. It is located next to the one of the entrances to the Luisenpark and after tower visit you can use the same park ticket to continue visiting the park. Nice day. All in all to my big surprise I liked Mannheim more than Heidelberg. We spent another night in InterCity hotel Mannheim.

8th day. Mannheim to Hahn airport

After breakfast we went to the bus station which is located next to the railway station to board the bus to the Hahn airport for our flight home. It was a great trip with different and beautiful impressions.

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