Cruising the Middle Rhine

As I review my Marksburg post, I realize I misstated the smooth organization of the cruise on July 18.  I mentioned we stopped at Andernach. The daily what's-happening letter for the 18th doesn't mention Andernach at all.  We were supposed to stop at Koblenz at 8:30 AM, drop the tours for Marksburg, which would then meet the boat after the tour at Braubach, where Marksburg Castle actually is.

In theory, Embla arrived in Braubach at 11:45, we all boarded, and it left Braubach at noon, to cruise through the Mittelrhein for the rest of the day and arrive at Freudenberg about 2:30 the following afternoon. Instead, after the tour the busses took us all the way back from Braubach to Koblenz, where the boat was moored.  We got there about 11:45, and stayed through lunch and quite a bit later.  The time stamps on my photos indicate that we left around 2:30 PM. For much of this time we couldn't leave the ship, either, because we were going to embark "any minute."  We lost close to 3 hours, and it took us several days to catch it up.  My trip diary says,

The boat was supposed to sail at two or so but we've just been told that  they're having "mechanical difficulties" (on a brand new ship?) so we can all have until 2:30 to explore Koblenz and the Deutsches Eck.

During the whole afternoon, if you looked, you saw an unfamiliar guy in a suit (we knew the whole crew by now, and they didn't wear suits), standing on one of the observation balconies with a cellphone plastered to his ear; and at 5:56 PM we made an unscheduled stop at Oberwesel, at a dock labeled Privateigentum (which means "private property"),

Private property

to pick up a guy I suspect was a technician.  We never got a definite statement, but the captain mentioned a problem with the computer control systems.  At that point I concluded on no evidence they had rebooted the engines.

To be honest, most of the passengers weren't paying any attention to this; the scenery had everyone's attention.  I just like to know what's going on.  And the scenery around Koblenz is spectacular, especially if you're moored at the Deutsches Eck. The Deutsches Eck is the name of the headland in Koblenz where the Moselle River runs into the Rhine.  That would be spectacular enough, but the Deutsches Eck is also the site of a massive monument to Emperor Wilhelm I, 37 meters high, including a 14 meter status of the Emperor on horseback, accompanied by a winged female.  Here's the distant view to give you the scale; notice the sizes of the pedestrians.

Wilhelm I monument

You can't see the female from this angle, but I got a shot of her as we walked around the point from the bus.  She is holding a crown on a pillow (you have to expand the photo really large). Once again, notice the comparative size of the visiting tourists.

Status of Wilhelm I

You can't blame Kaiser Wilhelm for the monument; it was built after he died.  I took a few more photos of it, just because it was so overdone.  They and the rest of the Middle Rhine cruise are in my gallery, Cruising the Middle Rhine; feel free to go look at them all.  I'll include a selection here.  I was interested to see that Koblenz has a tram over the river, and is pretty hilly.

Der Seilbahn (the tram)

Here's the view from the Embla's sun deck, cruising up the Rhine:

Cruising the Rhine

The weather was like that all day, not really overcast but with a lot of clouds and glare, to annoy the photographers.  The towns are built right down to the river, and the associated castles, of course, up on top of the hill.  Here's Scholss Liebeneck, above Osterspai (way above it):

Schlos Liebeneck, above Osterspai

Some towns don't have castles; some castles aren't associated with towns, or only with very small towns. Some of them have stories, like the pair of castles on neighboring hilltops called the Hostile Brothers:

Hostile Brothers

The whilte tower is Burg Liebenstein and the darker one is Burg Sterrenberg.  Our tour guide told us that they belonged to two brothers; one brother went off to war, leaving the other brother to guard his fiancé.  Then the traveling brother came back from the wars with a bride; and the brother who had guarded the fiancé became so angry he built a wall between the castles and never spoke to his brother again. Here's Burg Liebenstein showing the wall, I couldn't get a good angle to show both castles and the wall:

Burg Liebenstein with barrier wall

The trouble with legends is that there's always more than one of them.  If you Google "hostile brothers castle" (I did), you will find a totally different (and, to a medievalist, much more believable) legend!  And if you read too many resources, you'll find there may have been no legend at all (but that's no fun!).

There is a Burg Maus (yes, Castle Mouse) and a Burg Katz (Castle Cat), but there's no evidence there was ever any warfare between them, despite some of the things our tour guide said.  Here's Burg Maus, which is now an aviary for falcons, owls, and eagles, giving public flight displays:

Burg Maus

And here's Burg Katz, which is actually a contraction of Neukatzenelnbogen, or the new castle of the counts of Katzenelnbogen.  You can see why they would contract it.  The legend that "Castle Katz" would eat up "Castle Maus" appears to be total mythology.  The counts of Katzenelnbogen were the first to plant Riesling in their vinyard, in 1435, according to Wikipedia. Castle Katz is not open to the public.

Burg Katz

Just upstream from Burg Katz, we passed the fabled Lorelei Rock, which is a huge (120 meters high) slate outcrop.  I didn't hear anyone sing the traditional song; I didn't hear the siren calling – but then, I'm female. Due to massive re-engineering of the Rhine over the last couple of centuries the Lorelei is no longer the major navigation hazard it used to be, but it's still next to the Rhine's deepest and narrowest spot, and if your ship hits it, the ship will sink. Notice the way the river bends around the base of the rock:

Lorelei Rock

Also notice some of the surface eddies just past the rock – it's a very tricky river still:

Rhine surface just past Lorelei

It's also a hazard to rail travel.  This elegant quasi-gothic structure is a railroad tunnel through the Lorelei Rock:

Rail tunnel through Lorelei

After the Lorelei, we passed a few more castles, which you can see in the photo gallery.  I want to end this long post with Burg Gutenfels, perched on its rock above the town of Kaub.  This photo shows you the various forms that vineyards take along the Rhine. Notice all the terracing, and the fact that in some sections the vines are planted in vertical lines up and down the hill.  We were told this planting style was to increase the amount of sunlight the Rhine grapes could get.

Burg Gutenfels, above Kaub

Here is the rest of Kaub with even more of its associated vineyards:

Kaub, and vineyards

And this is where my photos stop for the day, because after Burg Gutenfels it was time to go in for the daily briefing about what tomorrow would bring, and then dinner; and by the time dinner was over, it was dark.

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