The One with the Rhine River Cruise

Monday, June 1, 2015

There are many ways to explore the Rhine Valley: car, train, bike... but we chose to hop on a riverboat and sit back and relax as castles and scenery floated by. We bought tickets from the K-D (Köln-Düsseldorfer) Line office in Bacharach and boarded the next down-river bound boat that arrived.
There was seating inside but we headed up the stairs and found some seats in the lovely sunshine.
The top deck of the boat. I spy Jane.
The town of Bacharach from the boat as we pulled away from the boat dock. So darling.
Rick Steves included a handy-dandy guided tour of sights on the river so we followed along as the boat headed towards our final stop of St. Goar.

This is a classic Rhine view with Gutenfels castle up on the hill and the shipshape Pfalz castle built in the middle of the river in the 1300s. Together, these two castles worked very effectively to tax medieval traffic. The nearby town of Kaub grew rich as Pfalz castle raised its chains when boats came and lowered them only when the merchants had paid their duty. Those who didn't pay spent time touring its prison on a raft at the bottom of its well. Harsh. In 1504 a pope called for the destruction of Pfalz, but the locals withstood a six-week siege and the castle still stands. Notice the over-hanging outhouse (the tiny white room between the two wooden ones).
In Kaub, the town on the riverfront directly below Gutenfels castle, a German general named Gebhard von Blücher built the first major pontoon bridge in 1813 and was able to outflank Napoleon helping to eventually defeat the French. The town has a statue in his honor.
The roaring Rhine.
The town of Oberwesel with Schönburg Castle on the hill above. This was a Celtic town in 400 B.C., then a Roman military station.
The town boasts some of the best Roman-wall and medieval tower remains on the Rhine. 
The commanding Schönburg castle and a church in Oberwesel.
In Germany trailer vacationers and campers are two distinct subcultures. Folks who travel in trailers are a nomadic bunch cruising around the countryside in their motorhomes. Campers, on the other hand, tend to set up camp in one place - complete with comfortable lounge chairs and TVs - and stay put for weeks, even months. They have made a science out of relaxing.
You can see more of the Roman walls behind the town.
Looking back at Oberwesel.
Fox and Jane being Fox and Jane on the boat.
Then we passed the legendary Loreley and all the sightseers jumped to their feet to get good photos.
Steep a big slate rock in centuries of legend and it becomes a tourist attraction - the ultimate Rhinestone, if you will. The Loreley rises 450 feet over the narrowest and deepest point of the Rhine and has long been important. It was a holy site in pre-Roman days and has been the scene of legends ever since. Because of the reefs just upstream many ships never made it past this rock and many sailors blamed their misfortune on a wunderbares Fräulein whose long blond hair almost covered her body. A beautiful, but deadly, nymph. 
Across the river from our stop at St. Goar is Burg Katz. Together with the castle in St. Goar, Rheinfels, they had a clear view up and down the river effectively controlling traffic. Katz Castle was destroyed by Napoleon in 1806 and rebuilt in 1900.
Today the castle sits empty with derelict grape terraces tumbling down the hill below it. These vineyards had been worked since the eighth century but have been abandoned in the last generation. 
We got off the boat across from Burg Katz in St. Goar and explored that little town (post coming up next!) then returned to the dock and boarded a new boat for our return trip to Bacharach.
This boat was awesome! It had a mini-playground complete with slide on top! The kids spent the whole cruise back sliding down and running around. 
How cool is this!? Gives me hope that our upcoming Scandinavian cruise will be fun for the kids.
A ravishing Rhine view.
Our family on the Rhine River Cruise on Friday May 22nd 2015
Next stop: St. Goar.


  1. I love boat trips!!! Beautiful photos!!!!

  2. Thanks so much for virtual tour! I took the same Rhine river cruise in the late 80s, but then there was no Rick Steve's guide...Now I don't travel without it! :)

  3. This was a fun activity! I'm so glad that second boat had that slide and playground. It was awesome!

  4. Great post! This was a fun trip. I'm so glad that second boat had that awesome slide and playground, it really kept the kids entertained!

  5. Fun! The only boat tour I did was in England on River Thames from Big Ben to Greenwich.


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